Seventy years ago Hermann Goering, noted Nazi war criminal, was quoted in an interview in his jail cell at Nuremberg, Germany. It went like this.

Goering: Why of course, the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter, in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.

Gilbert (interviewer): There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States, only Congress can declare wars.

Goering: Oh, that is well and good, but voice or no voice, the people can be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

Except for the part where only Congress can declare wars (no longer true), how are we doing in the U.S.? Are we not told about the dangers of terrorism daily? Do we flip off and ridicule pacifists when we see them at peace vigils on a bridge or in a town square?

Peter P. Sirois

Madison


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