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Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 – No More Wars!

From left to right, Aristide Briand, Myron Merrick and Frank Billings Kellogg at the French foreign office in Paris, for the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact for renunciation of war. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

As a Vietnam Vet, I had the opportunity to see war up close and personal. I don’t have to tell anyone that it’s not something I’d like to do again. Wars are not pleasant by any definition yet countries seem to go to war at the drop of a hat. Although calling them wars is no longer politically correct. Now they are police actions or nation building. Regardless of the name they sure look like war.

The United States has been at war at least 10 times in my lifetime and we currently have boots on the ground in at least two countries where a warlike environment exists.

Is War the Answer?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were an International Law that could be used to settle disputes before going to war? As it turns out we have such an agreement — The Kellogg-Briand Pact signed in 1928. United States Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg and French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand were the primary authors.

This General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy was an international agreement between nations the simply stated that war would not be used to resolve, “disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may rise among them.”

Any nation who failed to abide by the agreement “should be denied the benefits furnished by this treaty.” Germany, France and the United States agreed to the Kellogg-Briand Pact on August 27, 1928 and a total of 54 nations eventually signed the pact not long after.

The United Nations

As you can imagine, the UN thought this would be a great idea and they adopted similar wording in the UN Charter and other treaties. I guess they could have called it the Rodney King Pact, “Can’t we all just get along?” As history proves we can’t.

The wars since this pact was signed are too numerous to mention here. Not only the wars involving the US but other conflicts around the world have traditionally been settled by either who has the largest force or who gives up first. Various groups in the Middle East have been at war for thousands of years with no pact settling their etched in stone positions.

The Workaround

One surefire way around this pact is simply not to declare war in the first place. Just attack with the blessings of the country you are attacking. Or get the OK from the UN and you are home free as the United States did with Iraq and Afghanistan.

One day they’re your friends and the next day they’re your enemies. We supported Afghanistan against the Russians then a few years later we return to battle the very people we helped arm. We even sent Rambo over to help out against the Russians. Mostly we found ourselves fighting two unwinnable politically correct wars.

Some Final Thoughts

Most of you are probably too young to remember the Vietnam Peace Talks in the 1970’s. There were four groups involved in those talks. There was the North Vietnamese government, the Viet Cong (the Vietnam Taliban), the South Vietnamese government and the United States. They fought for over six months on the arrangement of the tables for the talks. Who would sit where trumped millions dying in the streets and rice paddies of Southeast Asia.

I’m not sure what Kellogg and Briand thought was going to happen. If this had been successful, and wars could be stopped and brought to the negotiating tables, there might not be enough tables in the world to accommodate all the disputes both legitimate and petty.

Would the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s have a table. Sunnis and Shiites? Republicans and Democrats? Well not all these groups are ready to take up arms against each other but there’s no harm in planning ahead. If we ever needed those government navigators, this would be the ideal place for them. Is it time for us to revamp and reinforce Kellogg- Briand?

Might not be a bad idea.  But who would be the enforcer? I think Dirty Harry is getting a little long in the tooth. Ironman, maybe? Would you support a “NO MORE WARS” policy?

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