Dear Mr. Strakon,


When the Civil War had ended, General Robert E. Lee, who was an officer and a gentleman by all accounts, had lost any enthusiasm he may have once had for war. You know this, if you know him.

The Civil War victor, General Ulysses S. Grant shared the opinion of Lee. Grant coined the word "lobbyists" to name the war profiteers who came to the Willard Hotel lobby to corrupt members of the government; Even as President, he was powerless to do anything. Grant avoided correcting obvious difficulties with Reconstruction because he was reluctant to replay the terrible war. He made an honest attempt to reconcile the awful tragedy that had ripped his country asunder and destroyed the South. Things for which he was directly responsible.

Others — General George Armstrong Custer immediately comes to mind — learned no lessons whatsoever from the Civil War. We know what happens to people who don't learn lessons.

Everyone should know that General Dwight D. Eisenhower learned a lesson from World War II. He did his best to leave a peaceful legacy when he became the President. At considerable risk to his health, he toured the world after his heart attack to try to cultivate peace. He told the American people there was no "missile gap" and sent the U-2 flights over the U.S.S.R. to prove it; he deftly dealt with "McCarthyism"; he warned of the "military industrial complex"; he played golf.

General Douglas MacArthur, the most decorated American soldier of WW I — whose crowning achievement to a long and distinguished military career was the peace he made in Japan which allowed the Japanese to recover from the terrible blow of WW II — summed up the problem with these words:

It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.

Like Custer, the people who currently are running with the bit in their teeth have learned nothing from the past century for which people like them are directly responsible.

Sadly, hard lessons are yet to be learned — by the innocent (as usual) as well as by the guilty. Perhaps this can be averted, perhaps not. People had better start listening to people who know what they are talking about.

 

- Morley Evans

 

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