A note to readers: this is an old post on the archive website for Promethean PAC. It was written when we were known as LaRouche PAC, before changing our name to Promethean PAC in April 2024. You can find the latest daily news and updates on www.PrometheanAction.com. Additionally, Promethean PAC has a new website at www.PrometheanPAC.com.

On May 28, 2002, Lyndon LaRouche spoke at a Memorial Day Webcast sponsored by his campaign committee, LaRouche in 2004. As usual, his words spoken 21 years ago, speak to us, profoundly, today. We offer this edited transcript of his address for your reflection this weekend. His full remarks can be found here. 

In these times, I'd like to speak on the question of the lessons to be learned from looking at the human side, the human experience, of war. And despite the fact that the Congress has monkeyed so much with the date of Memorial Day, let us consider this Memorial Day Week, and let us celebrate it accordingly.

Now, let me begin with the question of where do you find in yourself, not only the courage to conduct war, to participate in war, when necessary; but where do you find in yourself those qualities which enable you to look beyond the short term of next week, or your immediate community, and find that strength you need to think and act on the basis of what the consequences of your behavior will be, perhaps for the next generation or two yet to come? We need that kind of courage today, that kind of intellect among our own citizens, so that they can begin to think clearly, in the way that the present crisis demands of us. To think clearly, as a similar but different challenge was presented to people who fought and died in two wars in the last century, the two world wars of the last century.

To find that source of strength, I ask you to look inside yourself, and look at the history of your family, what you know of your family, and what you know about the nation beyond your immediate family. And think about the fact that you live and you die, as the people before you did, and you think about not only what you're getting out of living now; but you're thinking about how you look, how the way you behave, how the way you respond to the present crisis, looks in the eyes of those who died, and who cannot act any more, but are looking at you, within your own mind, and saying: "Are you capable of doing what needs to be done, as we did in ours?" . . .

Lessons from MacArthur in World War II

Look at the case of the war in Asia, in order to learn a lesson: Now, MacArthur was a great general, probably one of the greatest in American history. He did the most for the United States, as a commander. He fought a war in the Pacific, under what seemed to be desperate circumstances; he brought it to a successful conclusion, even before Hiroshima. He fought a couple of heavy battles, or ordered a couple of heavy battles, serious ones, major ones, bloody slugfests, but he fought no unnecessary battles. He moved past islands, occupied by Japanese troops, and didn't attempt to get them out of there. Why waste lives, taking islands? We have them isolated. We control the seas; we control the air around them. Why bother? We'll come back later. No need to fight a war on those beaches; no need to go into those islands. So MacArthur had a sense of economy of war.

MacArthur was not fighting war to kill people. The object of the American soldier in World War II was not to kill people—maybe some people had that idea—it wasn't killing. The purpose of war-fighting was to win the war. The purpose was to win the peace, not to kill everybody you wish to hate, but to win. To win what? To win war. What's war? Winning the peace. That was MacArthur's policy. We didn't need to invade Japan. We never needed to invade Japan. In my opinion, MacArthur never intended to. Certainly, MacArthur was the kind of general who would never have done the silly thing of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. . ..MacArthur was not out to kill Japanese. MacArthur was out to win war, by using the strategic and logistical might of the United States, mobilized to bring about a condition, in which the Japanese people and institutions would accept peace as the alternative to war. That was the way we used to fight wars.

Now, there's a principle involved, and you may smell what I'm getting at here about present military policies, which, frankly, are immoral and insane. And I would hope that our country would stop it, because it's stupid, immoral, insane.

The Concept of Strategic Defense

We used to have a different military policy. Before they got rid of MacArthur, and before Eisenhower retired as President, we used to have a different kind of military tradition in the United States—different than what we have today, different than what was shown in Vietnam, different than what is being shown right now. What was that policy?

Lazare Carnot, who was already a military genius, was given the command of the French forces in 1792. At that point, France was being invaded by every army in Europe. The intent of those armies was to divide, cut France up into individual pieces, and chop it up. Lazare Carnot was given the command, a hopeless command at that point. He turned a hopeless command into a total victory, within two years. He reformed the armies of France. He made a scientific mobilization of the type that Franklin Roosevelt probably knew about, and would have been happy to imitate, and France's military forces on the continent of Europe, became invincible. Every invading army was defeated. France's integrity was defended. Unfortunately, Napoleon spoiled the whole show later on.

