Context: "If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow"

Mick West

Staff member
[ex=] In December 1917, Lloyd George remarked to C.P. Scott that: "If people really knew, the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."[/ex]

Knew what? This quote is sometimes put forward as an example of there being some vast conspiracy behind wars, but it seems like Lloyd George was talking more about the new horrors of war, and how the public would drop their support for the war if the found out just how horrible it really was. The conspiracy was to cover up the horrors of war, and to portray it in a more positive light. Here's the quote in the fullest form I've found, from The political diaries of C. P. Scott, 1911-1928

Gibbs was a journalist stationed at the front. He was sent home after the War Office began to censor reports from the front.

Some context:

There's been a slight evolution of the quote over time from the original:

to the imposition of what the quoter felt was unsaid

[ex=]If people really knew [the truth], the war would be stopped tomorrow[/ex]

to the incorporation of this commentary as if it were the original:

[bunk]"If people really knew the truth," the prime minister said, "the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."[/bunk]

when really a more accurate parenthetical would be
"If people really knew [how horrific conditions were on the front lines during WWI] the war would be stopped tomorrow. But of course they don't know, and can't know."

Mick West

Staff member
The (incorrect but in the correct sense) quote is mentioned at the start of this clip from John Pilger's The War You Don't See:

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