a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
There is more truth in one sword than in ten-thousand words.
I would willingly die for my country at a moment's notice, and on
the command of my president.
Dan Rather [journalist volunteering for "war on Terrorism"]
There's no whore like an old whore.
Brian Mulroney [comment on latest Sunshine Patriots]
You have to know that if the Iraqi army crossed the Jordan River,
I would personally grab a rifle and fight, and die.
William Jefferson Davis Clinton [draft-dodger and impeached
president aspiring to become a Freedom Fighter]
Terrorists often claim to be fighting wars, and to be doing no
more than is necessary in war. This is nonsense. War is certainly
the natural expression of collective resentment; but it occurs
between organised groups and is fought openly, against a
collective enemy. It is possible to fight a war with undiminished
respect for the rights of the enemy individual. Indeed, that is
the duty of every soldier. But the terrorist must disregard this
duty and disobey the law of war. His feelings towards the
individual are abolished by his loathing of the group, and it is
this — rather than his cowardice, cruelty, or intemporate
hate — that constitutes his true moral corruption.
Roger Scruton [Untimely Tracts (1987)]
Arena: In politics, an imaginary rat-pit in which the statesman
wrestles with his record.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
He has no enemy, you say;
My friend your boast is poor,
He who hath mingled in the fray
Of duty that the brave endure
Must have made foes. If he has none
Small is the work that he has done.
He has hit no traitor on the hip;
Has cast no cup from perjured lip;
Has never turned the wrong to right;
Has been a coward in the fight.
Alexander Anton von Auersperg ["Anastasius Grun"]
Beware of the man who does not return your blow: he neither
forgives you nor allows you to forgive yourself.
George Bernard Shaw
If you do the right thing because you don't know any worse, then
you have not acquired virtue by default. True morality begins
with choice; and the greater the challenge, the better the
morality. You can only be truly good when you have prospected
your capacity for evil. Idealism censors reality; and prohibition
paraphrase of William McIlvanney
War is a matter not so much of arms as of expenditure, through
which arms maybe made of service.
People good at carrying guns rarely are qualified to build an
Nguyen Cao Ky [preliminary comment on 2002 return to SRV]
War is good for the economy ... invest your son!
Each [Vietnam veteran] has a gentleness I find rare in most
others, and beneath it a spiritual sinew that I ascribe to their
experience in the war. I don't think I'll ever have what they
have, the aura of I have been weighed on the scales and
have not been found wanting, and my sense at this point
is that I will always feel the lack of it.
Christopher Buckley ["Viet Guilt", Esquire
... [I] realize the truth of the emotions I have been feeling
lately about that particular subject. I sense a strong feeling
— "shame" is not too strong a word —
among many men who did not go to Vietnam, and perhaps now is the
time to bring that feeling out into the open. Those of us who did
not go may have pretended that we held some moral superiority
over those who did, but we must have known — even back then
— that that was largely sham.
Bob Greene ["The I-missed-Vietnam Guilt"]
The People, made awkward by their inexperience from a generation
of peace, were easily slain and quickly defeated by their
The injustice of defeat lies in the fact that its most innocent
victims are made to look like heartless accomplices. It is
impossible to see behind defeat, the sacrifices, the austere
performance of duty, the self-discipline and the vigilance that
are there — those things the god of battle does not take
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
There is absolutely no thought given to proper marketing of
Vietnam's main attractions. The country has beautiful beaches,
but the government thinks a war crimes museum is a tourist
Nguyen Cao Ky [preliminary comment on 2002 return to SRV]
False history gets made all day, any day,
the truth of the new is never on the news
False history gets written every day
Although men make history, no man knows what history he is making
until much later, when it has become historical.
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they
please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by
themselves, but under circumstances directly found, given and
transmitted from the past. The tradition of all the dead
generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.
All history is the record of man's signal failure to thwart his
destiny — the record, in other words, of the few men of
destiny who, through the recognition of their symbolic role, made
History does nothing; it does not possess immense riches, it does
not fight battles. It is men, real, living, who do all this ....
