GENERAL ARTICLES

TELL BRITAIN

Lieut.-Col. George A. Drew July 1 1934
GENERAL ARTICLES

TELL BRITAIN

Lieut.-Col. George A. Drew July 1 1934

TELL BRITAIN

GENERAL ARTICLES

Lieut.-Col. George A. Drew

THE Disarmament Conference opened its most critical session on May 29, after an adjournment of many months, and the world will soon know whether the great powers are going to organize for peace or for war. We have reached the parting of the ways. The enormous increases in the expenditure on preparation for war during the present year must inevitably lead to another orgy of destruction unless those who are now seeking to find some way of limiting and controlling armaments face the problem in an atmosphere of reality which was sadly lacking at the earlier meetings.

This is no time for academic discussion or neat definitions by cold-blooded dialecticians. If anything is to be accomplished it must be done by men who are fully conscious of the horrors that are being prepared for mankind in the armament race that has started while the Disarmament Conference is in session.

What is needed more than anything else at the Conference is an expression of some willingness to take chances in the cause of peace, even approaching the chances that all nations are apparently willing to take today in the cause of war. It is well that the deliberations should be conducted with moderation. The barrier of language provides an effective curb to irresponsible emotionalism, but what has been noticeably absent in the discussions from the outset is any evidence of a strong crusading spirit in the cause of peace that would constantly bring before the minds of the delegates the reality of what it is they are trying to prevent.

It is not yet too late, if the people of every country leave no uncertainty in the minds of their governments that they are more concerned about steps being taken really to assure the possibility of peace than they are about any petty national triumph in the debates at Geneva.

All over the world, there is a growing conviction that one of the first realities which must be faced is the part that the armament manufacturers have had in preventing any results from the Conference to date. Year by year the evidence has been piling up, that the men who framed the Covenant of the League of Nations at Versailles in 1919, with the full horror of the Great War vividly before them, knew what they were saying when they drafted Article 8, containing the declaration which has been accepted by every member of the League, "that the manufacture by private enterprise of munitions and implements of war is open to grave objections.”

While it is not possible to cure this evil over night, a declaration by every one of the fourteen armament producing nations that they would immediately proceed to conduct an exhaustive enquiry into the armament industry in their own countries, and ascertain the extent of the existing evils and the possibility of producing all war equipment in government factories, would put new life into the Conference and give new hope of reaching agreements which would be effective in limiting and eventually reducing armaments throughout the world.

Dramatic emphasis was given to the part that the armament manufacturers have played when a Committee of the League of Nations reported last May that Paraguay and Bolivia could not possibly have continued the war over the Gran Chaco if it had not been for the sale to both sides of war equipment by the armament companies. This led to a request by Great Britain that the manufacturing countries and the countries surrounding these belligerents should agree to a complete arms embargo.

This proposal is undoubtedly sound, and its acceptance has given reasonable assurance that the war which has now been waging for over a year can be brought to an end. But even a world which has become somewhat hardened to the sinister activities of the armament makers must have been surprised to find that nations whose representatives were professing to seek a peaceful solution of this sanguinary dispute were complacently permitting their armament companies to supply both sides with fighting material that made the continuance of the war possible.

In November, for instance, armament companies in Great Britain shipped five million rifle cartridges to Paraguay, and in the same month shipped one hundred machine guns and other war equipment to Bolivia. Armament companies in the other producing nations were doing exactly the same thing, and this at the very time that their representatives were seeking to persuade Paraguay and Bolivia to submit their case for arbitration under the League of Nations.

It has been argued by those who oppose the abolition of the private manufacture of arms that it would place gov-

emments in a delicate position if the requirements of non-producing nations were supplied by governments instead of individuals. Is not this one of the LThifffidustîw?6"13 m f3VOr °f the natlonallzation otH! S maustryThe strangest anomaly of all is furnished by France, whose leaders have justified their great aimy and enormous military expenditures on the ground that they must have security from attack by Gennany. t 1 spite of their concern about Hitler s milifcmt nationalism and them demand that Germany must not ted to reann, the French Government has not seen fit to prevent French armament companies from selling arms to Germany with which to do the very re-arming that the French Government condemns. The British, too, have been active in this same field, While their representatives at Geneva were seeking to establish a formula which would control German rearmament and at the same time satisfy France and Italy, VickersArmstrong were openly advertising their wares in the German technical press, showing illustrations of tanks and guns forbidden by the Treaty of Versailles which they were prepared to supply. This rare example of open advertising, in which the quality of the equipment was extolled like that of a new automobile, certainly could not have been done if the British armament business had been under national control. Nor is it possible to imagine that France would

