a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing

This is London. In a moment, you will hear the Prime Minister, Right Honorable Neville Chamberlain, speaking from Number10 Downing Street. His speech will be heard all over the Empire, throughout the continent of America, and in a large number of foreign countries. Mr Chamberlain:

To-morrow Parliament is going to meet, and I shall be making a full statement of the events which have led up to the present anxious and critical situation.
    An earlier statement would not have been possible when I was flying backwards and forwards across Europe, and the position was changing from hour to hour. But to-day there is a lull for a brief time, and I want to say a few words to you, men and women of Britain and the Empire, and perhaps to others as well.
    First of all I must say something to those who have written to my wife or myself in these last weeks to tell us of their gratitude for my efforts and to assure us of their prayers for my success. Most of these letters have come from women — mothers or sisters of our own countrymen. But there are countless others besides – from France, from Belgium, from Italy, and even from Germany, and it has been heartbreaking to read the growing anxiety they reveal and their intense relief when they thought, too soon, that the danger of war was past.
    If I felt my responsibility heavy before, to read such letters has made it seem almost overwhelming. How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already been settled in principle should be the subject of war.
    I can well understand the reasons why the Czech Government have felt unable to accept the terms which have been put before them in the German memorandum. Yet I believe after my talks with Herr Hitler that, if only time were allowed, it ought to be possible for the arrangements for transferring the territory that the Czech Government has agreed to give to Germany to be settled by agreement under conditions which would assure fair treatment to the population concerned.
    You know already that I have done all that one man can do to compose this quarrel. After my visits to Germany I have realised vividly how Herr Hitler feels that he must champion other Germans, and his indignation that grievances have not been met before this. He told me privately, and last night he repeated publicly, that after this Sudeten German question is settled, that is the end of Germany’s territorial claims in Europe.
    After my first visit to Berchtesgaden I did get the assent of the Czech Government to proposals which gave the substance of what Herr Hitler wanted and I was taken completely by surprise when I got back to Germany and found that he insisted that the territory should be handed over to him immediately, and immediately occupied by German troops without previous arrangements for safeguarding the people within the territory who were not Germans, or did not want to join the German Reich.
    I must say that I find this attitude unreasonable. If it arises out of any doubts that Herr Hitler feels about the intentions of the Czech Government to carry out their promises and hand over the territory, I have offered on part of the British Government to guarantee their words, and I am sure the value of our promise will not be underrated anywhere.
    I shall not give up the hope of a peaceful solution, or abandon my efforts for peace, as long as any chance for peace remains. I would not hesitate to pay even a third visit to Germany if I thought it would do any good. But at this moment I see nothing further that I can usefully do in the way of mediation.
    Meanwhile there are certain things we can and shall do at home. Volunteers are still wanted for air raid precautions, for fire brigade and police services, and for the Territorial units. I know that all of you, men and women alike, are ready to play your part in the defence of the country, and I ask you all to offer your services, if you have not already done so, to the local authorities, who will tell you if you are wanted and in what capacity.
    Do not be alarmed if you hear of men being called up to man the anti-aircraft defences or ships. These are only precautionary measures such as a Government must take in times like this. But they do not necessarily mean that we have determined on war or that war is imminent.
    However much we may sympathise with a small nation confronted by a big and powerful neighbour, we cannot in all circumstances undertake to involve the whole British Empire in war simply on her account. If we have to fight it must be on larger issues than that. I am myself a man of peace to the depths of my soul. Armed conflict between nations is a nightmare to me; but if I were convinced that any nation had made up its mind to dominate the world by fear of its force, I should feel that it must be resisted. Under such a domination life for people who believe in liberty would not be worth living; but war is a fearful thing, and we must be very clear, before we embark on it, that it is really the great issues that are at stake, and that the call to risk everything in their defence, when all the consequences are weighed, is irresistible.
    For the present I ask you to wait as calmly as you can the events of the next few days. As long as war has not begun, there is always hope that it may be prevented, and you know that I am going to work for peace to the last moment. Good night.

Transcribed from BBC Archive, “Chamberlain Addresses the Nation on His Negotiations for Peace”, 27 September 1938. See Neville Chamberlain, In Search of Peace: Speeches, 1937-1938, London, 1939, pp. 274-6.

waging peace, the centennial edition

And indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.

