War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces.


They sent forth men to battle. But no such men return.
~ Aeschylus
  • It would be superfluous in me to point out to your Lordship that this is war.
  • My voice is still for war.
  • They sent forth men to battle,
    But no such men return;
    And home, to claim their welcome,
    Come ashes in an urn.
  • There are two rules of war that have not yet been invalidated by the new world order. The first rule is that the belligerent nation must be fairly sure that its actions will make things better; the second rule is that the belligerent nation must be more or less certain that its actions won't make things worse. America could perhaps claim to be satisfying the first rule (while admitting that the improvement may be only local and short term). It cannot begin to satisfy the second.
  • And by a prudent flight and cunning save
    A life, which valour could not, from the grave.
    A better buckler I can soon regain;
    But who can get another life again?
  • Let who will boast their courage in the field,
    I find but little safety from my shield.
    Nature's, not honour's, law we must obey:
    This made me cast my useless shield away.
  • Instead of breaking that bridge, we should, if possible, provide another, that he may retire the sooner out of Europe.
Have you heard about "good war"? I don't think anyone have heard about good war. It's a war, you always have casualties, you always have innocent people, people being killed by any means, no one can tell how...
~ Bashar al-Assad


Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction I stabbed.
~ Paul Bäumer
War is the health of the State.
~ Randolph Bourne
  • War can be and is mass murder, where the motive is wrong. It can be sacrifice and right action, where the motive is right. The slaying of a man in the act of killing the defenceless is not regarded as murder. The principle remains the same, whether it is killing an individual who is murdering, or fighting a nation which is warring on the defenceless.
    • Alice Bailey, Treatise on the Seven Rays: Volume 1: Esoteric Psychology I, (1936) p. 180
  • It must be recognised that the cause of all world unrest, of the world wars which have wrecked humanity, and the widespread misery upon our planet, can largely be attributed to a selfish group with materialistic purposes, who have for centuries exploited the masses and used the labour of mankind for their selfish ends . . . This group of capitalists has cornered and exploited the world's resources and the staples required for civilised living; they have been able to do this because they have owned and controlled the world's wealth through their interlocking directorates, and have retained it in their hands. They have made possible the vast differences existing between the very rich and the very poor; they love money and the power which money gives; they have stood behind governments and politicians; they have controlled the electorate; they have made possible the narrow nationalistic aims of selfish politics; they have financed the world businesses and controlled oil, coal, power, light and transportation; they control publicly or sub rosa the world's banking accounts.
    The responsibility for the widespread misery to be found today in every country in the world, lies predominantly at the door of certain major interrelated groups of business men, bankers, executives of international cartels, monopolies, trusts and organisations, and directors of huge corporations, who work for corporate or personal gain.
  • The silence spreads. I talk and must talk. So I speak to him and say to him: "Comrade, I did not want to kill you. If you jumped in here again, I would not do it, if you would be sensible too. But you were only an idea to me before, an abstraction that lived in my mind and called forth its appropriate response. It was that abstraction I stabbed. But now, for the first time, I see you are a man like me. I thought of your hand-grenades, of your bayonet, of your rifle; now I see your wife and your face and our fellowship. Forgive me, comrade. We always see it too late. Why do they never tell us that you are poor devils like us, that your mothers are just as anxious as ours, and that we have the same fear of death, and the same dying and the same agony — forgive me, comrade; how could you be my enemy? If we threw away these rifles and this uniform you could be my brother, just like Kat and Albert. Take twenty years of my life, comrade, and stand up — take more, for I do not know what I can even attempt to do with it now."
  • Germany could not win this war because it was in league with the devil. This war would not have ended without revolution.
    • Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski, To Leon Goldensohn (14 February 1946) from The Nuremberg Interviews (2004) by Leon Goldensohn and Robert Gellately.
  • I’ve been thinking about the war a lot recently, and I think I’ve decided it’s wrong. We are defeating ourselves in waging it, will destroy ourselves by winning it.
  • We need to hear a much more vigorous debate about war and peace in this campaign, with more specific plans from all the candidates. This vicious cycle of U.S. wars, militarism and runaway military spending drains our resources, corrupts our national priorities and undermines international cooperation, including on the existential dangers of climate change and nuclear weapons proliferation, which no country can solve on its own... We are calling for this debate most of all because we mourn the millions of people being killed by our country's wars and we want the killing to stop. If you have other priorities, we understand and respect that. But unless and until we address militarism and all the money it sucks out of our national coffers, it may well prove impossible to solve the other very serious problems facing the United States and the world in the 21st century.
  • Gaily! gaily! close our ranks!
    Arm! Advance!
    Hope of France!
    Gaily! gaily! close our ranks!
    Onward! Onward! Gauls and Franks!
  • The inevitableness, the idealism, and the blessing of war, as an indispensable and stimulating law of development, must be repeatedly emphasized.
  • War is a biological necessity of the first importance, a regulative element in the life of mankind which cannot be dispensed with. ... But it is not only a biological law but a moral obligation and, as such, an indispensable factor in civilization.
  • Our next war will be fought for the highest interests of our country and of mankind. This will invest it with importance in the world's history. "World power or downfall" will be our rallying cry.
  • We Germans have a far greater and more urgent duty towards civilization to perform than the Great Asiatic Power. We, like the Japanese, can only fulfil it by the sword.
  • War is God's way of teaching Americans geography.
    • Attributed to Ambrose Bierce in The Violent Foam : New and Selected Poems (2002) by Daisy Zamora as translated by George Evans, p. xxiv.
  • L'affaire Herzegovinienne ne vaut pas les os d'un fusilier poméranien.
    • The Herzegovina question is not worth the bones of a Pomeranian fusileer.
      • Otto von Bismarck, (1875) during the struggle between the Christian provinces and Turkey, which led to the Russo-Turkish war. Another version is "The Eastern Question is not worth," etc.
  • Lieber Spitzkugeln als Spitzreden.
    • Better pointed bullets than pointed speeches.
      • Otto von Bismarck, speech, (1850), relative to Manteuffel's dealings with Austria during the insurrection of the People of Hesse Cassel.
  • Ich sehe in unserm Bundesverhältnisse ein Gebrechen Preussens, welches wir früher oder später ferro et igne werden heilen müssen.
    • I see in our relations with our alliance a fault of Prussia's, which we must cure sooner or later ferro et igne.
  • [The great questions of the day] are not decided by speeches and majority votes, but by blood and iron.
    • Otto von Bismarck, Declaration to the Prussian House of Delegates (Sept. 30, 1862). Same idea in Schenkendorf, Das Eiserne Kreuz.
  • No wars are unintended or 'accidental'. What is often unintended is the length and bloodiness of the war.
  • War and peace are not separate compartments. Peace depends on threats and force; often peace is the crystallisation of past force.
  • What a place to plunder!
    • Field Marshal von Blücher's comment on viewing London from St. Paul's, after the Peace Banquet at Oxford, 1814. Same idea in Malcolm—Sketches of Persia, p. 232. Thackeray—Four Georges. George I, says: "The bold old Reiter looked down from St. Paul's and sighed out, 'Was für Plunder!' The German women plundered; the German secretaries plundered; the German cooks and intendants plundered; even Mustapha and Mahomet, the German negroes, had a share of the booty." The German quoted would be correctly translated "what rubbish!" Blücher, therefore, has been either misquoted or mistranslated.
  • War is not a pathology that, with proper hygiene and treatment, can be wholly prevented. War is a natural condition of the State, which was organized in order to be an effective instrument of violence on behalf of society. Wars are like deaths, which, while they can be postponed, will come when they will come and cannot be finally avoided.
  • War is the health of the State. It automatically sets in motion throughout society those irresistible forces for uniformity, for passionate cooperation with the Government in coercing into obedience the minority groups and individuals which lack the larger herd sense. The machinery of government sets and enforces the drastic penalties. … In general, the nation in wartime attains a uniformity of feeling, a hierarchy of values culminating at the undisputed apex of the State ideal, which could not possibly be produced through any other agency than war. Other values such as artistic creation, knowledge, reason, beauty, the enhancement of life, are instantly and almost unanimously sacrificed, and the significant classes who have constituted themselves the amateur agents of the State, are engaged not only in sacrificing these values for themselves but in coercing all other persons into sacrificing them.
  • War is the health of the State and it is during war that one best understands the nature of that institution.
  • Ethical obligation has to subordinate itself to the totalitarian nature of war.
    • Karl Brandt, 1947. Quoted in article "Ethics of Nazi doctors analyzed in telecast" by Joanna Arnold, 10/17/07.
  • What we have here is a war, the war of matter and spirit...The war of banks and religion. In New York City, banks tower over cathedrals. Banks are the temples of America. This is a holy war. Our economy is our religion."
  • My tanks were filled with gasoline and wars. I was a lead soldier. I marched against the smoke of the city....And the world closed its doors--anvils and hammers against the sleeping men--doors of the heart--cities everywhere--and litte lead soldiers.
  • [War] is a highly planned and cooperative form of theft.
  • Of course, it's tempting to close one's eyes to history and instead to speculate about the roots of war in some possible animal instinct. As if, like the tiger, we still had to kill to live or like the robin redbreast to defend a nesting territory. But war, organized war, is not a human instinct. It is a highly planned and cooperative form of theft. And that form of theft began ten-thousand years ago when the harvesters of wheat accumulated a surplus and the nomads rose out of the desert to rob them of what they themselves could not provide. The evidence for that, we saw, in the walled city of Jericho and it's prehistoric tower. That is the beginning of war.
  • War provides men with the perfect psychological backdrop to give vent to their contempt for women. The maleness of the military—the brute power of weaponry exclusive to their hands, the spiritual bonding of men at arms, the manly discipline of orders given and orders obeyed, the simple logic of the hierarchical command—confirms for men what they long suspect—that women are peripheral to the world that counts
  • The Government of the United States would be constrained to hold the Imperial German government to a strict accountability for such acts of their naval authorities.
    • William Jennings Bryan, to the German government, when Secretary of State. European War Series of Depart. of State. No. I, p. 54.
  • In war, science has proven itself an evil genius; it has made war more terrible than it ever was before. Man used to be content to slaughter his fellowmen on a single plane — the earth's surface. Science has taught him to go down into the water and shoot up from below and to go up into the clouds and shoot down from above, thus making the battlefield three times a bloody as it was before; but science does not teach brotherly love. Science has made war so hellish that civilization was about to commit suicide; and now we are told that newly discovered instruments of destruction will make the cruelties of the late war seem trivial in comparison with the cruelties of wars that may come in the future.
  • Lay down the axe; fling by the spade;
    Leave in its track the toiling plough;
    The rifle and the bayonet-blade
    For arms like yours were fitter now;
    And let the hands that ply the pen
    Quit the light task, and learn to wield
    The horseman's crooked brand, and rein
    The charger on the battle-field.
  • None of our soldiers would understand not being asked to do whatever is necessary to reestablish a situation which is humiliating to us and unacceptable to our country's honor.—We are going to counter-attack.
    • Credited to Major-Gen. Robert Lee Bullard, also to Major-Gen. Omar Bundy, in reply to the French command to retire in the second battle of the Marne, 1918.
  • The American flag has been forced to retire. This is intolerable.
    • Major-Gen. R. L. Bullard, on leaving the Conference of French Generals, July 15, 1918. Expressing regret that he could not obey orders. He is called "The General of No Retreat." See N. Y. Herald, Nov. 3, 1919. (Editorial).
  • You are there, stay there.
    • Major-Gen. R. L. Bullard. Citation to American unit which captured Fay's Wood. See N. Y. Herald, Nov. 3, 1919. (Editorial).
  • I venture to say no war can be long carried on against the will of the people.
    • Edmund Burke, "Letters on a Regicide Peace", letter 1, 1796–1797, The Works of the Right Honorable Edmund Burke, vol. 5 (1899), p. 283.
  • Posh cunts telling thick cunts to kill poor cunts. That's the army for you. It's all a lie. They don't care about you. You're just a piece of meat to them. Piece of meat.
  • This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games. All games are basically hostile. Winners and losers. We see them all around us: the winners and the losers. The losers can oftentimes become winners, and the winners can very easily become losers.
  • Scots, wha hae wi' Wallace bled;
    Scots, wham Bruce has aften led,
    Welcome to your gory bed,
    Or to victory!
  • But they will have it thus nevertheless, and so they put note of "divinity upon the most cruel and pernicious plague of human kind," adore such men with grand titles, degrees, statues, images, honour, applaud, and highly reward them for their good service, no greater glory than to die in the field. So Africanus is extolled by Ennius: Mars, and Hercules, and I know not how many besides of old, were deified; went this way to heaven, that were indeed bloody butchers, wicked destroyers, and troublers of the world, prodigious monsters, hell-hounds, feral plagues, devourers, common executioners of human kind, as Lactanius truly proves, and Cyprian to Donat, such as were desperate in wars, and precipitately made away themselves, (like those Celtes in Damascen, with ridiculous valour, ut dedecorosum putarent muro ruenti se subducere, a disgrace to run away for a rotten wall, now ready to fall on their heads), such as will not rush on a sword's point, or seek to shun a cannon's shot, are base cowards, and no valiant men. By which means, Madet orbis mutuo sanguine, the earth wallows in her own blood, Sævit amor ferri et scelerati insania belli; and for that, which if it be done in private, a man shall be rigorously executed, "and which is no less than murder itself; if the same fact be done in public in wars, it is called manhood, and the party is honored for it."
  • Dieu est d'ordinaire pour les gros escadrons contre les petits.
    • God is generally for the big squadrons against the little ones.
  • In all the trade of war, no feat
    Is nobler than a brave retreat.
  • For those that run away, and fly,
    Take place at least o' th' enemy.
  • Bloody wars at first began,
    The artificial plague of man,
    That from his own invention rise,
    To scourge his own iniquities.
    • Samuel Butler, Satire. Upon the Weakness and Misery of Man, line 105.
  • Let the officers and directors of our armament factories, our gun builders and munitions makers and shipbuilders all be conscripted—to get $30 a month, the same wage paid to the lads in the trenches…. Give capital thirty days to think it over and you will learn by that time that there will be no war. That will stop the racket—that and nothing else.
    • Smedley Butler, "War Is a Racket", The Forum and Century (September 1934), p. 143.
  • War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making. Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
  • O proud was our army that morning
    That stood where the pine darkly towers,
    When Sherman said—"Boys, you are weary,
    This day fair Savannah is ours."
    Then sang we a song for our chieftain
    That echoed o'er river and lea,
    And the stars on our banner shone brighter
    When Sherman marched down to the sea.
  • Hand to hand, and foot to foot:
    Nothing there, save death, was mute;
    Stroke, and thrust, and flash, and cry
    For quarter or for victory,
    Mingle there with the volleying thunder.
  • And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
    The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
    Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
    And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
    And the deep thunder peal on peal, afar
    And near; the beat of the alarming drum
    Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
    While throng'd the citizens with terror dumb,
    Or whispering with white lips—"The foe! they come! they come!"
  • The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
    And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.
    • Lord Byron, Destruction of Sennacherib, in Hebrew Melodies (1815).
  • Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
    That host with their banners at sunset were seen;
    Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath blown,
    That host on the morrow lay wither'd and strown!
    • Lord Byron, Destruction of Sennacherib, in Hebrew Melodies (1815).
I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. ~Major General Smedley D. Butler
War is a racket. It always has been. ~Major General Smedley D. Butler

War is a racket, by Major General Smedley Butler (1935)

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  • War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
  • It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
  • A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small "inside" group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.
  • In the World War [I] a mere handful garnered the profits of the conflict. At least 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires were made in the United States during the World War. That many admitted their huge blood gains in their income tax returns. How many other war millionaires falsified their tax returns no one knows.
  • How many of these war millionaires shouldered a rifle? How many of them dug a trench? How many of them knew what it meant to go hungry in a rat-infested dug-out? How many of them spent sleepless, frightened nights, ducking shells and shrapnel and machine gun bullets?...How many of them were wounded or killed in battle?
  • Out of war nations acquire additional territory, if they are victorious. They just take it. This newly acquired territory promptly is exploited by the few -- the selfsame few who wrung dollars out of blood in the war. The general public shoulders the bill.
  • And what is this bill? This bill renders a horrible accounting. Newly placed gravestones. Mangled bodies. Shattered minds. Broken hearts and homes. Economic instability. Depression and all its attendant miseries. Back-breaking taxation for generations and generations.
  • For a great many years, as a soldier, I had a suspicion that war was a racket; not until I retired to civil life did I fully realize it. Now that I see the international war clouds gathering, as they are today, I must face it and speak out.
  • But what does it profit the men who are killed? What does it profit their mothers and sisters, their wives and their sweethearts? What does it profit their children? What does it profit anyone except the very few to whom war means huge profits? Yes, and what does it profit the nation?
  • There are 40,000,000 men under arms in the world today, and our statesmen and diplomats have the temerity to say that war is not in the making. Hell's bells! Are these 40,000,000 men being trained to be dancers?
  • A few profit – and the many pay. But there is a way to stop it. You can't end it by disarmament conferences. You can't eliminate it by peace parleys at Geneva. Well-meaning but impractical groups can't wipe it out by resolutions. It can be smashed effectively only by taking the profit out of war.
  • The normal profits of a business concern in the United States are six, eight, ten, and sometimes twelve percent. But war-time profits -- ah! that is another matter -- twenty, sixty, one hundred, three hundred, and even eighteen hundred per cent -- the sky is the limit.
  • Of course, it isn't put that crudely in war time. It is dressed into speeches about patriotism, love of country, and "we must all put our shoulders to the wheel," but the profits jump and leap and skyrocket -- and are safely pocketed.
  • I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
  • I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
  • What business is it of ours whether Russia or Germany or England or France or Italy or Austria live under democracies or monarchies? Whether they are Fascists or Communists? Our problem is to preserve our own democracy. And very little, if anything, has been accomplished to assure us that the World War was really the war to end all wars.
  • Yes, we have had disarmament conferences and limitations of arms conferences. They don't mean a thing. One has just failed; the results of another have been nullified. We send our professional soldiers and our sailors and our politicians and our diplomats to these conferences. And what happens?
  • The professional soldiers and sailors don't want to disarm. No admiral wants to be without a ship. No general wants to be without a command. Both mean men without jobs. They are not for disarmament. They cannot be for limitations of arms. And at all these conferences, lurking in the background but all-powerful, just the same, are the sinister agents of those who profit by war. They see to it that these conferences do not disarm or seriously limit armaments.


