Time to bring this one out again.
Finished with the War - A Soldier's Declaration
am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military
authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by
those who have the power to end it.
"I am a soldier, convinced
that I am writing on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon
which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war
of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and
my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly
stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this
been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by
"I have seen and endured the suffering of the
troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for
ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.
"I am not protesting
against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and
insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.
behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the
deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may
help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those
at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and
which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."
-- S. Sassoon
July 1917 (Regeneration, Pat Barker, 1993)
A few pages later, his psychiatrist asks Sassoon, "Would you describe yourself as a pacifist?" Sassoon replies, "I
don't think so. I can't possibly say 'No war is ever justified',
because I haven't thought about it enough. Perhaps some wars are.
Perhaps this one was when it started. I just don't think our war aims--whatever they may be--and we don't know--justify this level of slaughter."
I can't add anything to improve on this.
Credit: Pat Barker, Regeneration, 1993. Regeneration is a fictionalized portrayal of real life poet Siegfried Sassoon and historical events of World War I.