Coming upon three months into the presidency of Donald J. Trump, we have sadly seen a continuation of the expansion of US military intervention practiced by his predecessor with strikes in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and posturing against the provocations of North Korea. One, less than satisfying silver-lining can be gleaned though from the response–that is, the criticism from people who supported Trump in his campaign. Unlike with the egregious military actions of Barack Obama, Trump is facing pushback from many of those who voted him into office especially in the recent launch of 59 Tomahawk missiles on an airbase in Syria which provoked condemnation from Russia and Iran among other nations. The moment is precarious and the next moves by the United States remains to be seen.
In the quotes below from Thomas Woods Jr.’s We Who Dared to Say No to War, two United States Senators, an American transcendentalist, and a clergyman highlight a number of the lasting issues of war around the time of the Mexican-American War. The reason Americans can live in places like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California is because of this war of conquest by the military of the United States under the concept of Manifest Destiny, or the God-ordained fate of the United States to reach the Pacific Ocean.
Senator Charles Sumner draws attention to the pageantry of the military and the deception of the youth and the citizens, flip-flopping morality in the minds of the people. Theodore Parker continues on that point and likens war to the unjust legitimization of bullying of the weak by the strong. Alexander Campbell brings up the age old dilemma of war which is that those who are called upon to murder one another in war don’t actually have personal quarrels and that if they were to meet one another in peacetime they would likely treat each other with respect and perhaps well wishes. Please read and consider the words of this handful of anti-war writers against the military aggression toward our neighbor to the south from Thomas Woods Jr.’s We Who Dared to Say No to War as the tension draws tighter from the recklessness of world leaders.
Senator Henry Clay
I regard all wars as great calamities, to be avoided, if possible, and honorable peace as the wisest and truest policy of this country. (23)
Senator Charles Sumner
Can there be in our age any peace that is not honorable, any war that is not dishonorable? The true honor of a nation is conspicuous only in deeds of justice and beneficence, securing and advancing human happiness. (26)
…when the youth becomes a man, his country invites his service in war, and holds before his bewildered imagination the prizes of worldy honor…His soul is taught to swell at the thought that he, too is a soldier–that his name shall be entered on the list of those who have borne arms for their great country. (27)
Men needed to hew wood and honestly serve society are marching about your streets; they are learning to kill men, men who never harmed us nor them; learning to kill their brothers. It is a mean and infamous war we are fighting. It is a great boy fighting a little one, and that one feeble and sick. What makes it worse is, the little boy is in the right, and the big boy is in the wrong, and tells solemn lies to make his side seem right. (28)
If the end alone justifies the means, what shall we think of the wisdom or the justice of war, of of the authors and prominent actors of these scenes? War is not now, nor was it ever, a process of justice. It never was a test of truth–a criterion of right. It is either a mere game of chance or a violent outrage of the strong upon the weak. (46)
The men that fight are not the men that make the war. Politicians, merchants, knaves, and princes cause or make the war, declare the war, and hire men to kill for them those that may be hired on the other side to thwart their schemes of personal and family aggrandizement.
The soldiers on either side have no enmity against the soldiers on the other side, because with them they have no quarrel. Had they met in any other field, in their citizen dress, other than in battle array, they would, most probably have not only inquired after the welfare of each other, but would have tendered to each other their assistance if called for. (47)
Find We Who Dared to Say No to War at Thomas Woods Jr.’s website.
Click here for his podcast The Tom Woods Show.