I came, I saw. I conquered.
~ Julius Caesar
We give up the fort when there's not a man left to defend it.
~ General Croghan
  • Veni, vidi, vici.
    • I came, I saw, I conquered.
    • Attributed to Julius Cæsar. Plutarch—Life of Cæsar, states it was spoken after the defeat of Pharnaces, at Zela in Pontus, B.C. 47, not the Expedition to Britain, B.C. 55. According to Suetonius—Julius Cæsar. 37, the words were not Cæsar's but were displayed before Cæsar's title, "non acta belli significantem, sicut ceteri, sed celeriter confecti notam." Not as being a record of the events of the war, as in other cases, but as an indication of the rapidity with which it was concluded. Ne insolens barbarus dicat, "Ueni, uidi, uici." Never shall insolent barbarian say "I came, I saw, I conquered." Seneca the Elder—Suæsoria, II. 22. Buechmann, quoting the above, suggests that Cæsar's words may be an adaptation of a proverb by Apostolius, XII. 58. (Or XIV, in Elzivir Ed. Leyden, 1653).
  • In bello parvis momentis magni casus intercedunt.
    • In war events of importance are the result of trivial causes.
    • Julius Caesar, Bellum Gallicum, I, 21.
  • War is the answer if you're questioning the general.
  • Stellar wars are a sort of parallel reality in the filmic imagination, terrestrial wars are still today a harsh daily reality.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 45.
  • War. War never changes. The Romans waged war to gather slaves and wealth. Spain built an empire from its lust for gold and territory. Hitler shaped a battered Germany into an economic superpower. But war never changes.
    • Scott Campbell, Brian Freyermuth and Mark O'Green, Fallout, interpreted by Ron Perlman as the narrator. (1997)
  • La Garde meurt, mais ne se rend pas.
    • The guard dies but does not surrender.
      • Attributed to Lieut. Gen. Pierre Jacques, Baron de Cambronne, when called to surrender by Col. Hugh Halkett. Cambronne disavowed the saying at a banquet at Nantes, 1835. The London Times on the Centenary of the battle of Waterloo published a letter, written at 11 P.M. on the evening of the battle, by Capt. Digby Mackworth, of the 7th Fusiliers, A. D. C. to Gen. Hill. In it the phrase is quoted as already familiar. Fournier in L'Esprit dans l'histoire, pp. 412–15, ascribes it to a correspondent of the Independant, Rougemont. It appeared there the next day, and afterwards in the Journal General de France, June 24. This seems also improbable in view of the above mentioned letter. Reported as a misattribution in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 11-12. See also Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Waterloo.
  • War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village, stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other.
    • Thomas Carlyle, as quoted by Emma Goldman in her essay, "Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty", chapter five of Anarchism and Other Essays (2nd revised edition, 1911).
  • There dwell and toil, in the British village of Dumdrudge, usually some five hundred souls. From these…there are successively selected, during the French War, say thirty able-bodied men: Dumdrudge, at her own expense, has suckled and nursed them; she has not without difficulty and sorrow, fed them up to manhood, and trained them to crafts, so that once can weave, another build, another hammer, and the weakest can stand under thirty stone avoirdupois. Nevertheless, amid much weeping and swearing, they are selected; all dressed in red; and shipped away, at the public charges, some two thousand miles, or say only to the south of Spain; and fed there till wanted. And now to that same spot in the south of Spain, are thirty similar French artisans, from a French Dumdrudge, in like manner wending: Till at length, after infinite effort, the two parties come into actual juxtaposition; and Thirty stands fronting Thirty, each with a gun in his hand. Straightway the word "Fire!" is given: and they blow the souls out of one another and in the place of sixty brisk useful craftsmen, the world has sixty dead carcasses, which it must bury, and anew shed tears for. Had these men any quarrel? Busy as the Devil is, not the smallest!... their Governors had fallen out; and, instead of shooting one another, had the cunning to make these poor blockheads shoot. Alas, so it is in Deutschland, and hitherto in all other lands...
    • Thomas Carlyle in "Sartor Resartus", quoted in "In Flanders Fields: The 1917 Campaign" by Leon Wolff (1958).
  • O Chryste, it is a grief for me to telle,
    How manie a noble erle and valrous knyghte
    In fyghtynge for Kynge Harrold noblie fell,
    Al sleyne on Hastyng's field in bloudie fyghte.
  • The eagle has ceased to scream, but the parrots will now begin to chatter. The war of the giants is over and the pigmies will now start to squabble.
    • Winston Churchill, comment on May 7, 1945, after General Ismay, his wartime chief of staff, announced the news of V-E Day. Kay Halle, Irrepressible Churchill (1966), p. 249.
  • To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.
    • Winston Churchill, remarks at a White House luncheon (June 26, 1954). His exact words are not known, because the meetings and the luncheon that day were closed to reporters, but above is the commonly cited version. His words are quoted as "It is 'better to jaw-jaw than to war-war,'" in the sub-heading on p. 1 of The New York Times (June 27, 1954), and as "To jaw-jaw always is better than to war-war" on p. 3. The Washington Post in its June 27 issue, p. 1, has "better to talk jaw to jaw than have war", and The Star, Washington, D.C., p. 1, a slight variation, "It is better to talk jaw to jaw than to have war".
  • Let us learn our lessons. … Never believe any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events… incompetent or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprise, awful miscalculations.
  • Silent enim leges inter arma.
    • Cicero, Laws are silent in time of war.
    • Pro Milone. Often paraphrased as Inter arma enim silent leges.
    • Variant translations:
      • In a time of war, the law falls silent.
      • Law stands mute in the midst of arms.
  • Parvi enim sunt foris arma, nisi est consilium domi.
    • An army abroad is of little use unless there are prudent counsels at home.
    • Cicero, De Officiis (44 B.C.), I, 22.
  • Silent leges inter arma.
    • The law is silent during war.
    • Cicero, Oratio Pro Annio Milone, IV.
  • Pro aris et focis.
    • For your altars and your fires.
    • Cicero, Oration for Roscius, Chapter V. Also used by Tiberius Gracchus before this.
  • Nervi belli pecunia infinita.
    • Endless money forms the sinews of war.
    • Cicero, Philippics, V. 2. 5. Libanius—Orations. XLVI. Photius—Lex. 8. 5. Rabelais—Gargantua, Book I, Chapter XXVI. ("Corn" for "money").
  • War is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means.
    • Karl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. O. J. Matthijs Jolles (1943), book 1, chapter 1, section 24, p. 16. Originally published in 1833.
  • War is only caused through the political intercourse of governments and nations … war is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with an admixture of other means.
    • Karl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. O. J. Matthijs Jolles (1943), book 8, chapter 6, p. 596. Originally published in 1833.
  • War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means.
    • Karl von Clausewitz, On War, trans. O. J. Matthijs Jolles (1943), author's note, p. xxix. Originally published in 1833.
  • War is fought by human beings.
    • Carl von Clausewitz in On War, trans. O. J. Matthijs Jolles (1943). Originally published in 1833.
  • We made war to the end—to the very end of the end.
    • Clemenceau, Message to American People (September, 1918).
  • [T]he honours, the fame, the emoluments of war, belong not to [the middle and industrial classes]; the battle-plain is the harvest field of the aristocracy, watered with the blood of the people...Whilst our trade rested upon our foreign dependencies, as was the case in the middle of the last century...force and violence, were necessary to command our customers for our manufacturers...But war, although the greatest of consumers, not only produces nothing in return, but, by abstracting labour from productive employment and interrupting the course of trade, it impedes, in a variety of indirect ways, the creation of wealth; and, should hostilities be continued for a series of years, each successive war-loan will be felt in our commercial and manufacturing districts with an augmented pressure.
    • Richard Cobden in Edward P. Stringham, "Commerce, Markets, and Peace: Richard Cobden's Enduring Lessons", Independent Review 9, no. 1 (2004): 105, 110, 115.
  • War in fact is becoming contemptible, and ought to be put down by the great nations of Europe, just as we put down a vulgar mob.
  • The war had been going on long enough that soldiers digging graves for comrades would unearth bones of men killed in previous battles. And because they were starving just about anything went into the stewpot. Frogs. Mice. Bugs. Dogs. Snails. Worms. They slaughtered the horses and oxen that were pulling carts heaped with treasure; jeweled reliquaries, silver candlestick holders, and gold crucifixes were abandoned in scorched fields or left in carts too heavy for starving men to pull. They drank from stagnant puddles and filthy streams... a well or cistern... never mind the body floating on the surface. ...Blackburn [in Old Man Goya] reports that a soldier who approached a convent being used as a hospital saw amputated limbs along the wall, "while more arms and legs kept flying out the windows..." At La Coruña, two thousand horses were shot to prevent enemy soldiers from riding them. ...One Spaniard kept a bag of French ears and fingers. ...[A] pack of English hounds accompanied [the Iron Duke]. Between military engagements he would go fox hunting.
    At Talavera... a fire sprang up in dry grass where... soldiers lay dead or dying, "and men were ashamed because their pangs of hunger increased with the smell of roasting meat."
    • Evan S. Connell, Francisco Goya (2005) p. 174.
  • The flames of Moscow were the aurora of the liberty of the world.
  • But war's a game, which, were their subjects wise,
    Kings would not play at.
  • We give up the fort when there's not a man left to defend it.
    • General Croghan. At Fort Stevenson. (1812).
  • War has revealed an overpowering national instinct. The conflicting theories of the exact nature and limitations of our government had blinded the shrewdest minds to the fact that we were a nation, with all the feelings and instincts of a nation, and that our quarrels must be settled inside and not outside.


By war's great sacrifice... The world redeems itself.
~ J. Davidson
War is the ultimate realization of modern technology.
~ Don DeLillo
We are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood... If now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
~ Frederick Douglass
  • Men will seem to see new destructions in the sky. The flames that fall from it will seem to rise in it and to fly from it with terror. They will hear every kind of animals speak in human language. They will instantaneously run in person in various parts of the world, without motion. They will see the greatest splendour in the midst of darkness. O! marvel of the human race! What madness has led you thus! You will speak with animals of every species and they with you in human speech. You will see yourself fall from great heights without any harm and torrents will accompany you, and will mingle with their rapid course.
    • Leonardo da Vinci, The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci (1938), XX Humorous Writings, as translated by Edward MacCurdy.
  • Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war. The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another's throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose — especially their lives.
    They have always taught and trained you to believe it to be your patriotic duty to go to war and to have yourselves slaughtered at their command. But in all the history of the world you, the people, have never had a voice in declaring war, and strange as it certainly appears, no war by any nation in any age has ever been declared by the people.
    And here let me emphasize the fact — and it cannot be repeated too often — that the working class who fight all the battles, the working class who make the supreme sacrifices, the working class who freely shed their blood and furnish the corpses, have never yet had a voice in either declaring war or making peace. It is the ruling class that invariably does both. They alone declare war and they alone make peace.
    Yours not to reason why;
    Yours but to do and die.
    That is their motto and we object on the part of the awakening workers of this nation.
    If war is right let it be declared by the people. You who have your lives to lose, you certainly above all others have the right to decide the momentous issue of war or peace.
  • War is the ultimate realization of modern technology.
  • Di qui non si passa.
    • By here they shall not pass.
      • General Diaz. Words inscribed on the Altar of Liberty temporarily erected at Madison Square, N. Y., on the authority of Il Progresso Italiano.
  • Non si passa, passeremo noi.
    • The words ascribed to General Diaz by the Italians at the battle of the Piave and Monta Grappa, June, 1918. These words are inscribed on the medals struck off for the heroes of this battle.
  • I'm iron. I lasted through ten years of war, and now I can last through this. It's true, it's not good for the nerves.
    • Sepp Dietrich, To Leon Goldensohn, February 28, 1946, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" - by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004 - Page 280.
  • A feat of chivalry, fiery with consummate courage, and bright with flashing vigor.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, of the Charge of the Light Brigade, in the House of Commons (Dec. 15, 1855).
  • We are not here to applaud manly courage, save as it has been displayed in a noble cause. We must never forget that victory to the rebellion meant death to the republic. We must never forget that the loyal soldiers who rest beneath this sod flung themselves between the nation and the nation destroyers. If today we have a country not boiling in an agony of blood, like France, if now we have a united country, no longer cursed by the hell-black system of human bondage, if the American name is no longer a by-word and a hissing to a mocking earth, if the star-spangled banner floats only over free American citizens in every quarter of the land, and our country has before it a long and glorious career of justice, liberty, and civilization, we are indebted to the unselfish devotion of the noble army who rest in these honored graves all around us.
  • War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
    Honour but an empty bubble.
  • At the border posts, shed blood becomes a sea,
    The martial emperor's dream of expansion has no end.
    • Du Fu, Tang poet
  • When 'tis an aven thing in th' prayin', may th' best man win … an' th' best man will win.
  • 'Tis startin' a polis foorce to prevint war…. How'll they be ar-rmed? What a foolish question. They'll be ar-rmed with love, if coorse. Who'll pay thim? That's a financyal detail that can be arranged later on. What'll happen if wan iv th' rough-necks reaches f'r a gun? Don't bother me with thrifles.
    • Finley Peter Dunne, On Making a Will. Mr. Dooley's version of W. J. Bryan's Speech (1920).


I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks!
~ Albert Einstein
War is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
We must abandon the unworkable notion that it is morally reprehensible for some countries to pursue weapons of mass destruction yet morally acceptable for others to rely on them for security — and indeed to continue to refine their capacities and postulate plans for their use.
~ Mohamed ElBaradei
Since the beginning of history, human beings have been at war with each other, under the pretext of religion, ideology, ethnicity and other reasons. And no civilization has ever willingly given up its most powerful weapons. We seem to agree today that we can share modern technology, but we still refuse to acknowledge that our values — at their very core — are shared values.
~ Mohamed ElBaradei
Imagine what would happen if the nations of the world spent as much on development as on building the machines of war. Imagine a world where every human being would live in freedom and dignity.[...] Imagine that such a world is within our grasp.
~ Mohamed ElBaradei
As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable.
~ Albert Einstein
  • All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. It is no mere chance that our older universities developed from clerical schools. Both churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
    • Albert Einstein, "Moral Decay" (1937); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
  • I say when you get into a war, you should win as quick as you can, because your losses become a function of the duration of the war. I believe when you get in a war, get everything you need and win it.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower, news conference, Indio, California (March 15, 1968), as reported in The New York Times (March 16, 1968), p. 15.
  • Now he conducted her through his armouries where he kept his weapons and weapons for his fighting men and all panoply of war. There he showed her swords and spears, maces and axes and daggers, orfreyed and damascened and inlaid with jewels; byrnies and baldricks and shields; blades so keen, a hair blown against them in a wind should be parted in twain; charmed helms on which no ordinary sword would bite. And Juss said unto the Queen, "Madam, what thinkest thou of these swords and spears? For know well that these be the ladder's rungs that we of Demonland climbed up by to that signiory and principality which now we hold over the four corners of the world." She answered, "O my lord, I think nobly of them. For an ill part it were while we joy in the harvest, to contemn the tools that prepared the land for it and reaped it."
  • As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable.
  • I do not know how the Third World War will be fought, but I can tell you what they will use in the Fourth — rocks!
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in an interview with Alfred Werner, published in Liberal Judaism 16 (April-May 1949), 12. Einstein Archive 30-1104, as sourced in The New Quotable Einstein by Alice Calaprice (2005), p. 173.
  • This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of the herd nature, the military system, which I abhor. That a man can take pleasure in marching in formation to the strains of a band is enough to make me despise him. He has only been given his big brain by mistake; a backbone was all he needed. This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism by order, senseless violence, and all the pestilent nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism — how I hate them! War seems to me a mean, contemptible thing: I would rather be hacked in pieces than take part in such an abominable business.
    • Albert Einstein, Mein Weltbild (My World-view) (1931).
    • Variant translation: He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilisation should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
  • I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
    • Dwight D. Eisenhower, Speech in Ottawa (10 January 1946), published in Eisenhower Speaks : Dwight D. Eisenhower in His Messages and Speeches (1948) edited by Rudolph L. Treuenfels.
  • Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
  • All free men remember that in the final choice a soldier's pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner's chains.
  • Whether one believes in evolution, intelligent design, or Divine Creation, one thing is certain. Since the beginning of history, human beings have been at war with each other, under the pretext of religion, ideology, ethnicity and other reasons. And no civilization has ever willingly given up its most powerful weapons. We seem to agree today that we can share modern technology, but we still refuse to acknowledge that our values — at their very core — are shared values.
  • Ares (the God of War) hates those who hesitate.


