by Lord Robert Cecil (as channeled and quoted by Bill Branyon)
I am writing to you as one of your many distinguished Cecil relatives. This group includes your first cousin, William Cecil, who owns Biltmore Estate. My full name is Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood (1864-1958.) According to Wikipedia, we are both descended from another William Cecil, 1st Baron of Burghley, “principal adviser to England’s Queen Elizabeth I through most of her reign.”
I was awarded the 1937 Nobel Peace Prize for fighting against war and the military-industrial complex. Whereas you, as CEO of Biltmore Farms, control much of the land that George Vanderbilt originally bought for his Biltmore Estate and are in great part responsible for Buncombe County’s new Pratt & Whitney plant that makes weapon parts. In other words, we are working at cross-purposes.
The Nobel Committee said it was presenting me with its peace award in recognition of my “tireless effort in support of the League of Nations, disarmament and peace. … Three statesmen who occupied leading positions during World War I were so deeply struck by the deprivation of human life and economic resources, by the futility of war as a social institution, and by its amorality, that they became convinced pacifists and, throughout the rest of their lives, spared no effort to prevent such a calamity from ever again overtaking mankind.”
The other two statesmen were my friends Woodrow Wilson, the American president, and French Prime Minister Aristide Briand, both of whom had previously received the peace prize. My father, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, served as prime minister of England under Queen Victoria three times. Whereas you and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners arranged for tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer and other subsidies for the Pratt & Whitney factory which, among other things, builds airfoils for an extremely DEADLY jet called the F-35 Lightning. And then you said, according to Asheville.com/News, “The vision for this facility [Pratt & Whitney] to become a lighthouse location of innovation for the aerospace industry and for our region was inspiring.” It appears that you hope to make Buncombe into a major center for weapons production.
Still, I believe you have inherited the good heart that characterizes most of the Cecil family. After all, our family motto is “Cor unum via una,” which is Latin for “One heart, one way.” Thus, you probably believe either that creating ever more and ever more destructive weapons prevents wars or that wars are inevitable and the weapons at least help America win those inevitabilities. In one of my four books, The Way of Peace, I called this “the old preparedness heresy.” I continued: “I recognize that force may still be an unavoidable element of international life as it is in national life. But it must be the force of the whole community directed against the lawbreaker and not legalized international brigandage.”
Indeed, stopping international brigandage was one of the major reasons that President Wilson and I started the League of Nations. So, despite what the Nobel committee contended, neither of us was a pacifist. And not so long ago, your country inflicted this same brigandage on humanity, killing hundreds of thousands of people based on the fraudulent claim that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
So, I’m asking you to consider that building excessive numbers of weapons factories may actually be causing war rather than preventing it. As I wrote in my autobiography, A Great Experiment:
“We read sometimes in the papers of terrible cases of human beings who have become addicted to some of those horrible drugs, morphine, cocaine or the like, and they go taking more and more of them until they are ruined body and soul. We call them drug maniacs. I fear very much that there are some armament maniacs still left among the nations of the world. …
“What keeps alive armaments is one thing and one thing only: It is the fear and suspicions of the nations for one another. We must have a new spirit in international affairs. We must get rid of the idolatry of force.”
Please consider that you and the Buncombe County commissioners who approved this factory may unknowingly be part of this idolatry of force. And I believe it inevitably leads to unnecessary wars because:
“Pretty soon an atmosphere is produced in which everyone talks of war and when that happens, war almost always follows. This is no fancy picture. People of my age have seen the process going on more than once — a kind of automatic drive toward war which, when it breaks out, is justified to the peaceful majority in each country as a war of self-defense.”
This is what I believe happened in the war that formed my opinions, World War I. Please consider that the same thing may now be happening to you, the Buncombe County commissioners and America with regard to Ukraine, Russia and China.
Merchants of death
In 1934, I was one of some 500,000 volunteers who organized a Peace Ballot in England to try to influence Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. More than 11 million registered voters took part, the vast majority of whom agreed that the manufacture and sale of armaments for private profit should “be prohibited by international agreement.”
Those millions believed that private weapons manufacturers were a threat to peace. And the Nye Committee, which your own U.S. Congress convened for almost two years from 1934-36, called these private manufacturers “merchants of death.” According to Wikipedia, “Senator Nye, many war critics and members of the American public concluded that the U.S. entered [World War I] for reasons of profit, not policy.” Please consider investigating whether Raytheon Technologies, the parent company of Pratt & Whitney, is also doing this. Consider, too, whether you and America are caught in an automatic drive toward a war with Russia and China orchestrated by such merchants of death.
Some analysts believe that the reason the U.S. has continued to support expanding NATO membership by admitting countries adjacent to Russia despite having given the Soviet Union indications that it wouldn’t do so was in order to sell American weapons to Ukraine and other countries in Eastern Europe.
Your war promoters may claim that a war with Russia or China can be controlled. But as I contended in The Way of Peace: “When war begins, no one can limit its extent. That is the truth which history teaches, and which all intelligent men and women should recognize.” Thus, the Ukraine War, or a direct war with Russia or China, could easily become World War III. And, as my friend Albert Einstein once said: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”
You often say that you try to see “the bigger picture.” But I submit to you that the biggest picture is preventing nuclear annihilation. You could use your obviously great powers of charisma, organization and persistence to destroy war — perhaps forever — and in the process save civilization. You can do it! After all, you’re a Cecil. We’ve been saving civilization since 1588, when our common ancestor William helped the Virgin Queen sink that enemy of freedom of religion, the Spanish Armada!
Lord Robert Cecil
Freelance historian Bill Branyon is a member of the activist group Reject Raytheon Asheville (rejectraytheonavl.com), which is trying to stop Jack Cecil and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners from bringing more weapons factories to the area.