have been supplying Germany with the very equipment that is causing so much fear in France, if the French Government were responsible for its export. This brings us back to the all-important reason why the manufacture of primary war equipment, which has peacetime use, must be placed under strict national control. It is on an entirely different footing from any other type busmess. There are no normal markets which can be stimulated by normal methods. The only purchasers are governments, and sales can only be increased if governments are persuaded that there is sufficient danger of war to justify increased expenditures, which in turn necessitates a belief on the part of the people represented by those governments that the expenditures are justified. Without recapitulating case after case in which it has been conclusively proved that armament companies have stimulated their business by creating war scares and then convincing governments that it was necessary to buy vast quantities of new equipment to meet the threat of war, common sense must suggest that companies whose business is operated for profit are not going to wait passively for business to come to them. Positive proof may be lacking, but reports which have come from Geneva during the two and a half years that the Disarmament Conference has been under way about the activities of the armament companies, indicate that they have been far from idle and that, while the primary purpose . . „ • ----of the companies may be to sell armaments, they also believe 1 •ntùt j good business Practice to make sure that nothing will be done to restrict their business. Lord Robert Cecil, who was mainly responsible for framing the Draft Disarmament Convention, made this important statement : There is a very sinister feature to all the disarmament discussions. I refer to the tremendous power wielded against all the proposals by armament firms . . . We must aim at getting rid of this immense instrument in the maintenance of suspicion. Lord Robert Cecil is not the only person from Great Britain who has had the same opinion confirmed at Geneva, Captain Noel Baker, who has acted as private secretary to Mr. Arthur Henderson during the two years that the latter has been Chairman of the Conference, made this important statement in regard to the activities of the armament firms in disrupting Disarmament Conferences: “I have no definite evidence to support my views, and by the nature of the case, until some second ‘Shearer’ turns King’s evidence and reveals the facts, I can have none. But I believed in the past, and I believe today, that paid agents of armament firms were endeavoring by the dissemination of false news to demoralize the Conference and to undermine the belief of delegates, press and public, that it would succeed. “Indeed, I know people in responsible positions who go much farther. They believe that the conquest of the Manchurian provinces of China was determined by the Japanese militarist leaders after consultation with the armament manufacturers of Europe: that the date of the Japanese invasion was so arranged that it would present the Disarmament Conferences, when it met, with the League of Nations Covenant

in ruins. I should not myself care to take responsibility for that assertion, but there are certain facts which make it impossible to dismiss it as absurd. The common hostility of the Japanese militarists and the European armament interests to the Disarmament Conference, showed in innumerable ways since the Conference began; the immense

orders for munitions placed by Japan with the European firms; the ease with which these orders were financed; the spontaneous enthusiasm for the Japanese cause displayed by the armament press even in countries where that same press had most vociferously demanded that the Covenant should be ‘given teeth;’ the vociferous demands by that press that since the League had ‘failed’ in Manchuria, the attempt at Disarmament must be

abandoned—there are at least some prima facie grounds for thinking that what to most people seems a fantastic proposition may be true.”

Get the Facts

/"CANADA last year at Geneva officially expressed its ^ conviction “that, in order to remove one of the dangerous factors in international relations—namely, private gain from the manufacture of and trade in arms —eventually the manufacture of arms should be restricted to state-owned establishments.”

But is the matter to end there? With the statement in the League Covenant unanimously approved by every member of the League “that the manufacture by private enterprise of munition and implements of war is open to grave objections;” with the proved cases of false reports and prostitution of patriotism by armament companies, surely the time is long overdue for an enquiry, in every country which produces armaments, into the business activities of the armament manufacturers within its borders. No League Commission would have the power to obtain the real facts nearly as effectively as commissions or committees set up in every country that is a producer of arms.

We have been told that it is a practical impossibility for governments to take over the manufacture oTLL because fn practically all factories now män,,^ great part of their production is for pacific industrial purposes This argument, however, is only intended to becloud the issue. It has never been seriously contendLTthL LmLnents which have both a peaceful Lid military characteristic should be included in this category, or that because materials are ultimately used in the manufacture of killing equipment they should be brought within thifœLrol The coLeLrion is that the final fabrication of killing equipment which has

no other purpose than war should ™ the hands of nanas or governments alone. This was quite clearly stated in a joint note presented to the Disarmament Conference by the French, Spanish, Polish and Danish governments:

“The abolition of arms manufacture is not designed to concentrate in the hands of the State all manufacture that might serve to produce arms.

