Table It

Pulling out the paper on the invasion of mainland Europe, I place it on the table before me.


This is what they came for.


“The British Chief of Staff’s Committee would like to table the paper on the topic of invading mainland Europe.” I announce to the Combined Chief’s of Staff Committee.


Half the room, the Americans, erupt in surprise and disappointment.


“What do you mean table it?” General Marshall, the Chief of Staff of the United States Army replies, representing the American side.


I thought they’d want us to talk about this. It is their bailiwick, after all.


“Yes, we’d like to table the motion of invading mainland Europe in 1942.” I repeat.


They may have simply misunderstood me the first time.


“We can’t table that” General Marshall retorts, almost instantly. “That is a primary topic we came to discuss.”


Of course it’s what we all came to discuss. That’s why we brought it up. Why are they fighting it.



The entire American delegation huddles together. Chief of Staff of the Army, Chief of Naval Operations, Chief of the Army Air Corps. (Why is their Air service part of their Army? They’ll learn.) and their Secretaries of their Army and Navy. So much brass and pinstripes, one would almost feel sorry for the marching band from which they must have pilfered it.


“The invasion of mainland Europe is of prime importance to our side. We must insist it not be tabled at this time. Otherwise, we have nothing further to discuss today.” General Marshall announces in a commanding, yet gentle, voice.


If it’s so important to you, and us, then why must we not table it at this time?


“Yes, the invasion of mainland Europe is of prime importance to our side as well, which is the very reason we wish to table it at this time. There are other topics which can wait until we address this one.” I reply, still not understanding the American’s insistence to prevent it from being discussed.


“Perhaps, I may offer a point of clarification.” Air Marshall Harris chimes in.


“It appears to me both sides which to discuss the invasion of mainland Europe. Is this correct?” the Air Marshall asks the room.


“Yes, that is correct.” General Marshall replies.


“Yes, right then.” Harris quickly retorts.


You’ve got it Harris, that’s it!


“Then perhaps we are on the same page, and simply the definition of ‘Table It’ is what’s ruffling the matter.” Harris offers.


Slowly the American delegation retakes their seats.


“So, we’ll discuss the invasion of mainland Europe next then?” General Marshall asks.


“If by next you mean now, then yes.” I reply. “For us, next means after what we’re doing right now.”


General Marshall looks at me.


General Arnold of the United States Army Air Corps slams a cigar on the table.


Major General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, slams his fist in a laugh.


“Gentlemen, may we proceed with discussing the invasion of Mainland Europe?” I ask.


In unison, the room erupts. “YES!”


“Let’s Proceed.” I declare.











Turns out the same words don’t always mean the same thing. During the Second World War the British and Americans came together at multiple conferences to plan the conduct of the war. One of the first, ARCADIA, took place from late 1941 through early 1942 and formed the foundation of the British American alliance, which persists to this day. Yet, at that conference not everything went as smooth as it could. Here is a quote from Winston Churchill discussing the event:



The enjoyment of a common language was of course a supreme advantage in all British and American discussions. The delays and often partial misunderstandings which occur when interpreters are used were avoided. There were however differences of expression, which in the early days led to an amusing incident. The British Staff prepared a paper which they wished to raise as a matter of urgency, and informed their American colleagues that they wished to "table it." To the American Staff "tabling" a paper meant putting it away in a drawer and forgetting it. A long and even acrimonious argument ensued before both parties realized that they were agreed on the merits and wanted the same thing.









This story is from my upcoming book Threads of The War, Volume IV. If you like what you've read here, please consider Pre-Ordering the book here.



Table (parliamentary procedure)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Look up table in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

In parliamentary procedure, the use of table, as a verb, has two different and contradictory meanings:

●   In the United States, to "table" usually means to postpone or suspend consideration of a pending motion.

●   In the rest of the English-speaking world, such as in the United Kingdom and Canada, to "table" means to begin consideration (or reconsideration) of a proposal.

Motions which use the word "table" have specific meanings and functions, depending on the parliamentary authority used. The meaning of "table" also depends on the context in which it is used.


