Corrected draft typescript, signed, of an article on Disarmament.
“Over the lacerated face of Europe the League of Nations has drawn a discreet veil. Behind that veil stir the passions, the revenges and the fears which are the legacy of the ‘war to end war'”. Extensively corrected typescript for one of a series of articles on foreign affairs commissioned from Churchill by “the Hearst newspapers … [and] syndicated throughout the United States” (Gilbert V, p407). Every page of the draft with proofing, editorial and authorial corrections, emendations, and interpolations. Churchill takes as his theme the recent report of the Preparatory Commission on Disarmament presented to the League of Nations. In his powerful and highly influential article of 1924 “Shall we commit suicide?”Churchill had said that “to sustain and aid the League of Nations is the duty of all”, but his support was always more in hope than expectation. Here he comments with world-weary cynicism on responses to the Commission. “All the foreign Ministers of all the countries lifted up their voices and sang for joy that peace and concord would now reign … and that disarmament, wars and rumours of wars would cease for ever.” But in reality there was no such harmony, and the “victorious allies, disillusioned with each other, and with their victory” and “defeated nations nursing their hopeful resentments”, make any such outcome profoundly unlikely. An already disarmed Germany dissented while observing “with undoubted truth that ‘No nation could be more sincerely desirous of securing true disarmament (of others!) than the German nation'”, while Bolshevik Russia “vast, slatternly, malignant” similarly demurred, proclaiming “their opposition to armaments, force and wickedness of all kinds. Away with it all!” As for those endorsing the findings, the French? “It took almost all the world united to subdue the might of Germany. Can France count upon similar aid being forthcoming in another eruption of the Teutonic volcano? Italy is now a declared and jealous competitor. England has dispersed its military force … Has France treated the United States in such a way as to make it likely that millions of American youth again will be available at Chateau Thierry or elsewhere, next time?” As for “newly united” Poland, she “feels the hatred of the terrible Soviet power on the one hand and the strong resentments of virile Germany on the other.” Nonetheless, Churchill struggles bravely to offer grounds for hope; “Old hatreds do not easily die; but they are overlaid by new ideas. The economic rivalries of nations claim the first place in their thoughts … The faithful, loyal, unswerving pursuit of Peace, the concentration of the world upon economic and financial problems, the obvious need for order and tranquility … should gradually bring the harassed world to rest … Concentrate upon the new ideas and requirements, and the old will fade. Advance hopefully into the future, and we shall not be dragged back by the clawing fingers of the past.” It was not to be, a little over three years later in his BBC broadcast on “The Causes of War” Churchill declared that “German domestic policy … had brought back ‘the most brutish methods of ancient barbarism …’ Although … disarmament was ‘the shrill cry of the hour’, it would not prevent war, but encourage the potential aggressor” (Gilbert V, p. 566). Churchill’s hope for the League of Nations – “a light which flickers but does not go out” as he calls it here – was extinguished. An illuminating variation on the themes which were to be central to Churchill’s return from the political wilderness.
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10 pages quarto. Typescript, numerous inked emendations in Churchill’s hand, signed and dated by him at the foot of the last page; docketed with author by-line and agent’s return address in pencil to the first page; pages numbered in blue pencil. Single hole punched to top left-hand corner, treasury tag. Light browning, some marginal finger-soiling, three lateral soft creases from old folds, overall very good.