It is not history which uses men as a means of
achieving — as if it were an individual person — its
own ends. History is nothing but the activity of men in pursuit
of their ends.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels ["The Holy Family" (1844-1845)]
History teaches us that men and nations behave wisely once they
have exhausted all other alternatives.
In the course of history, men come to see that iron
necessity is neither iron nor necessary.
Friedrich W. Nietzsche ["Man Alone With Himself" aphorism 514
Human, All-Too-Human (1878)]
History is made only to be immediately forgotten.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
George Santayana ["Life of Reason" (1905-6)]
But what experience and history teach is this — that
peoples and governments have never learned anything from history,
or acted on principles deduced from it.
Georg W.F. Hegel [intro to "The Philosophy of History" (1807)]
Hegel remarks somewhere that all great, world-historical facts
and personages occur, as it were, twice. He has forgotten to add:
the first time as tragedy, the second as farce.
Karl H. Marx ["The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte"
Gentlemen, you must not mistake me. I admit that he is the sworn
foe of our nation, and, if you will, of the whole human race.
But, gentlemen, we must be just to our enemy. We must not forget
that he once shot a bookseller.
Thomas Campbell [excusing himself in proposing a toast to
Napoleon at a literary dinner]
I consider women a great deal superior to men. Men are physically
strong, but women are morally better .... It is woman who keeps
the world in balance.
Mrs. Chalkstone [14 May 1863 speech at the Woman's National Loyal
Nations, like men, have their infancy; and, also like men,
nations have their decline.
anonymous [paraphrase of "Nations, like men, have their infancy."
by Henry St. John, Viscount Bolingbroke]
Students of history are horror-struck at the massacres of old;
but in the shambles, men are being murdered to-day.
Only the history of free peoples is worth our attention; the
history of men under a despotism is merely a collection of
Sebastien-Roch Nicolas De Chamfort
Malthusian: Pertaining to Malthus and his doctrines. Malthus
believed in artificially limiting population, but found that it
could not be done by talking. One of the most practical exponents
of the Malthusian idea was Herod of Judea, though all the famous
soldiers have been of the same way of thinking.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to
seek the pleasures of power. Throughout history power has been
the vice of the ascetic.
Long experience has shown that armies can not be maintained
unless desertion shall be punished by the severe penalty of
death. Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts,
while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him
to desert? I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator,
and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a
I would like to say something, not just to Vietnam veterans in
New England, but to men who were in Vietnam, who I hurt, or whose
pain I caused to deepen because of things that I said or did. I
was trying to help end the killing and the war, but there were
times when I was thoughtless and careless about it and I'm ...
very sorry that I hurt them. And I want to apologize to them and
Jane Fonda [1988 news release from "20/20" interview granted to
placate protests that were delaying movie production in New
England] [When American POWs finally began to return home (some
of them having been held captive for up to nine years) and
describe the tortures they had endured at the hands of the North
Vietnamese, Jane Fonda quickly told the country that they should
"not hail the POWs as heroes, because they are hypocrites and
liars." Fonda said the idea that the POWs she had met in Vietnam
had been tortured was "laughable," claiming: "These were not men
who had been tortured. These were not men who had been starved.
These were not men who had been brainwashed." The POWs who said
they had been tortured were "exaggerating, probably for their own
self-interest," she asserted. She told audiences that "Never in
the history of the United States have POWs come home looking like
football players. These football players are no more heroes than
Custer was. They're military careerist and professional killers"
who are "trying to make themselves look self-righteous, but they
are war criminals according to law."]
Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance
and conscientious stupidity.
Martin Luther King Jr
Guilt may be apportioned and divided more than ten-thousand times
without being diminished.
He who forgives readily only invites offense.
We are not pleasant people here; for the story of war is always
the story of hate. It makes no difference with whom one fights
... the hate destroys you.
Agnes Newton Keith
The offender never forgives.
After the war is over, the victors write the history, and the
vanquished write the poetry.
Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet which still clings
fast to the heel that crushed it.
Our enemies will tell the rest with pleasure.
Bishop William Fleetwood
In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but
the silence of our friends.
Wars begin with noble sentiments and flags waving; but they end
with ignoble passions and flags draped.
Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, ... meditate
on these things.
Philippians 4:8 Bible
compiled by Ed Staff