Document 21: International Economics versus National Politics (Washington, D.C.: Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 1930). The Records of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, U.S. Section, 1919-1959, Swarthmore College Peace Collection (Microfilm, reel 33, frames 974-77).
As world tensions increased in the early 1930s, WILPF continued to use an economic argument to urge nations to stop stockpiling weapons. Chemical weapons also figured highly in their argument; many people believed that the next war would bring massive civilian casualties from poison gas, and WILPF tried to use that fear to rally support for a broad disarmament program.
INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS versus NATIONAL POLITICS
A Suggestion for the Next Step
Preparation for New Wars
The World in 1930 is spending between $4,000,000,000 and $5,000,000,000--probably much more--in preparation for the next war. This does not include debts from past wars, or potential armaments which are available in chemical and industrial mobilization. "This heavy burden which is placed upon the World now struggling to avert economic bankruptcy is a dead loss in the economic balance sheet of nations"--so writes Professor James Shotwell in The New York Times of November 9.
The cost of another world war is unthinkable. The expense of gas bombs and airplanes added to the other excessive expenditures in time of conflict would mount into trillions instead of billions and the peoples of all nations, if any survived, would be bowed forever under debts impossible of payment.
The last war cost the United States alone, between the years 1917 and 1921, $27,000,000,000 net in money and up to June 30, 1930 another $10,000,000,000 has been added and the end is not yet.Europe in 1930
Everyone returning from Europe this fall has brought back a report of discouragement among the citizens of all countries and a loss of faith in once outstanding world leaders to solve the problems arising between nations through international conference. The time limit of their patience is nearly reached.
General Ludendorff as a friend of Adolph Hitler predicts a world war beginning in May, 1932. This war would open with mass air and gas attacks on Central European cities. Attacking and defending armies would tramp across Germany, leaving its civilian population exposed to famine and pillage. German youth would be shipped to Italy and England to be trained.
Moscow editorials see Germany "nailed to the Golden Cross" by the New Young Plan.
The International Red Cross reports that there are three methods of protecting civilians--evacuation of the population behind the front; collecting them in gas proof, bombproof, and fireproof fortresses; or providing everyone with gas masks. It advises an antidote for gas.
While such reports are pregnant with disaster, we can weather this storm of pessimism if we keep our heads and do not allow ourselves to be caught up in a whirlwind of emotionalism.
America’s indignation was aroused once by propaganda about a scrap of paper, and we finally allowed ourselves to be led into a conflict which produced another treaty, that in its very structure sowed seeds for more war. Although we did not sign the Treaty of Versailes, we helped to make it and we are involved in its consequences. We cannot escape our responsibilities as to averting the dangers of fresh wars as they arise until the treaty is revised upon a fundamental basis of international cooperation and equity.