Hell’s General Staff

LT.-COL. GEORGE A. DREW June 15 1933

Hell’s General Staff

LT.-COL. GEORGE A. DREW June 15 1933

Hell’s General Staff


“The people who circulate war talk in its many forms are but few in number; they have great money power behind them, that is all. They are what I describe as the general staff of the forces of hell. /ft. Hon. Arthur Henderson,

President of the Disarmament Conference.

ARMAMENT COMPANIES have had little reason to complain of the results of the first year of the Disarmament Conference. Instead of reductions which were promised, the world’s armament appropriat-

ions have shown a substantial increase for 1933. With the recent resumption of the general sessions of the Conference, the time has therefore come for concerted action by those individuals and organizations throughout the world who have the power to express themselves, if the Conference is not to end with little more to its credit than the adoption of lofty but ineffectual resolutions.

When the Conference met with expressions of high hope, the people of all nations expected substantial relief from the burden and menace of preparation for war. It is for the people of the world to say to their delegates in no uncertain terms that the Conference must succeed, and that those who bear the brunt of war will be satisfied with nothing less than substantial mutual reductions and the acceptance of some practical formula for maintaining peace.

The need for action has been emphasized by several events of the past few weeks. Not the least of these was the annual meeting of Vickers, Limited, on April 3, when Sir Herbert Lawrence, the chairman, deemed it advisable for the first time to make an effort to divert the rising tide of public opinion in favor of the suppression of the private manufacture of arms. He dealt with it in this way:

“I would refer to the misleading views promulgated by certain pacific societies regarding private armament firms. Drawing upon very vivid imaginations, they represent such firms as secretly stirring up strife in various quarters of the globe, with the deliberate intent to bring about war for the sole purpose of selling armaments. So far as your company is concerned, there never has been and never will be the shadow of substance for such suggestions. The Military, Air and Naval advisers in every country determine the extent of the armaments required, and the direction of the supplies depends upon the efficiency of the products offered and the price.

“It is true that Vickers-Armstrong relies very largely on armament orders for its existence. On the other hand, the safety of the Empire in the event of aggres:ion by some other Power also depends on the capacity of the company to increase production of armaments at short notice.

“So long as a British Navy, a British Army and a British Air Force are necessary, so long must the technical establishment and skilled men be retained—either by Vickers-Armstrong or in some other works—to supply their needs. The existence of armament firms is the result— not the cause—of the incidence of war.”

This ingenious confusion of appeals to patriotism and scorn of those “pacific societies” which would impugn the purity of motives of his and other armament companies was duly adopted with the rest of the report as the official statement of the world’s largest armament company. It is well, however, in giving his words their due weight, to remember that Sir Herbert Lawrence in himself represents one of those appeals to patriotism for which armament companies are famous. It always leaves such a good impression when the spokesman of a. company which makes its money from

preparation for war is a distinguished general or admiral.

In fairness to Sir Herbert Lawrence, it must be said that it is most unlikely that he knows the intimate details of the sales methods of the vast concern over which he presides. He retired on pension after a distinguished military career in 1922, and it was only then that he became associated with

Vickers. While his words gain added weight because of the respect which his military services have won for him in Great Britain, his work with the company has not been such that he can either deny or affirm from his personal knowledge the charge that armament comfianies have done everything possible to stimulate the sale of arms. For that reason his statement is doubly dangerous.

Verdict of the Veterans

IN SEEKING summarily to dispose of the complaints I against private armament companies, he states that they are nothing more than the result of the vivid imaginations of “certain pacific societies.” His somewhat scornful attitude is hardly in keeping with the importance and sincerity of the many responsible public bodies which have reiterated their demand with increasing insistence throughout the past year that profit in the manufacture of killing equipment be eliminated. In this regard a very remarkable meeting that took place in Geneva exactly two weeks before the meeting of Vickers, Limited, should be recalled by those who read Sir Herbert Lawrence’s statement, as it is hoped it will constantly be recalled by the delegates to the Disarmament Conference during the next few months.