In this same period, there was another leading military figure in Germany: Gerhardt Scharnhorst. Scharnhorst was a product of an education given to him at the school of a famous fellow, Wilhelm Schaumburg-Lippe. The school, the educational program of the school, was provided by one of the great geniuses of the 18th Century: Moses Mendelssohn, the famous Moses Mendelssohn who designed the program of teaching at the military school which produced one of the greatest military minds of Germany—Gerhardt Scharnhorst. The same group of Scharnhorst, when faced with the point that Napoleon was sending the Grand Armée, which was sort of like the predecessor of the Hitler Waffen-SS, into Russia. The German Prussians, influenced by Scharnhorst, developed a plan which was based on some work by a fellow who was a cousin—or in-law cousin—of Friedrich Schiller; and on the basis of the study of Schiller's history of the Netherlands war, and the Thirty Years War, the Prussian command devised a program, which they presented to the Tsar of Russia, a policy of strategic defense, which resulted in the entrapment and destruction of Napoleon.

The Citizen-Army

This concept of strategic defense, is consistent with the idea of the citizen-army. One of the things that came out of France under Lazare Carnot, that came out of Germany under the influence of Scharnhorst: the idea of the citizen-reserve army. We, in World War II, were not the best fighters in World War II—the Americans. The Germans were much more effective as soldiers than the Americans, soldier for soldier. And this has been studied extensively. Because they had a training program, in depth, and a reserve program, which was based on the Scharnhorst program. We put together a military force in the United States, after years of negligence of the necessary steps to build a standing reserve, effective reserve, and to build a military force that could cope with these kinds of problems.

So we went into World War II like a bunch of military slobs, generally. I saw it myself, so I have eye-witness testimony. But what we won the war with, and what our best commanders understood, was to use the economic might, which had been built up again, under President Franklin Roosevelt, to give us the logistical, and strategic-logistical capabilities to win war by logistics. And the United States won World War II with logistics—not with kill-power. We don't have logistics today. We have kill-power. We don't have a war-winning capability. We have a perpetual war-fighting capability, until it just quits when it gets tired. And that's the big issue. , ,

There's a famous fellow—Machiavelli, who most people misunderstand these days—who laid down a policy, a military policy, in his works on the books of Livy, and pointed out the reasons why, when an enemy is defeated, you never go in for the kill. Because the enemy may start killing again, in desperation. You never close in—bayonet to bayonet, or otherwise—on a defeated enemy. What you do, is you use the power you have, to create the conditions under which the enemy will accept a peaceful solution to the conflict. Which is the way we should approach our problems today. We should not be the world policeman, like Roman Legions, or the Nazi Waffen-SS, running around the world and killing people we say are the rogue states, or might have weapons of mass destruction, or might have terrorists among them. That policy is idiocy, is criminality. We knew how to do things better before: Build up two things—a strategic defense, in depth, which is largely economic power, physical-economic power. Increase the productive powers of labor of your people, as Roosevelt did during the 1930s in the recovery. Build up your educational system. Open plants. Create new productive jobs, not consumer-society jobs, but production-society jobs. Farms that function. Machine-tool shops that work. Stop being a consumer society, which we've degenerated into, and go back to becoming a producer society.

We have the ability in the United States today, as a nation, to secure, to establish our security, planet-wide, virtually without firing a shot in military fire, in any part of this planet. All we need to do, is to learn the lessons of history of past centuries, including the Roosevelt history, and lay down a plan of reconstruction of a rotting, collapsing world economy, and say: We're going to do our part in revising an economy that has failed.

Leadership: The Case of Jeanne d'Arc

Now back to the individual. The individual must have the courage, the personal courage, to actually exert a command position in warfare. Soldiers go along, as long as they trust their officers and leaders, but it's the commanders who must have the courage which inspires the soldiers in confidence to work with the leader. We need people who are leaders in the true sense, not leaders in the sense of "Do as I tell you or I'll shoot you." But leaders in whom, the people that follow them, have confidence. Leaders who inspire confidence in their people. Not like the politicians we tend to elect nowadays, but actual leaders.

We have some examples of leaders in modern history, at the birth of modern history, for example, the 15th Century. Jeanne d'Arc, a farm-girl, who was seized by the commitment, a mission, to force a King, who was a no-good King, to become a real King of France. And to reestablish France in its dignity as a nation. And she succeeded. But because of betrayal by that very King himself, Jeanne was tortured by the English Inquisition, and burned alive, after torture by the English Inquisition. She refused to capitulate. And by her refusal to capitulate, in accepting the risk of being burned alive, she made possible, not only the existence of France as the first modern nation-state—that under Louis XI—but inspired circles in the Catholic Church to conduct reforms which we saw in the 15th-Century Renaissance. This little peasant girl, who had a sense of a mission in life, who used her life to do a good, because it had to be done, inspired people around her, and by her courage, inspired a nation, and more than just that nation, to establish the first, true modern nation-state in European civilization.