“The sole object is to reserve to the State that part of industrial production whereby a product undergoes the first transformation which renders it unfit for pacific purposes and destines it exclusively for military use.”

While it is perfectly true that Bethlehem Steel, Vickers, Schneider-Creusot, Krupps and all the rest make both peace and war material, it is also true that heavy artillery and sewing-machines, tanks and farm equipment are produced by separate units of their great organizations which can be clearly distinguished by the most untrained eye. The manner in which the production of war equipment would be taken over by the State is one of detail which presents no insuperable difficulty. Those factories now turning out war equipment could be acquired by the State by purchase and continued under Government management, or the Government could order any company to discontinue the manufacture of war equipment, paying it reasonable compensation for the expense incurred in changing the character of its production. Government arsenals could then be expanded to replace those factories that had been thus changed. A committee appointed last year by the League of Nations Union in Great Britain made an exhaustive enquiry into the subject, and reported that there were no practical difficulties which would prevent the abolition of the private manufacture of war equipment in its final stages.

Armaments Lead to War

T3 UT WE have also been told that, in spite of the obvious -*-J danger of continuing the manufacture and sale of armaments for profit, this does not go to the root causes of war and it is, therefore, better to refrain from attempting to control something which is only a symptom of underlying causes and seek to strike at the causes themselves. Most of those who make this argument then proceed to tell us that we must develop a new international outlook if we are to avoid war, that international prejudices and jealousies must be overcome before we can assure peace. This argument is all very well so far as it goes, but surely we are looking forward to a hopeless future if we must wait until a completely new civilization is created before we do anything to control those who are doing so much to destroy such civilization as we now have.

But the argument begs the issue. It is not contended that the abolition of the private manufacture of arms will in itself assure peace. What is contended is that the building up of armaments does lead to the probability of war, and that the methods adopted by armament companies in selling those armaments are interfering with sincere attempts to reach agreements which would reduce armaments and give some reasonable assurance of peace.

Let us take some parallels in our everyday experience. The sale of firearms is not the root cause of murder, but in most

civilized countries it has been deemed advisable to pass laws prohibiting the indiscriminate sale of revolvers and the carrying of concealed weapons, because it is recognized that if a man has a weapon in his pocket and becomes embroiled in an argument he is likely to use the weapon. The possession of the weapon is not the root cause of the trouble, but rather the human frailty which makes the possession of the weapon dangerous under certain circumstances.

Exactly the same principle applies to the possession of great armaments. If relations become strained between nations, as between individuals, the possibility of war is very much increased if both sides are in possession of equipment with which they can suddenly translate their irritation into action. If it is unsound to attempt to control the sale of armaments because the sale of armaments is not the root cause of war, then it is equally unsound to control the sale of drugs, because drugs themselves are certainly not the root cause of the drug habit, or to abolish the bar in the interests of temperance, because the bar is certainly not the root cause of drunkenness.

A committee appointed by the League of Nations reported last year that, as the first step, the manufacture

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and sale of arms could be controlled by international inspection and supervision, as has been done under the League in the case of narcotics.

Agreement on this point should not be nearly so difficult as in regard to some other phases of disarmament, because only fourteen of the sixty nations meeting at Geneva are exporters of war equipment. The three greatest producers of arms are France, the United States and Great Britain. Their position is so dominant in this industry, that if they could reach an agreement it is altogether likely that the others would quickly follow their lead. France has declared at Geneva that it is in favor of the abolition of the private manufacture of war equipment for profit. The United States has stated at the present session of the Conference that it supports the same principle and is willing to join in an effective international agreement for the regulation of the manufacture and international sale of arms and munitions of war. What is Great Britain going to do? That is a question of the utmost concern to every British subject who believes that the private manufacture of arms should be abolished.

Canada has declared at Geneva that “The manufacture of arms should be restricted to State-owned establishments.” The Canadian Legion, which is best qualified to speak of any organization in Canada, unanimously adopted a resolution at its annual meeting in Ottawa last March urging “the Government of the Dominicm of Canada, through its representatives at Geneva and elseivhere, to continue to press for an agreement that every nation will immediately abolish the private manufacture of all the primary implements of war.”

