Thursday, July 05, 2007

War Breeds Only War

This passage, from one of my favourite books, meant something years ago, and means something now:

As there was no compulsion towards a conflict which, in despite of the apparent bitterness of the parties, took so long to engage and needed so much assiduous blowing to fan the flame, so no right was vindicated by its ragged end. The war solved no problem. Its effects, both immediate and indirect, were either negative or disastrous. Morally subversive, economically destructive, socially degrading, confused in its causes, devious in its course, futile in its result, it is the outstanding example in European history of meaningless conflict. The overwhelming majority . . . . wanted no war; powerless and voiceless, there was no need to even persuade them that they did. The decision was made without thought of them. Yet of those who, one by one, let themselves be drawn into the conflict, few were irresponsible and nearly all were genuinely anxious for an ultimate and better peace. Almost all . . . were actuated by fear rather than by lust of conquest or passion of faith.

They wanted peace and they fought for thirty years to be sure of it. They did not learn then, and have not since, that war breeds only war.

C. V. Wedgwood, The Thirty Years War, London, 1938.

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