a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
As democracy takes hold in Iraq, the enemies of freedom will do
all in their power to spread violence and fear. They are trying
to shake the will of our country and our friends, but the United
States of America will never be intimidated by thugs and
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20
Actually, the United States is facing a [huge] problem in Iraq
right now: it can not expand [the war in Iraq to] a war against
Iran. ... [That is why] they are using threats against Syria, but
these countries have no choice but to defend themselves .... The
Americans are digging their own grave and eventually [they] will
collapse, just as the Soviet Union collapsed.
Abdullah Muhammad Sindi PhD (26 Dec 2005)
The debate sparked by the Iraq war over American rashness vs.
European escapism is dwarfed by what the world now faces. Both
sides of the Atlantic should put their best minds together on how
to deal with the common danger of a wider war merging into a war
of civilizations against the background of a nuclear-armed Middle
East. the big threat lies in the erosion of nation states and the
emergence of transnational groups.
Henry Alfred Kissinger
In hemmed-in situations, you must resort to stratagem. In
desperate position, you must fight.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]
America is great not because of what she has done for herself,
but because of what she has done for others. In another age, we
helped liberate Europe from Hitlerís tyranny, and ended Japanese
imperialism in Asia. In extraordinary acts of generosity, we
helped rebuild Europe and Japan and transform former enemies into
the closest of allies. I believe the liberation of Iraq will be
judged by history to be of similar nobility.
John Sidney McCain, Capt USN(ret), US Senator (20
It is their war and you are to help them, not
win it for them.
Thomas Edward Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"; T.E.
For an army to win at war, young men must die.
Dwight David Eisenhower
It was elating, but only afterwards. At the time [of the more
than three-quarters of a mile shot], there was no high-fiving.
You've got troops under fire, taking casualties, and you're not
thinking about anything other than finding a target and putting
it down. Every shot is for the betterment of our cause.
Jim Gilliland, SSG Shadow Team leader, Task Force
2-69 [16 Jan 2006 interview about 27 Sep 2005 sniper
To fight fairly is to fight on someone else's terms, which is a
stupid way of subjecting yourself to pain and woe.
Martin Caidin (1974)
Men believe that war changes the rules of the game, but war is
really God's way of changing the order of progression ... it's
not just that we march to a different drummer during battle, but
that our direction of march as well as our pace and tempo are
forever changed by such engagements.
This task force understands that we cannot kill our way to
victory. If you look over the long term, we've made tremendous
progress on the ground. But this is long-duration work. We are
trying to change a culture at every level.
COL Kenneth Tovo, CO, Combined Joint Special
Operations Task Force - Arabian Peninsula, Balad, Iraq
You never underestimate your enemy. Money doesn't solve
everything, and neither does armor and neither does a lot of
things flying around the air and floating in the sea. Ultimately,
this [war] is a test of human wills. I can tell you that the kind
of warfare we're in here, the military component is only a piece
of it. You know that from Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. We
have to balance what we call the kinetic, which is the
trigger-pulling stuff, with the nontrigger-pulling stuff that
ultimately affects the people, the masses of people that are the
prize. We have plenty of people to kill and capture and, you
know, that need killing and capturing. But the real prize is not
gained only through military means, and so what we have to do is
make sure that we're useful as part of the broader system of
The only question is whether you can run a war on a timetable
like a railroad and whether you need to announce your plans to
Soldiers in peace are like chimneys in summer.
Managing the Armed Forces is an investment. George Marshall said
that "Before the war, I had all the time in the world [for
preparation] but no money, and once the war began, I had all the
money but no time", so the budget will get balanced at the
expense of military experience and expertise. It's easy to cut
down oak trees but it takes time to grow them back!
paraphrase of Peter Schoomaker
If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not
because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not
unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.
Sun-Tzu [ch 11 ax 27 The Art of War
Soldiers were lined up outside the paymaster's door. Soldiers
were always lined up. There seemed to be something in soldier law
that everybody had to do the same thing at the same time, which
meant that they always had to line up and wait. Apparently
soldiers weren't allowed to have a notion to go and do something
alone, and get it done while nobody was in the way. Instead, they
had to wait until they were all told to go to the same place at
the same time, so that they were all in each other's way, and had
to wait. It seemed like a poor way of doing things, but it did
make it possible for soldiers to stand around together
complaining to each other, which seemed to be a favorite pastime
of the soldiers.
James Alexander Thom (2000)
You lived too long, we have supped full with heroes,
they waste their deaths on us.
