A Way To Prevent War: Chapter 2

Not every man is thoroughly informed with regard to currency and banking, but every man knows whether he wants to be shot.

An anti-war program that will work

The power to declare aggressive war should be taken from the ruling class and deposited in the people, to be exercised by them only by direct ballot.

The power to resist actual attack in force should remain in the hands of the Congress and the President whose duty, in such circumstances, it should be to defend and protect the people of the United States without resort to special authority from the people.

In the face of threatened invasion, or of any other emergency indicating speedy attack in force, the Congress and the President should have the power, without resort to special authority from the people, to make every needful provision for defense up to, but not including, the firing of the first gun. All other military preparations made by Congress should be subject to referendum. The first gun should never be fired by the United States except by order of a majority of the qualified electors expressed by direct ballot.

The electors qualified to vote upon a proposal to declare war should consist of all the men and women in the United States more than 18 years old. War is the concern of women as much as it is of men, and if a boy 18 years of age is old enough to die for his country he is also wise enough to know whether he wants to die.

Congress, by majority vote of the membership of each house thereof, should have the power to propose war.

War having been thus proposed, Congress should set a day for a general election throughout the United States to pass upon the proposal. The day should not be set within 60 days from the date of the proposal, nor should it be later than six months therefrom.

The people should be given time to ponder upon the solemnity of the occasion, but it would be neither just nor prudent to permit a threat of war to hand too long over another nation.

The ballot should consist of a slip of paper upon which should be printed the question:

Shall the United States declare war again [BLANK - Naming the nation] NO over YES

Each voter should be required to sign his or her name opposite the word indicating his or her desire.

At each poling place, an accurate record should be kept of the numerical order in which the electors exercised the right of franchise.

In counting, the ballots cast by those desiring war should be kept apart from the ballots of those opposed to war.

Electors not voting should be regarded as having voted against war.

In the event of a majority of the men and women in the United States voting for war, the President, as Commander-in-chief of the army and navy, should proceed to make war.

Every man who voted for war should be regarded as having thereby automatically enlisted in the army.

The President should be authorized to send to the front all of the men and who voted for war, or as many thereof as he might deem necessary.

If all of the men who voted for war should prove unable to defeat the foe, the President should be authorized to select by lot and muster into service all the men who did not vote.

If still more soldiers should be required, the President should be authorized to muster into service the men who voted against the war, choosing first those who voted against war latest in the day and working backward upon the lists to the first man in each precinct who voted against the war, who should be the last man called upon to fight.

The President should be forbidden to send to the front any man who voted against war until every man who voted for war had been mustered into service, and the resultant army proved insufficient.

Women who vote for war should not be required to perform military service unless war would not have been declared without their votes.

If the votes of women should turn the scale toward war, the women who voted for war should be mustered into the military service in the order in which they cast their ballots at their respective polling places. But in no circumstances should a woman who voted against war be required to perform military services.

Every writer, public speaker and public official who shall advocate war with a particular nation or group of nations should be sent to prison for not less than one year nor more than five unless he forthwith files notice of such advocacy with the President of the United States. If, within five years of such advocacy, war should take place between the United States and such nation or nations, such persons should be immediately sent to the front as common soldiers and kept on the firing line until the end of the war, unless temporarily incapacitated by wounds. Such persons, if wounded, should upon recovery, be sent back to the front and kept there until the end of the war.

The power to formulate and execute foreign policies and to conduct negotiations with foreign powers should be taken from the President and deposited in Congress.

The present Department of State should be abolished and all of its functions transferred to a joint congressional committee on foreign relations.

This committee should consist of such equal number of members of each house as the two houses of Congress might mutually agree upon, each house electing its own representatives upon the committee.

The chairman of the committee, who should not necessarily be a member of Congress, should be elected by the two houses in joint session. He should rank as the Minister of Foreign Affairs should have, in the disposal of minor matters and routine affairs, such latitude for individual discretion as Congress might choose to give him; but in matters of moment he should act only under the direction of Congress, as expressed directly or through the committee of foreign relations.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs should be required, not later than the close of each business day, to give to the press all the messages that he had received during the preceding 24 hours from (1) American Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls and every other official or personal agent, by whatever title known; (2), all the messages sent during the same time to American Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls and other agents dispatched to other nations; (3), all the dispatches received from the representatives, official or otherwise, of foreign nations and officials; (4), and all the dispatches sent to the representatives of foreign nations and officials.

It should be unlawful for anybody except the chairman of the committee on foreign affairs to communicate, in the name of the United States, with American diplomatic and consular agents abroad, or with the official or unofficial representatives of foreign governments.

It should be unlawful for the chairman of the committee on foreign relations to send verbal messages or to direct messages to any others than the persons for whom they are actually intended.

Any evasion of these provisions, either by trick or device or by failure to publish messages the same day they are received or sent, should be deemed sufficient justification for the impeachment of the chairman of the committee on foreign relations, for his removal from office and for his indictment upon a charge of felony, upon conviction of which he should be imprisoned in a federal prison for not less than one year nor more than five.

Warships, guns and ammunition should be manufactured only by the government. No individual or corporation should be permitted to have a pecuniary interest in urging preparation for war.

The foregoing is a brief outline of the program that, if adopted by the world, would banish war from the world. It is based upon the assumption that wars are fomented by individuals and that the natural tendency of people is to keep the peace. The plan, therefore, contemplates three distinct achievements:

(1) The punishment of writers, speakers, and public officials who foment wars, by compelling them to be common soldiers on the firing line in any wars they may provoke;

(2) The placing of diplomacy in the daylight, to the end that the people may have full and accurate knowledge of their negotiations with other nations, as they proceed from day to day. It is the lies told by diplomatists that inflame people who would otherwise be peaceful. It is the darkness in which diplomatists work that enables them to commit aggressions that they would not dare to attempt if their own people knew what they were doing.

(3) The equal apportionment of power and responsibility, so far as a declaration of war is concerned, among all of the American people. As matters now stand, 134 men in Congress and one man in the White House have all of the power without any of the physical responsibility, while the rest of the people have all of the physical responsibility without any of the power. The exercise of power unbalanced by responsibility tends toward the abuse of power. Responsibility for the acts of others without power to prevent the acts is an aggravated form of slavery. It is an incomparably greater assault upon justice for a few men to have the power to send all others into the field to kill human beings than it would be for a few men to have the power to send all others into the field to raise cotton or reap wheat.

It is not the contention of the writer, however, that the foregoing reaches the root of the war evil, in the sense that it reaches the cause of war. So long as men tolerate laws under which the necessities of life are subject to private ownership, so long will a few men own the necessities and so long will the greed of the few precipitate situations that will cause them to prefer war to the abandonment of their purposes.

The plan herewith proposed is an attempt to prevent a few men from sending all other men to war. It is proposed to do this by taking from the few the power to make a war-declaration and giving it not only to all men, but to all women.

If this be wrong, democracy is wrong.

If this be unnecessary, democracy is unnecessary.

If democracy is necessary to decide the tariff question, it is infinitely more needed to decide the death question.

Not every man is thoroughly informed with regard to currency and banking, but every man knows whether he wants to be shot.

Upon this question of personal preference, everyone can vote with precision and with certainty.

War is an evil of such colossal proprotions that it should be curbed at the earliest possible moment. War is like a great tiger thirsting for human blood. The anti-war program here presented, which will be explained and elaborated during the following chapters, is intended to be a steel cage enveloping the tiger. The tiger once caged, we shall have time to consider the best means of killing him.