Difference between American and British usage[edit]

Both the American and the British dialects have the sense of "to table" as "to lay (the topic) on the table", or "to cause (the topic) to lie on the table". A related phrase "put on the table" has the same meaning for both dialects, which is to make the issue available for debate.[1][2][3] The difference is when "table" is used as a verb.[1]

The British meaning of to "table" is to begin consideration of a proposal.[1] This comes from the use of the term to describe physically laying legislation on the table in the British Parliament; once an item on the order paper has been laid on the table, it becomes the current subject for debate.[4]

The American meaning of to "table" is to postpone or suspend consideration of a motion.[1] In this meaning, to begin consideration of the topic again, it would have to be "taken from the table". The use of terms such as "tabling a motion" in connection with setting aside or killing a main motion can cause confusion with the usage of this term in the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries, where it has an opposite meaning—that is, to propose a motion for consideration.[5][6] To make the intent clear internationally, Congressional Quarterly and its associated CQ publications, in reporting congressional votes, usually follow the word "table" (as used in Congress) with the word "kill" in parentheses.[7][8]

Use in the United States[edit]

In the United States, use of "table" as a verb usually refers to the motion to "lay on the table". Different parliamentary authorities describe such a motion in different ways. It also depends on whether the assembly is anorganization or a legislative body.


Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (RONR)[edit]

Lay on the table (RONR)Class

Subsidiary motion

In order when another has the floor?


Requires second?




May be reconsidered?

Negative vote only



Vote required


Under Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised (the book used by most organizations), the subsidiary motion to lay on the table is properly used only when it is necessary to suspend consideration of a main motion in order to deal with another matter that has come up unexpectedly and which must be dealt with before the pending motion can be properly addressed.[9] It has, however, become common to misuse this motion to end consideration of the pending main motion without debate, or to mistakenly assume that its adoption prevents further consideration of the main motion at all, or until a specified time.[10][11] Using "table" as a verb usually indicates misuse of this motion.[12] The book states, "It is preferable to avoid moving 'to table' a motion, or 'that the motion be tabled.'"[12]

Take from the table (RONR)Class

Motion that brings a question again before the assembly

In order when another has the floor?


Requires second?




May be reconsidered?




Vote required


A main motion that has been laid on the table may be taken up again by adoption of a motion to take from the table.[13] A motion can be taken from the table at the same session (or meeting) or at the next session (or meeting) if that session occurs within a quarterly time interval.[14] Otherwise, the motion dies.[14]

The use of the motion to lay on the table to kill a motion is improper; instead, a motion to postpone indefinitely should be used.[11] Similarly, it is improper to use the motion to lay on the table to postpone something; a motion to postpone to a certain time should be used in this case.[10] If debate is not desired, a motion to close debate (the previous question) should be used.[11] One of the disadvantages of trying to kill a measure by laying it on the table is that, if some opponents of the measure subsequently leave the meeting, a temporary majority favoring the measure can then take it from the table and act on it; or they may do so at the next session if held within a quarterly time interval.[15]

Although the motion to lay on the table is not debatable, the chair can ask the maker of the motion to state his reason in order to establish the urgency and legitimate intent of the motion or the maker can state it on his own initiative.[16]



In both houses of the United States Congress, the motion to table is used to kill a motion without debate or a vote on the merits of the resolution.[20] The rules do not provide for taking the motion from the table, and therefore consideration of the motion may be resumed only by a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules.[21]

Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure[edit]

Most state legislatures use Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. In this book, the motions to lay on the table and to take from the table have the same characteristics as under RONR.[22] Mason's Manual has another motion, take from the desk, which a member uses when they desire to take up a matter that is on the desk, but on which no action has yet been taken.[23] The differences between the two motions are that the motion to take from the table is used after an item has been placed on the desk by a previous use of a motion to lay on the table and the motion is given a preference over new main motions offered at the same time. Take from the desk is used when an item is taken up that has not yet been introduced and this motion has no preference over new main motions that may be made at the same time.[23]

Example of Anglo‐American confusion[edit]

