WHEN a nation goes to war, who are the people on the firing line? The people who brought on the war? No. They only build the fires of hell for others.
There can be little doubt but that if the men at the front were to vote, sixty days after the excitement caused by the rush to arms a majority would decide that it was a mistake.
It makes a lot of difference whether you are tramping all day through dust or mud, eating canned food, when you must consult the label on the can to tell what it is, sleeping on the ground with bugs crawling over you, looking into the mouths of guns, --or staying at home and whooping it up in the papers, where the only blood you see is in the large red type on the extras.
Sometimes the people who have been partly instrumental in creating war view it from a hill or tree, and sometimes they may lead the army when retreating and the hind ranks become the front ranks.
How the world now looks back to the days of old, the merry days of old, the tournament days, when men challenged each other and, dressed in tin cans, attempted to punch each other's lives out through the slats in the tin!
But the days of the duel have passed away. Less than a hundred years ago each gentleman of rank had his dueling pistols, which are now sold as relics of days gone by, and dueling is frowned on by all nations. In France it still remains in an opera-bouffe way. There the dueling pistols are so small they can be used as cuff-links or scarf pins when not in use otherwise. But personal encounters on the field of honor are things of the past and slander is taken care of by the courts.
The only difference between duels of individuals and duels between nations is that the former are less harmful. It looks to me as if the men who cause the duels of nations are like the seconds in the old dueling days; they are not the principals, they are merely the ones who arrange the details and call the doctor when it is all over.
Love of a country is good. Love of a man is better. The giving up of personal encounters is only a step in the greater, come move of National Disarmament.
This must and will appeal to reason more and more as the years pass by. There is no more sense in nations meeting on the field of battle, than there is in individuals meeting there, and if the people who force nations into war were put in the front ranks on the firing line, fewer wars would be declared.
Is it not evident that a process of simultaneous and progressive arming defeats its own purpose? Scarce answers to scare and force begets force, until at length it comes to be seen that we are racing one after another after a phantom security which continually vanishes as we approach. If we hold with the late Mr. Hay, that "War is the most futile and ferocious of human follies," what are we to say of the surpassing futility of expending he strength and substance of nations on preparations for war, possessing no finality, amenable to no alliances that statesmen can devise and forever consuming the well-being and vitality of is people?
SIR HENRY CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN.
Everybody recognizes that the limitations of armaments will gradually have as a collary the reduction of the hours of labor, the reduction of the price of goods, the development of the country, the improvement of transport, of public instruction of hygiene, and the adoption of social reforms. People calculate what a country might do in the way of construction the railways, bridges, ports, machinery, schools, museums with merely a part of the money which is devoted to naval and military budgets * * * the governments no longer have a choice. It is impossible to continue the present system. Only ten years hence people will be astonished that it would have lasted so long.
BARON d'ESTOURNELLES DE CONSTANT.
Turning now to the cost of wars in money, the figures are staggering and would be more so if they could be fully obtained. Only approximate correctness is claimed for the following statements;
The Napoleonic campaigns covering nineteen years, in which France, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Austria, Spain, Russia and Turkey were involved, $15,000,000,000.
The British-American war of 1812-14, $300,000,000.
The United States-Mexican war of 1846-48, $180,000,000.
The Crimean war of 18540-56, $1,666,000,000j.
The Italian wars of 1859, $294,000,000.
The Schleswig-Holstein war of 1864, $34,000,000.
The American Civil War of 1861-65, North and South, $8,000,000,000. (A recent estimate places the cost of this war including pensions and interest since paid at $13,000,000,000.)
The Prussian-Austrian war of 1866, $325,000,000.
The Expeditions to Mexico, Morocco, Cochin China, etc., 1861 to 1867, $2000,000,000.
The Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, $3,000,000,000.
The Russo-Turkish war of 1877, $1,100,000,000.
The Zulu and Afghan wars of 1879, $150,000,000.
The China-Japan war of 1894-95, $60,000,000.
The British-Boer war of 1899-1901, $1,300,000,000. (Great Britain, $1,250,000,000; Boer Republics, estimated $50,000,000.)
Spanish-American-Philippine war of 1898 to 1902, $800,000,000. (The United States for five years, Edward Atkinson's estimate, $700,000,000; Spain and the Philippines, estimated, $100,000,000.)
The Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905, $1,735,000,000. (Russia, $935,000,000; Japan, $800,000,000.)
Horace Mann says:
If a thousandth part of what has been expended on war and preparing its mighty engines had been devoted to the development of reason and the diffusion of Christian principles, nothing would have been know for centuries past of its terrors, its sufferings, its impoverishment, its demoralization, but what was learned from history.