War means fighting, and fighting means killing.
~ Nathan Bedford Forrest
Expect no quarter.
~ Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Phil saw television as a marvelous teaching tool. There would be no excuse of illiteracy. Parents could learn along with their children. News and sporting events could be seen as they were happening. Symphonies would mean more when one could see the musicians as they played, and movies would be seen in our own living rooms. He said there would be a time when we would be able to see and learn about people in other lands. If we understood them better, differences could be settled around conference tables, without going to war.
  • O great corrector of enormous times,
    Shaker of o'er-rank states, thou grand decider
    Of dusty and old titles, that healest with blood
    The earth when it is sick, and curest the world
    O' the pleurisy of people.
  • Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education. Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.
    • Abraham Flexner, Universities, part 3 (1930), p. 302.
  • Jellicoe has all the Nelsonic attributes except one—he is totally wanting in the great gift of insubordination.
    • Lord Fisher, letter to a Privy Councillor (Dec. 27, 1916).
  • My right has been rolled up. My left has been driven back. My center has been smashed. I have ordered an advance from all directions.
    • Gen. Foch, letter to Marshal Joffre during the Battle of the Marne.
  • Then came the attack in the Amiens sector on August 8. That went well, too. The moment had arrived. I ordered General Humbert to attack in his turn. "No reserves." No matter. Allez-y (Get on with it) I tell Marshal Haig to attack, too. He's short of men also. Attack all the same. There we are advancing everywhere—the whole line! En avant! Hup!
    • Gen. Foch. In an interview with G. Ward Price, correspondent of London Daily Mail (1919).
  • I am going on to the Rhine. If you oppose me, so much the worse for you, but whether you sign an armistice or not, I do not stop until I reach the Rhine.
    • Gen. Foch to the Germans who came to ask for an armistice. As reported by G. Ward Price in the London Daily Mail. (1919).
  • Keep the home fires burning, while your hearts are yearning,
    Tho' your lads are far away they dream of home.
    There's a silver lining through the dark cloud shining;
    Turn the dark cloud inside out till the boys come home.
    • Mrs. Lena Guilbert Ford. Theme suggested by Ivor Novello, who wrote the music. Sung by the soldiers in the Great War.
  • All of us who served in one war or another know very well that all wars are the glory and the agony of the young.
    • Gerald Ford, Address to the 75th annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Chicago, Illinois (19 August 1974); in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Gerald R. Ford, 1974, p. 25.
  • War means fighting, and fighting means killing.
  • This fight is against slavery; if we lose it, you will be made free.
  • The newspapers still talk about glory but the average man, thank God, has got rid of that illusion. It is a damned bore, with a stall mate as the most probable outcome, but one has to see it through, and see it through with the knowledge that whichever side wins, civilisation in Europe will be pipped for the next 30 years. Don't indulge in Romance here, Malcolm, or suppose that an era of jolly little nationalities is dawning. We shall be much too much occupied with pestilence and poverty to reconstruct.
    • E. M. Forster, Selected Letters: Letter 136, to Malcolm Darling, 6 November 1914.
  • It was sad. It's war. Many others died, too. It's war.
    • Wilhelm Frick, About the death of his son, to Leon Goldensohn, March 10, 1946, "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn - History - 2007.
  • I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: "Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle)." The first Israeli prime minister who declares that he will follow the Old Testament will finally bring peace to the Middle East. First, the Arabs will stop using children as shields. Second, they will stop taking hostages knowing that we will not be intimidated. Third, with their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that G-d is on their side. Result: no civilian casualties, no children in the line of fire, no false sense of righteousness, in fact, no war. Zero tolerance for stone throwing, for rockets, for kidnapping will mean that the state has achieved sovereignty. Living by Torah values will make us a light unto the nations who suffer defeat because of a disastrous morality of human invention.
    • Manis Friedman, Answer for the question "How Should Jews Treat Their Arab Neighbors?" for the "Moment" magazine.
  • I would like to clarify the answer published in my name in last month’s issue of Moment Magazine. First of all, the opinions published in my name are solely my own, and do not represent the official policy of any Jewish movement or organization. Additionally, my answer, as written, is misleading. It is obvious, I thought, that any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion. Fundamental to the Jewish faith is the concept that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and our sages instruct us to support the non-Jewish poor along with the poor of our own brethren. The sub-question I chose to address instead is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields. I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!)—when one’s own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places. Furthermore, some of the words I used in my brief comment were irresponsible, and I look forward to further clarifying them in a future issue. I apologize for any misunderstanding my words created.
  • War is obsolete. It could never have been done before. Only ten years ago... technology reached the point where it could be done. Since then the invisible technological-capability revolution has made it ever easier so to do. It is a matter of converting the high technology from weaponry to livingry. The essence of livingry is human-life advantaging and environment controlling. With the highest aeronautical and engineering facilities of the world redirected from weaponry to livingry production, all humanity would have the option of becoming enduringly successful. All previous revolutions have been political—in them the have-not majority has attempted revengefully to pull down the economically advantaged minority. If realized, this historically greatest design revolution will joyously elevate all humanity to unprecedented heights.


The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.
~ Ulysses S. Grant
No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted.
~ Ulysses S. Grant
Wars produce many stories of fiction, some of which are told until they are believed to be true.
~ Ulysses S. Grant
There will be people who will not be consoled for the loss of a cause which they believed to be holy. As time passes, people, even of the South, will begin to wonder how it was possible that their ancestors ever fought for or justified institutions which acknowledged the right of property in man.
~ Ulysses S. Grant
  • Your flaming torch aloft we bear,
    With burning heart an oath we swear
    To keep the faith, to fight it through,
    To crush the foe or sleep with you
    In Flanders' fields.
    • C. B. Galbreath. Answer to McCrae's In Flanders' Fields.
  • The colossus of World War II seemed to be like a pyramid turned upside down.
    • As quoted in "The First and the Last," 1954.
  • When the red wrath perisheth, when the dulled swords fail,
    These three who have walked with Death—these shall prevail.
    Hell bade all its millions rise; Paradise sends three:
    Pity, and Self-sacrifice, and Charity.
  • Once blood is shed in a national quarrel reason and right are swept aside by the rage of angry men.
  • I was bandaging their wounds together with a field nurse. We did what we could: tearing strips from shirts and using them as bandages. So many died there! One lost his arm and died before making it to the crossing. Just fell down. Our radio operator too. Our girls, as they were climbing up the bank, got hit too. They were screaming, calling for their mothers. Torn limbs were flying from the blasts. It was terrifying. The most horrible is not the shelling itself, but to see its result.
  • The war we are fighting until victory or the bitter end is in its deepest sense a war between Christ and Marx.
    Christ: the principle of love.
    Marx: the principle of hate.
    • Joseph Goebbels, Der Kampf, den wir heute ausfechten bis zum Sieg oder bis zum bitteren Ende, ist im tiefsten Sinne ein Kampf zwischen Christus und Marx.
      Christus: das Prinzip der Liebe.
      Marx: das Prinzip des Hasses.
  • We have 500,000 reservists in America who would rise in arms against your government if you dare to make a move against Germany.
    • Zimmermann to Ambassador Gerard. "I told him that we had five hundred thousand and one lamp posts in America, and that was where the German reservists would find themselves if they tried any uprising." Ambassador Gerard's answer. Jakes W. Gerard, My Four Years in Germany, p. 237.
  • Neither ridiculous shriekings for revenge by French chauvinists, nor the Englishmen's gnashing of teeth, nor the wild gestures of the Slavs will turn us from our aim of protecting and extending German influence all the world over.
    • Official secret report of the Germans, quoted in the French Yellow Book.
  • Ye living soldiers of the mighty war,
    Once more from roaring cannon and the drums
    And bugles blown at morn, the summons comes;
    Forgot the halting limb, each wound and scar:
    Once more your Captain calls to you;
    Come to his last review!
  • An attitude not only of defence, but defiance.
    • Thomas Gillespie, The Mountain Storm. "Defence not defiance" became the motto of the Volunteer Movement. (1859).
  • Göring: Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
    Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
    Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
  • O, send Lewis Gordon hame
    And the lad I maune name,
    Though his back be at the wa'
    Here's to him that's far awa'.
    O, hon! my Highlandman,
    O, my bonny Highlandman,
    Weel would I my true love ken
    Among ten thousand Highlandmen.
    • Accredited to Geddes—Lewis Gordon. In Scotch Songs and Ballads.
  • The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.
    • Ulysses S. Grant, Statement to John Hill Brinton, at the start of his Tennessee River Campaign, early 1862, as quoted in Personal Memoirs of John H. Brinton, Major and Surgeon U.S.V., 1861-1865 (1914) by John Hill Brinton, p. 239.
  • No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.
  • I don't underrate the value of military knowledge, but if men make war in slavish obedience to rules, they will fail.
    • Ulysses S. Grant, as quoted in A History of Militarism: Romance and Realities of a Profession (1937) by Alfred Vagts, p. 27.
  • Though I have been trained as a soldier, and participated in many battles, there never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword. I look forward to an epoch when a court, recognized by all nations, will settle international differences, instead of keeping large standing armies as they do in Europe.
    • Ulysses S. Grant, as quoted in "International Arbitration" by W. H. Dellenback in The Commencement Annual, University of Michigan (30 June 1892) and in A Half Century of International Problems: A Lawyer's Views (1954) by Frederic René Coudert, p. 180.
  • War was return of earth to ugly earth,
    War was foundering of sublimities,
    Extinction of each happy art and faith
    By which the world had still kept head in air
    • Robert Graves Recalling War," lines 31–34, from Collected Poems 1938 (1938).
  • The British army should be a projectile to be fired by the British navy.
    • Viscount Grey. Quoted by Lord Fisher, in Memories, as "the splendid words of Sir Edward Grey".
  • We will be misguided in our intentions if we point at one single thing and say that it will prevent war, unless, of course, that thing happens to be the will, the determination, and the resolve of people everywhere that nations will never again clash on the battlefield.
    • Leslie Richard Groves Opening address (7 Nov 1945) of Town Hall’s annual lecture series, as quoted in 'Gen. Groves Warns on Atom ‘Suicide’', New York Times (8 Nov 1945), 4. (Just three months before he spoke, two atom bombs dropped on Japan in Aug 1945 effectively ended WW II.)
  • Logistics is the ball and chain of armored warfare.
    • Heinz Guderian Quoted in "Sword Point" - Page 141 - by Harold Coyle - 1988.
  • Con disavvantaggio grande si fa la guerra con chi non ha che perdere.
    • One is in great disadvantage if goes to war with those who have nothing to lose.


War is the father and king of all: some he has made gods, and some men; some slaves and some free.
~ Heraclitus
  • War itself is not a mere science but a more fickle sort of thing, often subject to fate or chance, being an entirely human enterprise...
    • Victor Davis Hanson, A War Like No Other - How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (2005)
  • The greater the hold of government upon the life of the individual citizen, the greater the risk of war.
    • John Hospers, Libertarianism: A Political Philosophy for Tomorrow, Los Angeles: CA, Nash Publishing (1971) p. 411-412
  • I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.
    • Jack Handey Deep Thoughts (1992), Berkley Publishing Group, ISBN 0-425-13365-6
  • They were left in the lurch
    For want of more wadding—He ran to the church—
    * * * * * *
    With his arms full of hymnbooks …
    Rang his voice, "Put Watts into 'em—Boys, give 'em Watts."
  • An hour ago, a Star was falling.
    A star? There's nothing strange in that.
    No, nothing; but above the thicket,
    Somehow it seemed to me that God
    Somewhere had just relieved a picket.
  • Hark! I hear the tramp of thousands,
    And of armèd men the hum;
    Lo, a nation's hosts have gathered
    Round the quick alarming drum—
    Saying, Come,
    Freemen, Come!
    Ere your heritage be wasted,
    Said the quick alarming drum.
  • My men never retire. They go forward or they die.
    • Col. William Hayward to a French General who cried to him to retire his troops, the 369th Infantry, colored. See N. Y. Herald. Feb. 3, 1919. Attributed also to Major Bundy, but denied by him.
  • Napoleon healed through sword and fire the sick nation.
  • Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation—the last arguments to which kings resort.
    • Patrick Henry, speech to the Virginia Convention, Richmond, Virginia (March 23, 1775); in William Wirt, Sketches of the Life and Character of Patrick Henry, 9th ed. (1836, reprinted 1970), p. 139. "While there is no doubt as to the general effect of Henry's speech, questions as to its actual wording are not so easily disposed of. Not only is there no manuscript copy of the oration, there is no stenographic report…. It was not until some forty years later that William Wirt first reprinted a reconstruction of Henry's oration. In the absence of contemporary written information" there was much criticism of Wirt's text. Wirt collected much of the information for his biography of Patrick Henry "when many of Henry's auditors at St. John's [church] were still in their clear-minded fifties or sixties". Wirt collected information from "intelligent and reliable" auditors, including John Tyler, Judge St. George Tucker, and Edmund Randolph. "Wirt's text was based on a few very helpful sources plus many bits of information. He had ample proof for certain burning phrases … a remarkable resemblance to Henry's other speeches during that period", the fact that the speech conforms to others in "oratorical style and technique, even in the use of Biblical quotations or analogies. Of course, Wirt may have used fragments" from earlier speeches for the reconstruction. "Yet the information on the text as a whole is more precise than for many other great speeches in history". Robert Douthat Meade, Patrick Henry, Practical Revolutionary (1969), vol. 2, p. 38–40. "I can find no evidence that Patrick Henry's 'Give me liberty, or give me death' went ringing round the country in 1775, when he thus burst forth to the Virginia delegates, or in fact that it was quoted at all until after William Wirt's official life in 1817". Carroll A. Wilson, "Familiar 'Small College' Quotations, II: Mark Hopkins and the Log", The Colophon (spring 1938), p. 204.
  • Hang yourself, brave Crillon. We fought at Arques, and you were not there.
  • Πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς, καὶ τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς ἔδειξε τοὺς δὲ ἀνθρώπους, τοὺς μὲν δούλους ἐποίησε τοὺς δὲ ἐλευθέρους.
    ~ Heraclitus
    1. War is the father and king of all: some he has made gods, and some men; some slaves and some free.
    2. War is the father and king of all, and has produced some as gods and some as men, and has made some slaves and some free. (G. T. W. Patrick, 1889)
      • Hippolytus, Ref. haer. ix. 9 (Fragment 53). Context: "And that the father of all created things is created and uncreated, the made and the maker, we hear him (Heraclitus) saying, 'War is the father and king of all,' etc."
      • Plutarch, de Iside 48, p. 370. Context, see frag. 43.
      • Proclus in Tim. 54 A (comp. 24 B).
      • Compare Chrysippus from Philodem. P. eusebeias, vii. p. 81, Gomperz.
      • Lucianus, Quomodo hist. conscrib. 2; Idem, Icaromen 8.
    3. See also: πόλεμος πάντων μὲν πατήρ ἐστι, πάντων δὲ βασιλεύς
    4. Martin Heidegger, Parmenides (1942–1943)
  • Τίς γὰρ αὐτῶν νόος ἢ φρήν; [δήμων] ἀοιδοῖσι ἕπονται καὶ διδασκάλῳ χρέωνται ὁμίλῳ, οὐκ εἰδότες ὅτι πολλοὶ κακοὶ ὀλίγοι δὲ ἀγαθοί. αἱρεῦνται γὰρ ἓν ἀντία πάντων οἱ ἄριστοι, κλέος ἀέναον θνητῶν, οἱ δὲ πολλοὶ κεκόρηνται ὅκωσπερ κτήνεα.
    1. The best people renounce all for one goal, the eternal fame of mortals; but most people stuff themselves like cattle.
    2. For what sense or understanding have they? They follow minstrels and take the multitude for a teacher, not knowing that many are bad and few good. For the best men choose one thing above all – immortal glory among mortals; but the masses stuff themselves like cattle. (G.T.W. Patrick, 1889)
      "The passage is restored as above by Bernays (Heraclitea i. p. 34), and Bywater (p. 43), from the following sources:
  • Inquiry shall likewise be made about the professions and trades of those who are brought to be admitted to the [Christian] faith. ... A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded, and to refuse to take an oath; if he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. ... If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier, they must be rejected, for they have despised God.
  • Just for a word—"neutrality," a word which in war-time had so often been disregarded—just for a scrap of paper, Great Britain was going to make war on a kindred nation who desired nothing better than to be friends with her.
    • Bethmann-Hollweg, German Chancellor, to Sir Edward Goschen, British Ambassador, Aug. 4, 1914.
  • Bleak are our shores with the blasts of December,
    Fettered and chill is the rivulet's flow;
    Throbbing and warm are the hearts that remember
    Who was our friend when the world was our foe.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Welcome to the Grand Duke Alexis, Dec. 6, 1871. Referring to the fleet sent by Russia in Sept., 1863, an act with mixed motives, but for which we were grateful.
  • I war not with the dead.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book VII, line 485. Pope's translation. Charles V. Of Luther. Found in W, line Hertslet—Der Treppenwitz der Weltgeschichte.
  • Take thou thy arms and come with me,
    For we must quit ourselves like men, and strive
    To aid our cause, although we be but two.
    Great is the strength of feeble arms combined,
    And we can combat even with the brave.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XIII, line 289. Bryant's translation.
  • The chance of war
    Is equal, and the slayer oft is slain.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XVIII, line 388. Bryant's translation.
  • It is not right to exult over slain men.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, XII. 412. Quoted by John Morley in a speech during the Boer War. Also by John Bright in his speech on America, June 29, 1867. Compare Archilochus—Frag. Berk. No. 64. (Hiller. No. 60. Liebel. No. 41).
  • So ends the bloody business of the day.
    • Homer, The Odyssey, Book XXII, line 516. Pope's translation
  • Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.
    • Herbert Hoover, address to the 23d Republican national convention, Chicago, Illinois (June 27, 1944). Official Report of the Proceedings of the Twenty-third Republican National Convention (1944), p. 166.
  • Nimirum hic ego sum.
    • Here indeed I am; this is my position.
    • Horace, Epistles, Book I. 15. 42
  • Postquam Discordia tetra
    Belli ferratos postes portasque refregit.
    • When discord dreadful bursts her brazen bars,
      And shatters locks to thunder forth her wars.
    • Horace, Satires, I. 4. 60. Quoted. Original not known, thought to be from Ennius.
  • Ye who made war that your ships
    Should lay to at the beck of no nation,
    Make war now on Murder, that slips
    The leash of her hounds of damnation;
    Ye who remembered the Alamo,
    Remember the Maine!
  • Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord:
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored:
    He hath loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword:
    His truth is marching on.
  • L'Angleterre prit l'aigle, et l'Autriche l'aiglon.
    • The English took the eagle and Austrians the eaglet.
    • Victor Hugo. Napoleon adopted the lectern eagle for his imperial standard. His son was the eaglet.
  • Earth was the meadow, he the mower strong.
  • The sinews of war are those two metals (gold and silver).
    • Arthur Hull to Robert Cecil, in a Memorial, Nov. 28, 1600. Same idea in Fuller's Holy State, p. 125. (Ed. 1649).
  • The closeness of their intercourse [the intercourse of nations] will assuredly render war as absurd and impossible by-and-by, as it would be for Manchester to fight with Birmingham, or Holborn Hill with the Strand.
  • All war propaganda consists, in the last resort, in subsituting diabolical abstractions for human beings. Similarly,those who defend war have invented a pleasant sounding vocabulary of abstractions in which to describe the process of mass murder.