Barack Hussein Obama, 28 February 2014

On the same date, June 23, 1915, he wrote to his life-long friend Owen Wister:
    “Your friend, the English pacifist, turned up. He seems an amiable, fuzzy-brained creature; but I could not resist telling him that I thought that in the first place Englishmen were better at home doing their duty just at present, and in the next place, as regards both Englishmen and Americans, that the prime duty now was not to talk about dim and rosy Utopias but, as regards both of them, to make up their minds to prepare against disaster and, as regards our nation, to quit making promises which we do not keep. Taft, second only to Wilson and Bryan, is the most distinguished exponent of what is worst in our political character at the present day as regards international affairs; and a universal peace league meeting which has him as its most prominent leader, is found on the whole to do mischief and not good.
    “I was immensely pleased and amused with your last Atlantic article (‘Quack Novels and Democracy’) and I think it will do good. I wish you had included Wilson when you spoke of Bryan, and Pulitzer when you spoke of Hearst. Pulitzer and his successors have been on the whole an even greater detriment than Hearst, and Wilson is considerably more dangerous to the American people than Bryan. I was very glad to see you treat Thomas Jefferson as you did. Wilson is in his class. Bryan is not attractive to the average college bred man; but The Evening Post, Springfield Republican, and Atlantic Monthly creatures, who claim to represent all that is highest and most cultivated and to give the tone to the best college thought, are all ultra-supporters of Wilson, are all much damaged by him, and join with him to inculcate flabbiness of moral fiber among the very men, and especially the young men, who should stand for what is best in American life. Therefore to the men who read your writings Wilson is more dangerous than Bryan. Nothing is more sickening than the continual praise of Wilson’s English, of Wilson’s style. He is a true logothete, a real sophist; and he firmly believes, and has had no inconsiderable effect in making our people believe, that elocution is an admirable substitute for and improvement on action. I feel particularly bitter toward him at the moment because when Bryan left I supposed that meant that Wilson really had decided to be a man and I prepared myself to stand wholeheartedly by him. But in reality the point at issue between them was merely as to the proper point of dilution of tepid milk and water.”

—Joseph Bucklin Bishop, Theodore Roosevelt and His Time: Shown in His Own Letters, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920, pp. 385-386

The President’s first note to Berlin about the sinking of the Lusitania, the “strict accountability” note, was followed by a second in a tone so different that it drew from Elihu Root the memorable observation:
    “You shouldn’t shake your fist at a man and then shake your finger at him.
    Taft had humorously described Bryan’s statesmanship as: “Chautauquan diplomacy.
    Roosevelt had described the President’s foreign attitude as: “Waging peace.

Owen Wister, Theodore Roosevelt: The Story of a Friendship, 1880-1919, Macmillan, 1930, p. 344

liberal heroics

From: larvatus
Date: December 9th, 2012 12:27 pm (local)
I deny both the premiss, that liberal societies attribute an equal and unexchangeable value to each person, and the conclusion, that the figure of a hero is categorically improper therein. The former is belied by utilitarian reasoning that undergirds every public policy in modern democracies. As to the latter, we live in a country that made a secular saint of MLK after elevating Ike to its highest elected office. More recent examples can be found here.

From: aptsvet
Date: December 9th, 2012 12:43 pm (local)
The problem actually is more complicated than that. One has to defend a deontological position in a world of limited resources. So whether one wishes it or not, one has to recourse to utilitarian methods. Which does not change the validity of the principle. Even morals is not a suicide pact. Perhaps I will make an additional argument in my next essay.
As to the hero worship, examples do not matter, they are simply a way of pandering — could you direct me to a theoretical work? We live in a society subscribing to liberal principles, it does not mean we live in a liberal society.

From: larvatus
Date: December 9th, 2012 04:21 pm (local)
There is no duty to be a deontologist. Aristotelian virtue ethics is but one viable alternative that leaves plenty of room for heroics of all sorts in a society of your choosing. For Hellenic theory of our common ancestry, you might look into the Bernards: Knox and Williams. Likewise religious ethics, both within and without the Abrahamic lineage. On the moral importance of examples, please see Kant’s kasuistische Fragen.

From: aptsvet
Date: December 10th, 2012 07:13 am (local)
Actually, I do feel a duty to be a deontologist, it does not work any other way. At least where interpersonal relations are concerned. And I don’t believe one can treat ethics as a menu: utility today, virtue tomorrow.
Re heroes: personal moral example is something else; traditionally hero is somebody defending strictly parochial values, hardly compatible with the universalist aspirations of ethics.

