This article is condensed from its original version which appeared in the April 9, 1982, issue of Christianity Today.
The United States, so we learned in grade school, was a good nation that fought only just wars. In the colonial period we struggled to free ourselves from the tyrannical British government. In the Mexican War we fought to redress just grievances against our Southern neighbor. The Civil War freed the slaves and preserved the Union. Later we freed the Carribean Islands and the Philippines from the atrocities and oppression of their Spanish overlords. In 1917 and 18 we fought a war to end all wars by destroying the one great militaristic power of that day.
Then, in the upper grades—and especially in high school—we began to learn of the Krupp and the Vickers munitions firms and of their international schemes to exploit nations by pushing them into military build-ups and even into war in order to fatten their own pocketbooks. Some of us can remember our sense of disillusionment and cynicism when we learned the truth about Edith Cavell, and about other atrocities. Allied governments first spread these stories to whip up our moral indignation against the enemy. Not until years after the war did we discover that they were largely or wholly unsupported by the facts.
In those years, between the two great wars, thousands of students participated in the Prince of Peace contests, and hundreds of thousands more, perhaps millions, became convinced pacifists. We were angry that our own government had lied to us and could not be trusted. Conscienceless international businesses pressured governments to protect their profits with no regard for the welfare of other nations or just diplomacy for their own. War was not the last recourse ...1