On March 19, veterans from fifteen nations which fought during the Great War met in an attempt to find common ground for their efforts to prevent a repetition of the events that had divided them into two great opposing forces a few years ago. This unique gathering the first of its kind since 1918, if not in all history— six)ke for twelve million active members of veterans’ organizations throughout the world. The delegates from thirteen of the fifteen nations represented passed the following resolution, which was presented on March 20 to the President of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments, by General Górecki:

"The ex-servicemen and war victims grouped in the C.I.A.M.A.C. (International Conference of Associations of Ex-Servicemen and War Victims) and the F.I.D.A.C. (Interallied Federation of Ex-Servicemen), assembled for the first time in a common effort, evoking the memory of the millions of war dead and speaking in the name of the above two organizations which comprise eight million members of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, Denmark. France, Germany, Poland, Portugal, Roumania. Jugoslavia, as well as the Free City of Danzig and the Territory of Memel, have adopted the following resolution:

"Solemnly recalling the fact that peace is the primary condition for the happiness and prosperity of peoples, and that the ex-servicemen and war victims are its best qualified defenders; that its maintenance is only possible when based on the respect of treaties and equality of rights for all States, and by observing the following great principles: compulsory arbitration, or in any event the settlement of differences without recourse to force; security and disarmament, both moral and material :

“They affirm that moral disarmament entails the suppression of everything which publicly and particularly in schools tends to hinder mutual understanding between the peoples.

“Material disarmament should be substantial, simultaneous and progressive; it should include the suppression of private manufacture of and private traffic in arms, together with effective mutual international control.

“They insist firmly that the President and members of the General Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments interpret in their decisions the wishes thus expressed, and that, instead of seeking to ‘humanize warfare, they institute an effective organization for the prevention and, if need be, repression of any aggression.”

General Górecki then presented a second resolution on behalf of the four million American and Italian veterans whose delegates had not been prepared to support the above resolution in its entirety but. wishing to be associated with the other veterans in their desire to bring about material disarmament, submitted the following text in briefer terms:

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"The ex-servicemen and war victims of the United States and Italy, solemnly recalling that peace is the primary condition for the happiness and prosperity of [xoples and that ex-servicemen and war victims are its best qualified defenders, firmly insist that the President and members of the Disarmament Conference interpret and realize, in their future decisions the wishes expressed in all circumstances by ex-servicemen and war victims in favor of moral and material disarmament.”

Paper Promises Ineffective

URGING the earnest consideration of these resolutions by the Conference, M. Morel of France said:

“Mr. President, these men who have come from all ixirts have had their taste of glory and carried away on their lqis a bitter taste; these men. who went to war with the immense hope that thereafter war would be removed from human possibility, do not intend that their sacrifice shall have been in vain ... It matters little to the mothers, many of whom already mourn the loss of a husband, whether the children which have cost them SÍ) much suffering and trouble should be killed by shells of a calibre of 75 or 105 millimetres, whether their lungs are eaten away by yellow or green gas. What they desire is that these lives, which are so necessary to the world's work, may be

sheltered from all shells and all gases. That is why we ask for a substantial reduction of armaments.

“We do not wish that odious and contemptible egoisms should again be able to build up upon misery, upon ruin and death, fortunes compounded of mud and blood. That is why we ask for the abolition of the private manufacture of, and trade in arms.”

Colonel John Brown, the Chairman of the British Legion, stated that the British Legion gave the resolution which demanded the suppression of private manufacture of arms unqualified support. Urging that definite action be taken along the lines indicated, he said:

“The British Legion is beyond all question one of the most powerful agencies for peace within the British Empire. It has always approached the problem of how peace was to be secured from a somewhat different angle than that taken up by those who eagerly pursue pacts or treaties, and who. when one pact is signed, are not happy until they sign another.

"We ex-soldiers, however, prefer acts to pacts: to us, security seems rather ‘up in the clouds.’ If one nation gets full security, the rival nation gets full insecurity.

‘The scrapping tomorrow of a thousand big guns and a few hundred bombing planes by mutual consent would spread a greater sense of security over Europe than any number of promises on paper.”

These are some of the representatives of “pacific societies,” which surely have as high a right as any organization in the world to be heard in their demands for effective control of armaments.

Confusing the Issue

“THE REPLY of Mr. Arthur Henderson,

I the President of the Conference, was almost surprisingly frank, and perhaps in its very frankness gave the best possible assurance that this resolution will receive consideration by the Conference itself.

“For fourteen months,” he said, "we have been listening to speeches about armaments and their reduction by people who are qualified by one title or another to make their voices heard in the Disarmament Conference; but this morning we have listened to the voice of those who, in my opinion at any rate, have the very best title in the world to speak on the important question of disarmament and peace . . .

"In your resolution I notice you put forward five indispensable, basic principles of any system that can be expected effectively to keep the peace of the world.

“May I remind you what those principles are?

“1. A system of arbitration which is universal and complete.

“2. A fundamental law that in no case will nations resort to force.

“3. An effective form of full security, by which each nation is protected from aggression, not by its own efforts alone but by the organized pressure of the world at large.

"4. Real disarmament, drastic, comprehensive, moral and material alike.