  • Attempts to prohibit the use of particular weapons in warfare have been made in various civilizations over a long period of time....[I]n ancient times, the Laws of Manu (the greatest of the Hindu codes prohibited Hindus from using poisoned arrows; and the Greeks and Romans customarily observed a prohibition against using poison or poisoned weapons. During the Middle Ages the Lateran Council of 1132 declared that the crossbow [was prohibited.]
  • Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. ~ James the Just
Reflective apologists for war at the present day all take it religiously. It is a sort of sacrament. It's profits are to the vanquished as well as to the victor; and quite apart from any question of profit, it is an absolute good, we are told, for it is human nature at its highest dynamic. ~ William James
How many men who listen to me tonight have served their nation in other wars? How very many are not here to listen? The war in Vietnam is not like these other wars. Yet, finally, war is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in this world.
~ Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Then, sir, we will give them the bayonet!
    • Stonewall Jackson, reply to Colonel Barnard E. Bee when he reported that the Americans were beating them back. At the First Battle of Bull Run (21 July 1861); as quoted in Stonewall Jackson As Military Commander (2000) by John Selby, p. 21.
  • You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight.
  • YOU are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that YOU are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.
    For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.
  • The safety of the country is at stake…. We must let ourselves be killed on the spot rather than retreat…. No faltering can be tolerated today.
  • And war broke out in heaven: Mi′cha•el and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!
  • How many men who listen to me tonight have served their nation in other wars? How very many are not here to listen? The war in Vietnam is not like these other wars. Yet, finally, war is always the same. It is young men dying in the fullness of their promise. It is trying to kill a man that you do not even know well enough to hate. It is a crime against mankind... Therefore, to know war is to know that there is still madness in this world.
  • Among the calamities of war, may be justly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates, and credulity encourages.
    • Samuel Johnson, The Idler, no. 30 (November 11, 1758). A more succinct version is: "The first casualty when war comes is truth", attributed to Senator Hiram Johnson, remarks in the Senate, 1918. Burton Stevenson, ed., The Macmillan Book of Proverbs, Maxims, and Famous Phrases (1948), p. 2445. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • I have prayed in her fields of poppies,
    I have laughed with the men who died—
    But in all my ways and through all my days
    Like a friend He walked beside.
    I have seen a sight under Heaven
    That only God understands,
    In the battles' glare I have seen Christ there
    With the Sword of God in His hand.
  • Every battle, every war - is fought for things worth dying for.
    • Arthur M. Jolly, in the play Every Battle, Every War, Original Works Press. (2009).
  • Men dying is a relative thing. The effect of the air campaign is a cumulative one and no one can predict which blow will be the crucial blow [to the enemy].
  • A navy is essentially and necessarily aristocratic. True as may be the political principles for which we are now contending they can never be practically applied or even admitted on board ship, out of port, or off soundings. This may seem a hardship, but it is nevertheless the simplest of truths. Whilst the ships sent forth by the Congress may and must fight for the principles of human rights and republican freedom, the ships themselves must be ruled and commanded at sea under a system of absolute despotism.


Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought.
~ Helen Keller
Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
~ John F. Kennedy
Four things greater than all things are. Women and Horses and Power and War.
~ Rudyard Kipling
  • (While smiling, and jokingly) You haven't come to see me for three weeks. I wondered whether you had become disgusted with us war criminals - particularly me, the so-called archcriminal of them all.
    • Ernst Kaltenbrunner to Leon Goldensohn, 6/6/46, from "The Nuremberg Interviews" by Leon Goldensohn, Robert Gellately - History - 2004.
  • Even philosophers will praise war as ennobling mankind, forgetting the Greek who said: War is bad in that it begets more evil than it kills.
    • Immanuel Kant, as quoted in Philosophical Perspectives on Peace: An Anthology of Classical and Modern Sources (1987) by Howard P. Kainz, p. 81
  • All wars are accordingly so many attempts (not in the intention of man, but in the intention of Nature) to establish new relations among states, and through the destruction or at least the dismemberment of all of them to create new political bodies, which, again, either internally or externally, cannot maintain themselves and which must thus suffer like revolutions; until finally, through the best possible civic constitution and common agreement and legislation in external affairs, a state is created which, like a civic commonwealth, can maintain itself automatically.
  • By virtue of their mutual interest does nature unite people against violence and war…the spirit of trade cannot coexist with war, and sooner or later this spirit dominates every people. For among all those powers…that belong to a nation, financial power may be the most reliable in forcing nations to pursue the noble cause of peace…and wherever in the world war threatens to break out, they will try to head it off through mediation, just as if they were permanently leagued for this purpose.
  • 'Spreading Democracy' is a euphemism for maintaining the Empire: the expansion of the most powerful state in human history, which oppresses and violates the most basic rights.
    • Angela Keaton, as quoted in “Exclusive Interview: Anti-War’s Angela Keaton on Women, War and the Ethics of Empire” by Anthony Wile, The Daily Bell, posted July 1, 2012.
  • Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought. Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder. Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings. Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction. Be heroes in an army of construction.
  • Now the following questions have to be raised: did the occupation of other countries improve our own happiness? Does the individual German get anything out of such conquests? Won't we get into trouble with another powerful nation some place tomorrow or the day after? The differences in interests among the large nations will not be diminished by expanding ourselves.
  • Mankind must put an end to war — or war will put an end to mankind
    • John F. Kennedy, Address before the General Assembly before the United Nations (25 September 1961).
  • It is not easy for a free community to organise for war. We are not accustomed to listen to experts or prophets. Our strength lies in an ability to improvise. Yet an open mind to untried ideas is also necessary.
  • O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation.
  • War has changed little in principle from the beginning of recorded history. The mechanized warfare of today is only an evolution of the time when men fought with clubs and stones, and its machines are as nothing without the men who invent them, man them and give them life. War is force- force to the utmost- force to make the enemy yield to our own will- to yield because they see their comrades killed and wounded- to yield because their own will to fight is broken. War is men against men. Mechanized war is still men against men, for machines are masses of inert metal without the men who control them- or destroy them.
    • Ernest J. King, as quoted in the prologue (page viii) of his memoirs, Fleet Admiral King: A Naval Record (1952).
  • Soon the men of the column began to see that though the scarlet line was slender, it was very rigid and exact.
    • Alexander William Kinglake, Invasion of the Crimea, Volume III, p. 455. "The spruce beauty of the slender red line." Kinglake—Invasion of the Crimea, Volume III, p. 248. Ed. 6.
  • For heathen heart that puts her trust
    In reeking tube and iron shard—
    All valiant dust that builds on dust,
    And guarding calls not Thee to guard—
    For frantic boast and foolish word,
    Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!
  • For agony and spoil
    Of nations beat to dust,
    For poisoned air and tortured soil
    And cold, commanded lust,
    And every secret woe
    The shuddering waters saw—
    Willed and fulfilled by high and low—
    Let them relearn the Law.
  • But let this fact burn its way into your brain to save you from hell and rouse you for the revolution—this fact:
    Nowhere on all that battlefield among the shattered rifles and wrecked canon, among the broken ambulances and splintered ammunition wagons, nowhere in the mire and mush of blood and sand, nowhere among the bulging and befouling carcasses of dead horses and swelling corpses of dead men and boys—nowhere could be found the torn, bloated and fly-blown carcasses of bankers, bishops, politicians, "brainy capitalists" and other elegant and eminent "very best people."
    Well, hardly.
    Naturally—these proud, cunning and intelligent people were not there, on the firing line.
    Listen, oh, listen—you betrayed multitude of toil-damned, war-blasted workers of all nations:
    If the masters want blood, let them cut their own throats.
    We don't want other people's blood and we refuse to wast our own.
    Let those who want "great victories" go to the firing line and get them.
    If war is good enough to vote or to pray for, it is good enough to go to—up close where bayonets gleam, swords flash, canon roar, rifles clash, flesh rips, blood spurts, bones snap, brains are dashed,—up close where men toil, sweat, freeze, starve, kill, groan, scream, pray, laugh, howl, curse, go mad and die,—up close where the flesh and blood of betrayed men and boys are pounded into a red mush of mud by shrieking canon balls, by the iron-shod hoofs of galloping horses and the steel-bound wheels of rushing gun-trucks.
    "What is war?"
    They say "War is Hell."
    Well, then, let those who want hell, go to hell.
  • You are ordered abroad as a soldier of the King to help our French comrades against the invasion of a common enemy. You have to perform a task which will need your courage, your energy, and your patience. Remember that the honor of the British Army depends on your individual conduct. It will be your duty not only to set an example of discipline and perfect steadiness under fire, but also to maintain the most friendly relations with those whom you are helping in this struggle…. Do your duty bravely. Fear God and honor the King.
  • War is itself a political act with primarily political objects and under the American form of government political officials must necessarily direct its general course.
    • Dudley Wright Knox, A History of the United States Navy (1936), chapter 24, final paragraph, p. 274.
  • "…wars of the 17th century on the European continent 3 million people perished, in the 18th century and in the 19th century - 5.5. million...[T]he First World War wiped out 10 million lives, the Second - over 50 million.


The sword was given for this, that none need live a slave.
~ Marcus Annaeus Lucanus
  • War will not end until all of the violent people are killed.
  • Friendship itself prompts it (Government of the U. S.) to say to the Imperial Government (Germany) that repetition by the commanders of German naval vessels of acts in contravention of those rights (neutral) must be regarded by the Government of the United States, when they affect American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly.
  • I have always believed that success would be the inevitable result if the two services, the army and the navy, had fair play, and if we sent the right man to fill the right place.
    • Austin H. Layard, Speech in Parliament (Jan. 15, 1855).
  • It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it.
    • Robert E. Lee, comment to James Longstreet, on seeing a Union charge repelled in the Battle of Fredericksburg (13 December 1862).
  • When Greeks joined Greeks, then was the tug of war!
    • Nathaniel Lee, The Rival Queens; or, Alexander the Great, Act IV, scene 2.
  • Art, thou hast many infamies,
    But not an infamy like this.
    O snap the fife and still the drum
    And show the monster as she is.
  • O, God assist our side: at least, avoid assisting the enemy and leave the rest to me.
    • Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Dessau, according to Thomas Carlyle, Life of Frederick the Great, Book XV, Chapter XIV.
  • Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they can not use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves, or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes, and non-combatants, male and female.
  • To arms! to arms! ye brave!
    Th' avenging sword unsheathe,
    March on! march on! all hearts resolved
    On victory or death!
    • Joseph Rouget de Lisle, The Marseilles Hymn. 7th stanza by Du Bois. See Figaro, Literary Supplement, Aug. 7, 1908.
  • At the Captain's mess, in the Banquet-hall,
    Sat feasting the officers, one and all—
    Like a sabre-blow, like the swing of a sail,
    One raised his glass, held high to hail,
    Sharp snapped like the stroke of a rudder's play,
    Spoke three words only: "To the day!"
  • Thus, if there is anyone who is confident that he can advise me as to the best advantage of the state in this campaign which I am about to conduct, let him not refuse his services to the state, but come with me into Macedonia. I will furnish him with his sea-passage, with a horse, a tent, and even travel-funds. If anyone is reluctant to do this and prefers the leisure of the city to the hardships of campaigning, let him not steer the ship from on shore.
    • Livy, book 44, chapter 22; reported in Livy, trans. Alfred C. Schlesinger (1951), vol. 13, p. 161. Lucius Aemilius Paulus is addressing the people at a public meeting. President Franklin Roosevelt attacked armchair generals by citing this and preceding passages at his press conference (March 17, 1942): "Being of an historical turn of mind, [I figured] that probably some poor devil had gone through this process of annoyance in past years, some previous time in history, so I went quite far back and I found [Lucius Aemilius] … it sounds as if it were written in 1942". The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1942 (1950), p. 166.
  • Ez fer war, I call it murder,—
    Ther you hev it plain and flat;
    I don't want to go no furder
    Than my Testyment fer that.
  • We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage.
  • Not but wut abstract war is horrid,
    I sign to thet with all my heart,—
    But civilysation doos git forrid
    Sometimes, upon a powder-cart.
  • War is a survival among us from savage times and affects now chiefly the boyish and unthinking element of the nation.
  • God has chosen little nations as the vessels by which He carries His choicest wines to the lips of humanity to rejoice their hearts, to exalt their vision, to strengthen their faith, and if we had stood by when two little nations (Belgium and Servia) were being crushed and broken by the brutal hands of barbarians, our shame would have rung down the everlasting ages.
  • The stern hand of Fate has scourged us to an elevation where we can see the everlasting things that matter for a nation—the great peaks we had forgotten, of Honour, Duty, Patriotism, and clad in glittering white, the pinnacles of Sacrifice, pointing like a rugged finger to Heaven. We shall descend into the valley again; but as long as the men and women of this generation last, they will carry in their hearts the image of these mighty peaks, whose foundations are not shaken, though Europe rock and sway in the convulsions of a great war.
  • Too late in moving here, too late in arriving there, too late in coming to this decision, too late in starting with enterprises, too late in preparing. In this war the footsteps of the allied forces have been dogged by the mocking specter of Too Late! and unless we quicken our movements, damnation will fall on the sacred cause for which so much gallant blood has flowed.
  • The last £100,000,000 will win.
    • Lloyd George, when Chancellor of the Exchequer, at the beginning of the war. 1914. See Everybody's Magazine (Jan., 1918), p. 8.
  • Ultima ratio regum.
    • Last argument of kings. [Cannon.]
    • Louis XIV ordered this engraved on cannon. Removed by the National Assembly, Aug. 19, 1790. Found on cannon in Mantua. (1613). On Prussian guns of today. Motto for pieces of ordnance in use as early as 1613. Buchmann—Geflügelte Wörte. Ultima razon de reges. (War). The ultimate reason of kings. Calderon. Don't forget your great guns, which are the most respectable arguments of the rights of kings. Frederick the Great to his brother Henry. April 21, 1759.
  • Pourquoi cette trombe enflammée
    Qui vient foudroyer l'univers?
    Cet embrasement de l'enfer?
    Ce tourbillonnement d'armées
    Par mille milliers de milliers?
    —C'est pour un chiffon de papier.
    • For what this whirlwind all aflame?
      This thunderstroke of hellish ire,
      Setting the universe afire?
      While millions upon millions came
      Into a very storm of war?
      For a scrap of paper.
    • Père Hyacinthe Loyson, Pour un Chiffon de Papier; translation by Edward Brabrook. In Notes and Queries, Jan. 6, 1917, p. 5.
  • Alta sedent civilis vulnera dextræ.
  • Datos, ne quisquam seruiat, enses.
    • The sword was given for this, that none need live a slave.
  • Omnibus hostes
    Reddite nos populis—civile avertite bellum.
  • Non tam portas intrare patentes
    Quam fregisse juvat; nec tam patiente colono
    Arva premi, quam si ferro populetur et igni;
    Concessa pudet ire via.
    • The conqueror is not so much pleased by entering into open gates, as by forcing his way. He desires not the fields to be cultivated by the patient husbandman; he would have them laid waste by fire and sword. It would be his shame to go by a way already opened.
    • Marcus Annaeus Lucanus, Pharsalia, II. 443.
  • 'Aig [F.-M. Sir Douglas Haig] 'e don't say much; 'e don't, so to say, say nothin'; but what 'e don't say don't mean nothin', not 'arf. But when 'e do say something—my Gawd!
  • Enormous masses of ammunition, such as the human mind had never imagined before the war, were hurled upon the bodies of men who passed a miserable existence scattered about in mud-filled shell-holes.
  • I beg that the small steamers … be spared if possible, or else sunk without a trace being left. (Spurlos versenkt).
    • Count Karl Von Luxburg, Chargé d'Affaires at Buenos Ayres. Telegram to the Berlin Foreign Office, May 19, 1917. Also same July 9, 1917, referring to Argentine ships. Cablegrams disclosed by Secretary Lansing as sent from the German Legation in Buenos Ayres by way of the Swedish Legation to Berlin. "If neutrals were destroyed so that they disappeared without leaving any trace, terror would soon keep seamen and travelers away from the danger zones." Prof. Oswald Flamm in the Berlin Woche. Cited in N. Y. Times, May 15, 1917.