In the Parliament of the United Kingdom and other parliaments based on the Westminster system, to "table" a measure means to propose it for consideration, as in bringing it to the table.[4][5][6] In his book (The Second World War, Volume III, The Grand Alliance), Winston Churchill relates the confusion that arose between American and British military leaders during the Second World War:[24]


to table

In the US, meetings are often held according to Robert's Rules of Order, a popular guide to 'parliamentary procedure'. (We may not have a parliament, but we have the procedures! The Congress has its own set of rules.) In the parlance of Robert's and AmE generally, if a motion has been made and is up for discussion, it is on the floor, as in the following quotation from thePrinceton Union Eagle:

After a few minutes, Weisenburger said to Girard, "There's a motion on the floor, it's been seconded. Do something."

If you want to remove the motion from the floor--that is, to postpone discussion of it until a later time, you can put it on the table, or table the motion. (You'd then say that the motion is or has been tabled.) So, a tabled motion is not on the floor--it cannot be debated.

In BrE (where parliamentary procedure--or Standing Orders--seems to differ depending on the type of bill being debated and in which House), a motion that is being discussed is on the table. So, you table a motion when you want to bring it up for debate. You can also table questions (bring them up for discussion), according to the House of Commons Standing Orders for Public Business:




The Next World War

Let’s talk about the next war, shall we. This may not be a comfortable topic, or perhaps it’s one you think is a long way away so not worth the conversation now. As a student of history, humanity, and humor, I can tell you with a straight face, we’re now facing the next major war. This will be no Brush-Fire war on the scale of Iraq or Afghanistan, but one in which we’ll be fighting for control of the air, land, and sea in multiple theaters at the same time. It is the kind of war few in the world wish to contemplate until it’s already begun. It’s the kind of war we fought twice in the 20th Century. I can’t say exactly when or where it will begin, but we can talk about how it will happen, possible ways to prevent or limit it, and what it means for all of us. So, please join me as we think through our future, what it will cost, and what we can build if we happen to survive to see the other end of this human tragedy.

First, where we are today. From North Korea, the South China Sea, Iran, NATO-Russia frontier, and maybe even Venezuela based on some recent comments, we may be close to a multi-front catastrophe. We, as a nation, don’t seek out these conflicts, though some high within the administration would like to use them to galvanize support behind an unpopular and fearful President cringing with the ever encroaching approach of the special prosecutor looking into Russian election meddling which brought him to office. Expect the closer that prosecutor gets the more belligerency we’ll see from this administration. Lessons were learned by these folks when they fired a few cruise missiles into Syria back in April: Show some bombs and missiles, and the American people will line up, form up, and fall-in. This administration is counting on that wag-the-dog Pavlovian reaction when they need it most.

NBC had the chance to stop this when he was just a TV show character who grabbed woman’s body parts because he was a star. The Republican Party had the chance to stop this when he was a joke candidate no one took seriously who attacked judges, families of fallen soldiers, and war heroes. The American people had the chance to stop this when he espoused hate-filled propaganda and called it a candidacy for the Presidency of the U.S. Now, it’s up to all of these forces, aligned with the international community of democracies, to prevent a mad-man from literally going down in a blaze of (self-perceived) glory, and taking us all down with him. If we don’t stop him, the world itself, and all within it, will suffer the wrath of his hate-filled dystopian fantasy. Yet, there is hope.

No one knows when this conflagration will begin exactly, but it will be soon. When this war does start, wherever that is, the U.S. may initially look strong in that one theater of battle. We may even resist in two theaters at once, although we walked away from that doctrine more than 15 years ago. If we move to three, four, five, etc. theaters at once, we’ll be overwhelmed, especially without our allies, but that is exactly what our potential opponents would want to see.

This is where the power to stop such a war resides today: with our friends and allies across the world. Do not align with this administration. Do not enable them. Suffer the angry tweet. Suffer the change in trade policy. Suffer the malign barbs from within our political leadership. Stay true to the foundations of democracy, to the ideals of democratic governance, and to the ideas behind the world we built together after World War II. Don’t join this war on the side of this mad-man just because you have an alliance with the U.S. As a Fulbright Fellow who focused my work on NATO-EU relations, and a strong believer in the foundation of Trans-Atlantic Security being the bedrock of global stability, I am calling on our NATO Allies to protect NATO, but not let the U.S. drag the world into another World War. This message also goes out to our allies in Asia and the Pacific. Protect your interests, but don’t get dragged along to suicide by this clearly damaged individual and his enablers.