“5. You suggest, and rightly so in my opinion, the elimination of private profit from the preparation of war.

“I believe with you in thinking that disarmament can only be made effective when the motive of the profits derived from the preparation for war has been entirely wiped out.

“Whether the Conference now sitting can achieve the total suppression of manufacture for which you ask, I am not in a position to say, but I certainly hope it will not separate without having established some effective system to deal with the grave evils which certainly exist at present.

“I hope you will go out and make your doctrine known in every' quarter of the world and in every section of the organized democracy in which you live. I hope you will not be afraid to speak plainly to all who will listen to you. Of all living men, you have the best right to speak on this question.”

This statement from the President of the Conference is surely one of encouragement

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; to those who believe that the suppression of ! the private manufacture oí arms must come before there can be effective disarmament. It is surely also the most conclusive answer to the suggestion that those who believe in the menace of the uncontrolled private manufacture of munitions and implements of war are drawing on their imaginations or misrepresenting the facts. The fact that the President of the Conference is so impressed with the reality of the danger, calls for redoubled action in all countries to impress upon their delegates the necessity for translating this opinion into definite action before it is too late.

To do this, it will undoubtedly be necessary to combat the efforts of the armament industry. The statement by Sir Herbert Lawrence is only symptomatic of the efforts being made to confuse the issue. He says, for instance, that "As long as a British Navy, a British Army and a British Air Force are necessary, so long must the technical establishments and the skilled men be retained— either by Vickers-Armstrong, or in some other works—to supply their needs.”

With that statement, few of those who are most strongly opposed to private production of war equipment will disagree. So long as a British Navy, a British Army and a British Air Force are necessary, so long must the technical establishments and the skilled men be retained, either by VickersArmstrong or in some other works. That is exactly the point. No member of the British Legion who supported the resolution at Geneva wants to see the British Empire weakened in relation to other nations, but they believe that the technical establishments and skilled men necessary to supply the needs of the Navy, Army and Air Force can and should be operated by the Government. so that the profit motive in the production of arms may be eliminated.

The suggestion sometimes made that Government operation of these plants would be relatively inefficient was disproved during the Great War and ignores the fact that Great Britain has several public service commissions which are models for the whole world. Based on their experience and record, there is no reason to believe that factories producing killing equipment cannot be taken over by a State Commission and operated up to the actual requirements of the British Empire just as efficiently as they are today.

Another similar objection raised by the technical advisers and so far accepted by the delegates from the United States and the British Empire is that control of the manufacture and international sale of arms is not a practical possibility. This has been answered by the Council of the League of Nations. Their report, published by the Secretary-General of the League on May 8 last, is the result of six months investigation of the proposal by Salvador de Madariaga of Spain that the same measures be taken to control the traffic in arms as have been adopted for the control of the drug traffic.

After dealing with the objections that have been raised and analyzing the similarities of the two problems, the report finds that effective control of the traffic in arms is "indispensable” and concludes with these words:

“There seems to be no reason why— i technically speaking and apart from politij cal considerations—the extremely complete and rigorous control that has been set up ! in the matter of drugs should not be reprojduced in connection with the manufacture i of and trade in arms, subject to adjustments of detail.”

The importance of this finding cannot be overemphasized because it is the first report by the Council or any investigating committee of the League which finds in unequivocal terms that the production and sale of arms can be controlled.

But we are assured by Sir Herbert Lawrence that there is no necessity for such control because armament companies play j no part in the purchase of arms, and he tells 1 us that the "military, naval and air ad-

visers in every country determine the extent of the armaments required.” This statement ignores the well-recognized fact that, while experts may advise, the amount spent on armaments is a budgetary and jx>litical problem, subject to all the usual efforts of lobbyists, and that the amount voted for armaments is usually governed very largely by the circumstances which govern the attitude of those who vote.

Evidence of Sinister Activity

ÇIR HERBERT LAWRENCE will surely not have forgotten the admissions of William Shearer before a United States Senate Naval Committee in 1929 that he had been employed for years by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company and other armament industries in the United States to fight reduction in armaments by making patriotic speeches before public bodies throughout the United States, by lobbying at Washington, and finally by stirring up strife between the delegates at the Naval Disarmament Conference at Geneva in 1927.

Dramatic confirmation of the fact that other armament companies are still employing the same methods was furnished just a week before the meeting of Vickers, Limited, when Bruno Seletzki, the Roumanian representative of the great Skoda works in Czechoslovakia, was arrested in Bucharest on a charge of espionage. It was alleged that he had bribed officials of the War Ministry for the placing of orders with his firm, had deliberately disseminated false reports of Russian activities on the Roumanian border, and had spread rumors of an impending Russian attack, to stimulate the purchase of large quantities of munitions by the Ministry of Defence.

