the question, Shall we send our youth to war? in an
article prepared for the August, 1939 issue of the American Magazine,
me say something from this experience of what war really is. Those
who lived in it, and our American boys who fought in it, dislike
to recall its terribleness. We dwell upon its glories the
courage, the heroism, the greatness of spirit in men. I myself
should like to forget all else .Amid the afterglow of glory
and legend we forget the filth, the stench, the death, of the
trenches. We forget the dumb grief of mothers, wives, and children.
War is hell.
We are told this whenever we mention the atrocities committed, as
if this pithy little phrase justifies the tragedy. Hoover here sees
that war IS hell, however he sees this as reason to avoid entering
in every way possible.
There is a
scene in the movie The
Americanization of Emily. This movie stars James Garner
as Charlie Madison, an American officer in England during WWII,
and Julie Andrews as Emily Barham, a British war widow also
having lost other family members to war.
The scene has
Charlie Madison visiting the home of Mrs. Barham, Emilys mother.
Mrs. Barham is in great denial regarding the many deaths that war
has brought to her family her husband and son among others.
She still acts as if her husband is alive, and Emily goes along
with this denial.
When Mrs. Barham
exclaims that after the war, it will be all the generals and statesmen
writing books saying how it could have been avoided, Charlie explains
that he doesnt blame the generals and statesmen. He blames
the mothers! The mothers make heroes out of their dead sons; they
are the first to walk in the parade. Charlie explains that his own
mother did this regarding Charlies brother. And now Charlies
youngest brother cant wait to enlist.
The clip is
about ten minutes long, and I highly recommend spending the time.
It can be found here:
those who fought in the trenches in the First World War, Hoover
an inspiring heroism for all time. But how much greater a world
it would be today if that heroism and character could have lived.
(tragically too few) count the cost of war. Cost in lives, cost
in injuries both physical and mental, cost to the family, cost in
wealth destroyed. But what of the cost of the unseen? We are regularly
told that those who go overseas to fight the wars are the best and
the brightest of Americas youth. If so, what of the cost of
what those same youth are NOT producing while fighting overseas
or worse, if they are killed or permanently injured?
In words that
are as applicable today as when Hoover wrote them, he writes (regarding
the First World War):
It has cost
us 40 billions of dollars. And that represents more than just
dollars. Today we have a quarter to a third of the American people
below a decent standard of living. If that 40 billions of wealth
had remained in America, these people would not be in this plight.
dollars spent during WWI is the equivalent of something over $500
billion today. Estimates range regarding the costs of US wars over
the last decade somewhere between $1 trillion and $4 trillion.
Over 15% of Americans live in poverty. Again, 15% receive food stamps.
Official unemployment is reported at approximately 9%, but according
to John Williams at Shadowstats is actually above 20%. Inflation,
officially reported at approximately 3% is reported by Shadowstats
at approximately 6%. To paraphrase Hoover, if those trillions of
wealth had remained in America, these people would not be in this
into self-examination regarding his support for America entering
joined in the almost unanimous view of our countrymen that America
must go into that war. We had been directly attacked I believed
that with our singleness of purpose we could impose an enlightened
peace; that we could make it a war to end war. I believed we could
make the world safe for the spread of human liberty. If experience
has any value to nations, there are in the wrecking of those hopes
a thousand reasons why we should never attempt it again .
strike me about these paragraphs. First, that Hoover believes the
US was innocent in being attacked as provocation to enter the war.
her passengers but probably no secret to the Germans, almost all
her hidden cargo consisted of munitions and contraband destined
for the British war effort. Lusitania departed Pier 54 in New
York on 1 May 1915. The German Embassy in Washington had issued
this warning on 22 April 1915.
intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that
a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great
Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters
adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal
notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying
the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable
to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in
the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do
so at their own risk.
D.C. 22nd April 1915
was printed adjacent to an advertisement for Lusitania's return
voyage. The warning led to some agitation in the press and worried
the ship's passengers and crew.
Hoover naïvely and arrogantly believed that somehow his was
the generation that could do what was never done before: win everlasting
peace by fighting the next war.
Third, as discussed
by Charlie Madison in the abovementioned video clip, it is the statesmen
(in this case Hoover) who always write afterwards about what a mistake
it was to go into the war that they previously advocated entering.
least one can say Hoover has seen a glimpse of the light. From his
past arrogance and blunders, he has concluded that a little humility
and caution is in order.
and Iraq were not the first wars entered into by the US government
on shifting and ever-changing causes and justifications.
before our eyes the game shifts. We were originally going to quarantine
dictators and again save democracy. Today we have two or three
dictators on our team .
can hold the light of liberty alight on this continent. That is
the greatest service we can give to civilization
given by Hoover in this 1939 article. It is unfortunate that this
was not followed. Hitler and Stalin could have had a great time
pummeling each other. It is more unfortunate that Hoover did not
come to this view prior to the US entering WWI. Absent the involvement
of the US, the next thirty years would likely have been far different
in Europe. Different for the better, as events could not have transpired