The war to end war
During August 1914, immediately after the outbreak of the war, British author and social commentator H. G. Wells published a number of articles in London newspapers that subsequently appeared as a book entitled The War That Will End War. Wells blamed the Central Powers for the coming of the war and argued that only the defeat of German militarism could bring about an end to war. Wells used the shorter form of the phrase, "the war to end war", in In the Fourth Year (1918), in which he noted that the phrase "got into circulation" in the second half of 1914. In fact, it had become one of the most common catchphrases of the First World War.
In later years, the term became associated with Woodrow Wilson, despite the fact that Wilson is only known to have used the phrase once. Along with the phrase "make the world safe for democracy", it embodied Wilson's conviction that U.S. entry into the war was necessary to preserve human freedom.
Even during the First World War, the phrase met with some degree of skepticism; the British politician David Lloyd George is reported to have said, "This war, like the next war, is a war to end war." As it became apparent that the war had not succeeded in ending war, the phrase took on a more cynical tone. The British staff officer Archibald Wavell, a future field marshal and viceroy of India, said despondently of the Paris Peace Conference, "After the 'war to end war', they seem to have been in Paris at making the 'Peace to end Peace'." Wells himself used the phrase in an ironic way in the novel The Bulpington of Blup (1932). Walter Lippmann wrote in Newsweek in 1967, "The delusion is that whatever war we are fighting is the war to end war", while U.S. President Richard Nixon, in his "Silent Majority" speech (1969), said, "I do not tell you that the war in Vietnam is the war to end wars". The 1976 Eric Bogle song "No Man's Land" ("The Green Fields of France"), addressed to the grave of a 19-year-old soldier in a First World War Cemetery, contains the lyric "Did you really believe that this war would end wars?". The tenth track in Swedish metal band Sabaton's 2019 album The Great War is titled "The End of the War to End All Wars".
Since at least the last third of the 20th century, the alternative wording "the war to end all wars" has become more popular. The War to End War was the title of Laurence Stallings's 1959 book on the war. It was also a title of a chapter of the American high school history textbook The American Pageant (first published 1956), and remained so up to its 15th edition in 2013. However, "The War to End All Wars" was used by later authors such as Edward M. Coffman (1968), Russell Freedman (2010) and Adam Hochschild (2011).
- The war to end all wars BBC News 10 November 1998
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