For obvious reasons, conclusive evidence of such activity is very rarely obtainable. As Mr. Seletzki has not yet been tried, it is impossible to say what the results will be. but the following news item in the London Times of March 30 last is of particular interest.

Bucharest. March 29.—General Popescu, of the First Army Corps, shot himself dead today. He was Secretary-General of the War Ministry when big orders were passed for guns to the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia.

General Popescu’s name was mentioned in pa];>ers found when M. Seletzki, representative of the Skoda works, was arrested a few days ago on charges of espionage.”

This incident adds emphasis to the annual report of Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler a few days later to the Trustees of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Dr. Butler, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 1931 and is one of the most active and influential workers in the United States for international goodwill, made this statement: “Those profit-

making undertakings which are interested in the manufacture and shipment of arms are steadily reaching out to influence the policy of governments as well as the approach to public opinion through the press . . . The growing movement to make the manufacture of munitions of war a government monopoly will be greatly strengthened as public opinion comes to recognize the dangers of permitting the continuance of conditions under which zeal for private profit is free vigorously to oppose the highest public interests of the people of the world.”

While there are many factors which determine the extent of the purchase of armaments, the direct relationship between war scares and sudden increases in the purchase of armaments is too well known to require extended comment. The serious situation in Paris, where two of its bestknown newspapers, Le Temps and Le Journal des Débats, are controlled by M. François Wendel, of the Schneider Trust, received emphasis recently when Hitler's accession to power in Germany was seized on by these two papers as an opportunity for alarmist articles which could only have the effect of stimulating the French demands for further armaments.

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While sane discussions of national problems are obviously desirable, articles which create the impression that war with any other nation is inevitable are inimical to peace and directly opposed to the best interests of all nations, because the spirit of suspicion they create works directly against the possibility of success of the Disarmament Conference. All such mischievous talk has exactly the same result, whether it is prompted directly by armament companies or inspired by motives of cheap journalism.

The Liberty Articles

IN VIEW of our own interests in the I Pacific, a particular importance attaches to the series of articles which have apjjeared in Liberty since the beginning of the Disarmament Conference, in which one writer after another has demanded an increased Army, Navy and Air Force for the United States in preparation for the war with Japan, which each of the writers has assumed to be a certainty. Whatever the motives behind these articles may have been, the effect seems obvious.

With its substantial circulation in Canada. we cannot ignore articles such as that which appeared in Liberty, May 6, 1933, by Capt. Myron B. Goldsmith, under the title “Can Our West Coast Be Invaded?”

This article is “big navy” propaganda of the most blatant type, and its arguments are so inaccurate and misleading that it could hardly be taken seriously if it were not for the fact that it follows several other similar articles written to almost the same formula, and therefore quite likely to have the most dangerous consequences.

This is the way that the author justifies his assumption that Japan proposes to attack the United States.

“The American national bird is the eagle, yet the American attitude toward national defense has made the nation emulate the ostrich by burying its head in the sands of indifference so that it could not see the shadows cast ahead by the Rising Sun.

“Not so in Japan. There they know the day is coming when our conflicting policies and racial prejudices are going to result in a war. A European official who occupies a very high position in the Chinese Government service said recently, during a visit to this country;

“ ‘When I was in Japan. I was impressed by the fact that the shipyards and munition plants were working day and night. Whom are they making all these warlike preparations for? Certainly not Soviet Russia, with whom they have no quarrel, and the preparations are entirely too extensive to apply to China. America is her next foe, and they make no bones about stating this fact.’ ”

As opposed to this opinion of an anonymous European official, which is used as the peg on which to hang his assumption that Japan will attempt to invade the West Coast of the United States, is the positive statement by Sir Francis Lindley, the British ambassador to Tokio, as late as May 4, 1933, that no evidence of any such sentiment exists in Japan.

Taking it for granted, however, that the West Coast of the United States is going to be attacked, Goldsmith then goes on to describe the coast defenses of the United States on the Pacific Ocean. One after another he deals with each of the forts in tum, and says that they are all manned with obsolete guns of the vintage of 1895. He tells us that “the only modern armaments on the Pacific Coast are two fourteen-

inch railway guns which stand absolutely I unguarded at Point Finnin, near San j Pedro.” He also says that “the anti-aircraft defenses of our entire Pacific Coast are located in Southern California.”

