The people's peace.
Geoffrey Best's interesting article about the Hague Conference of 1899 ('Hague Rules OK', March 2011) could have been more entertaining had he used some of the quotations in Barbara Tuchman's 1966 study The Proud Tower. Official cynicism about the conference was widespread. Lord Salisbury said in advance that there was no doubt that Jacky Fisher would fight at the conference. 'So I did" wrote Fisher afterwards, 'though it was not for peace.' Best's negative approach to what is now rather grandly called 'civil society', but what was just once groups of concerned citizens, probably prevented him from describing the intense interest there was in this country before the conference. Our north London church, then Congregational, was packed for a discussion on the tsar's proposals. It was the same in many other places. The Mayor of Harrogate even called a town meeting.
It looks as if Best would prefer matters of international security to be left exclusively to those with 'military or diplomatic understanding'. Unhappily, it is those who would so describe themselves who are still fixated on the nation state and on the belief that peace is almost exclusively a military matter. The rest of the world is moving in a different direction.