Wallace’s Are We Only Paying Lip Service to Peace?

The Power of Nonviolence Writings by Advocates of PeaceThe twelfth chapter of The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace  contains former Vice President Henry Wallace’s 1946 essay  Are We Only Paying Lip Service to Peace?.  Wallace ran for President on the Progressive Party line in 1948 campaigning in support of integration, equal voting rights, single-payer universal healthcare, and peaceful relations with the Soviet Union.

Like Camus’ Neither Victims nor Executioners of the same year, Wallace is concerned that World War II allies — the US and USSR  — were heading straight into a third world war.  Possibly the first — and last — nuclear war.  His views are fueled by US dollars being aimed at buying weapons rather than backing its words of peace.

English: Henry Agard Wallace, 1888–1965, bust ...

Wallace argues that in a world full of weapons of mass destruction an attempt to intimidate other nations only leads to paranoia and an arms race. He finds the even worse proposal that the build up be used as a first strike against the Soviet Union to be an even more horrifying idea that would lead to a Soviet invasion of Europe by conventional means.

Wallace points out that the US was able to take a break from its fear of the Soviet Union when it was needed as an ally during World War II.  On the other hand, he views the Soviet fear of attack from the US and Western Europe as justified based on their continuing attacks on Soviet sovereignty.  He finds that if the places of the US and USSR were switched then the US would act much as the USSR has.

Wallace suggests the the surest path to security is to “allay any reasonable Russian grounds for fear, suspicion, and distrust.”  He suggests the US stop demanding the USSR unilaterally disarm and instead change the US attitude toward one of world where the US and USSR can peacefully co-exist.


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