These statements are utterly erroneous. The coast defenses of the United States are among the most modem in the world today. In addition to having coast defense guns quite adequate to deal with any possible attack, every one of the six Pacific Coast forts manned by regular coast artil, lery units has anti-aircraft guns of the i most powerful type: and in addition to this there are a great number of mobile antiaircraft guns distributed along the Coast.

These misstatements, which are in keeping with the whole article, are of importance only because of the use to which they are put. Having pictured the ease with which Japan could invade and occupy the Pacific ' Coast of Uie United States, he closes with this statement:

_ “Our Congress cheerfully appropriates money for many foolish and unnecessary purposes, but it balks when it comes to expenditures for national defense. Some day j wc shall have to pay in blood, dollars, and ' humiliation for permitting this folly. Our attitude on the question of our national defense within the next two years will have ! a definite bearing on our future. The handwriting on the wall is becoming more disj tinct. It will be written in undeciperable Oriental characters unless some forceful action is taken to prevent it.”

The suggestion that the United States is I making inadequate expenditures for national j defense is as misleading as his other argu-1 ments directed toward the same purpose. The very week this article appeared, a bill was introduced in Congress calling for a Naval expenditure far in excess of that of any other nation in the world.

Urgent Need for Action

WARLIKE ARTICLES of this nature should arouse people of goodwill on this continent to the urgent need of convincing representatives of all nations now meeting at Geneva that the world demands some substantial measure of disarmament; that it is weary of futile attempts to humanize something which must always be inhuman and to frame rules as though war were a sport to be played according to a strict code of ethics.

Such apparently unrelated events as the annual report of the Chairman of Vickers, Limited, the arrest of Bruno Seletzki of the Skoda firm, the suicide of General Popescu, the warlike articles of Le Temps and Le Journal des Débats, and the article in Liberty assuring the people of the United States of the certainty of w-ar with Japan, all form parts of that strange jig-saw puzzle, which, when it is completed, portrays the menacing picture of the private armament trusts.

It is almost certain that General Lawrence is quite sincere in the statement made in his report. It is quite possible that Captain Goldsmith had no sinister motive in writing his strangely misleading article. But whether intentionally or unintentionally, they have joined that great force which Mr. Arthur Henderson has so aptly described as the General Staff of Hell. If their views are accepted, any substantial measure of disarmament is impossible.

During the past few weeks there have been momentous discussions at Washington, paving the way to the possibility of success at the World Economic Conference opening in London in the middle of June. The whole world looks hopefully toward this conference, but success there will be an emptyachievement if we are to go on building up those armaments that will inevitably destroy the economic structure which everyone is nowr striving so earnestly to restore.

This was emphatically recognized by President Roosevelt in his speech to the people of the United States on May 7. It is significant that, although the previous reports of these discussions had not sug-

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gested that disarmament was one of the most important questions under consideration, the man who has done so much to restore confidence placed this first in importance among the subjects discussed. He said;

“In the conferences which we have held and are holding with the leaders of other nations, we are seeking four great objectives. First, general reduction of armaments, and through this the removal of the fear of invasion and armed attack, and at the same time reduction in armament costs, in order to help in the balancing of Government budgets and the reduction of taxation.’’

President Roosevelt did not explain how it is intended to achieve a reduction in armament costs as well as a reduction in armaments themselves, but it would seem that he was referring to the elimination of the private manufacture of arms, as that is the only possible way of reducing the cost of those armaments which are bound to be necessary for some years to come.

It is illuminating to compare this statement by President Roosevelt with the closing words of Sir Herbert Lawrence in the report which has already been discussed. Having assured the shareholders of Vickers, Limited, that private armament companies are not opposed to disarmament, he went on to say:

"Whilst the profit prospects of 1933 are not good, the volume of work for the current year, the profits on which will not accrue until 1934, is distinctly better, and will, I hope, increase as the year progresses."

To this statement there can be no reasonable doubt that every armament manufacturer in the world will say "Amen," and there also can be no reasonable doubt that everything possible will be done to assure the fulfillment of that hope. The Shearers, the Zaharoffs, the Seletzkis -all the forces of hell’s general staff— will be busy during the coming months at Geneva, at national capitals and elsewhere, and their efforts will be supported by speeches and articles

spreading the flameof international distrust. They will in turn arouse the support of others who innocently follow the lead thus given them.

In the face of this threat, there is an urgent need for action on the part of those who will bear the burden if the Disarmament Conference should fail. They must impress the delegates at Geneva with the insistent belief that disarmament can only lx effective when the profit motive is eliminated from preparations for war. Then, and then only, we can have a substantial reduction in arms. In the words of Mr. Arthur Henderson. ‘This is the only doctrine of salvation for mankind as far as peace and war are concerned. ”