In the fall of 2002, Keene’s Central Square was filled with more than 100, perhaps 200, people each Saturday morning, expressing their fervent hope that President George W. Bush’s threats of conducting a war against Iraq would not come to pass. Sixteen years later, we are all aware that our presence on the square was useless; that the war in Iraq was one big lie, or as the media likes to put it, “George W. Bush’s biggest blunder.”

Our government has continued its aggressive wars of choice under both Democratic and Republican administrations to use the American military to further interfere in the Mideast countries of Libya, Syria, Yemen and some are clamoring for war with Iran. Not one of these countries has attacked us.

Some see us on the square as naive fools. Others see us as traitors. But we are all there in accordance with the views of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who can be accused of neither of those things. He spoke from sad experience. Here are some things he had to say about war and peace.

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

“Possibly my hatred of war blinds me so that I cannot comprehend the arguments they adduce. But, in my opinion, there is no such thing as a preventive war. Although this suggestion is repeatedly made, none has yet explained how war prevents war. Worse than this, no one has been able to explain away the fact that war creates the conditions that beget war.

“I have said time and again there is no place on this earth to which I would not travel, there is no chore I would not undertake if I had any faintest hope that, by so doing, I would promote the general cause of world peace.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

I have not heard one candidate for office speak about ending wars and bringing to the world all the benefits of peace.


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