I am starting this web site in connection with the publication of my memoir, “A Wrinkle
in the Long Gray Line.” The Long Gray Line refers to the continuum of all the cadets who have graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York from its first graduate in 1802 to the present; and to the tradition of the graduate officers serving as military leaders after graduation. The “wrinkle” is me, the first and only cadet to apply for dischargefrom the Army as a conscientious objector. My memoir tells the story of how coming from a small southern Illinois town, I made it to West Point, was successful academically but after three years concluded that morally I could not condone killing other humans during war.
The website will contain photos from my time at West Point along with Army records from the time I applied through my successful court case that provided me with an honorable discharge.
I also will be regularly publishing blogs on events and issues that reflect on war and moral issues. The website name peace and politics relates to the saying by German General Carl von Clauswitz, “We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means” (von Clauswitz, On War). In other words, war is the continuation of politics by other means, violent and brutal.
If war is a continuation of politics, what then is peace? Surely not just the absence of war, but the absence of war must at a minimum be a precondition to peace. Pope Francis has said, “Peace is not just the absence of war, but a general condition in which the human person is in harmony with himself, with nature and with others. . . . Nevertheless, silencing arms and stopping outbreaks of war remain the unavoidable conditions for embarking on a journey toward the attainment of peace in its different forms.”
As John Lennon wrote and sang, “Give peace a chance.”