Similar resolutions have been passed by the Canadian Fraternal Association, which embraces most of the fraternal societies in Canada, the National Council of Women, and other important national organizations. On May 25th last, the League of Nations Society of Canada at its annual meeting passed this significant resolution.

“The League of Nations Society in Canada note the widespread criticism in Canada of the Armament industry in Great Britain, as indicated in the many submissions from all parts of Canada on this subject placed before this meeting, and expresses the opinion that an investigation by the British Government of the private traffic in arms along the lines of the Senate enquiry in the United States would be helpful in allaying doubts which are tending to disturb inter-Commonwealth relations, and that a copy of this resolution be sent to the League of Nations Union in Great Britain and to League of Nations organizations in the other Dominions.”

How strong this feeling has become is evidenced by the fact that, in his address to the thousands attending the Annual Garrison Church Parade in Montreal on May 27th, Colonel the Venerable Archdeacon J. M. Almond, Senior Chaplain of the Canadian Forces, emphasized the necessity of such an investigation to remove the doubts that, rightly or wrongly, have found their way into the minds of people in every part of the British Empire whose loyalty is beyond all question. No one has better expressed the thoughts of those who have been arguing in favor of the abolition of the private manufacture of arms, than he did in these words :

“Soldiers are prepared to fight for their country, but are determined to be very sure that it is their country they are fighting for, not the private interests of armament makers. Our blood is not to be poured forth in the interests of those who apparently provide the sinews of war all over the world. We

shall not willingly tolerate the continued export of armaments to nations which tomorrow may be using those arms for the slaughter of our own youth. It is not a task for the armchair critics, but tor the soldier himself, to call a halt to any attempt at exploiting your patriotism. As Christian soldiers we are prepared to make sacrifices, but not blind ones. We must know whom we serve, and to what end.”

Why Not Investigate?

AN ATTEMPT has been made to dis■kx credit the arguments of those who urge that the armament manufacturers of Great Britain—who are the largest exporters of armaments in the world—should be brought under control, by suggesting that this would weaken the British Empire, and by also suggesting that this would mean a reduction of British armaments without corresponding reductions elsewhere. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

So long as there are navies, armies and air forces, the British Navy, the British Army, and the British Air Force must be maintained on a basis adequate to British requirements and should be equipped with the best material that is obtainable. But this equipment can be supplied just as well from factories operating under Government control as from factories whose primary interest is profit and which are just as willing to sell the best equipment they produce to any potential enemy as to any part of the British Empire.

It was proved beyond all doubt during the Great War that fighting equipment can be just as efficiently produced by Government factories as by private firms. In fact, it was not until Government factories were established under the Ministry of Munitions and the real cost of munitions determined in that way, that the dishonest exploitation of the British public by the established armament firms was brought to an end.

British people throughout the world should not soon forget the thousands of lives sacrificed during the summer of 1915 because the armament companies of Great Britain failed to fulfill their undertakings in regard to the delivery of artillery ammunition, which they knew when they accepted the orders could not be completed within the promised time. Their greed made them willing to sacrifice British lives rather than permit competition which would have developed if they had not taken the orders. More than that, they undertook at the same time to supply shells to Russia, and their failure contributed to the Russian debacle. All the evidence goes to show that it would be much better for the British Empire if in peace, as in war, the production of our war equipment was limited to Government factories.

Surely the time has come for Canadians to tell Britain that in the interests of Empire solidarity, an enquiry should be made into the whole question of the possibility of the abolition of the private manufacture of arms. Great Britain has shown the world how to conduct enquiries of this type. Nothing is more misleading than the suggestion that the British “muddle through” their difficulties. When they were faced with a crisis in their national finances, they immediately appointed a committee of experts upon whose report they acted, with the result that they have reduced taxation and balanced their budget in 1934. When they decided to change their company law, a committee was appointed which examined all phases of company legislation and made recommendations which resulted in the best company law in the world. If an Englishman wants to know the important facts in regard to complicated problems of trade and commerce, the operation of the gold standard, the control of traffic, or

almost any phase of our complex life, he will find an excellent report by some expert committee upon which he can come to an intelligent decision. Even the question of the advisability of operating state lotteries is covered by a comprehensive report carefully balancing the evidence for and against.

It would therefore only be in keeping with well-established practice to appoint a committee to enquire into the alleged evils connected with the manufacture and export of arms for profit, and report whether or not armament production in Great Britain should be limited to State-owned factories or whether any alternative method of control should be adopted in the place of the present uncontrolled manufacture and sale.

