Many of the Xpress online comments and offline letters criticizing my pleas to my relative Jack Cecil [“Dear John Francis Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil IV (Jack),” May 10, Xpress] have been contemptuously dismissive. They include: “Might be time to put down the pipe,” “repetitive nonsense” and “join the real world.” The writers apparently think that the Pratt & Whitney weapons plant that Jack helped locate in Buncombe County is a logical thing, and more and better weapons are necessary.
But the real-world facts are that the U.S. use of war weapons, parts of which were often made by Pratt & Whitney, have often backfired horribly in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, among many others. In fact, 200 others since 1950, according to The Journal of Conflict Resolution.
Another critical theme of the writers is that there are bad guys in the world. And that Lord Robert Cecil’s mindset and Nobel Peace Prize activities were quickly forgotten after Hitler began (true to his word) his conquest of Europe. Yes, I was shattered when my League of Nations failed to prevent Hitler’s rampage.
However, the current real world is that England has 220 and France 290 nuclear weapons, according to the Federation of American Scientists. Thus, Putin cannot try to overrun much of Europe as Hitler did without almost certainly precipitating the near-total destruction of his country. And that’s even without NATO’s use of the 5,428 nuclear weapons of the United States. Of course, then Russia might respond with its 5,977 nuclear weapons, and much of humanity will be exploded, incinerated and/or irradiated to death — all within a few days. We’re not in World War II anymore.
Paul Weichselbaum’s Xpress letter is more nuanced than the others [“Branyon Channels Revisionist History,” May 24]. He contends that NATO expansion “beyond the Baltic states was unnecessary and ill-advised, but that expansion was not the proximate cause of Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.” And: “It takes a very amateur historian to assert that the ‘merchants of death’ are the cause of war” for there are “multiple causes” of war.
Yet the real-world fact is that negotiation is still possible with Russia. Probably only Putin knows what he would have done if the U.S. had pledged not to extend NATO into Ukraine, an outcome he constantly demanded. Gorbachev and Yeltsin often expressed the same NATO concerns. We can still agree not to extend NATO if we would. Isn’t it worth a try, considering the carnage vicious Putin is inflicting on Ukraine and the potential for nuclear war?
And yes, there often are multiple causes of war, but that means the influence of defense contractors can’t be discounted, either. For instance, current Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin used to sit on the board of Raytheon, the parent company of Pratt & Whitney. In militarytimes.com, Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently stated that in “2019 a government watchdog found that the Pentagon’s 14 largest [private] contractors had hired 1,700 former Department of Defense senior civilian and military officials.” Thus, the untangling of whether war decisions are made for private profit or public policy is almost impossible these days. And that will also be true if we get into the war with China that many are promoting.
Therefore, the negotiations that I hoped would become the main way to handle disputes between nations may still be the best way to peace in Ukraine, China and the world. And it’s a real-world possibility that the alternative may be the horror of a nuclear World War III. The Pratt & Whitney plant that Jack Cecil and Buncombe County recruited, along with many other such plants, may contribute to this cataclysm as they try to maximize profits by promoting war.
— Edgar Algernon Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, aka Lord Robert Cecil (1864-1958)
via Bill Branyon