Archive for December, 2017

Trade Pact of Nations as Bar to Future Wars

This article argued that the optimal way to deter warfare was economic sanctions, a policy that was used far less at the time of its 1917 publication than today.

“Germany might not have gone to war if she could have conceived that the world would rise to defend the signatures on a scrap of paper. But neither Germany, nor even Bolshevist Russia, could fail to see that the world would infallibly and instantly defend and avenge interests so peculiar to each of them, and yet so common to all, as the security for the world’s commerce.”

Alas, the actual track record for economic sanctions as a deterrent to warfare has been decidedly mixed. As Center for the National Interest Executive Director Paul J. Saunders argued in a 2013 op-ed:

“Washington has not tried to compel another major power with sanctions since 1940-41, when America imposed them on Imperial Japan, culminating in an oil embargo and the seizure of Japanese assets in July 1941. At that time, the United States sought to deter Japan from seizing Southeast Asia and demanded that Tokyo withdraw from Indochina and China. Japan in turn concluded that American sanctions made the occupation of Southeast Asia essential, as well as the devastation of the United States Navy.”

In 2017, sanctions have been instituted earlier this year on Russia, North Korea, and Iran. All three are considered among the nations that America could most likely go to war with given current geopolitical conditions, especially if you count “cyberwar” as modern-day warfare.

The bill passed the Senate 98-2. It was signed into law over President Trump’s stated objections that the legislation “improperly encroaches on Executive power, disadvantages American companies, and hurts the interests of our European allies.” Only time will tell if the sanctions will be enough to prevent war.

Trade Pact of Nations as Bar to Future Wars: No Government Could Afford to Forfeit Privileges in World Clearing House or to Imperil Gold Hoard Belonging Jointly to All Countries (PDF)

From Sunday, December 9, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 8th, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Posted in Politics,War

Foreign Medals for American Soldier Heroes

Although America officially entered WWI in April 1917, the war began more than two and a half years earlier in July 1914. Some American soldiers had been serving in foreign armies since 1914, 1915, or 1916, fighting for nations that the U.S. would later officially ally with.

Under the bill, any American soldier would now be allowed to receive a foreign medal for their military service, such as the British Victoria Cross of the French Croix de Guerre.

Strangely, I’ve been unable to track down precisely whether this bill passed into law, as the article did not mention the bill’s exact title. It does not appear to be listed in this list of legislation enacted during that Congress, although that list acknowledges it’s incomplete. (If anybody in the comments section could track down the exact fate of this bill, it would be much appreciated.)

But presumably it passed, because there have been five American recipients of the Victoria Cross, all of whom were during WWI.

In 2017, the highest American military award called the Medal of Honor has never been awarded to a non-American recipient. Non-Americans have won other high American medals, the first being the Navy Cross to Ernesto Burzagli in 1919, two years after this article’s publication.

Foreign Medals for American Soldier Heroes: Congress Is to Pass a Bill Removing Restrictions on Acceptance and Display of Honor Awards from Allies (PDF)

From Sunday, December 9, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 7th, 2017 at 2:37 pm

Posted in Politics

Nation More United Than in Past Crises

During the Revolutionary War, an estimated 20 percent of colonists were loyalists to the Crown, 45 percent wanted independence, and the remaining 35 percent were undecided or somewhere in between.

During subsequent wars declared by Congress, the Senate only voted for the War of 1812 by 59 percent and voted for the Spanish-American War by 54 percent.

World War I saw no such doubt, either among Congress or the American public at large. The country was absolutely unified around its military conflict, in a way that would last through World War II several decades later, but become shattered in the Vietnam and post-Vietnam eras.

By 2017 we now live in a world where — as Bill Maher quipped — “You can’t get 70 percent of people to agree that the sun is hot.”

Nation More United Than in Past Crises: Throughout the Revolution, in War of 1812, and During Mexican, Civil, and Spanish Wars Our Internal Dissensions Were Continuous (PDF)

From Sunday, December 2, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 3rd, 2017 at 2:18 pm

Posted in War

War’s Subtle Changes in New York Life

How did World War I change daily life in New York City, even for those who weren’t fighting in the trenches?

  • Women weren’t wearing as fashionable clothing. “Fashionable social life expressed its lyric genius in a cumulative series of events designed to reveal feminine Spring in its most ardent mood. Not in 1917.”
  • People were rationing their food intake. “Eating has followed drinking as one of the pasttimes no longer in vogue.”
  • Knitting became huge. “This extraordinary popular activity has seized the feminine half of the community with a democratic disregard of classes. The servant and the mistress are alike obsessed.”
  • Theater took a hit. “All ordinary attractions fall almost instantly. In one week seven stars folded their tents on Broadway. Plays that might have prospered in some other season have no chance this year.” [The simultaneous surging popularity of movies also played a large role.

War’s Subtle Changes in New York Life: Although the City Is Outwardly Moving in the Same Old Ways, There Are Marked Differences Just Beneath the Surface (PDF)

From Sunday, November 25, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 2nd, 2017 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Life,War

Slackers Are Not Popular Among the Quakers

Quakers refused to take up arms in war, as their religious beliefs dictate, but that didn’t stop them from participating in every non-combat way they could during World War I. As explained by Robert Cromwell Root, Pacific Coast Director of the American Peace Society and a Quaker himself:

“I urged them all to do everything possible to help in all activities for the aid and comfort of the troops, to co-operate with the Government in its food conservation program, to join the Red Cross, to buy Liberty bonds. I found that they were already doing all of these things. Quaker women everywhere are knitting and making bandages for soldiers, collecting books to be sent to the camps, and aiding the Y.M.C.A. in its work among the men in the armies.”

Today the Quakers maintain their “conscientious objector” views towards combat. But it’s not affecting our military too greatly — according to the Quaker Information Center, there were about 76 thousand Quakers in the U.S. in 2012, or only about .02 percent of the U.S. population.

That’s a dramatic downturn from colonial times, when Quakers represented a full one-third of the colonists. The U.S. Quaker population has decreased 12 percent in only five years, prompting fears from within that the group could go extinct within a few decades.

Slackers Are Not Popular Among the Quakers: Though Exempt from Fighting, the Friends Are Serving in Many Ways to Win War — Men in Red Cross, Women Knitting (PDF)

From Sunday, November 25, 1917

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Written by Jesse

December 1st, 2017 at 1:32 pm

Posted in War