[P]eace is better than war, war is better than tribute.
~ James Madison
Step by step, heart to heart. Left, right, left. We all fall down, like toy soldiers. Bit by bit torn apart, we never win, but the battle wages on for toy soldiers. ~ Martika
War has been the necessary and inevitable consequence of the establishment of a monopoly on security.
~ Gustave de Molinari
  • The essence of war is violence. Moderation in war is imbecility.
  • I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.
    • Douglas MacArthur, speech to a joint session of Congress after having been relieved of command in Korea by Truman, 19 April 1951
  • In war there is no substitute for victory.
  • That's the way it is in war. You win or lose, live or die—and the difference is just an eyelash.
  • [T]hat one should never permit a disorder to persist in order to avoid war, for war is not avoided thereby but merely deferred to one's own disadvantage...
    • Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Daniel Donno translation, Bantam, 1981, pp. 20, 82; Italian text, Il Principe, Nuova edizione a cura di Giorgio Inglese, Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a., Torino, 2013 e 2014, pp.24, 171
  • Di qui nacque che tutti li profeti armati vinsero, e li disarmati rovinarono.
    • Hence it happened that all the armed prophets conquered, all the unarmed perished.
    • Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe, C. 6
  • War in men's eyes shall be
    A monster of iniquity
    In the good time coming.
    Nations shall not quarrel then,
    To prove which is the stronger;
    Nor slaughter men for glory's sake;—
    Wait a little longer.
  • The warpipes are pealing, "The Campbells are coming."
    They are charging and cheering. O dinna ye hear it?
  • J'y suis, et j'y reste.
    • Here I am and here I stay.
    • MacMahon, before Malakoff. Gabriel Hanotaux, in Contemporary France, says that MacMahon denied this. Marquis de Castellane claimed the phrase in the Revue Hebdomodaire, May, 1908. Contradicted by L'Éclair, which quoted a letter by Gen. Biddulph to Germain Bapst, in which Gen. Biddulph tells that MacMahon said to him "Que j'y suis, et que j'y reste".
  • War contains so much folly, as well as wickedness, that much is to be hoped from the progress of reason; and if any thing is to be hoped, every thing ought to be tried.
    • James Madison, "Universal Peace", National Gazette (February 2, 1792), in Gaillard Hunt, ed., The Writings of James Madison vol. 6 (1906), p. 88–89. These words are inscribed in the Madison Memorial Hall, Library of Congress James Madison Memorial Building.
  • Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
  • No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
    • James Madison, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 614.
  • Step by step. Heart to heart. Left, right, left. We all fall down, like toy soldiers. Bit by bit torn apart, we never win, but the battle wages on for toy soldiers.
  • Only a fool or a fraud talks tough or romantically about war.
  • There's some say that we wan, some say that they wan,
    Some say that nane wan at a', man,
    But one thing I'm sure that at Sheriff-Muir,
    A battle there was which I saw, man.
    And we ran and they ran, and they ran and we ran,
    And we ran, and they ran awa', man.
    • Murdoch McLennan, Sheriff-Muir. (An indecisive battle, Nov. 13, 1715).
  • The enemy advances, we retreat; the enemy camps, we harass; the enemy tires, we attack; the enemy retreats, we pursue.
    • Mao Zedong, letter (January 5, 1930); in Selected Military Writings of Mao Tse-Tung (1966), p. 72. Mao was quoting from a letter from the Front Committee to the Central Committee, on guerrilla tactics.
  • Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre,
    Mironton, mironton, mirontaine,
    Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre,
    Ne sait quand reviendra.
    • Marbrough (or Marlebrouck) S'en va-t-en Guerre. Old French Song. Attributed to Mme. de Sévigné. Found in Rondes avec Jeux et Petites Chansons traditionnelles, Pub. by Augener. Said to refer to Charles, Third Duke of Marlborough's unsuccessful expedition against Cherbourg or Malplaquet, probably the latter. (1709). See King's Classical Quotations. Air probably sung by the Crusaders of Godfrey de Bouillon, known in America "We won't go home until morning." Sung today in the East, tradition giving it that the ancestors of the Arabs learned it at the battle of Mansurah, April 5, 1250. The same appears in a Basque Pastorale; also in Chansons de Geste. Air known to the Egyptians.
  • And silence broods like spirit on the brae,
    A glimmering moon begins, the moonlight runs
    Over the grasses of the ancient way
    Rutted this morning by the passing guns.
  • For a flying foe
    Discreet and provident conquerors build up
    A bridge of gold.
  • Some undone widow sits upon mine arm,
    And takes away the use of it; and my sword,
    Glued to my scabbard with wronged orphan's tears,
    Will not be drawn.
  • There is war in the skies!
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), Lucile (1860), Part I, Canto IV, Stanza 12.
  • Framed by a tiny cutout in the fortified bunker, this particular piece of no-man's land is tinted a blood-reddish orange by the setting summer sun. It's hot as hell, and it's about to get hotter. When the sun goes down, the guns start blazing. And all that separates the men at their triggers is a grassy patch of land the size of a soccer field that is heavily mined. If you're a Ukrainian soldier here, you don't need binoculars to observe the enemy -- you just look in his direction.
  • War challenges virtually every other institution of society—the justice and equity of its economy, the adequacy of its political systems, the energy of its productive plant, the bases, wisdom and purposes of its foreign policy.
    • Walter Millis, The Faith of an American (1941), p. 27.
  • What though the field be lost?
    All is not lost; the unconquerable will,
    And study of revenge, immortal hate
    And courage never to submit or yield,
    And what is else not to be overcome.
  • Heard so oft
    In worst extremes, and on the perilous edge
    Of battle.
  • Th' imperial ensign, which, full high advanc'd,
    Shone like a meteor, streaming to the wind.
    With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,
    Seraphic arms and trophies.
  • Others more mild,
    Retreated in a silent valley, sing
    With notes angelical to many a harp
    Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall
    By doom of battle.
  • Black it stood as night,
    Fierce as ten furies, terrible as hell,
    And shook a dreadful dart.
  • So frown'd the mighty combatants, that hell
    Grew darker at their frown.
  • Arms on armour clashing bray'd
    Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
    Of brazen chariots ray'd; dire was the noise
    Of conflict.
  • To overcome in battle, and subdue
    Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
    Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
    Of human glory.
  • War prosperity is like the prosperity that an earthquake or a plague brings.
  • Partout, à l’origine des sociétés, on voit donc les races les plus fortes, les plus guerrières, s’attribuer le gouvernement exclusif des sociétés; partout on voit ces races s’attribuer, dans certaines circonscriptions plus ou moins étendues, selon leur nombre et leur force, le monopole de la sécurité.

    Et, ce monopole étant excessivement profitable par sa nature même, partout on voit aussi les races investies du monopole de la sécurité se livrer à des luttes acharnées, afin d’augmenter l’étendue de leur marché, le nombre de leurs consommateurs forcés, partant la quotité de leurs bénéfices.

    La guerre était la conséquence nécessaire, inévitable de l’établissement du monopole de la sécurité.

    Comme une autre conséquence inévitable, ce monopole devait engendrer tous les autres monopoles.

  • In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defence.
  • 100,000 soldiers are reported to have died in the Iraqi war. If you count 100 relatives of each soldier, it means that practically there are millions of people who now have antagonism toward the white people of America. These Arab people will remember this country whose main religion is Christianity, who came and destroyed all Iraqi facilities and industry. They won't easily forget this.
  • Most of the people who get sent to die in wars are young men who've got a lot of energy and would probably rather, in a better world, be putting that energy into copulation rather than going over there and blowing some other young man's guts out.
    • Alan Moore, "The Craft" - interview with Daniel Whiston, Engine Comics (January 2005)
  • Thrilled ye ever with the story
    How on stricken fields of glory
    Men have stood beneath the murderous iron hail!
    • Henry Morford, Coming of the Bagpipes to Lucknow. Poem on same story written by R. T. S. Lowell and Alexander Maclagan.
  • If we had fifty Eichmann's, we would have won the war.
    • Heinrich Müller, About Adolf Eichmann's devotion. Quoted in "And the Crooked Shall be Made Straight" - Page 37 - by Jacob Robinson - Jews - 1965.
  • We had nae heed for the parish bell,
    But still—when the bugle cried,
    We went for you to Neuve Chapelle,
    We went for you to the yetts o' Hell,
    And there for you we died!


  • They hold it atrocious to kill a fellow creature; therefore war is in their eyes incomprehensible and repulsive, a thing for which their language has no word.
  • We have to go along a road covered with blood. We have no other alternative. For us it is a matter of life or death, a matter of living or existing. We have to be ready to face the challenges that await us.
    • Gamal Abdel Nasser, speech to Egypt's National Assembly, Cairo, November 6, 1969, as reported by The Washington Post, November 7, 1969, p. 1.
  • War may be unavoidable sometimes, but its progeny are terrible to contemplate. Not mere killing, for man must die, but the deliberate and persistent propagation of hatred and falsehood, which gradually become the normal habits of the people. It is dangerous and harmful to be guided in our life's course by hatreds and aversions, for they are wasteful of energy and limit and twist the mind and prevent it from perceiving truth.
  • Wars are fought to gain a certain objective. War itself is not the objective; victory is not the objective; you fight to remove the obstruction that comes in the way of your objective. If you let victory become the end in itself then you've gone astray and forgotten what you were originally fighting about.
  • If in the modern world wars have unfortunately to be fought (and they do, it seems) then they must be stopped at the first possible moment, otherwise they corrupt us, they create new problems and make our future even more uncertain. That is more than morality; it's sense.
  • England expects every officer and man to do his duty this day.
    • Nelson—Signal, Oct. 21, 1805, to the fleet before the battle of Trafalgar. As reported in the London Times, Dec. 26, 1805. England expects that every man will do his duty. As reported by William Pryce Cunby, First Lieut. of the Bellerophon. The claim is that Nelson gave the order "Nelson confides," which was changed to "England expects." See Notes and Queries, Series VI, IX, 261.283; also Nov. 4, 1905, p. 370.
  • You say it is the good cause that hallows even war? I tell you: it is the good war that hallows every cause.
  • What the horrors of war are, no one can imagine — they are not wounds and blood and fever, spotted and low, or dysentery, chronic and acute, cold and heat and famine — they are intoxication, drunken brutality, demoralization and disorder on the part of the inferior, jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.
    • Florence Nightingale in a letter (5 May 1855), published in Florence Nightingale : An Introduction to Her Life and Family (2001), edited by Lynn McDonald, p. 141.
  • A riot is a spontaneous outburst. A war is subject to advance planning.
    • Richard Nixon, address before the National Association of Manufacturers, New York City (December 8, 1967); James J. Kilpatrick quoted a transcript in his syndicated column in The Evening Star, Washington, D.C. (December 26, 1967,) p. A13. Nixon's topic was the "war in our cities".
  • I seriously doubt if we will ever have another war. This is probably the very last one.
    • Richard Nixon, on-the-record interview with C. L. Sulzberger (March 8, 1971), in The New York Times (March 10, 1971), p. 14.
  • A soldier of the Legion lay dying in Algiers;
    There was lack of woman's nursing, there was dearth of woman's tears.


We may have occasion in our lifetime to once again rise up in defense of our freedom, and pay the wages of war.
~ Barack Obama
  • I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.
  • War is a class conflict, too. The rich and powerful who open war escape the consequences of their decisions. It’s not their children sent into the jaws of violence. It is often the vulnerable, the poor, & working people -who had little to no say in conflict - who pay the price.
  • March to the battle-field,
    The foe is now before us;
    Each heart is Freedom's shield,
    And heaven is shining o'er us.
    • B. E. O'Meara, March to the Battle-Field.
  • War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word "war", therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.
  • A peace that was truly permanent would be the same as a permanent war. This—although the vast majority of Party members understand it only in a shallower sense—is the inner meaning of the Party slogan: War is Peace.
  • There is a hill in Flanders,
    Heaped with a thousand slain,
    Where the shells fly night and noontide
    And the ghosts that died in vain,
    A little hill, a hard hill
    To the souls that died in pain.
    • Everard Owen, Three Hills (1915).


Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. ~ Paul of Tarsus
Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigues of supporting it.
~ Thomas Paine
We fight not to enslave, but to set a country free, and to make room upon the earth for honest men to live in.
~ Thomas Paine
These are the times that try men's souls. The Summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
~ Thomas Paine
War even to the knife.
~ Palafox
Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph.
~ Thomas Paine
What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
~ Thomas Paine
Once war consisted of individual combats between armed men...
~ Kirby Page
In order to increase their possessions they kick and butt with horns and hoofs of steel and kill each other, insatiable as they are. ~ Plato
  • Every war is the result of a difference of opinion. Maybe the biggest questions can only be answered by the greatest of conflicts.
    • JC Denton, Deus Ex, writen by Sheldon Pacotti. (June 17, 2000)
  • In war, force is used by the belligerents themselves, no effort being made to bring evildoers before a judicial body, each army acting as judge, jury and executioner.
  • Once war consisted of individual combats between armed men. Later it was waged between lines of men in opposing trenches. Now it is organized slaughter of whole populations.
  • Tragic experience indicates that the most sacred obligations are utterly disregarded when their observance means losing the war.
  • War. War never changes. Since the dawn of human kind, when our ancestors first discovered the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled in the name of everything: from God to justice to simple, psychotic rage.
  • These are the times that try men's souls. The Summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country, but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.
  • War even to the knife.
    • Palafox, the governor of Saragossa, when summoned to surrender by the French, who besieged that city in 1808. Generally quoted "At the point of the knife".
  • Stand your ground. Don't fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here.
    • John Parker. George Stimpson, A Book About American History (1950), p. 109. Captain Parker said this to his Minutemen troops at Lexington, Massachusetts, on April 19, 1775, as they prepared to meet the British in battle. Inscription on a marker at Lexington green.
  • Can any thing be more ridiculous, than that a man has a right to kill me, because he lives on the other side of the water, and because his prince has a quarrel with mine, though I have none with him.
  • Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains that victory.
  • Now in war we are confronted with conditions which are strange
    If we accept them we will never win.
    • George S. Patton, in stanza 1 of "Absolute War" a poem composed by Patton in July 1944, during Operation Cobra as quoted in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson p. 492.
  • For in war just as in loving you must keep on shoving
    Or you'll never get your reward. For if you are dilatory in the search for lust or glory
    You are up shitcreek and that's the truth, Oh, Lord.

So let us do real fighting, boring in and gouging, biting.
Let's take a chance now that we have the ball.
Let's forget those fine firm bases in the dreary shell raked spaces,
Let's shoot the works and win! Yes win it all.

