“I dig old books.”
Quotations about War
Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud. I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth. I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace. ~Charles Sumner
War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace. ~Thomas Mann
We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide. ~Havelock Ellis
Certain blood was being shed for uncertain reasons. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
Have not I myself known five hundred living soldiers sabred into crows' meat for a piece of glazed cotton, which they call their flag; which had you sold it at any market-cross, would not have brought above three groschen? ~Thomas Carlyle, "Sartor Resartus"
The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution. ~John F. Kennedy
War is the only game in which it doesn't pay to have the home-court advantage. ~Dick Motta
The trouble with selfish motives is that they harden into principles, and you end up sending your kids to war for them. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
War. The dark time of valour, loss and hope where a man is controlled by his gun; where a gun is controlled by his hatred. Completely uncontrollable. ~Daniel Ha
If it were proved to me that in making war, my ideal had a chance of being realized, I would still say "no" to war. For one does not create a human society on mounds of corpses. ~Louis Lecoin
War is fear cloaked in courage. ~William Westmoreland
War is hell, but that's not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
War has a deeper and more ineffable relation to hidden grandeurs in man than has yet been deciphered. ~Thomas de Quincey
No country can act wisely simultaneously in every part of the globe at every moment of time. ~Henry Kissinger
Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood. ~Gandhi, Non-violence in Peace and War, 1948
I would like it if men had to partake in the same hormonal cycles to which we're subjected monthly. Maybe that's why men declare war — because they have a need to bleed on a regular basis. ~Brett Butler
We saw the lightning and that was the guns and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped. ~Harriet Tubman
It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace. ~André Gide, Journals, 13 September 1938
Battles, in these ages, are transacted by mechanism; with the slightest possible development of human individuality or spontaneity; men now even die, and kill one another, in an artificial manner. ~Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, vol 1, book VII, chapter 4
The military don't start wars. Politicians start wars. ~William Westmoreland
I have never advocated war except as a means of peace. ~Ulysses S. Grant
We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it. ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
In the name of peace
They waged the wars
Ain't they got no shame
Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity. ~Author unknown
I have just seen it quoted again. Yes, it appears solemnly in print, even now, at the end of the greatest war in history. Si vis pacem, para bellum. Being separated for the moment from my book of quotations, I cannot say who was the Roman thinker who first gave this brilliant paradox to the world, but I imagine him a fat, easy-going gentleman, who occasionally threw off good things after dinner. He never thought very much of Si vis pacem, para bellum; it was not one of his best; but it seemed to please some of his political friends, one of whom asked if he might use it in his next speech in the Senate. Our fat gentleman said: "Certainly, if you like," and added with unusual frankness: "I don't quite know what it means."
But the other did not think that that would matter very much. So he quoted it, and it had a considerable vogue. Two thousand years from now people will still be quoting it, and killing each other on the strength of it. Or perhaps I am wrong. Perhaps two thousand years from now, if the English language is sufficiently dead by then, the world will have some casual paradox of Bernard Shaw's or Oscar Wilde's on its lips, passing it reverently from mouth to mouth as if it were Holy Writ, and dropping bombs on Mars to show that they know what it means.
Si vis pacem, para bellum. So it follows that preparation for war means nothing. It is an action which is as likely to have been inspired by an evil motive as by a good motive. When a gentleman with a van calls for your furniture you have means of ascertaining whether he is the furniture-remover whom you ordered or the burglar whom you didn't order, but there is no way of discovering which of two Latin tags is inspiring a nation's armaments.
However, I can produce a third tag in the same language, which is worth consideration. Si vis amare bellum, para bellum. It is a pity, but Universal Peace will hardly come as the result of universal preparedness for war, as these dear people seem to hope. It will only come as the result of a universal feeling that war is the most babyish and laughably idiotic thing that this poor world has evolved. Our writer says sadly that there is no hope of doing without armies—we are not angels. It is not a question of "not being angels," it is a question of not being childish lunatics. Possibly there is no hope of either, but I think we might make an effort.
~A.A. Milne (1882–1956), "The Record Lie," c.1919 ["If you want peace, prepare for war." Latin adage, c. 4th century BC. Note: I've paraphrased Milne's essay.
What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood. ~Aldous Huxley
Man has no right to kill his brother. It is no excuse that he does so in uniform: he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder. ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Declaration of Rights"
Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private individuals. ~Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1955
To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man. ~Michael Servetus
A day will come when a cannon will be exhibited in museums, just as instruments of torture are now, and the people will be astonished that such a thing could have been. ~Victor Hugo
Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war. ~Otto Von Bismark
The draft is white people sending black people to fight yellow people to protect the country they stole from red people. ~Gerome Gragni and James Rado, 1967
War hath no fury like a noncombatant. ~Charles Edward Montague, Disenchantment
What a country calls its vital... interests are not things that help its people live, but things that help it make war. Petroleum is a more likely cause of international conflict than wheat. ~Simone Weil, Ecrits historiques et politiques, 1960
War is never a solution; it is an aggravation. ~Benjamin Disraeli
War does not determine who is right — only who is left. ~Montreal Star, quoted in Reader's Digest, February 1932, see: quoteinvestigator.com/2015/10/10/war-not
War is simply the survival of the tiger and lion in man. It settles everything on the plane of physical force. War does not decide what is right, but what is strongest. It never decides a moral principle. ~The Boston Post, 1896 July 6th [Thanks to Garson O'Toole, The Quote Investigator!
