Abandonment of the Use of Force

December 17, 2016

atlantic_charterOn August 14, 1941, Churchill and Roosevelt met in Newfoundland and issued The Atlantic Charter,a broad statement of U.S. and British war aims.  War aims? The U.S. was not yet officially at war: the U.S. would not formally enter the war until December, 1941, after the Pearl Harbor Attack.  Nevertheless, Churchill and Roosevelt wanted to rally the world around a set of principles.

Point 8 (the final point) of the Atlantic Charter is a striking statement envisioning a world without war.

8. They believe all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea, or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armament.

Who is “They”?  Churchill and Roosevelt certainly, but they meant the Charter to speak more broadly for their respective nations.  The Charter articulates “certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.”

“Abandonment of the use of force” and lightening “the crushing burden of armaments.”  How far we are from such sentiments today, 75 years later.

I found reference to the Atlantic Charter in an excellent post of Ted Grimsrud on his Peace Theology blog entitled Christian pacifism and the “Good War”.  Worth reading.


About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
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