]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]      THE LESSON OF HISTORY     [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ 
                      (c) 1983 Samuel McCracken

     President Reagan and other unsympathetic critics of the peace 
movement appear to be totally ignorant of the many successes in dis-
armament treaties and other antiwar activities which the movement 
already has to its credit. Their crude attacks on the movement are, 
therefore, launched from an intellectual and historical vacuum. What 
with recent Soviet disarmament initiatives, the departure of Eugene 
V. Rostow from the U. S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the 
sentencing of Ed Hasbrouck of Massachusetts to 1000 hours of "alterna-
tive service" for his refusal to register for the draft, the time is 
ripe for a retrospective glance at the history of peace-making in the 
20th century. For what the critics of the peace movement do not under-
stand is that the peace movement has a history. It is not as if its 
moral premises were not those of the Judaeo-Christian tradition, and 
it is not as if its political premises had not been repeatedly tested 
in the demanding theatre of international politics.
     Although the two Hague Peace conferences convened by Tsar Nicho-
las II in 1899 and 1907 were important, albeit failed, precursors, the 
seminal event in the history of our march towards peace was Sir Norman 
Angell's 1910 best-seller The Great Illusion. Without the widespread 
influence of Sir Norman's demonstration that war had become so ter-
rible and expensive as to be unthinkable, tensions that had been 
building up in central Europe might well have led to a terrible war. 
Absent Angell's brilliant analysis of the cost/benefit ratios of any 
new war, Jean Renoir's cinematic masterpiece--his ingenious specula-
tion about a world that had not been shown Angell's grim picture of 
the fate of the earth--might have dealt with an actual war! As strange 
as the idea now seems, a world unaware that in war the bottom line 
always shows a loss might actually have gotten involved in a major 
one.
     The next step towards peace was the Washington Naval Treaty of 
1922. The great powers had been engaged in an increasingly dangerous 
arms race involving the production of succeeding generations of bat-
tleships with ever greater operational ranges and ever heavier throw-
weights. The Washington Treaty was a brilliant first step in arms 
control which froze the relative naval strengths of the United States, 
Great Britain, France and Japan. It has largely rescued the reputation 
of President Harding from the domestic difficulties that shadowed him 
at the end of his life. Had not this treaty put an end to the threat-
ening arms spiral in battleships, one of the signatories might have 
built a great fleet that would have tempted it to aggression. Japan, 
for example, by the mere possession of such a fleet, might well have 
been led into using it. Emulating the example of Japan's highly suc-
cessful 1904 attack on Port Arthur, her leaders might have attempted 
to attack the former U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in what is now 
East Honshu. 
     Once the great powers had determined to freeze their strategic 
arsenals, they moved more deeply into the process of making peace 
rather than war. In 1925, Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy Ger-
many and Belgium signed the Locarno Pact. Nations that until the late 
19th century had made a cockpit of Europe publicly and formally agreed 
that war was bad. 
    To borrow an entirely theoretical but possibly illuminating phrase 
from the abstruser ranges of physics, the peace movement had attained 
critical mass, for in 1928 and thereafter some 63 nations signed the 
Kellogg-Briand Pact. 
     The leaders of 63 sovereign states met and proclaimed that not 
only was war bad, but that they would not study it any more. It is 
hard to believe that the next decade would have passed so tranquilly 
without this landmark of peace-making.
     We need only imagine the outcome had Britain, France, and Germany 
not been bound by solemn treaty to forswear war as a means of settling 
differences. One can well imagine that national rivalries might have 
led to a border confrontation that would have rapidly escalated into a 
full-scale war. 
     Aristide Briand of France and Frank Kellogg of the United States 
richly deserved the joint award of the 1928 Nobel Peace Prize. Five 
years later two decades of injustice were righted -- scandalously late 
-- by the award of the Prize to Sir Norman Angell. 
     The Oxford Peace Resolution of 1934 was another major develop-
ment. When the Oxford Union, a debating society numbering among its 
members the flower of young England, many of them the grandsons of 
those who had died fighting Queen Victoria's wars, voted "Resolved, 
this House will not fight for King and Country," who could have 
doubted that peace had triumphed?
     In the same year, A. A. Milne published his classic with Peace 
with Honor. Although his title looked back to an earlier triumph of 
British statesmanship, when in 1878 the Congress of Berlin had brought 
lasting peace to the Balkans, his message was nothing if not forward-
looking. It is not possible to summarize his complex argument here, 
but it may suffice to quote his devastating refutation of the base 
canard that Germany, under its new and progressive leadership, desired 
conflict: "It is often said that Germany prepares for war while paying 
lip-service to peace. The truth may be that she prepares for peace 
while paying lip-service to war." 
     There were cynics who said that Milne, before he took up the 
cause of peace merely a writer of popular tales for children, should 
have stuck to his last. But the majority of Englishmen were deeply 
moved by Christopher Robin's conversion to the cause of peace. This 
development, Christopher's subscription, so to speak, to the Oxford 
Peace Pledge, was probably responsible for the British people's final 
rejection of the old warmonger Winston Churchill, who through four 
decades of peace had never tired of attempts to relive the murderous 
glories of his service in the senile military establishment of the 
dying Victorian age. 
    After that, the road to peace was downhill all the way. During 
1938 and 1939, the European community maturely accepted the integra-
tion of Austria into Greater Germany and the restoration to their 
homeland of millions of Germans living in the short-lived nation of 
Czechoslovakia. Almost monthly, national differences that would once 
have led to war were peaceably adjusted at the conference table. Mr. 
Chamberlain, after the Munich Conference, modestly claimed to have 
achieved "peace in our time." Now we see that he builded better than 
he knew: he had, it seems, achieved peace for all time.
     We Americans can especially be thankful that during this period 
our country was racked by economic depression and thus unable to 
intervene in European affairs and interrupt the Old World's march 
towards peace. Given a somewhat more adequate industrial base, a 
bellicose Franklin D. Roosevelt might well have attempted to interfere 
with the coming pacification of Europe through some ill-judged mili-
tary adventure in the Rhineland.
    Finally came the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, still 
dictating the peace of the world over forty years later. It boggles 
the imagination to consider what might have happened had Britain and 
France tried to frustrate the Fourth Partition of Poland, which lanced 
what been for centuries a festering boil on the European body politic, 
bringing at long last a final solution to the Polish question. Indeed, 
the pacification of Europe and the West might have been strangled in 
its cradle.
     The reader may believe that in this essay I have relied too 
heavily on fantasy. What might have been, he may feel, is as nothing 
compared to what is and has been. But that is just the problem: we see 
among us today warmongers sometimes called by the euphemism of 
"hawks." 
     These persons must be made to see the truth of Santayana's obser-
vation that they who do not remember the past are condemned to relive 
it. Throughout this century, we have, by our resolute and vigorously 
stated belief that peace is preferable to war and by our repeated 
willingness through solemn treaty to pledge ourself committed to that 
belief whenever the opportunity presented, prevented a major conflict.
     But we may not always be so lucky. The time may come when good 
intentions no longer pave the road to heaven.

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[Prof. Samuel McCracken is Assistant to the President of Boston Uni-
versity, author of the book "The War Against the Atom," and a Charter 
Subscriber to Access to Energy.]

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