The example of France under Jeanne d'Arc, the example of Louis XI, was used, in England, to free England from a tyranny, the tyranny known as that of Richard III. And Henry VII of England, established in England, the second modern nation-state on this planet.

Now along came an attempt by the enemies of the nation-state, the Venetians, to destroy England, to destroy England's character as a nation-state, and to do that, they sent agents into England, to corrupt a rather foolish heir of Henry VII—Henry VIII; you know, the usual sexual thing; you had the religious adviser, Zorzi, marriage counsellor, they tormented Henry VIII with the promise of a woman, Anne Boleyn, who was nothing but a prostitute, virtually, and the stupid King became corrupt, and England was being destroyed.

Now, what killed Thomas More, was not the fact that he objected to the divorce of the King to marry Anne Boleyn; what killed him, was the fact that he stood against this corruption of what had been accomplished by Henry VII. England had been the second nation-state founded. It was being built as a great economy from the rubble that it had been, under the previous Plantagenet rule. It was being destroyed. He gave his life, on the chopping block, in order to inspire people such as William Shakespeare, who was one of his great followers intellectually, and others, to keep alive in England, that which the Venetians had attempted to destroy, with the case of Henry VIII, and others. And it's because of that courage of Thomas More, in England, and because of the influence, in particular, of Shakespeare and people like him, and his associates, that there was founded in North America, beginning with the Massachusetts Bay Colony in particular, a conception of a new kind of nation-state built on this continent, at a time that Europe was so corrupt, so torn by religious wars—from 1511 to 1648, Europe was torn apart by religious warfare—of the type that some people would like to start around the world today. And during that time, people in Europe said, let us go to North America. Let us build the foundations of a new nation, in this continent. And the Winthrops, and the Mathers, in Massachusetts, typify that great venture.

Then came Penn with Logan. And others came, as things became terrible in Europe. More and more people looked to North America as a place to build a republic, in the legacy of France's Louis XI, the legacy of Jeanne d'Arc, the legacy of Henry VII, the legacy of Thomas More: to build that in this, that republic in this nation. And great Europeans, despairing of the possibility of building a republic in Europe under these conditions, turned in the 18th Century to the English colonies of North America, especially to the circles of Benjamin Franklin personally, to assist us, in building up the foundations for creating this republic, which is therefore an historic exception, in the modern history of mankind. This was the first true republic established in modern mankind, and it was established on the basis of these foundations, contributed to us, largely, by Europe.

And without the courage of the people who did it, people like Jeanne d'Arc, and Thomas More, this could not have happened. So therefore, the highest standing—I'm not recommending to people that they go out and be burned alive, or have their heads chopped off, I'm not particularly fond of that sort of entertainment, as some people are—but rather, I'm saying that you have to find in yourself some element of the quality of courage, the quality of insight into the future, the future that you leave behind, after your mortal life is ended, and say that what I am, in the history of mankind, is, as I view my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, and so forth before me: I view myself as a passing mortal individual, but I want my life, while it's going on, to mean something. And therefore, I will spend my life wisely. If I have to die on the battlefield, I will spend my life wisely, for a meaningful purpose, for my nation and for mankind.

Now people who think that way and can find their roots in family and history and also in the future, that way, have the courage to face gladly, the kind of challenges which we as a nation face today. And one would wish that as I speak, that those who died, or whose families made the sacrifice of their death, during two world wars of the past century, could be with us today, to hear me say this, and to see you hear this, that they might believe that in this nation, there's something that still lives, that made their sacrifice worthwhile.

Ideas as a Source of Courage

And there's the source from which you find your strength also you find another source you have to call upon. It's called ideas. Some people believe, that what's important is what they know from experience. Experience is sense perception, what I can see, what I can taste, what I can touch. What I feel in my neighborhood, my community, my personal, immediate, physical sense of self-interest. Some people think that way. That's a foolish way of thinking. Because you don't understand then, the difference between man and animal. Think of all the people you know, who say that mankind is just another monkey, or just another ape. Now, I admit that we've elected some politicians who might lend themselves to that view. But man is not an ape. Man has a quality which no animal has. Look, if man were a higher ape, whether on high stuff or not, the human species, in the past 2 million years, would never have reached a level above several million individuals. We now have billions of people. How do we get billions of people, out of a being which, as an ape, is only capable of maintaining a miserable bunch of monkeys, so to speak, at about a few million members, planet-wide? How'd we get that? Because mankind has a quality which no monkey has. So don't monkey around with mankind! Mankind is capable of discovering universal principles which cannot be smelled, tasted, seen with the senses, but which the mind is able to define, and we're able to prove experimentally.