    • George S. Patton, in stanzas 4 and 5 of "Absolute War", as quoted in The Patton Papers 1940-1945 (1996) edited by Martin Blumenson, p. 492.
  • Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.
  • But I have seen the unknown dead, those little men of the Republic. It was they who woke me up. If a stranger, an enemy, becomes a thing like that when he dies, if one stops short and is afraid to walk over him, it means that even beaten our enemy is someone, that after having shed his blood, one must placate it, give this blood a voice, justify the man who shed it. Looking at certain dead is humiliating. One has the impression that the same fate that threw these bodies to the ground holds us nailed to the spot to see them, to fill our eyes with the sight. It's not fear, not our usual cowardice. One feels humiliated because one understands–touching it with one's eyes–that we might be in their place ourselves: there would be no difference, and if we live we owe it to this dirtied corpse. That is why every war is a civil war; every fallen man resembles one who remains and calls him to account.
  • War makes men barbarous because, to take part in it, one must harden oneself against all regret, all appreciation of delicacy and sensitive values. One must live as if those values did not exist, and when the war is over one has lost the resilience to return to those values.
  • Lafayette, we are here.
    • Gen. John Joseph Pershing. At the tomb of Lafayette. (1918). On the authority of a letter from the General's military secretary to George Morgan, Jan. 4, 1919.
  • Infantry, Artillery, Aviation—all that we have—are yours to dispose of as you will…. I have come to say to you that the American people would be proud to be engaged in the greatest battle in history.
    • Gen. John Joseph Pershing to Gen. Foch, Letter written from Office of the Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, in France. See "Literary Digest History of World War," Volume V, p. 43. March 28, 1918.
  • Ils ne passeront pas.
    • They shall not pass.
      • General Pétain. At the end of Feb., 1916, General de Castelnau was sent by General Joffre to decide whether Verdun should be abandoned or defended. He consulted with General Pétain, saying: "They (the Germans) must not pass." General Pétain said: "They shall not pass." In France the people credit it to General Joffre. See N. Y. Times, May 6, 1917.
  • γλυκύ δ᾽ἀπείρῳ πόλεμος.
    πεπειραμένων δέ τις ταρβεῖ προσιόντα νιν καρδία περισσῶς.
  • War is sweet to those who have no experience of it,
    but the experienced man trembles exceedingly at heart on its approach.
    • Pindar, Fragment 110; page 377.
      • This phrase is the origin of the Latin proverb "Dulce bellum inexpertis" which is sometimes misattributed to Desiderius Erasmus‎.
      • Variant translations:
  • War is sweet to them that know it not.
  • War is sweet to those not acquainted with it
  • War is sweet to those who do not know it.
  • War is sweet to those that never have experienced it.
  • War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.
  • From the Rio Grande's waters to the icy lakes of Maine,
    Let all exult, for we have met the enemy again.
    Beneath their stern old mountains we have met them in their pride;
    And rolled from Buena Vista back the battle's bloody tide,
    Where the enemy came surging swift like the Mississippi's flood,
    And the Reaper, Death, with strong arms swung his sickle red with blood.
    Santa Anna boasted loudly that before two hours were past
    His Lancers through Saltillo should pursue us fierce and fast.
    On comes his solid infantry, line marching after line.
    Lo! their great standards in the sun like sheets of silver shine.
    • Gen. Albert Pike—Battle of Buena Vista.
  • If I were an American, as I am an Englishman, while a foreign troop was landed in my country I never would lay down my arms,—never! never! never!
  • When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
    • Plato, The Republic, Book VIII, 566e.
  • The inexperienced in wisdom and virtue, ever occupied with feasting and such, are carried downward, and there, as is fitting, they wander their whole life long, neither ever looking upward to the truth above them nor rising toward it, nor tasting pure and lasting pleasures. Like cattle, always looking downward with their heads bent toward the ground and the banquet tables, they feed, fatten, and fornicate. In order to increase their possessions they kick and butt with horns and hoofs of steel and kill each other, insatiable as they are.
  • He who first called money the sinews of the state seems to have said this with special reference to war.
  • Paulus Aemilius, on taking command of the forces in Macedonia, and finding them talkative and impertinently busy, as though they were all commanders, issued out his orders that they should have only ready hands and keen swords, and leave the rest to him.
    • Plutarch, Plutarch's Lives, trans. John Dryden, rev. A. H. Clough (1859), life of Galba, vol. 5, p. 456.
  • She saw her sons with purple death expire,
    Her sacred domes involved in rolling fire,
    A dreadful series of intestine wars,
    Inglorious triumphs and dishonest scars.
  • War is bad, heaven knows, but slavery is far worse. If the doom of slavery is not sealed by the war, I shall curse the day I entered the Army.
  • Porter states that "the crime [of rape] was principally that of stealing or abducting a woman from her rightful proprietors, normally her father or husband. [citation omitted] Moreover, in the case of a maiden, rape destroyed her property value on the marriage amrket, and...heaped shame on her family. ....Violated daughters might be given as offerings to nunneries, and in many societies they were married off to the abductor or rapists."
    • Roy Porter, Rape - Does it have a Historical Meaning?, in RAPE: AN HISTORICAL AND SOCIAL ENQUIRY 217 (Sylvana Tomaselli & Roy Porter eds., 1986); as quoted in Kelly Dawn Askin, (1997). [https://books.google.com/books?id=ThfzGvSvQ2UC&hl=enWar Crimes Against Women: Prosecution in International War Crimes Tribunals. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 978-90-411-0486-1. p.21
  • When there's a war around take the day off, that's my motto.
  • The waves
    Of the mysterious death-river moaned;
    The tramp, the shout, the fearful thunder-roar
    Of red-breathed cannon, and the wailing cry
    Of myriad victims, filled the air.
  • A man is known by the Company he joins.
    Bad communication trenches corrupt good manners.
    Never look a gift gun in the mouth.
    A drop of oil in time saves time.
    One swallow doesn't make a rum issue.
    Where there's a war there's a way.
    • Proverbial sayings, popular in the Great War. Origin about 1917.
  • In the early 1970s, senior generals of the SADF asked the council for "aggressive" chemical and biological warfare agents and help in starting a chemical and biological warfare industry. council for Scientific and Industrial Research Director J. W. de Villiers objected to the chemical and biological warfare proposals because he felt that Africa was not the kind of continent for chemical and biological warfare and that it was too "complex" and too expensive to develop. In 1974, de Villiers wrote a ten-page report in which he estimated that it would cost 500 million rand (more than US$500 million in 1974 dollars) to build a chemical and biological warfare program. De Villiers concluded that the Soviet Union was too well armed with chemical and biological and nuclear weapons and would retaliate against any chemical and biological warfare attack. De Villiers's skepticism reflected a widespread concern among military analysts about the usefulness of chemical and biological weapons in Africa given the heat and the the possibility that shifting winds could blow chemical agents onto one's own troops or spread biological agents into one's own population through food and water.


  • If this bill passes … as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some, to prepare definitely for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must.
    • Josiah Quincy, speech, In Congress. Jan. 14, 1811, against the admission of Louisiana to the Union. Quoted by Henry Clay in Congress (1813), "Peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must."
  • Cœdes videtur significare sanguinem et ferrum.
    • (Slaughter) means blood and iron.
    • Quintilian, Declamationes.


The sexual effect of a uniform, the erotically provocative effect of rhythmically executed goose-stepping, the exhibitionistic nature of militaristic procedures, have been more practically comprehended by a salesgirl or an average secretary than by our most erudite politicians. On the other hand it is political reaction that consciously exploits these sexual interests. It not only designs flashy uniforms for the men, it puts the recruiting into the hands of attractive women. In conclusion, let us but recall the recruiting posters of war-thirsty powers, which ran something as follows: ‘Travel to foreign countries — join the Royal Navy I’ and the foreign countries were portrayed by exotic women. And why are these posters effective? Because our youth has become sexually starved owing to sexual suppression. ~ Wilhelm Reich
Under the influence of politicians, masses of people tend to ascribe the responsibility for wars to those who wield power at any given time. In the First World War it was the munitions industrialists; in the Second World War it was the psychopathic generals who were said to be guilty. This is passing the buck. The responsibility for wars falls solely upon the shoulders of these same masses of people, for they have all the necessary means to avert war in their own hands. ~ Wilhelm Reich
According to Darwin, the ‘struggle for existence’ is the law of life. Why, then, were peace conferences organized? Nor have I ever heard that bears or elephants split up into two camps and annihilate one another. In the animal kingdom there are no wars within the same species. Like sadism, war among one’s own kind is an acquisition of ‘civilised man'. No, for some reason or another, man shies away from putting his finger on the causes of war. And there can be no doubt that better ways than war exist of making youth fit and healthy, namely, a satisfying love life, pleasurable and steady work, general sports and freedom from the malicious gossip of old maids. In short, such arguments are hollow chatter. ~ Wilhelm Reich
The suppression of natural sexual gratification leads to various kinds of substitute gratifications. Natural aggression, for example, becomes brutal sadism which then is an essential mass-psychological factor in imperialistic wars. ~ Wilhelm Reich
Catholic Christianity in particular has long since divested itself of the revolutionary, i.e., rebellious, character of the primitive Christian movement. It seduces its millions of devotees into accepting war as an act of fate, as a ‘punishment of sin’. Wars are indeed the consequences of sins, but entirely different sins from those conceived of by Catholicism. ~ Wilhelm Reich
  • Ouvrez toujours à vos ennemis toutes les portes et chemin, et plutot leur faites un pont d'argent, afin de les renvoyer.
    • Always open all gates and roads to your enemies, and rather make for them a bridge of silver, to get rid of them.
    • François Rabelais, Gargantua, Book I, Chapter XLIII. Count de Pitillan, according to Gilles Corrozet—Les Divers Propos Memorables (1571) uses the same phrase with "golden" bridge for "silver." The same suggestion was made by Aristides, referring to the proposal to destroy Xerxes' bridge of ships over the Hellespont. ("A bridge for a retreating army.") See Plutarch, Life of Demosthenes. Louis II, Brantome, Memoirs, Volume I, II, p. 83. Also French translation. of Thomasi, Life of Cæsar Borgia, p. 64.
  • Lastly, forget good sportsmanship on the field of battle. War is not a refereed football game but the dirtiest game yet devised by human minds. And, if for one moment you feel soft towards that Nazi shooting at you, remember he's trying to kill you and, if he had the chance, he'd drive your dad into slavery, cut your mother's throat, rape your wife, sister, sweetheart, or daughter. You'll get no quarter from him. Give him none!
  • I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war. I vote no.
    • Jeannette Rankin, casting her vote against the United States entering World War I, in the early hours of April 6, 1917, as reported by The New York Times (April 6, 1917), p. 1. Jeanette Rankin of Montana was the first woman elected to Congress, where she served 1917–1919 and 1941–1943. Not only did she vote against World War I, she was the only member of Congress to oppose declaring war on Japan in December 1941.
  • History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.
    • Ronald Reagan, Address to the nation from the White House (16 January 1984).
  • A single pipe broken by a high-impact explosive weapon can deprive 100,000 people of water. That same weapon may also destroy the neighbourhood’s sewage system, causing thousands to fall ill and placing further strain on already overstretched hospitals.
    Local economies collapse and populations flee, leaving fewer doctors and engineers, and no money to pay the salaries of those who remain. The acute pain caused by one attack triggers a ripple effect of long-term suffering that leaves no part of life unscathed.
  • War on the cheap is always a rotten policy.
    • William Rees-Mogg, Baron Rees-Mogg, English newspaper editor and journalist. From an article in, The Mail on Sunday, 4th October 2009.
  • From the point of view of mass psychology, the effect of militarism is based essentially on a libidinous mechanism. The sexual effect of a uniform, the erotically provocative effect of rhythmically executed goose-stepping, the exhibitionistic nature of militaristic procedures, have been more practically comprehended by a salesgirl or an average secretary than by our most erudite politicians. On the other hand it is political reaction that consciously exploits these sexual interests. It not only designs flashy uniforms for the men, it puts the recruiting into the hands of attractive women. In conclusion, let us but recall the recruiting posters of war-thirsty powers, which ran something as follows: ‘Travel to foreign countries — join the Royal Navy I’ and the foreign countries were portrayed by exotic women. And why are these posters effective? Because our youth has become sexually starved owing to sexual suppression.
  • Catholic Christianity in particular has long since divested itself of the revolutionary, i.e., rebellious, character of the primitive Christian movement. It seduces its millions of devotees into accepting war as an act of fate, as a ‘punishment of sin’. Wars are indeed the consequences of sins, but entirely different sins from those conceived of by Catholicism.
  • People like to think of war as a ‘social thunderstorm’. It is said that it ‘purifies’ the atmosphere; it has its great benefits -it ‘hardens the youth’ and makes them courageous. As far as that goes, people say, we have always had and will always have wars. They are biologically motivated. According to Darwin, the ‘struggle for existence’ is the law of life. Why, then, were peace conferences organized? Nor have I ever heard that bears or elephants split up into two camps and annihilate one another. In the animal kingdom there are no wars within the same species. Like sadism, war among one’s own kind is an acquisition of ‘civilised man'. No, for some reason or another, man shies away from putting his finger on the causes of war. And there can be no doubt that better ways than war exist of making youth fit and healthy, namely, a satisfying love life, pleasurable and steady work, general sports and freedom from the malicious gossip of old maids. In short, such arguments are hollow chatter.
    • Wilhelm Reich, "The biological miscalculation in the human struggle for freedom (part I)", (1975), Journal of Orgonomy Vol 9, Issue 1.
  • And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
    • Revelation, XVI. 16. Armageddon. Correct reading is Har-Magedon, signifying Mountain of Megiddo. Authorized version, City of Megiddo. Mount Megiddo possibly Mount Carmel. The plain of Megiddo lay at its foot. Scene of many battles.
  • Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
    • Revelation 6:1-2
  • Twelve mailed men sat drinking late,
    The wine was red as blood.
    Cried one, "How long then must we wait
    Ere we shall thunder at the gate,
    And crush the cursed brood?"
    Twelve men of iron, drinking late,
    Strike hands, and pledge a cup of hate:
    * "The Day!"
    • Charles Alex Richmond, The Day.
  • If we are to end our wars, we have to dispense with a threatening, vengeful, bloodthirsty God. If we're to have any kind of world brotherhood, we have to dispense with a God who reserves his favors for a chosen few. Life is given to all. The sun shines freely on each of us. Would a God be less kindly? More than this, we must also dispense with our species God, and extend our ideas of divinity outward to the rest of nature which couches us and our religious theorizing with such a gracious and steady support.
  • The morning came, there stood the foe;
    Stark eyed them as they stood;
    Few words he spoke—'twas not a time
    For moralizing mood:
    "See there the enemy, my boys!
    Now, strong in valor's might,
    Beat them or Betty Stark will sleep
    In widowhood to-night."
    • J. P. Rodmen, Battle of Bennington.
  • Lo, steel-clad War his gorgeous standard rears !
    The red-cross squadrons madly rage,
    And mow thro' infancy and age...
  • I have always said that a conference was held for one reason only, to give everybody a chance to get sore at everybody else. Sometimes it takes two or three conferences to scare up a war, but generally one will do it.
    • Will Rogers, syndicated column (July 5, 1933); in The New York Times (July 6, 1933, p. 23). Disraeli is another who had an unsanguine view of conferences: "The Conference lasted six weeks. It wasted six weeks. It lasted as long as a Carnival, and, like a Carnival, it was an affair of masks and mystification. Our Ministers went to it as men in distressed circumstances go to a place of amusement—to while away the time, with a consciousness of impending failure". Speech in the House of Commons on Denmark and Germany, vote of censure (July 4, 1864), Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 3d series, vol. 176, col. 743.
  • I originated a remark many years ago that I think has been copied more than any little thing that I've every said, and I used it in the FOLLIES of 1922. I said America has a unique record. We never lost a war and we never won a conference in our lives. I believe that we could without any degree of egotism, single-handed lick any nation in the world. But we can't confer with Costa Rica and come home with our shirts on.
    • Will Rogers, Paula McSpadden Love, The Will Rogers Book (1972), p. 177. The author was a niece of Will Rogers's and curator of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma.
  • Take the diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat in a week.
    • Will Rogers as quoted in Wit (2003) by Des MacHale, p. 299
  • You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
  • Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than good bourgeois order. Brutality is respected, the people need wholesome fear. They want to fear someone. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.
    • Ernst Röhm , Cited in "The Nazis: A Warning from History", Disc 1, 10:48. Also quoted in "The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership" - Page 139 by Joachim C. Fest - History - 1999.
  • And while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.
    • Franklin D. Roosevelt, campaign speech, Boston, Massachusetts (October 30, 1940); in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940 (1941), p. 517.
  • To you men who, in your turn, have come together to spend and be spent in the endless crusade against wrong; to you who face the future resolute and confident; to you who strive in a spirit of brotherhood for the betterment of our nation; to you who gird yourselves for this great new fight in the never-ending warfare for the good of mankind, I say in closing what I said in that speech in closing: "We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord."
    • Theodore Roosevelt, speech, at Chicago, Progressive Convention, Aug. 5, 1912, quoting from his speech in June.
  • Righteous Heaven,
    In thy great day of vengeance! Blast the traitor
    And his pernicious counsels, who, for wealth,
    For pow'r, the pride of greatness, or revenge,
    Would plunge his native land in civil wars.
  • War, the needy bankrupt's last resort.
  • War does not develop the virtues of peace. . .It is not a school that teaches respect for the person or property of others.
  • When the rules of civilized society are suspended, when killing becomes a business and a sign of valor and heroism, when the wanton destruction of peaceable women and. children becomes an act of virtue, and is praised as a service to God and country, then it seems almost useless to talk about crime in the ordinary sense.
  • [There is] an obliteration of all the religious, moral and legal habits which acted as a barrier against acts of murder or of aggression against personal inviolability.
  • He never would believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.
    • Richard Rumbold, at his execution (1685). See Macaulay—History of England, Chapter V.
  • It makes me hate war, but it doesn't make me believe that we're in a world that can live without war yet.
    • Lt. Josh Rushing, Pentagon spokesman, in Control Room (2004), upon viewing footage of dead and wounded American soldiers in Iraq
  • I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.
  • Those who took refuge in the cave of Zeret tried to reproduce their traditional way of life underground, far from the omnivoyance of the Italian colonial army. This seems to be a characteristic of 20th century war: from the Madrid tube in the 1930s to the present Al-Qaeda bunkers in Afghanistan, all the way through the Vietcong tunnels and the American nuclear shelters of the 1960s. Talking about the Iraq War, Stephen Graham (2004: 18) writes: ‘this time... the key is between trans-global, near instantaneous killing power, operating on the fringes of the outer space, and deep, subterranean, terrestrial space’. Except for the outer space, though, there is nothing really new in the War against Terror—an offspring of colonial warfare (Mbembe 2003). For the last hundred years, against the destructiveness of industrial war, the only option of survival has been going underground. And this is what the followers of Abebe Aregai did.
  • Patriots always talk of dying for their country, and never of killing for their country.
  • [The Russians] dashed on towards that thin line tipped with steel.
    • W. H. Russell—The British Expedition to the Crimea. (Revised edition), p. 187. Also in his Letters to the London Times, Oct. 25, 1854. Speaking of the 93rd Highlanders at Balaclava. Credit for authorship of "the thin red line" claimed by Russell in a letter printed in Notes and Queries, series 8, VII, p. 191.