C.D. Andrews [no 459 "To a Pilot Lost in
Aragón" in London Town (March 1938)]
I DON'T SUPPORT our troops. ... Supporting the troops is a
position that even Calvin is unwilling to
urinate on. ... But I'm not for the war. And being against the
war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest
positions the pacifists have ever taken – and they're wussy
by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from
Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing
national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.
... I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like
they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating
people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All
I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need:
hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return.
But, please, no parades.
Joel Stein [Warriors and Wusses Los
Angeles Times (24 Jan 2006)]
Vietnam, My Lai, pullout, deadline, cutoff – all the old
remembrances are returning, as the graying antiwar generation of
the 1960s will not go quietly into the night. Abu Ghraib and
Haditha are the new Tiger Cages and napalm; George Bush is the
Johnson or Nixon of our age; and "no blood for oil" is similar
to the old mythical conspiracies of why we were in Vietnam.
Victor Davis Hanson ["Vietnam, After All? Formulaic
warfare" National Review Online (June 09,
Ignorance should at least create caution but it seems to do just
the opposite. People with little knowledge about the military,
and no personal experience, often have the most sweeping and
unrealistic expectations, and even demands, to make on people
whose lives are at risk in battle.
I'd rather die for speaking out, than to live and be silent.
Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night incessantly softly
wash again, and ever again, this soil'd world;
For my enemy is dead, a man as divine as myself is dead,
I look where he lies white-faced and still in the coffin -- I
Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the
Walt Whitman [Reconciliation]
Their memory is engraved on our hearts.
Michael J. Durant [In the Company of Heroes
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day that I
have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.
Deuteronomy 30:19 Bible
Since the dawn of time every one will die,
Let the history books note my death with loyalty at heart.
There's only one test of loyalty that matters: one's dedication
to our common principles. We are not great because everyone is
the same, but because everyone shares the same opportunity and
the same protection. And for those who have fought and bled for
those ideals, their loyalty shall never be suspect, nor their
sacrifice ever taken for granted.
unknown World War Two veteran
In case you haven't noticed, we ... dehumanize our own soldiers,
not because of their religion or race, but because of their low
social class. Send 'em anywhere. Make 'em do anything. Piece of
I don't believe that generals have a great respect for human
life. Of course a lot of nonsense is talked about the value of
human life. You might just as well say that the counters used in
playing poker have an intrinsic value. Their value is whatever
you'd like to make it, more or less, as circumstance changes. For
a general giving battle, men are merely counters, and he's a fool
if he allows sentimentality to cause him to look upon them as
human beings. Just because these counters can feel and think,
they're quite capable of refusing to be used any more if they
believe they're being squandered. Anyhow, that's neither here nor
paraphrase of W. Somerset Maugham (1943)
You think everyone over there is a college graduate? They're 19
and 20-year-old kids who couldn't get a job .... You know, the
soldiers are not scholars, they're not war experts .... They're
not the best people to ask about the war because they're gonna
die any second.
What a society gets in its armed services is exactly what it asks
for, no more, no less. What it asks for tends to be a reflection
of what it is. When a country looks at its fighting forces, it is
looking in a mirror; the mirror is a true one, and the face that
it sees will be its own.
General Sir John Hackett
We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
And if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints.
Rudyard Kipling [Tommy]
Barrack: A house in which soldiers enjoy a portion of that of
which it is their business to deprive others.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
To end the neutrality or indifference of the people, and to bind
their contributions to our liberation, it was necessary to
declare that the war be unto the death ... making our country a
wasteland, irreconcilable and unappealing to all but our own
paraphrase of Simón "El Libertador"
Patriotism is just another word for fanaticism.
Why could not people let each other be? ... Like a blade thrust
into the warmth of his life came a dread, a shrinking from that
word religion, a chill bewilderment that men
could hate each other for worshipping the same God with different
A.J. Cronin [The Keys of the Kingdom
President Ahmadinejad has placed at the centre of international
attention, a very important question on the truthfulness of the
version that Europe and the Zionists have imposed on the world on
the murder of Jews during the years of the great [Second World
War] war, and therefore we are of the opinion that it is useful
and necessary to organise an international conference on that
theme, where all the historians and researchers, even those that
do not believe in the official version, will be able to express
themselves freely. We want to offer a free and democratic
platform to the historians to examine in-depth this myth, seeing
that in different European countries there exist laws against
democracy and freedom that to do not allow intellectuals who
believe in a version distinct from that which is officially
pronounced on the Holocaust.
Mehdi Afzali [re: Tehran conference sponsored by the
Association of Islamic Journalists]
Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan
... it is high time ... that the promoters of aggressive,
ruthless war and treaty-breakers should be stripped of the
glamour of national heroes and exposed as what they really are:
plain, ordinary murderers.