This is what we mean, when we say in Christianity, Islam, or Judaism, that man and woman are made equally in the image of the Creator of the Universe. Because we each have within us, that power to discover truth, the truth of universal principles which no monkey, no lower form of life, can do. And through this power, we are able to change man's relations with nature; we're able to change ourselves, to improve and develop ourselves. We're able to transmit these discoveries to our children, over successive generations. We're able to build societies where there were nothing but jungles. This is why man is sacred. This is why every human life is special and sacred. This is why every human being, man or woman, is equal, in this quality, which need but be developed and expressed.

What gives you the power to deal with great crises, is to recognize that; to think in terms of principles that you can discover, and prove, as Kepler discovered the law of gravity, universal gravitation, in a book he published in 1609. You can discover these principles; you say, that if I can learn an idea, discover, re-discover an idea, or contribute a new discovery of principle; and if I can pass along these discoveries which I've taken in part from people before me—if I can pass them to the next generation, if I can enrich these discoveries with something I contribute myself, then I live forever, as a human being. Because in the time I occupied mortal life, I picked up the heritage of ideas from the culture, people before me; I picked it up from other cultures than my own, I put these together in part, I transmitted these to young people, as good teachers transmit these discoveries to children, and when I die, these ideas, which I've helped to make possible, these achievements, will be transmitted to those who come after me. And therefore, the greatest thing about being human, is to be truly a person who acts in a way, which justifies the characterization of a being, man and woman equally, made in the image of the Creator of the Universe. Given the power to transform this Universe, capable of transmitting these discoveries from one generation to another, to build the human race from its initial imperfection as a beast-like creature with this quality, into something much better.

And therefore, if I can do something, with my life, which helps that process, then my life really means something. And I can go out of this life wearing a smile, because I have won. I have won the battle for the meaning of a personal life.

Therefore, when it comes to war, or things like war, the person on the other side is a human being, made in the image of the Creator of the Universe as we are, of the same nature and the same true, fundamental interest, if they but know it. Therefore, the function of war, is to defend this heritage, this cultural heritage, that we have been given, but to invite others to share it with us. Invite them to enter into fraternity with us. And say, stop being a fool. We will defend—if you go crazy, like a madman, and do something evil—we're going to stop you, if we have to. But we will rejoice, when you become human and accept the conditions of fraternity and peace. And that's the proper object of warfare: to defend what must be defended, so that it can be preserved for humanity, to preserve the dignity and the lives of our people, the purpose of our culture. But it is not to conquer or destroy like a beast trying to destroy another beast. We do not eat man.

The purpose is to bring the human race together, as a community of sovereign nation-states, each perfectly sovereign, but united by an understanding of certain common principles, by which we can live together, but not only merely live together—not merely get along and not kill—but live together in the sense that we are busy living our lives, making a contribution which is not shameful in the eyes of those who came before us. We're contributing something to the future. And therefore, when you are future-oriented in that way, you have a source of courage which no other human being has, who lacks that sense of the future.

A Mobilization of Courage

So what we need now, is a mobilization of courage, from among not too courageous leaders around the world, and from the people who will push them. We can get out of this mess; we've dealt with messes before. Organizing and reorganizing a financial system or monetary system is not the greatest thing in the world; it's a tough thing. It would take us 25 years, to repair the damage to the world, and the United States in particular, done by the changes of the past years.

We have to decide, however, what kind of a world we want to build. Not a world in which we tell everybody how to run their government. Not a world in which we tell you you're a rogue state; you're not a rogue state; or you're a rogue state tomorrow, but not today, or whatever. We need a world in which we agree that there are several simple principles: that every people has the right to be self-governed by a perfectly sovereign form of nation-state republic; that the policy of the United States is that which Secretary of State at the time, John Quincy Adams, said to the nations of South America and to the world: As soon as the United States has enough muscle to do it, we're going to kick the British and the Habsburgs out of the Americas, and we're going to establish a community of principle among perfectly sovereign nation-states. We have to say the same thing today to the world. The world we want, is not a world of our design, it's not a world in which we become the dictator or the emperor; what we need, is a world which is composed of perfectly sovereign nation-states, which in their own mutual interests, will cooperate and will establish principles, a community of principles of agreement.

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