Most college students, the recent Literary Digest poll indicates, would not engage in an invasion of the territory of another nation, but would take part in a "defensive war." A fine but altogether baseless, distinction apparently still exists in semi-academic circles between these two types of armed conflict. Liberty, the home, and the loved ones remain linked in imagination, with chivalrous sorties against brutal fee.
Since the idealistic voters pledge themselves to abstain from an offensive war they must assume that such a phenomenon actually exists. This is their fundamental fallacy. Not since history began has any nation fought a war that was not considered a defense of its vital interests. In the latest great conflict, for example, the Central Powers were protecting their "besieged fortress" from the encircling policy of the Entente, while the latter group was engaged in crushing the great German military monsters. In the Spanish-American War the United States was protecting the abused Cubans, while Spain defended its right to govern its territory as it saw fit. It may be that in some cases there does exist an actual philosophical conflict between right and wrong, but this is never visible to the populace of the nations concerned.
As Americans we are willing to admit that the citizens of other countries often view international affairs with a prejudice born of their patriotism. What we too often forget is the fact that we, too, are subject to such delusions and that when the tension of crisis develops we are no better qualified than others to play the part of the impartial judge and to decide the question of aggression and defence. Before the mighty force of modern propaganda the innocent no-voter will troop to the colors.