If there is nothing in the charges which have been made, a finding by an impartial committee to that effect would go a long way toward allaying the suspicions which have found such widespread expression in Canada and elsewhere in the Empire. The armament manufacturers themselves should welcome this course, if their professions of innocence are sincere. If, on the other hand, there is any foundation for the charges, such an enquiry is long overdue.

What Canada Should Do

V\ THO CAN say how great a part the

* V subtle activities of the armament manufacturers have played in creating the dissension which cast such a gloomy shadow over the first day of the session which opened on May 29? At least they had the direct result that Louis Barthou attacked Great Britain for supplying Germany with war equipment while asking France to reduce her armaments.

“Who is it?” he shouted in the most bitter speech of the Conference, “who has been selling airplane parts to Germany? Eng-

Sir John Simon was equally direct in charging that the French refusal either to permit Germany to rearm or to reduce her own armaments was the cause of the threatened collapse of the Conference. The retort might also very properly have been made that France, too, vas supplying I Germany with war material, and was more open to the charge of insincerity than England. But what good are attempts of this kind to prove the particular piety of one nation by showing the greater iniquity of another, when both are guilty? The fact remains that nations which were trying to persuade Germany to postpone rearmament in the hope that some understanding might be reached whereby the heavily-armed nations could promise progressive disarmament, were permitting their armament companies, those busy supemational salesmen, to proceed with the rearmament they were seeking to prevent.

Sir John Simon said that the arms race is on while the delegates merely talk.

“The time is long past,” he said, “when we can delude ourselves into imagining that by a pious expression of our desire to reach an agreement we are promoting an agreement. While we talk, the world does not stand still. Europe has new dangers to face, and the governments cannot be debarred from dealing with them by the specious plea that the governments are still in conference at Geneva, if all that can be done is to make speeches.”

With this statement there will be almost universal agreement, because it has been said time and time again outside the Con-

ference during the past two years. One of the dangers which the whole world has to face is the traffic in arms for profit; and it may well be pointed out that there is nothing to debar the British Government trom taking the first step to deal with this threat by appointing its own committee of enquiry, no matter what discussions are taking place at Geneva.

The mere statement by Great Britain at Geneva that such a committee would be appointed and that Great Britain would be prepared to work out an international agreement for the control of the manufacture of arms and traffic in war material would bring all the manufacturing nations into line. While it would take considerable time to work out the details, the new spirit that this would inject into the Conference would almost certainly result in reaching some agreement in regard to the convention for the limitation and gradual reduction of navies, armies and air forces, and the armaments with which they are supplied.

Canada has told the Disarmament Conference that it believes the production of armaments should be limited to Stateowned factories. It is neither unpatriotic nor indelicate for Canada to urge Great Britain to adopt this course. Canada earned the right during the Great War to state its case in matters of this kind, without any suggestion of offense. The most patriotic thing that Canadians can do is to declare frankly that doubts exist which might seriously affect Empire solidarity in a crisis.

Tell Britain, then, that Canada thinks that the British Empire, which buys practically all of its war equipment from the British Isles, will be better satisfied if the factories which produce their war equipment are British in fact as well as name, and not international armorers, as they are today, supplying potential enemies of tomorrow with the best that they produce.

Tell Britain that Canada hopes for leadership which will place the British Empire at the forefront of the move to assure that men shall no longer make profits from the business of supplying instruments of death and destruction whose only use is the slaughter of their fellow men, and that it believes this can only be done if Great Britain will declare without further delay that it is willing to appoint a committee to investigate its own armament business, and that it is prepared to enter into a mutual agreement with the other armament-producing nations to control the manufacture and distribution of arms under such plan as may be shown to be a practical possibility.

Tell Britain that Canada is just as loyal as it was when 647,000 Canadians joined the colors during the Great War. Tell Britain that Canada is proud of the sacrifices which it made on behalf of the British j Empire, but tell Britain also that those men believed that they, and the more than eight million men who enlisted throughout the ¡ British Empire, were offering their lives if I necessary so that the threat of militarism J might be destroyed, and that those who survived believe that the competitive sale of arms for profit is one of the strongest forces behind the rising tide of militarism which threatens peace as it has been threatened at no time since 1914.

Tell Britain that the bonds of Empiie were never stronger than they are today, but that in the vitally important question of preparation for the possibility of war, “we must know whom we serve, and to what