Politics, Trials, and Errors

Politics, Trials, and Errors

Politics, Trials, and Errors

Politics, Trials, and Errors

Excerpt

Wars usually begin and end in politics. They are preceded by long negotiation, conference, international efforts for peace, threats, cold war, and intolerable strain, culminating in an act of war, with or without formal declaration. At the end of the war, when the result comes in sight, politics are again resumed. The normal course of events for many centuries has then been an Armistice, a Peace Conference, and a Peace Treaty. In World War II, however, exasperated by the aggressions and crimes of their enemies, the Allies adopted a new political technique and announced their intention that they would accept nothing less than the Unconditional Surrender of all their foes and that the guilty, barbarian leaders would be punished. The main object of this book is to examine for the benefit of the present generation and posterity the political results of this breach with tradition. They have been far-reaching in their many ramifications and have led to draconian measures.

My personal reactions were immediate, definite, and sustained. Within a month of the demand for Unconditional Surrender, in an unpublished Appreciation of the war in all its aspects, which I produced every six months and sent to a small but responsible circle, I wrote as follows: 'In the political field the most important and most dubious step is the announcement of the policy of Unconditional Surrender of all our foes. The policy of Unconditional Surrender may be right or wrong. . . . The announcement of the policy, however, which Mr. Churchill made clear was the wish of President Roosevelt, is contrary to the old principle of not driving an enemy to desperation, which it is likely to do. . . .' A repetition of that warning in even more emphatic terms in my next Appreciation, September 3, 1943, was followed by these words: 'In the same order of ideas it would be well to lay less emphasis on the trial of War Criminals. . . . The threatening and boastful talk about it tends to prolong the war.' All my subsequent Appreciations developed in ever-increasing detail the dangers of these policies, and I made several speeches in the House of . . .

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