From: larvatus
Date: December 10th, 2012 07:39 am (local)
I think some positions of social responsibility morally require a shift in deliberative criteria. The interrogator in charge of a “ticking bomb” scenario would fail his fellow citizens if he were to forgo otherwise blameworthy means of extracting information about defusing it from the terrorist in his custody. This is an instance of the common law doctrine of necessity that depending on circumstances can excuse acts both unlawful and immoral under normal conditions.
The notion that “strictly parochial values” are incompatible with the universalist aspirations of ethics highlights the necessity of Kantian casuistry. Thus: “Vedete come muore un italiano!” Generally speaking, a broad range of preferential treatments for members of one’s tribe, family, nation, or confession can readily pass the law of nature criterion. In this context, Bernard Williams took issue with the impersonal nature of moral systems. According to him, the idea of fairness and impartiality must have a limit, and in justifying one’s partiality in terms of impartial principles, one is in a sense removing the justification one already has — ‘she is my wife’. To specify some principle as to why and when is is permissible to show such partiality is to undermine the reality of oneself as a related and so moral being.

From: aptsvet
Date: December 10th, 2012 08:14 am (local)
On the “ticking bomb” issue: I find Nagel’s argument (in Mortal Questions) more convincing. Whoever tortures another human being and for whatever reason, should not pretend that he acts morally — even though the state ordering such a treatment may have used the best utilitarian logic.
On the second issue I would not dispute your point, I simply would like to emphasize again the term “strictly”. “She is my wife” is a passable argument; “she is my wife and perish the world” isn’t. Samson slaughtering the Philistines with an ass’s mandible doesn’t take their interests into account altogether.

From: larvatus
Date: December 10th, 2012 08:46 am (local)
As Saul Kripke might have retorted, whoever tortures another human being for reasons of necessity is acting schmorally. It bears notice that Kant interpreted “fiat iustitia, pereat mundus” as “es herrsche Gerechtigkeit, die Schelme in der Welt mögen auch insgesamt darüber zu Grunde gehen” [let justice reign even if it wipes out all the villains in the world]. Along these lines, slaughtering the Philistines in a just war serves their best legitimate interests in the best possible way.

septuagesimal

    Все жиды города Киева и его окрестностей должны явиться в понедельник 29 сентября 1941 года к 8 часам утра на угол Мельниковой и Доктеривской улиц (возле кладбища).
    Взять с собой документы, деньги, ценные вещи, а также теплую одежду, белье и пр.
    Кто из жидов не выполнит этого распоряжения и будет найден в другом месте, будет расстрелян.
    Кто из граждан проникнет в оставленные жидами квартиры и присвоит себе вещи, будет расстрелян.
    Наказується всім жидам міста Києва і околиць зібратися в понеділок дня 29 вересня 1941 року до год. 8 ранку на вул. Мельника — Доктерівській (коло кладовища).
    Всі повинні забрати з собою документи, гроші, білизну та інше.
    Хто не підпорядкується цьому розпорядженню, буде розстріляний.
    Хто займе жидівське мешкання або розграбує предмети з тих мешкань, буде розстріляний.


    Sämtliche Juden der Stadt Kiew und Umgebung haben sich am Montag, dem 29. September 1941 bis 8 Uhr; Ecke Melnik- und Dokteriwski-Strasse (an den Friedhoefen) einzufinden.
    Mitzunehmen sind Dokumente, Geld und Wertsachen sowie warme Bekleidung, Waesche usw.
    Wer dieser Aufforderung nicht nachkommt und anderweitig angetroffen wird, wird erschossen.
    Wer in verlassene Wohnungen von Juden eindringt oder sich Gegenstaende daraus aneignet, wird erschossen.

    All Jews of Kiev and its environs must appear on Monday, 29 September 1941 at 8 o’clock in the morning on the corner of Melnikova and Dokterivska Street (near the cemetery).
    All must take along documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear, etc.
    Any Jews who fail to comply with this order and are found elsewhere will be shot.
    Any citizens who enter the apartments vacated by Jews and appropriate their goods will be shot.

in memoriam


John Singer Sargent, Gassed, 1919, Imperial War Museum, London

            Dulce et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

—Wilfred Owen
(18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918)
The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
edited by Edmund Blunden
New Directions, 1965, p. 55


Henri de Groux, Masques à gaz, etching,
Royal Army and Military History Museum, Brussels
REPRODUCED FROM ART OF THE FIRST WORLD WAR

                                   LA NUIT D’AVRIL 1915

                                                                      À L. de C.-C.

