The War Game


By Nicholas Klein

“Thou Shalt Not Kill”-Moses in the Decalog.

“O, war, Thou son of Hell”-William Shakespeare.

“War is the Trade of Barbarism.”-Napoleon Bonaparte.

“War is the Work of Butchers.”-R. Kipling.

If you shoot a man in the heat of an argument and take his life, you are guilty of homiaide and the State may forfeit your life for the crime. But put on a uniform, kill a dozen men in war by shooting them in the back; men whom you have never seen and do not know, and you get an iron cross for bravery. There is a difference, to be sure. This difference: One is retail murder, an accident; the other, well-planned wholesale murder.

Just imagine an army in overalls! It would never work. It would be no army. There must be the glitter and the show; the drums, trumpets, medals, shoulder-straps, lace and the sash. This is more important than the sword and the gun. It is the big thing in the war game. And you find it so everywhere. Overdressed women lack brain, and seek to attract the male sex by a display of jewelry and dress. The tiger has a gaudy skin. Most snakes have remarkable skins and cheapen in our eyes the sombre coat of the useful horse and cow. The polly has a gay coat, but is useless. The peacock is strong on the dress proposition, but is of no real value. Then there is the leopard, tool. How long would an army last if the stage effects were removed? If recruiting offices would explain the cannons, the flying legs, the smokeless powder, the leaking brains, the rotting bodies, how many would join?

Of course, the war game has changed since Caesar’s time. Our friend Caesar could stop a revolution in first-class style. He simply went after the leader and picked him off. This

killed the war. Then he killed all the warriors, of course. He was sensible with the war proposition. No dilly-dallying then. An enemy was an enemy and he had to be killed. Sometimes they would kill the enemy on the battlefield. Often there was death by way of religious sacrifice, and often the captured were slowly killed through slavery. But killed they were, because they were enemies and had to die. Then came Napoleon, the man whose ambition (he called it “Destiny”) was to place Europe under his crown. He “civilized” war! This man whose fancy cost Europe seventeen million lives, or two thousand a day for twenty-three years, got a new scheme. He would improve on Caesar! He pensioned the captured enemy and feasted them at banquets.

And this has been done ever since.

During the Spanish-American war we worked it. Admiral Cervera and his officers were captured and feted at Annapolis. They had private chambers, elaborate table delicacies and pin money. Shades of Caesar, what a joke! First we line up the armies to slaughter one another, then leave the dead behind rotting in the sun, and the captured foe who escaped death on the field of battle is feted and dined; or changed off, only to go through the same stunt again until all are killed off or the war is stopped. It is just like having one set of men rolling stones up a hill and another set throwing them down again. Like digging holes and filling them up again. Like starting fires for the purpose of paying of the losses.

Take the Titanic disaster. Suppose the White Star Company officials had planned the disaster Surely the officials would have been fit for the coroners immediately. But let a nation plan away and kill thousands to satisfy an insane monarch. Then they call it patriot. ism. Since the siege of Troy 40,000,000 persons have been killed every century in this war game. DURING THIRTY CENTURIES 1,200,000,000 men, women and children have been killed in war. This is almost the present population of the entire globe. Does the war game pay? The English worker is still paying the bills for Waterloo. We are paying dearly for Gettysburg and the Wilderness.

And how can they ever justify that slaughter house in Europe”. They kill linen but respect masterpieces. The world sheds tears over Rheims, but not over New York. The world can see crime in the destruction of the Louvain cathedral, but none in the death of a man. People know the sacredness of property, but not the sacredness of human life. We can see a violated neutrality, but we cannot see a violated human being. Europe has placed Krupp above Voltaire, property above man, death above life, darkness above light and the Kaiser above the people.

If all mankind murdered in wars could raise their voices from the grave! If the pillage, rape, fire, mangled bodies and flying arms and throughout the centuries could only be thrown on the motion picture screen! If the millions could only rely to the question of war, we would abolish it at once. There would be no more license to murder.

You cannot make a civilized man believe that war is necessary, or even good. If it keeps down the surplus population, then why the Red Cross Why not kill them all off and be done with it? Why bandage the wounded” Why the exchange of prisoners. As the hunger for Brotherhood grows stronger, the stock of war goes down. Intelligent beings do not murder wholesale or retail. Only foolish men desire to strut about in uniform. Normal men desire peace and sombre clothes.

We weep when a Titanic goes down. We demand justice when a grasping theater proprietor is negligent and causes loss of life. ALL the world contributes to save the starving East Indian. We shed crocodile tears for the flood and volcano sufferers and the dead. But get up a war, bring out the tomtoms and the show, the brass buttons and the flags, and the people go wild. Hurrah! The war is on! The fellows who come back without being killed are idolized and feasted. The dead are heroes and their widows are entitled to a pension. Great game-this war game. Fine way of settling your quarrels. Just kill the other fellow and you have triumphed. God was with the right-and of course YOU were right, as usual. This is the war game. Will we be forced into its awfulness Will we have to play this game with human bones’ Will America become part of the modern slaughter house? Will we also be drawn into the vortex?

The answer of every man who loves America, is to point at the European Moloch. The real patriot loves America too well, and will help to steer the ship of state away from the game of war, in any event.