I grew up with the colors of war -- the red colors of fire and blood, the brown tones of earth as it explodes in our faces and the piercing silver of an exploded missile, so bright that nothing can protect your eyes from it. I grew up with the sounds of war -- the staccato sounds of gunfire, the wrenching booms of explosions, ominous drones of jets flying overhead and the wailing warning sounds of sirens. These are the sounds you would expect, but they are also the sounds of dissonant concerts of a flock of birds screeching in the night, the high-pitched honest cries of children and the thunderous, unbearable silence. "War," a friend of mine said, "is not about sound at all. It is actually about silence, the silence of humanity." ~ Zainab Salbi
Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.
~ Carl Sandburg
We fed thousands upon thousands of the families of rebel soldiers left on our hands, and whom we could not see starve. Now that war comes home to you; you feel very different. You deprecate its horrors, but did not feel them when you sent car-loads of soldiers and ammunition, and moulded shells and shot to carry war.
~ William Tecumseh Sherman
A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences.
~ William Tecumseh Sherman
You might as well appeal against the thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war. They are inevitable.
~ William Tecumseh Sherman
War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
~ Edwin Starr
War! war! war! Heaven aid the right! God move the hero's arm in the fearful fight! God send the women sleep in the long, long night... When the breasts on whose strength they leaned shall heave no more.
~ Edmund Clarence Stedman
A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience and many have been precipitated by reckless haste.
~ Adlai Stevenson II
War is caused by greed. ~ László Széchenyi
  • I grew up with the colors of war -- the red colors of fire and blood, the brown tones of earth as it explodes in our faces and the piercing silver of an exploded missile, so bright that nothing can protect your eyes from it. I grew up with the sounds of war -- the staccato sounds of gunfire, the wrenching booms of explosions, ominous drones of jets flying overhead and the wailing warning sounds of sirens. These are the sounds you would expect, but they are also the sounds of dissonant concerts of a flock of birds screeching in the night, the high-pitched honest cries of children and the thunderous, unbearable silence. "War," a friend of mine said, "is not about sound at all. It is actually about silence, the silence of humanity."
  • There are two sides of war. There is a side that fights, and there is a side that keeps the schools and the factories and the hospitals open. There is a side that is focused on winning battles, and there is a side that is focused on winning life. There is a side that leads the front-line discussion, and there is a side that leads the back-line discussion. There is a side that thinks that peace is the end of fighting, and there is a side that thinks that peace is the arrival of schools and jobs. There is a side that is led by men, and there is a side that is led by women. And in order for us to understand how do we build lasting peace, we must understand war and peace from both sides. We must have a full picture of what that means.
  • To accept the legitimacy of the state is to embrace the necessity for war.
    • L.K. Samuels, “Iraq and the Roots of War,” California Freedom (June 2007).
  • Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.
    • Carl Sandburg, "The People, Yes", The People, Yes (1936), stanza 23, line 23, republished in The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg, rev. and expanded ed. (1970), p. 464.
  • Irregular combatants are at their most effective in cities. They cannot easily shoot down planes, nor fight tanks in open fields. Instead, they draw the enemy into cities, and undermine the key advantage of today’s major powers, whose mechanised weapons are of little use in dense and narrow urban spaces.
  • The US now has training camps featuring imitation “Arab” urban districts, and has picked up the Israeli practice of entering a dense neighbourhood not via the street, but by crossing through homes – a parallel pathway to the street, running from one interior room to another by carving holes in contiguous walls, and dealing with the inhabitants as they come across them.
    They have learned, above all, that the city itself has become an obstacle. And while it is true that they can simply bomb a city to pieces – as we’ve seen with the bombing of Aleppo and other cities by Syria’s government and its allies – we have not recently seen the total destruction of the Hiroshima nuclear attack or the fire-bombing of Dresden.
  • Only the dead have seen the end of war.
    • George Santayana, Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies (1922); this is often misattributed to Plato.
  • Let no one ever, from henceforth say one word in any way countenancing war. It is dangerous even to speak of how here and there the individual may gain some hardship of soul by it. For war is hell, and those who institute it are criminals. Were there even anything to say for it, it should not be said; for its spiritual disasters far outweigh any of its advantages.
    • Siegfried Sassoon, As quoted by Robert Nichols in his introduction to The Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)
  • Ein Schlachten war's, nicht eine Schlacht, zu nennen!
    It was a slaughter rather than a battle.
  • Est ist hier wie in den alten Zeiten
    Wo die Klinge noch alles that bedeuten.
    • It is now as in the days of yore when the sword ruled all things.
    • Friedrich Schiller, ;;Wallenstein's Lager;;, VI. 140.
  • Hosti non solum dandam esse viam fugiendi verum etiam muniendam.
    • Give the enemy not only a road for flight, but also a means of defending it.
    • Scipio Africanus, according to Frontinus, Strateg, IV. 7. 16.
  • One blast upon his bugle horn
    Were worth a thousand men.
  • In the lost battle,
    Borne down by the flying,
    Where mingles war's rattle
    With groans of the dying.
  • "Charge, Chester, charge! On, Stanley, on!"
    Were the last words of Marmion.
  • Still from the sire the son shall hear
    Of the stern strife, and carnage drear,
    Of Flodden's fatal field,
    When shiver'd was fair Scotland's spear,
    And broken was her shield!
  • There was a stately drama writ
    By the hand that peopled the earth and air,
    And set the stars in the infinite,
    And made night gorgeous and morning fair;
    And all that had sense to reason knew
    That bloody drama must be gone through.
    Some sat and watched how the action veered—
    Waited, profited, trembled, cheered—
    We saw not clearly nor understood,
    But yielding ourselves to the masterhand,
    Each in his part as best he could,
    We played it through as the author planned.
    • Alan Seeger, The Hosts.
  • If survival calls for the bearing of arms, bear them you must. But the most important part of the challenge is for you to find another means that does not come with the killing of your fellow man.
    • Rod Serling Speech at Binghamton Community High School (1968)
  • It is an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces.
  • In the arts of life man invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence and famine.
  • They shall not pass, tho' battleline
    May bend, and foe with foe combine,
    Tho' death rain on them from the sky
    Till every fighting man shall die,
    France shall not yield to German Rhine.
  • A people who will persevere in war beyond a certain limit ought to know the consequences. Many, many peoples with less pertinacity have been wiped out of national existence.
  • War is hell.
    • Attributed to General William Tecumseh Sherman. (Not remembered by him). John Koolbeck, of Harlem, Iowa, who was Aide de Camp to Gen. Winslow, testifies that after the battle of Vicksburg, 1861, Gen. Sherman was watching the crossing of the army across a pontoon bridge, at the river Pearl. Koolbeck distinctly heard him say: "War is Hell." See Everybody's. Oct., 1918, p. 71.
  • I regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash — and it may be well that we become so hardened.
  • War is the remedy our enemies have chosen. Other simple remedies were within their choice. Yon know it and they know it, but they wanted war, and I say let us give them all they want; not a word of argument, not a sign of let up, no cave in till we are whipped or they are.
  • I've been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It's entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here. Suppress it! You don't know the horrible aspects of war. I've been through two wars and I know. I've seen cities and homes in ashes. I've seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is hell!
  • My knowledge of pain, learned with the sabre, taught me not to be afraid. And just as in dueling when you must concentrate on your enemy's cheek, so, too, in war. You cannot waste time on feinting and sidestepping. You must decide on your target and go in.
    • Otto Skorzeny, comparing his dueling days with commando tactics, as quoted in Skorzeny (1972) by Charles Whiting, p. 17.
  • J'ai vécu.
    • I existed.
    • Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès, when asked what he did during the Reign of Terror. See Mignet—Notices Hist. I. 81.
  • Sainte Jeanne went harvesting in France,
    But ah! what found she there?
    The little streams were running red,
    And the torn fields were bare;
    And all about the ruined towers
    Where once her king was crowned,
    The hurtling ploughs of war and death
    Had scored the desolate ground.
  • For God's sake, do not drag me into another war! I am worn down, and worn out, with crusading and defending Europe, and protecting mankind; I must think a little of myself.
    • Sydney Smith, letter to the Countess Grey (February 19, 1823); A Memoir of the Rev. Sydney Smith by His Daughter Lady Holland (1874), p. 434.
  • Every shot has its commission, d'ye see? We must all die at one time, as the saying is.
  • Some of you will not come back. Some of you will come back maimed. Those of you who do come back will come back changed men. That is war!
    • Jan Smuts, when seeing off young South Africans in World War II, as cited in Antony Lentin, 2010, Jan Smuts - Man of courage and vision, p. 138. ISBN 978-1-86842-390-3.
  • I came, I saw, God overcame.
    • John Sobieski, to the Pope, with the captured Mussulman standards.
  • A nice war is a war where everybody who is heroic is a hero, and everybody more or less is a hero in a nice war. Now this war is not at all a nice war.
    • Gertrude Stein, Wars I Have Seen, Statement about World War II (written in 1943), p. 77
  • War is never fatal but always lost. Always lost.
  • A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience and many have been precipitated by reckless haste.
  • Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he has taken no precautions.
  • [I]n war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
  • All warfare is based on deception.
  • Terrible as an army with banners.
    • Song of Solomon, VI. 4 and 10.
  • Either this or upon this. (Either bring this back or be brought back upon it).
  • Then more fierce
    The conflict grew; the din of arms, the yell
    Of savage rage, the shriek of agony,
    The groan of death, commingled in one sound
    Of undistinguish'd horrors.
  • War! war! war!
    Heaven aid the right!
    God move the hero's arm in the fearful fight!
    God send the women sleep in the long, long night,
    When the breasts on whose strength they leaned shall heave no more.
  • The crystal-pointed tents from hill to hill.
  • But, Virginians, don't do it, for I tell you that the flagon,
    Filled with blood of Old Brown's offspring, was first poured by Southern hands;
    And each drop from Old Brown's life-veins, like the red gore of the Dragon,
    May spring up a vengeful Fury, hissing through your slave-worn lands:
    * And Old Brown,
    * Osawatomie Brown,
    May trouble you worse than ever, when you've nailed his coffin down.
  • Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears
    Waste of youth's most precious years,
    Waste of ways the saints have trod,
    Waste of Glory, waste of God,
  • Not with dreams, but with blood and with iron
    Shall a nation be moulded to last.
  • War has been the excuse people have made throughout history to take something away from others that didn't belong to them. And it's a never ending cycle. First one group takes away something from the other, then the other wants to take it back, only if they succeed, they take much more. And then it starts all over again. War is caused by greed.


Gods are on the side of the stronger.
~ Tacitus
  • Ratio et consilium propriæ ducis artes.
    • The proper qualities of a general are judgment and deliberation.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), III. 20.
  • Deos fortioribus adesse.
    • The gods are on the side of the stronger.
    • Tacitus, Annales (AD 117), IV. 17.
  • We can start at once. We made preparations on the way.
    • Commander Joseph K. Taussig for the American Navy, to the British Admiral's query: "When will you be ready?" (1917). Erroneously attributed to Admiral Sims.
  • Militarism... is fetish worship. It is the prostration of men's souls before, and the laceration of their bodies to appease, an idol. ...Reverence for economic activity and industry and what is called business is also fetish worship, and in their devotion to that idol they torture themselves as needlessly, and indulge in the same meaningless antics.
  • It cannot be made, it shall not be made, it will not be made; but if it were made there would be a war between France and England for the possession of Egypt.
  • Half a league, half a league,
    Half a league onward,
    All in the valley of Death
    Rode the six hundred.
    "Forward the Light Brigade!
    Charge for the guns!" he said,
    Into the valley of death
    Rode the six hundred.
  • Forward, the Light Brigade!
    Was there a man dismayed?
    Not tho' the soldier knew
    Some one had blunder'd.
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.
    Into the valley of death
    Rode the six hundred.
  • Cannon to right of them,
    Cannon to left of them,
    Cannon in front of them
    Volley'd and thunder'd;
    Stormed at with shot and shell,
    Boldly they rode and well,
    Into the jaws of Death,
    Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the six hundred.
    • Alfred Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854), Stanza 3. "Jaws of death" used by Du Bartas—Weekes and Workes. Day I, Part IV. Twelfth Night, Act III, scene 4.
  • The last half of the 20th century will seem like a wild party for rich kids, compared to what's coming now. The party's over, folks. … "Winston Churchill said "The first casualty of War is always Truth." Churchill also said "In wartime, the Truth is so precious that it should always be surrounded by a bodyguard of Lies."
    That wisdom will not be much comfort to babies born last week. The first news they get in this world will be News subjected to Military Censorship. That is a given in wartime, along with massive campaigns of deliberately-planted "Dis-information." That is routine behavior in Wartime — for all countries and all combatants — and it makes life difficult for people who value real news. Count on it.
  • But what most showed the vanity of life
    Was to behold the nations all on fire.
  • Be convinced that to be happy means to be free and that to be free means to be brave. Therefore do not take lightly the perils of war.
    • Thucydides, "The Funeral Speech", The Speeches of Pericles, trans. H. G. Edinger (1979), p. 39.
  • "Victory after all, I suppose!" he said, feeling his aching head. "Well, it seems a very gloomy business."
  • A thousand touching traits testify to the sacred power of the love which a righteous war awakes in noble nations.
  • War is elevating, because the individual disappears before the great conception of the state…. What a perversion of morality to wish to abolish heroism among men!
  • God will see to it that war always recurs as a drastic medicine for the human race.
  • The struggle against war, properly understood and executed, presupposes the uncompromising hostility of the proletariat and its organizations, always and everywhere, toward its own and every other imperialist bourgeoisie...
    • Leon Trotsky "Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau" (July 1936).
  • The struggle against war and its social source, capitalism, presupposes direct, active, unequivocal support to the oppressed colonial peoples in their struggles and wars against imperialism. A 'neutral' position is tantamount to support of imperialism.
    • Leon Trotsky "Resolution on the Antiwar Congress of the London Bureau" (July 1936).
  • They said we were soft, that we would not fight, that we could not win. We are not a warlike nation. We do not go to war for gain or for territory; we go to war for principles, and we produce young men like these. I think I told every one of them that I would rather have that medal, the Congressional Medal of Honor, than to be President of the United States.
    • Harry S. Truman, remarks at presentation of the Congressional Medal of Honor to fourteen members of the Navy and Marine Corps (October 5, 1945); in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1945, p. 375.
  • Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out … and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel … and in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" — with his mouth.
  • When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory—must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

    "O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle—be Thou near them! With them—in spirit—we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with anavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it—for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen".
    • Mark Twain, "The War Prayer" (dictated 1904–1905); in Europe and Elsewhere (1923), p. 397–98.


