Thursday, 1 January 2015

Christmas 1914

The current edition of the Spectator quotes the leading article for the Christmas edition of 1914: 
We are not going to write a Christmas article on palm boughs and olive branches and the Angel of Peace. Not only is there no peace in sight for the world at the moment, but any talk of peace before our enemies are beaten, or even half beaten, and while their ambition, their hatred, and, if you will, their folly are at full blaze, could only tend to prolong the war. What we and our allies have got to let the world know just now is that, in General Grant’s words, altered to suit the season, we pro- pose to ‘fight it out on these lines all winter’ — yes, and all spring and all summer and all autumn, too, if necessary. For abstract talk about the joys of perpetual peace, about men growing saner and wiser and nobler, and about our banning the horrors and wickedness of war in the age to come, an epoch when the Powers will go to some Peace Tribunal as the good citizen to the County Court, we are even less inclined. Perpetual peace is no doubt obtainable at a price, but, to speak quite plainly, that price as set forth in any of the schemes we have ever seen is too high to pay even for that blessing, great as we willingly admit it is. The price is the abandonment of true liberty by the nations and the establishment of a vast tyranny, even if it be a beneficent tyranny, controlled conceivably by a Committee instead of a despot. And even that price, heavy as it must be, might not suffice.
I find these words very moving and noble. Germany and Austria Hungary did invade small countries in 1914 and we had a casus belli. As we had for going to war when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. Our case was just but we made a terrible mistake in 1914 and probably in 1939.

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