War: Is It Necessary?
If war is necessary, it is a necessary evil. Its evil is sometimes concealed for a time by its glamour and excitement; but when war is seen in its reality, there is a very little glory about it. At its best, it is a hideous calamity. Think of the awful loss of life. In the Great Wars, millions of men, women, and children were killed or died of disease, famine, and untold sufferings. And a war generally sweeps away the strongest and best men of a country and leaves the aged, the weak, and the unfit to carry on the race. Then think of the sorrow and suffering it causes to those whom it does not kill—the widows, the fatherless, and the childless, who mourn for their dearest; the devastated homes and wrecked hearts. Think, too, of the destruction of property, the waste of wealth, the dislocations of trade and industry, the crushing burdens of taxation, the general upsetting of the social life of the nations. Finally, think of the international hatred and bitterness that remain to be the seeds of more wars in the future.
If war is such an evil, is it really necessary? Few people will be found to defend war as a good thing, especially after the awful experience of the Great War. But many, while admitting it as a terrible evil, will argue that it is necessary. They say that so long as human nature is human nature, there must be wars and that no other way has been devised of settling national disputes. This is an attitude of despair. Men have found a way to abolish other great evils, such as slavery; and if they want to abolish war they can find a way to do that. If they want to abolish war” that is the center of the problem. “Where there is a will there’s away.”
In old days there were within a nation blood feuds, duels, private wars, and revenge. So long as these things existed, law and order, and security of life and property, were impossible. Civilized nations have abolished them all, and for private wars have substituted the law-courts and the police. They have abolished private wars, because they felt the absolute necessity of doing so; and the nations will find a way of abolishing international wars when they have become sufficiently impressed with the necessity of doing so, and will adopt courts of arbitration to settle their disputes. When once the world believes that wars are not only evil, but also unnecessary, war will cease.