                    Le ciel est étoilé par les obus des Boches
                    La forêt merveilleuse où je vis donne un bal
                    La mitrailleuse joue un air à triples-croches
                    Mais avez-vous le mot
                                                         Eh ! oui le mot fatal
                    Aux créneaux Aux créneaux Laissez là les pioches

                    Comme un astre éperdu qui cherche ses saisons
                    Cœur obus éclaté tu sifflais ta romance
                    Et tes mille soleils ont vidé les caissons
                    Que les dieux de mes yeux remplissent en silence

                    Nous vous aimons ô vie et nous vous agaçons

                    Les obus miaulaient un amour à mourir
                    Un amour qui se meurt est plus doux que les autres
                    Ton souffle nage au fleuve où le sang va tarir
                    Les obus miaulaient
                                                     Entends chanter les nôtres
                    Pourpre amour salué par ceux qui vont périr

                    Le printemps tout mouillé la veilleuse l’attaque
                    Il pleut mon âme il pleut mais il pleut des yeux morts

                    Ulysse que de jours pour rentrer dans Ithaque
                    Couche-toi sur la paille et songe un beau remords
                    Qui pur effet de l’art soit aphrodisiaque

                    Mais
                             orgues
                                         aux fétus de la paille où tu dors
                    L’hymne de l’avenir est paradisiaque

—Guillaume Apollinaire
(26 août 1880 – 9 novembre 1918)
Œuvres poétiques
édition établie et annotée par Marcel Adéma
Gallimard, 1965, pp. 243-244


Guillaume Apollinaire, 1916

кавалерист Моисей Исаакович Зелёный (1889-1934)
пехотинец Иосиф Моисеевич Зелёный (1920-2000)
артиллерист Исаак Моисеевич Зелёный (1923-2004)

what was hawaii doing in the pacific?

Reproduced from Zero Mostel’s FBI file:

Stage Door Canteen, Thursday, 13 August 1942

ZERO MOSTEL SPOT

MOSTEL:

My impression of a peculiar sapiensis Americanis, (the Isolationist Senator), who digs at our great President, is a holder of an X card, cannot get along on the starvation wages of $25,000 a year — the honorable Senator Phineas T. Pellegra, who never gets excited, who is always very calm and cool as he speaks about the democracy in which he doesn’t believe — in.

My fellow Americans, I take off my hat in America to no one — but in this great land of opportunity, in this great land of democracy, in the midst of plenty, where we have these various sacred principles that our fathers have fought for in the past, present and future, then I must reiterate that all our strength, that all our power, these same principles which we know to be true on the one hand — and on the other hand.

I may be vague, but permit me to be serious and bituminous at this moment, to illustrate this story with an incident that was related to me by the president of U.S. Congeal, a struggling monopoly.

He said to me, “Pellegra (he calls me by my first disease), you take your attitude away from your platitude — what have you got — FIDUCIARY?” — and this shows, my fellow Americans, that we cannot pursue a policy… that we cannot pursue a policy… that we cannot pursue a policy of… (DOUBLE TALK) …..FORGET IT!

I say to you, AMERICA FIRST!!!

(And what is the trouble with our war effort? I will tell you. The trouble with our war effort is that we have too many allies… twenty-six… we are too crowded! It is not restricted enough! Why, my golf club has more rules for admission than this war. Before we know it, it will be an unequal battle… the Axis will be outnumbered. Is that fair? Is that the American way?)

One final word. You know, I come from a state where there are no conditions, and if I were to tell the most serious and grievous problem facing the American people about this so-called Japanese attack on Hawaii, I have this to offer to you, my fellow Americans…… From one corner of our great land, in Rhode Island, to the other corner in California….. DOUBLE TALK….. DOUBLE TALK….. DOUBLE TALK….. This one question….. WHAT WAS HAWAII DOING IN THE PACIFIC?

Agent’s Note

It is believed the above excerpts taken from the broadcast of Stage Door Canteen on 13 August 1942 by the Columbia Broadcast System resulted in Sokolsky‘s criticism of the Subject in his column. Attention is directed to the fact that the script was not presented in its original form. The program director made deletions of certain passages in the script, which he apparently felt were in bad taste. These are shown in the script in brackets.