Armistice Day

by John Quiggin on November 11, 2016

Peace now, more than ever.

{ 16 comments }

1

Mark H 11.11.16 at 1:59 pm

And good luck Lithuania.

2

Placeholder 11.11.16 at 2:11 pm

Japan – Article 9
Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes. In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

Italy – Article 11
Italy rejects war as an instrument of aggression against the freedoms of others peoples and as a means for settling international controversies; it agrees, on conditions of equality with other states, to the limitations of sovereignty necessary for an order that ensures peace and justice among Nations; it promotes and encourages international organizations having such ends in view.

Germany – Article 26
Acts tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression, shall be unconstitutional. They shall be made a criminal offense

3

Kurt Schuler 11.11.16 at 7:01 pm

Thank you, Placeholder. I detect a common guiding hand behind the provisions of all three of those constitutions. Golly, I wonder whose it was.

4

Bill Benzon 11.11.16 at 10:16 pm

Shameless plug: I’ve recently (self-)published a pamphlet arguing for the formation of a department of peace in the US federal government: We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job. It’s an old idea, going back to the Founding Fathers, w/ Benjamin Rush publishing the idea in 1793. The idea kept cropping up in the 20th century, a history recounted by Frederick Schuman in a pamphlet I’ve republish in full, along with an impressive (and just barely bi-partisan) list of senators and representative who supported the idea.

Here’s a link to the paperback:

https://www.amazon.com/We-Need-Department-Peace-Everybodys/dp/1627874305

And the Kindle:

https://www.amazon.com/We-Need-Department-Peace-Everybodys-ebook/dp/B01IC02C3C/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1478902514&sr=1-2

5

Mark H 11.11.16 at 10:49 pm

“Thank you, Placeholder. I detect a common guiding hand behind the provisions of all three of those constitutions. Golly, I wonder whose it was.”

The collective thoughts of those who’d finally used military force to defeat fascism, nazism and Japanese imperialism and whose world-view, thankfully, was adopted by the defeated.

6

Collin Street 11.12.16 at 12:04 am

A thought that struck me once.

There’s pretty solid evidence that, historically, not a lot of soldiers did much killing. Lots of bluff displays, suppressive fire, a few snipers here and there. After WWII, armies of the world all developed ways to train soldiers to be better at killing.

But… what if they hadn’t? What if, instead, they’d investigated how to win battles without killing people? How to harness and convey threat displays and manifest intention so that conflicts could be run through with fewer people needlessly dead? What if they did that now?

I mean… how much training do US soldiers get in convincing people to surrender?

7

Meredith 11.12.16 at 4:43 am

Thank you for calling it Armistice Day. My grandfather was in Washington, D.C., about to be deployed to Europe (he was in a signal corps unit of the Army — he’d been developing radios for airplanes but was also a pilot, and given the death rate of pilots, they now needed him to fly). The armistice probably saved his life. A few weeks later my mother was born, so in theory I might be here even if he’d gone off to Europe and died there, but almost surely not. I realize this is all very self-absorbed, but I prefer to think of myself as the butterfly-wing-fluttering-somewhere product of an armistice rather than of a combat veteran (not to mention, not existing at all).

8

Maz 11.12.16 at 5:43 pm

“The collective thoughts of those who’d finally used military force to defeat fascism, nazism and Japanese imperialism and whose world-view, thankfully, was adopted by the defeated.”

Yeah, that’s why the victors of WW2 have never engaged in offensive warfare since then.

9

J-D 11.12.16 at 9:42 pm

Meredith, John Quiggin is in Australia, where I am also; in Australia, and in the UK and the Commonwealth generally, Armistice Day is the recognised name. In Australia (and New Zealand) the equivalent of Veterans Day (the US one) is Anzac Day, which is on a different date (25 April).

10

Mike Schilling 11.13.16 at 6:44 am

As always

11

John Quiggin 11.13.16 at 10:36 am

J-D @ 9 is incorrect. The name “Armistice Day” was changed to “Remembrance Day” in Australia (I think this is true of the UK and NZ also). I used the original name deliberately.