The stench of the trail of Ego in our History. It is ego — ego, the fountain cry, origin, sole source of war. ~George Meredith, Beauchamp's Career
Dress it as we may, feather it, daub it with gold, huzza it, and sing swaggering songs about it, what is war, nine times out of ten, but murder in uniform? ~Douglas Jerrold
If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons. ~Pope John Paul II
Law never made men a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice. A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart. They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined. Now, what are they? Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power? The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.... In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience
Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. ~Herbert Hoover
A day of battle is a day of harvest for the devil. ~William Hooke
There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it. ~Havelock Ellis
All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers. ~François Fénelon
War should belong to the tragic past, to history: it should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future. ~Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)
Men were made for war. Without it they wandered greyly about, getting under the feet of the women, who were trying to organize the really important things of life. ~Alice Thomas Ellis
Will... the threat of common extermination continue?... Must children receive the arms race from us as a necessary inheritance? ~Pope John Paul II, speech at the UN, 1979
War is nothing less than a temporary repeal of the principles of virtue. It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are included. ~Robert Hall
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below. //
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields...
~John McCrae (1872–1918), "In Flanders Fields," in Punch (London), 1915 December 8th
Traditional nationalism cannot survive the fissioning of the atom. One world or none. ~Stuart Chase
Wars usually have the effect of speeding up the process of history. ~Pieter Geyl, Debates With Historians
Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong? ~Holly Near
The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service. ~Albert Einstein
O Lord our God, help us 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 unavailing 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. ~Mark Twain, "The War Prayer"
Then came the war; and I went with the rest
To learn my lessons, with death as a guest...
The days and nights that I spent overseas,
The bombing of cities, of people, of trees...
Of hating and killing, of shot and shell...
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "The Hard Way" (1940s)
If you shoot one person you are a murderer. If you kill a couple persons you are a gangster. If you are a crazy statesman and send millions to their deaths you are a hero. ~Author unknown, 1939 newspaper, see also "If only one man dies of hunger, that is a tragedy. If millions die, that's only statistics" attributed to Joseph Stalin and "a single man killed is a misfortune, a million is a statistic" attributed to an anonymous Frenchman, 1948 (Thanks, Garson O'Toole of quoteinvestigator.com!)
Men like war: they do not hold much sway over birth, so they make up for it with death. Unlike women, men menstruate by shedding other people's blood. ~Lucy Ellman
The effects of human wickedness are written on the page of history in characters of blood: but the impression soon fades away; so more blood must be shed to renew it. ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. ~John Stewart Mill
The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them long for it. ~Louis Simpson
The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his. ~George Patton
The expendability factor has increased by being transferred from the specialised, scarce and expensively trained military personnel to the amorphous civilian population. American strategists have calculated the proportion of civilians killed in this century's major wars. In the First World War 5 per cent of those killed were civilians, in the Second World War 48 per cent, while in a Third World War 90-95 per cent would be civilians. ~Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action
You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way. ~Will Rogers, New York Times, 23 December 1929
Organized slaughter, we realize, does not settle a dispute; it merely silences an argument. ~James Frederick Green
I recoil with horror at the ferociousness of man. Will nations never devise a more rational umpire of differences than force? Are there no means of coercing injustice more gratifying to our nature than a waste of the blood of thousands and of the labor of millions of our fellow creatures? ~Thomas Jefferson
War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals. ~Charles Evans Hughes
War is a game which were their subjects wise, kings would not play at. ~William Cowper
Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
~Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959
War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
They should pick a dry year to fight the war. Better yet, civilize the moronic races and have no wars at all. ~Lt. Clair J. Clark, letter to wife, March 1944
I don't know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war. ~Georges Clemenceau
As long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of exalted characters. ~Edward Gibbon
There's a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn't a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature. ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams
War! When I but think of this word, I feel bewildered, as though they were speaking to me of sorcery, of the Inquisition, of a distant, finished, abominable, monstrous, unnatural thing. When they speak to us of cannibals, we smile proudly, as we proclaim our superiority to these savages. Who are the real savages? Those who struggle in order to eat those whom they vanquish, or those who struggle merely to kill? ~Guy de Maupassant, Sur l'Eau
The bomb that fell on Hiroshima fell on America too. It fell on no city, no munition plants, no docks. It erased no church, vaporized no public buildings, reduced no man to his atomic elements. But it fell, it fell. ~Hermann Hagedorn, "The Bomb That Fell on America"
I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in the place of democracies, and for the starvation that stalks after it. I hate war, and never again will I sanction or support another. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick
It seems like such a terrible shame that innocent civilians have to get hurt in wars, otherwise combat would be such a wonderfully healthy way to rid the human race of unneeded trash. ~Fred Woodworth
In an incredible perversion of justice, former soldiers who sprayed festeringly poisonous chemicals on Vietnam, and now find today that they themselves have been damaged by them, appeal to the people for sympathy and charity. The effects of the defoliant "Agent Orange" are discussed at length, but not one single newspaper article or hearing that we are aware of has even mentioned the effects of the people who still live in those regions of Vietnam. It's as outlandish as if Nazis who gassed Jews were now to come forward and whine that the poisons they utilized had finally made them sick. The staggering monstrousness goes unlaughed at and even unnoticed, as in a Kafka novel. ~Fred Woodworth, The Match, No. 79
A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations. They have the best implements of war. ~Herbert V. Prochnow
Studies by Medical Corps psychiatrists of combat fatigue cases... found that fear of killing, rather than fear of being killed, was the most common cause of battle failure, and that fear of failure ran a strong second. ~S.L.A. Marshall
You're an old-timer if you can remember when setting the world on fire was a figure of speech. ~Franklin P. Jones, referring to the atomic bomb