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Pacifism

Encyclopedia of American Foreign Policy, (2002) by Charles Chatfield

Upon the outbreak of that conflict, most traditional internationalists supported the Allied cause and became reconciled to American intervention. When the United States entered the war, they viewed the crusade as the vehicle of international organization and tried to write their views into the Allied war aims, notably in the case of the League of Nations.

Meanwhile, between 1914 and 1917 several organizations were formed to oppose Woodrow Wilson's preparedness program and intervention, and to support conscientious objectors: the American Union Against Militarism (1915–1921), which was succeeded by the National Council for Prevention of War; the Women's Peace Party (1915), which was succeeded by the United States Section of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom; the Fellowship of Reconciliation (1915), which was supplemented in 1923 by the War Resisters' League; and the American Friends Service Committee (1917). In wartime these groups were sifted of nearly all but pacifists, and they became the institutional base of modern pacifism in the United States.

The leaders of these and other wartime pacifist organizations were predominantly Progressives, often women, and with few exceptions were religious. They included Jane Addams and Emily Balch, directors of Hull House and Denison House settlements; Crystal Eastman, an ardent suffragist and expert on the legal aspects of industrial accidents; her brother Max Eastman, who edited two radical literary journals, Masses and Liberator; Norman Thomas, later the leader of the Socialist Party; Roger Baldwin, longtime director of the American Civil Liberties Union; Rufus Jones, a Quaker historian; Paul Jones, an Episcopal bishop; Jessie Wallace Hughan, founder of the War Resisters' League; John Nevin Sayre, interwar stalwart of the Fellowship of Reconciliation; and John Haynes Holmes, a Unitarian pastor. They identified with transnational ideologies, whether religious, humanitarian, or socialist; but politically they were pragmatists in the Progressive tradition. They believed in the ultimate worth of the individual, but they appreciated the influence of social institutions upon personal development.

They associated with antiwar radicals, with whom they were often persecuted. Indeed, pacifists formed the American Civil Liberties Bureau in 1917 for the defense of conscientious objectors and radicals during the war. Leading pacifists identified force as an instrument of social control and associated violence with authoritarianism. They therefore associated their own quest for peace with a commitment to social justice, so that they combined complete opposition to war with the spirit of reform and internationalism. Their organized expression of this belief during World War I marks the beginning of modern liberal pacifism and the development of an activist core of the peace movements in recent American history.

THE PACIFIST ROLES IN POLICYMAKING

Peace and antiwar movements can be viewed, institutionally, as a single element of the foreign policy-making process. To draw a distinction between them is legitimate with regard to specific foreign policy issues—that is, specific wars—but not with regard to the process of policy formation. Taken together, peace and antiwar movements in all periods of U.S. history have been coalitions of separate groups aligned variously with regard to different policy issues. These constituencies have combined to influence public policy either directly through the professional expertise of peace advocates (as in the case of numerous projects of the Carnegie Endowment) or through political lobbying, or indirectly through public opinion. In any case, pacifists have been relevant to the policymaking process in terms of the broader peace movements, and they cannot be evaluated apart from them.

 

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