12

Manta 11.13.16 at 10:41 pm

5 Mark H 11.11.16 at 10:49 pm
“Thank you, Placeholder. I detect a common guiding hand behind the provisions of all three of those constitutions. Golly, I wonder whose it was.”

The collective thoughts of those who’d finally used military force to defeat fascism, nazism and Japanese imperialism and whose world-view, thankfully, was adopted by the defeated.”

Are there analogous proviso is in the American constitution or similar UK or URSS documents?

13

J-D 11.14.16 at 2:16 am

I accept John Quiggin’s correction.

14

Meredith 11.14.16 at 6:09 am

I appreciate the re-naming of the day, here and elsewhere. My here is the U.S. (obviously), where Armistice Day became Veterans Day (in 1954, a telling year), which has since become almost indistinguishable from Memorial Day (May 31), which was originally Decoration Day — a post Civil War thing (poignant, the stories there — sad family picnics by graves, North and South, that sort of thing). Each day has its own interesting history, a history that has been obscured by the name changes and by the generalizing celebrations attached to each of those changes. I am saying, I guess, that I like that “Armistice Day” recalls WW I, and “Decoration Day” our Civil War. Here in Massachusetts, we also have Patriots Day in April to remember the Battle of Lexington and Concord. If we want to recall the sacrifices made by those who fought in all wars, let’s have just one day for that, not several. But let’s also remember the specific battles or wars by their days. Of course, the list of specific battles and wars would get very long, but to be reminded of that might not be a bad thing.

Still, Armistice Day is something special. By that name, it commemorates not so much a victory as just an end (however temporary) to killing conflict. Washington may have surprised the British by attacking Trenton from across the Delaware at Christmas time, but also at Christmas, this story. A lull in the Civil War battle for the holiday. A Union group played their songs, and some Confederates called over, “Hey, play some of ours.” And they did, including Dixie.

I don’t want us to have to go through some version of the Civil War again. I fear we are on the verge of that.

15

Placeholder 11.14.16 at 11:56 am

Manta@12: No, but America ratified the Kellog-Briand pact under the Supremacy clause. Rather than the legacy of WWII the peace clauses should be seen as a resurrection of the peace movement of the 1920s.
Maz@8: The League of Nations was also paralyzed by its founder members – Italy and Japan.
Meredith@14: McCarthyism mutilated America in so many ways. America’s motto used to be ‘e pluribus unum’ but that changed in 1956 to ‘in god we trust. America’s pledge of alleigance was created by the socialist David Bellamy but America decided it needed ‘under God’ too. Eisenhower needed to declare May 1st ‘commies suc’ day by calling it Loyalty Day but it had already been called Law Day since the first Red Scare. Oops!

When did Americans star telling themselves ‘veterans day is for live soldiers and memorial day is for dead ones’? When they were created there was no way anyone could have believed it.

The moment these assaults are sacralized they suddenly become eternal and even unnatural it could ever have been otherwise and so America loses its memories and accumulates its idolatry. To quote Kurt Vonnegut, who had a particular attachment to the commemoration that fell on his birthday:

Oh, it’s just so damn cheap, so damn typical.” I said, “This used to be a day in honor of the dead of World War One, but the living couldn’t keep their grubby hands off of it, wanted the glory of the dead for themselves.

It was created “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace.” No-one even pretends it is now.

(but obviously, my country is far worse)

16

Stan 11.14.16 at 6:21 pm

Collin: most battle casualties are caused by artillery and mortar fire, not one guy shooting some other guy. In WW2 I believe the proportion was something like 70%.

You’re right that most shooting is suppressive fire or recon-by-fire. Tens of thousands of rounds are fired for every enemy casualty.

But no, armies don’t spend a lot of energy training their soldiers in “convincing people to surrender”. They do spend a lot of energy training how to win without fighting battles, or fighting the smallest possible battles, although most civilians wouldn’t believe that.

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