Chapter 5: War and Peace: From the Boer War to Versailles
5. War and peace: from the Boer War to Versailles I claim complete exemption because I have a conscientious objection to surrendering my liberty of judgment on so vital a question as undertaking military service. I do not say that there are not conceivable circumstances in which I should voluntarily offer myself for military service. But after having regard to all the actually existing circumstances, I am certain that it is not my duty so to offer myself; and I solemnly assert to the Tribunal that my objection to submit to authority in this matter is truly conscientious. I am not prepared on such an issue as this to surrender my right of decision, as to what is or is not my duty, to any other person, and I should think it morally wrong to do so. Application to the Holburn Tribunal, 28 February 1916 (1916-2)1 But as it is, men have devised ways to impoverish themselves and one another; and prefer collective animosities to individual happiness. The Economic Consequences of the Peace (1919-1, p. 62) The first duty of foreign policy is to avoid war. Its second duty it to ensure that, if it occurs, the circumstances shall be the most favourable possible for our cause. ‘British foreign policy’ (1937-8, p. 63) There are no issues on which the rights of the majority are so paramount as in the case of war and peace. Letter to Kinsgley Martin, 10 November 1937 (JMK 28, p. 94) In his preface...
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