It’s easy to see NATO rallying against an opportunistic Russia, or Japan and S. Korea working with the U.S. against a nuclear weapon yielding North Korea. Yet, let’s not get into those fights, shall we? NATO, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, other allies please work together, with the U.S. if you can, to prevent those threats from culminating into full-scale war. Remove the hostility and short-sightedness of our Commander in Chief from the equation and the world can probably work something out. Follow him down into the morass and we’ll all have to pay the price for his lack of understanding, inability to ask, and hatred of all who are not succumbing to his will.

If, despite these best efforts, the U.S. starts wars, consider where you stand. You may not feel you have the ability to stand to the side, nor may you want to see the U.S. defeated. I sure don’t, even if I don’t agree with the war. So, then think of how you’d engage without aligning with the aggressor. Think of how you’d fight if you were a co-belligerent rather than an alliance partner. Think of how you’d engage if a pretext for war was created by the U.S., but it didn’t actually fire the first shot. That is the most likely scenario, at least for the first in the chain of conflicts which will coalesce to form this new war.

Now, let’s come to the home front, a term introduced during the First World War when civilians became a key contributing factor in the outcome of that conflict. Our soldiers and (disproportionally huge numbers of civilians) will die from our having failed to prevent the rise to power of this mad-man and his sycophants, some of whom hope and want to bring about this war, having expressed such desires in the past. A nuclear exchange with North Korea, let alone China or Russia would be devastating to the United States, and any allies who join us in these conflicts. Yet, there is hope.

On the Home Front we can belatedly, although hopefully still in-time to save ourselves from any more grief, disable this mad-man from sending us down this path. We have the 25th Amendment which empowers those under the President to remove him from office. We have the process of Impeachment which, although slower, can have the same result. This path is difficult though, as the scared little boy inhabiting the body of the man titled President will strike out when he senses himself at risk and cornered. None-the-less, we cannot keep enabling him. We must prevent this disaster in whatever legal means are available to do so.

Those waffling on this idea because they would not want to see Mike Pence assume to role of Commander and Chief, I get you, but I respectfully wish to tell you to “Get off your butt!” Pence may disagree with almost everything for which I stand as a compassionate person who believes in the power of democracy to better the lives of all citizens, but I’d prefer him to the clearly disturbed individual inhabiting the oval office as I write this. Yes, he’d enact policies I’d disagree with. Yet, I’d be alive to disagree with them, fight him, over-turn them after the next election, and hopefully start rebuilding that democracy again.

If we cannot cut off this war before it starts, we then have to consider what to do once it’s over. No one knows what the world would look like after the end of such a calamitous human catastrophe. No one in July 1914 could have imagined what the world would look like in November 1918. No one in August 1939 could have imagined what the world would look like in August 1945. Yet, there is hope. Even after countless military and civilian deaths, humanity will endure. Those left will do what they can to rebuild and work together to prevent another such disaster in the future, strengthening the bonds which link like-minded nations together for the common goals of all. All of this depends on who survives. If those who led us into this human blood-bath survive then there is little hope for growth and learning from what occurred. If those who believe in cooperation, democracy, and the rule of law survive, we could again align as we did after World War II to build a better world. Therefore, plan how you’ll survive such a war. Where can you go? What can you do to secure your family, your values, and those of the country you love? How can we work together as communities to ensure everyone is cared for, safe, and able to contribute to the future we all hold dear. There is, and always will be, hope.

We will face this war, unless we can prevent it now. If we face this war alone we will lose. Whether we win or lose, many will die and suffer from what could have been avoided. None-the-less, there is hope all along the path through this difficult time. We can plan for how we’ll work to prevent, protect, then mitigate, if we have to, such human caused violence. Then, maybe, the lessons of history will compel us toward Peace.

Peace Please!


Jeremy Strozer