Joseph Keenan [1946 press release by the U.S. chief
prosecutor at the International Military Tribunal for the Far
East ("War Crimes Trial")]
Peace is sweet but peace without dignity and freedom is no peace
slogan of Mogadishu Islamists
Those who come seeking peace without a treaty are plotting.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]
Errors and defeats are more obviously illustrative of principles
than successes are .... Defeat cries aloud for explanation;
whereas success, like charity, covers a multitude of sins.
Alfred Thayer Mahan [Naval Strategy
The only thing more inaccurate than a weather report is a battle
report from the front.
The known facts are not all the facts.
Statesmen are afraid of the suburbs, of the newspapers, of the
profiteers, of the diplomatists, of the militarists, of the
country houses, of the trade unions, of everything ephemeral on
earth, except the revolutions they are provoking. And they would
be afraid of these if they were not too ignorant of society and
history to appreciate the risks. And to know that a revolution
always seems hopeless and impossible [until] the day before it
breaks out. And indeed never does break out until it seems
hopeless and impossible.
George Bernard Shaw [preface Back to
The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know.
Harry S. Truman [Plain Speaking by Merle
Fear is an instructor of great sagacity and the herald of all
revolutions .... He indicates great wrongs which must be revised.
Ralph Waldo Emerson ["Compensation" in Essays:
First Series 1841)]
I've noticed that most of the people calling for peace are doing
it from a safe place, usually after a good meal.
Louis L'Amour [Callaghen (1972)]
We who prayed and wept for liberty from kings and yoke of liberty
accept the tyranny of things we do not need. In plenitude too
free, we have become adept beneath the yoke of greed. Those who
will not learn in plenty to keep their place must learn it by
their need when they have had their way and the fields spurn
their seed. We have failed their grace. Lord, I flinch and pray,
send Thy necessity.
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 Stuart Mill
An honest man is always a terrible foe, unless he is a fool.
Max Brand [Frederick Faust]
The art of war is like the art of the courtesan; indeed, they
might be called sisters, since both are the slaves of
Diplomacy: the art of doing the nastiest things in the nicest
Machination: The method employed by one's opponents in baffling
one's open and honorable efforts to do the right thing.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
It is not possible to create peace in the Middle East by
jeopardizing the peace of the world.
Aneurin Bevan [4 Nov 1956 speech on Suez
Whoever thinks of stopping the uprising before it achieves its
goals, I will give him ten bullets in the chest.
Yasir Arafat [on the Intifada Daily
Telegraph (19 Jan 1989)]
The Gulf War was like teenage sex. We got in too soon and out too
Tom Harkin [Independent on Sunday
(29 Sept 1991)]
The tormenting dilemma of the Middle East is this: either we have
one people too many, or one state too few.
Afif Safieh [Independent on Sunday
(3 March 1991)]
Should there be maniacs who raise the idea [of Palestinian
self-government], they will encounter an iron fist which will
leave no trace of such attempts.
Yitzhak Shamir [London Times (11
It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial
indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse. It is
obviously much easier to find inhabitants for an inferno or even
Ezra Pound (1963)
A fool's paradise is a wise man's hell!
Thomas Fuller [bk 4 ch 20 The Holy State and the
Profane State (1642)]
The lions and the gazelles may share the comforts of a secluded
grove for sleeping, but only the lions are at rest.
ancient Arab proverb
If begging should unfortunately be thy lot, knock at the large
He who eats alone, chokes alone.
There is not a Mussulman alive who would not imagine that he was
performing an action pleasing to God and his Holy Prophet by
exterminating every Christian on earth, while the Christians are
scarcely more tolerant on their side.
Denis Diderot [Conversations with a
Christian Lady (1774; repr 1966)]
Muhammad brought down from heaven and put into the Koran not
religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and
civil laws, and scientific theories. The Gospels, on the other
hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God
and between man and man. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do
not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a
thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able
to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy,
while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all
Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clérel de
Tocqueville [vol 2 pt 1 ch 5 Democracy in America
We have proved we are not modern. We have proved we are not
religious in the real sense of the word. We have proved that we
cannot afford democracy.
Muhammad Heikal [Independent (11
The trouble with Reason is that it becomes meaningless at the
exact point where it refuses to act.
Bernard Devoto ["The Easy Chair" in
Harper's (May 1941)]
The irrational in the human has something about it altogether
repulsive and terrible, as we see in the maniac, the miser, the
drunkard or the ape.
George Santayana [The Life of Reason
I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable.
There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills] [The
Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)]
compiled by Ed Staff