Mark Twain on Armaments



from autobiographical dictation,
June 22,1906
reprinted inHudson Review,
Autumn 1963

In this game France puts up a battleship; England sees that battleship and goes it one battleship better; Russia comes in and raises it a battleship or two or they did before the untaught stranger entered the game and reduced her stately pile of chips to a damaged ferryboat and a cruiser that can't cruise.

We are in it ourselves now. This game goes on and on, and by the law of probabilities a day is coming when no Christians will be left on the land, except the women. The men will all be at sea, manning the fleets.

This singular game, which is so costly and so ruinous and so silly, is called statesmanship - which is different from assmanship on account of the spelling.

Anybody but a statesman could invent some way to reduce these vast armaments to sensible and safe police proportions, with the result that thenceforth all Christians could sleep in their beds unafraid, and even the Savior could come down and walk on the seas, foreigner as He is, without dread of being chased by Christian battleships.

(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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