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Refreshingly different was the approach to the war offered yesterday morning in the Chapel by the Rev. Dr. John Haynes Holmes. Most of the traditional views, in his hands, went by the board. The attitude that it is a black and white war, he can understand; but he had no patience with it. It is unrealistic. The pacifist view that war is abominable in and of itself, he also can understand; and with this he has more sympathy. The attitude of peace-at-any-price for America, he can neither understand nor tolerate. His conclusion: peace now.
It is interesting to follow his reasoning through seemingly contradictory paths. The war, he says, will bring forth horrible consequences if allowed to continue. There are three possible results: (1) a Hitler victory, which would embody all the disadvantages of a peace at the present time and none of its advantages; (2) an Allied victory, which after the hatreds of a long and tortuous struggle would embody none of the idealistic provisions now so prominent in the propaganda; and (3) an exhausting stalemate, which would be most disastrous of all, perhaps leading to the disintegration of civilization. His conclusion: peace now.
The logic of this argument is impelling. Against it are the now familiar arguments that no peace, however negotiated, can be more than a truce unless Hitler is destroyed; and that the powers would not consider a peace suggestion for a moment.
These arguments, too, are impelling. It is probably beyond the power of anyone outside the innermost circles of Britain and Germany to weigh correctly their respective merit. But we think that the logic of Dr. Holmes is as solid as granite, and that opposing set of arguments contains possible weaknesses. Hitler, for example, is an imponderable; his reaction to, and behavior after, a peace settlement, cannot be safely predicted. British resolution to pursue the war to an idealistic conclusion may be suspect, propaganda notwithstanding. If there is a chance for peace, it is to the selfish interest of the United States to capitalize upon it; and for this reason, if for none other, it is the duty of President Roosevelt to attempt a settlement.
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