Monday, 18 February 2013

Why do wars start?

     ‘What are the real reasons? Go on, tell me — I’m on the outside, you’re on the inside, and you know about these things. Why do wars start?’
     ‘That’s easy,’ said Churchill. ‘Greed. And fear. And both those emotions are concerned with power and money. That’s all And they work away, until some accident — or some contrivance, although people are seldom clever enough to be able to contrive exactly — sets them off into war. Then the justifications — liberty, patriotism, compassion, indignation, religion even — come into play. But they aren’t reasons. money and power, they’re what count.
     Mr Franklin replaced his cue in the rack and considered the fresh, rather baby face with its humorous mouth and lively eyes under the balding forehead. Slowly he said: ‘I’d have thought those other things you mentioned — liberty patriotism, and so on — I’d have thought they mattered too.’
     ‘Of course they matter,’ said Churchill. He stood waiting for Mr Franklin, his hands on his hips, his head thrust forward. ‘Of course they matter — nothing matters more. He smiled at the American, nodding. ‘But money and power are what count.’

Mr American, pp.204-05, Pan Books, paperback edition 1982.

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