  • With computers acting as the stimulus, the theory of war was assimilated into that of microeconomics. . . . Instead of evaluating military operations by their product –that is, victory – calculations were cast in terms of input–output and cost effectiveness. Since intuition was replaced by calculation, and since the latter wasto be carried out with the aid of computers, it was necessary that all the phenomena of war be reduced to quantitative form. Consequently everything that could be quantified was, while everything that could not be tended to be thrown onto the garbage heap.
  • It's really hard to talk about morality and war in the same sentence. In a war, there are so many questionable things done. Where was the morality in the bombing of Coventry, or the bombing of Dresden, or the Bataan Death March, or the Rape of Nanking, or the bombing of Pearl Harbor? I believe that when you're in a war, a nation must have the courage to do what it must to win the war with a minimum loss of lives.
  • Veterans for Peace knows that the U.S. is a nation addicted to war. At this time of uncertainty, it is critically important that we, as veterans, continue to be clear and concise that our nation must turn from war to diplomacy and peace. It is high time to unwind all these tragic, failed and unnecessary wars of aggression, domination and plunder. It is time to turn a page in history and to build a new world based on human rights, equality and mutual respect for all. We must build momentum toward real and lasting peace. Nothing less than the survival of human civilization is at stake.
  • Arma virumque cano.
    • Arms and the man I sing.
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), Book I, 1.
  • … I saw these terrible things,
    and took great part in them.
    • (… quaeque ipse miserrima vidi
      et quorum pars magna fui).
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), trans. James H. Mantinband (1964), book II, lines 5–6, p. 25. This sentence has also been translated as: "All of which misery I saw, and a great part of which I was". Aeneas was describing the sack of Troy.
  • Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem.
    • The only safety for the conquered is to expect no safety.
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), Book II, 354.
  • Dolus an virtus quis in hoste requirat?
    • Who asks whether the enemy were defeated by strategy or valor?
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), Book II, 390.
  • Exigui numero, sed bello vivida virtus.
    • Small in number, but their valor tried in war, and glowing.
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), Book V, 754.
  • Sævit amor ferri et scelerata insania belli.
    • The love of arms and the mad wickedness of war are raging.
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), Book VII, 461.
  • Nullum cum victis certamen et æthere cassis.
    • Brave men ne'er warred with the dead and vanquished.
    • Virgil, Æneid (c. 29-19 BC), Book XI, 104.
  • On dit que Dieu est toujours pour les gros bataillons.
    • It is said that God is always on the side of the heaviest battalions.
    • Voltaire, letter to M. le Riche. Feb. 6, 1770. Earlier said by Marechal Jacques d'Étampes, marquis de la Ferté to Anne of Austria. See Boursault—Lettres Nouvelles, p. 384. (Ed. 1698). Attributed to General Moreau by Alison; to General Charles Lee, by Hawthorne—Life of Washington.


To be prepared for war is onto the most effectual means of preserving peace. ~ George Washington
If we don’t end war, war will end us.
~ H. G. Wells
Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.
~ The Wellington—Despatch
  • Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we've been bombing over the years been complaining?
    • George Wallace, as quoted in Absurdities, Scandals & Stupidities in Politics (2006) by Hakeem Shittu and Callie Query, p. 106.
  • On to Richmond.
    • Fitz-Henry Warren. Used as a standing headline in the N. Y. Tribune, by Dana, June–July, 1861, before the McDowell campaign.
  • A great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle [patriotism] alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward.
  • To be prepared for war is onto the most effectual means of preserving peace.
    • George Washington, as quoted in Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick, ed. Vol. 30, p. 491, “First Annual Address to Congress,” January 8, 1790.
  • They went to war against a preamble, they fought seven years against a declaration.
  • Up Guards and at 'em!
    • Attributed to Wellington during the Battle of Waterloo. Denied by the Duke to Mr. Croker, in answer to a letter written March 14, 1852. "What I must have said, and possibly did say was, 'Stand up guards!' and then gave the order to attack." See J. W. Choker's Memoirs, p. 544. Also Sir Herbert Maxwell's Biography of Wellington.
  • The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing field of Eton.
    • Attributed to Wellington. "The battle of Waterloo was won here," was said by the Duke of Wellington when present at a cricket match at Eton. Prof. W. Selwyn—Waterloo, a Lay of Jubilee. (Second Ed.).
  • The War That Will End War.
    • H. G. Wells, book title, 1914. While the phrase "The war to end war" is often associated with Woodrow Wilson, its authorship was claimed by Wells in an article in Liberty (December 29, 1934), p. 4. Bertrand Russell also credited Wells in Portraits from Memory (1956), p. 83. A cynical version attributed to David Lloyd George is: "This war, like the next war, is a war to end war". See William Safire, Safire's Political Dictionary (1978), p. 777, for contemporary uses of the phrase.
  • A time will come when a politician who has wilfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own.
    • H. G. Wells, The Salvaging of Civilization (1921), chapter 1, conclusion, p. 40.
  • The atomic bomb had dwarfed the international issues to complete insignificance. When our minds wandered from the preoccupations of our immediate needs, we speculated upon the possibility of stopping the use of these frightful explosives before the world was utterly destroyed. For to us it seemed quite plain that these bombs and the still greater power of destruction of which they were the precursors might quite easily shatter every relationship and institution of mankind... war must end and that the only way to end war was to have but one government for mankind.
  • Urban warfare remains characterized by slow, massive destruction. Yet 50 years ago, there were no computers, no internet, no GPS, no UAVs, no digital communications, no night-vision devices, and no precision strikes. Two facts account for the lack of change in tactics. First, cities are constructed of steel and concrete, with streets providing the open spaces, which are usually linear. Any fighter in the open is quickly cut down. No technology can accurately detect and count humans inside buildings and tunnels. So the attacker must advance by blasting through the sides of buildings and slowly, slowly search every room. Second, tens to hundreds of thousands of civilians can be trapped in the cities. The terrorists in Mosul have prevented the civilians from leaving in order to use them as shields.
  • This new Katterfelto, his show to complete,
    Means his boats should all sink as they pass by our fleet;
    Then as under the ocean their course they steer right on,
    They can pepper their foes from the bed of old Triton.
  • War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
    There's got to be a better way
    What is it good for?
    War has caused unrest
    Among the younger generation
    Induction then destruction
    Who wants to die?
    War-I despise
    Because it means destruction
    Of innocent lives
    War means tears
    To thousands of mothers how
    When their sons go off to fight
    And lose their lives
    It's an enemy of all mankind
    No point of war
    Because you're a man
    War has shattered
    Many young men's dreams
    We've got no place for it today
    They say we must fight to keep our freedom
    But Lord, there's just got to be a better way
    It ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
    Friend only to the undertaker
    • Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, War, Psychedelic Shack (1969)
    • Life is much to short and precious
      To spend fighting wars these days
      War can't give life
      It can only take it away
      War, it ain't nothing but a heartbreaker
      War, friend only to the undertaker
      Peace, love and understanding
      Tell me, is there no place for them today.
  • Now we remember over here in Flanders,
    (It isn't strange to think of You in Flanders!)
    This hideous warfare seems to make things clear.
    We never thought about You much in England,
    But now that we are far away from England
    We have no doubts, we know that You are here.
    • Mrs. C. T. Whitnall—Christ in Flanders. First appeared in the London Spectator. Later in the Outlook. July 26, 1916.
  • Germany's greatness makes it impossible for her to do without the ocean, but the ocean also proves that even in the distance, and on its farther side, without Germany and the German Emperor, no great decision dare henceforth be taken.
  • Our German Fatherland to which I hope will be granted … to become in the future as closely united, as powerful, and as authoritative as once the Roman world-empire was, and that, just as in the old times they said, "Civis romanus sum," hereafter, at some time in the future, they will say, "I am a German citizen."
  • Every bullet has its billet.
    • King William III, according to Wesley—Journal, June 6, 1765. Also in Song by H. R. Bishop, sung in The Circassian Bride. Quoted by Sterne—Tristram Shandy, Volume VIII, Chapter XIX. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 841-60.
  • It's a long way to Tipperary, it's a long way to go;
    It's a long way to Tipperary, to the sweetest girl I know!
    Good-bye to Piccadilly, Farewell Leicester Square;
    It's a long way to Tipperary, but my Heart's right there!
    • Harry Williams and Jack Judge—It's a Long Way to Tipperary. Popular in The Great War. Chorus claimed by Alice Smythe B. Jay. Written in 1908. See N. Y. Times, Sept. 20, 1907.
  • War is only a sort of dramatic representation, a sort of dramatic symbol of a thousand forms of duty. I fancy that it is just as hard to do your duty when men are sneering at you as when they are shooting at you.
  • You have laid upon me this double obligation: "we are relying upon you, Mr. President, to keep us out of war, but we are relying upon you, Mr. President, to keep the honor of the nation unstained."
  • It is not an army that we must train for war; it is a nation.
    • Woodrow Wilson, speech, At dedication of a Red Cross Building, May 12, 1917.
  • In short, if newspapers were written by people whose sole object in writing was to tell the truth about politics and the truth about art we should not believe in war, and we should believe in art.
  • They came with banner, spear, and shield;
    And it was proved in Bosworth field,
    Not long the Avenger was withstood—
    Earth help'd him with the cry of blood.
  • But Thy most dreaded instrument
    In working out a pure intent,
    Is man,—arrayed for mutual slaughter,—
    Yea, Carnage is Thy daughter.
    • William Wordsworth, Poems dedicated to National Independence and Liberty (1815), Ode XLV. Suppressed in later editions. "But Man is thy most awful instrument, / In working out a pure intent; / Thou cloth'st the wicked in their dazzling mail, / And for thy righteous purpose they prevail." Version in later editions.
  • Everyone loses in war, even the winners.
    • John C. Wright, Orphans of Chaos (2005), Chapter 7, “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” Section 2
  • War is murder, king-sized.
    • John C. Wright, Fugitives of Chaos (2006), Chapter 18, “Festive Days on the Slopes of Vesuvius”


  • As regards Providence, he cannot shake off the prejudice that in war, God is on the side of the big battalions, which at present are in the enemy's camp.
    • Zeller, Frederick the Great as Philosopher. Referring to Œuvres de Frederic, XVIII. 186–188, the contents of a letter from Frederick to the Duchess of Gotha, about 1757. Carlyle gives the date of the letter as May 8, 1760, in his History of Frederick the Great, II, Book XIX, Volume V, p. 606.
  • Look, there is one statement that bothers me more than anything else, and that's the idea that when the troops are in combat everybody has to shut up. Imagine if we put troops in combat with a faulty rifle, and that rifle was malfunctioning and troops were dying as a result. I can't think anyone would allow that to happen, that would not speak up. Well, what's the difference between a faulty plan and strategy that's getting just as many troops killed?
    • Gen. Anthony Zinni, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.), former CENTCOM Commander-in-Chief, 2004-05-21, television interview on CBS's 60 Minutes.

Unknown authorship

  • I can give no adequate description of the Horror Camp in which my men and myself were to spend the next month of our lives. It was just a barren wilderness, as bare as a chicken run. Corpses lay everywhere, some in huge piles, sometimes they lay singly or in pairs where they had fallen. It took a little time to get used to seeing men women and childen collapse as you walked by them and to restrain oneself from going to their assistance. One had to get used early to the idea that the individual just did not count. One knew that five hundred a day were dying and that five hundred a day were going on dying for weeks before anything we could do would have the slightest effect. It was, however, not easy to watch a child choking to death from diptheria when you knew a tracheotomy and nursing would save it, one saw women drowning in their own vomit because they were too weak to turn over, and men eating worms as they clutched a half loaf of bread purely because they had to eat worms to live and now could scarcely tell the difference. Piles of corpses, naked and obscene, with a woman too weak to stand proping herself against them as she cooked the food we had given her over an open fire; men and women crouching down just anywhere in the open relieving themselves of the dysentary which was scouring their bowels, a woman standing stark naked washing herself with some issue soap in water from a tank in which the remains of a child floated. It was shortly after the British Red Cross arrived, though it may have no connection, that a very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things and I don't know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did it, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick. Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips. I saw a woman dead on the post mortem table and clutched in her hand was a piece of lipstick. At last someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tatooed on the arm. At last they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.
    • An extract from the diary of Lieutenant Colonel Mervin Willett Gonin DSO who was amongst the first British soldiers to liberate Bergen-Belsen in 1945. Source: Imperial War Museum (1945).
  • War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.
    • Attributed to various Frenchmen including Talleyrand, Clemenceau, and Briand. Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989). Often heard, "… entrusted to generals".
  • It took me nearly a whole day to drive from Tokmak to the village of sonovka. I kept passing large Russian settlements on the road ... then Kirghiz villages completely ruined and razed literally to the ground - villages where, but three short years previously, there had been busy bazaars and farms surrounded with gardens and fields of luzerne. Now on every side a desert. It seemed incredible that it was possible in so short a time to wipe whole villages off the face of the earth, with their well-developed system of farming. It was only with the most attentive search that i could find the short stumps of their trees and remains of their irrigation canals. The destruction of the aryks or irrigation canals in this district quickly reduced a highly developed farming district into a desert and blotted out all traces of cultivation and settlement. Only in the water meadows and low-lying ground near the stream is any cultivation possible.
    • Attributed to an observer of the aftermath of the Central Asian revolt of 1916 in 1919 in page 158 of The Revolt of 1916 in Russian Central Asia

War quotations in fiction

Make a hawk a dove,
Stop a war with love,
Make a liar tell the truth. ~ Charles Fox
When people ask me what I did in the war, I tell them I did the same thing we all did. We fought.
~ William Holt
And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit? ~ H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, Book I, Ch. 1: The Eve of the War
  • There are always casualties in war, gentlemen — otherwise it wouldn't be war. It'd just be a rather nasty argument with lots of pushing-and-shoving.
  • Anyone who clings to the historically untrue — and thoroughly immoral — doctrine that 'violence never settles anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence settled their fates quite nicely. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.
  • Luke: I'm looking for a great warrior.
    Yoda: Great warrior. [Laughs] Wars not make one great.
  • Wars don't ennoble men, it turns them into dogs, poisons the soul.
  • Property, the whole thing's about property.
    • Terrence Malick First Sergeant Welsh, The Thin Red Line.
  • War makes thieves of many honest folk.
  • Once that first bullet goes past your head, politics and all that shit just goes right out the window.
  • "When I go home, people ask me: "Hey Hoot, why do you do it man? Why? You some kinda war junkie?", I won't say a god damn word. Why? They won't understand. They won't understand why we do it. They won't understand it's about the men next to you. And that's it. That's all it is."
    • Ken Nolan Sergeant First Class Norm "Hoot" Gibson, Black Hawk Down.
  • With every man I kill, the farther away from home I feel.
  • I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy; we fought ourselves. The enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possession of my soul." There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.
    • Oliver Stone, Chris Taylor, Platoon.
  • If you are not affected, if you are not hurt by what we do, then you will not do anything to stop it. The war will simply continue. As long as it is just the soldiers, these barbaric men with guns who kill each other, as long as the damage is far away, the destruction and death out of your sight, then no amount of hand wringing and moral outrage will make it end. If you are affected, if your farms, your crops are destroyed, your neat buildings in your perfect towns burned to the ground, then there will be a reason to stop this. War is not tidy, it is not convenient, it is everywhere. It has to be felt by everyone. War is hell.
  • A story. A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life - build a house, love a woman, change his son's diaper - he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert.
  • We few, we happy few, we band of brothers: for he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother.
  • In God's name, march: True hope is swift, and flies with swallow's wings: Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.
  • If we be conquered, let men conquer us, and not these bastard Bretons; whom our fathers have in their own land beaten, bobb'd, and thump'd, and in record, left them the heirs of shame. Shall these enjoy our lands? lie with our wives? Ravish our daughters?
  • It's all an accident, an accident of hands. Mine, others, all without mind, from one extreme to another, but neither works nor will ever. Yet we stand here in the middle of no man's land.
    • Sergeant Steiner considers the causes of WW2's eastern front as he releases a young Russian soldier, Cross of Iron.
  • You do not want a war. You have seen violence, you have suffered loss. But you have seen nothing of war. War is not just the business of death. It is the antithesis of life. Hope tortured and flayed, reason dismembered, grinning at its limbs in its lap. Decency raped to death.
  • The problem with gun runners going to war, is that there is no shortage of ammunition.

See also

Social and political philosophy
PhilosophersAmbedkarArendtAristotleAugustineAurobindoAquinasAronAverroesAzurmendiBadiouBakuninBaudrillardBaumanBenthamBerlinBurkeJudith ButlerCamusChanakyaChomskyCiceroComteConfuciusDe BeauvoirDebordDu BoisDurkheimEmersonEngelsFanonFoucaultFourierFranklinGandhiGentileGramsciGrotiusHabermasHan FeiHayekHegelHeideggerHobbesHumeIrigarayJeffersonKantKierkegaardKirkKropotkinLaoziLeibnizLeninLockeLuxemburgMachiavelliMaistreMalebrancheMaoMarcuseMaritainMarxMenciusMichelsMillMisesMontesquieuMoziMuhammadNegriNiebuhrNietzscheNozickOakeshottOrtegaPaineParetoPlatoPolanyiPopperRadhakrishnanRandRawlsRenanRothbardRousseauRoyceRussellSadeSantayanaSartreSchmittSearleSkinnerSmithSocratesSombartSpencerSpinozaStirnerStraussSunSun TzuTaineTaylorThucydidesThoreauTocquevilleVivekanandaVoltaireWalzerWeberŽižek
Social theoriesAnarchismAuthoritarianismCollectivismCommunismConfucianismConservatismFascismIndividualismLiberalismLibertarianismRepublicanismSocial constructionismSocialismUtilitarianism
ConceptsCivil disobedienceJusticeLawPeacePropertyRevolutionRightsSocial contractSocietyTyrannyWar
Forms of ruleAristocracyBureaucracyDemocracyMeritocracyPlutocracyTechnocracy
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