Henceforth we must recognize no heroic war but defensive war, and as the only honorable warriors such men as those peasants of Vise who went out with shotguns against the multitudinous overwhelming nuisance of invasion that trampled down their fields.
Or war to aid such defensive war.
But the people who positively admire and advocate and want war for its own sake are only a small, feverish minority of mankind. The greater obstacle to the pacification of the world is not the war-seeker, but the vast masses of people who for the most various motives support and maintain all kinds of institutions and separations that make for war. They do not want war, they do not like war, but they will not make sacrifices, they will not exert themselves in any way to make war difficult or impossible.
It is they who give the war maniac his opportunity. They will not lock the gun away from him, they will not put a reasonable limit to the disputes into which he can ultimately thrust his violent substitute for a solution. They are like the people who dread and detest yellow fever, but oppose that putting of petrol on the ponds which is necessary to prevent it because of the injury to the water flowers.
Now, it is necessary, if we are to have an intelligently directed anti-war campaign, that we should make a clear, sound classification of these half-hearted people, these people who do not want war, but who permit it. Their indecisions, their vagueness, these are the really effective barriers to our desire to end war forever.
And first, there is one thing very obvious, and that is the necessity for some controlling world authority if treaties are to be respected and war abolished. While there are numerous sovereign States in the world each absolutely free to do what it chooses, to arm its people or repudiate engagements, there can be no sure peace. But great multitudes of those who sincerely desire peace forever cannot realize this. There are, for example, many old-fashioned English liberals who denounce militarism and “treaty entanglements” with equal ardor; they want Britain to stand alone, unaggressive, but free; not realizing that such an isolation is the surest encouragement to any war-enamored power. Exactly the same type is to be found in the United States, and is probably even more influential there. But only by so spinning a web of treaties that all countries are linked by general obligations to mutual protection can a real world-pacification be achieved.
The present alliance against the insufferable militarism of Germany may very probably be the precursor of a much wider alliance against any aggression whatever in the future. Only through some such arrangement is there any reasonable hope of a control and cessation of that constant international bickering and pressure, that rivalry in finance, that competition for influence in weak neutral countries, which has initiated all the struggles of the last century, and which is bound to accumulate tensions for fresh wars so long as it goes on.