a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
The costs of staying are visible; the costs of getting out are
almost never discussed. If we get out before Iraq is stable, the
entire Middle East region might start to resemble Iraq today.
Getting out is not a solution.
When politicians say that they will bring the troops home, they
will simply bring the war home!
Not every problem has a solution, but of the ones that are
amenable, the best solution will not be known for a long time
after the fix has been applied ... sometimes the problem recurs,
and sometimes the answer is worse than the problem itself.
We were just about to stand up for ourselves and do this really
brilliant thing that would've solved the problem when you did
that really stupid thing that changed everything because you're
so stupid and now we can't do anything to solve the problem, even
though we're really quite brilliant ... and now it's too late and
it's all YOUR fault!
anonymous parody of a diplomatic rationalization for
the status quo
It has been said that there are three types of beings: ones that
are too smart to play the game, ones that are
too stupid to play the game, and that great mass
of intraspecies normalcy that is willingly enticed, if not
enslaved, into passionately and determinedly playing the
game ... and it is considered a measure of
advanced civilization that the supernormals and
the subnormals are not exterminated, but merely marginalized.
Mankind is so proud of its sophistication, of its tolerance, of
its restraint in making a mediocre devastation, when either
catastrophe or anti-catastrophe is possible.
paraphrase of John D. MacDonald
You can have my sword if you demand it; but there is one thing I
do want you to put in that report to General Bragg – tell
him that I will be in my coffin before I will fight again under
Nathan Bedford Forrest [to Joe Wheeler]
He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with
by the sovereign.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]
I have stood your meanness as long as I intend to. You have
played the part of a damned scoundrel, and are a coward, and if
you were any part of a man I would slap your jaws and force you
to resent it. You may as well not issue any more orders to me,
for I will not obey them, and I will hold you personally
responsible for any further indignities you endeavor to inflict
upon me. You have threatened to arrest me for not obeying your
orders promptly. I dare you to do it, and I say to you that if
you ever again try to interfere with me or cross my path it will
be at the peril of your life.
Nathan Bedford Forrest [to Braxton Bragg]
One of the useful things about military service is that it gets
you acclimatized to having loud blustery men say rude things to
Neal Stephenson (1999)
War is only the social manifestation of an individual's
indiscipline, most acutely represented by willful juveniles. To
presume its resolution by rational intercession, by moral
suasion, or by deliberative analysis is, like the inculcation of
children, a waste of time and resources ... only superior power
will check power, only greater force will forestall force, and
only subtle craftsmanship will inhibit deception and subterfuge.
Complaints and protests are only proof of incompetence or
impotence, and exacerbate the situation. Adulthood is the only
solution to infantilism.
Men make history and not the other way around.
Harry S. Truman [This Week (22 Feb
War, empire, revenge ... scale them down and what did you have?
... anger, avarice, pride. History was only personal grievance
Have you ever thought about what history really is? An accounting
of failure, iniquity, errors of judgement, character flaws,
bloody cruelties, obscene missteps. Human beings are such low
It doesn't have to be this way at all! Shooting will only make
things worse. Fighting is a stupid, immoral, wasteful way of
paraphrase of Ed Ruggero (1994)
Sometimes the storms of war are quelled ... and sometimes the
people suffering these forces are quieted within themselves.
All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; so why
do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?
Art that imitates the rigor of science forgoes an infinite wealth
of variables that pure nature, in its constancy and nobility,
does not present, for if man is more limited in his capacities he
is more interesting in his unpredictability. Art that accepts
human limitations is empowered and enriched by the very
discipline that the modernists ignore.
Art, applied or theoretical, is no longer about talent, nor about
training or technique, but about compassion ... it's about
sensitivity and sensation, intent and intellection, so anyone not
a genius need not apply!
The deterrence of war is the primary objective of the armed
Maxwell D. Taylor [The Uncertain Trumpet
As a stark measly grail, the truth sometimes sounds better than
it truly is.
paraphrase of Robert B. Parker
War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy.
John F. Kerry (1 June 2006)
Weakness and ambivalence lead to war.
George H.W. Bush (18 Aug 1988)
There are only three forms of peace: when one is powerful enough
to compel others to comply, when opposing powers are so equally
matched that no one can dominate, and when everyone is too weak
to impose upon any others. All aspire for impunity through
dominance, even if their reign is intended to be benign or
benevolent. Peace is always the open hand of the fist.
Victory is to he who fights the longest.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]
All delays are dangerous in war.
It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.
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
.... Get everything you need and [then] win it.
Dwight D. Eisenhower [15 Mar 1968 press
In war there is no substitute for victory.
Douglas MacArthur [19 Apr 1951 speech]
In war there is no second prize for the runner-up.
Omar N. Bradley [USA: In Military Review (Feb
You know what this army is? It's McClellan's bodyguard.
Abraham Lincoln [comment during Grand Review of
Union forces at Sharpsburg after 1862 battle at Antietam;
opportunity for Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in
If I cannot find a way, I will make one.
If McClellan is not using the army, I should like to borrow it
for a while.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN, comment, April 9, 1862
So long as victory can be attained, stupid haste is preferable to
If war cannot be avoided, it must be pursued and won. War's very
object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
You don't never go into a war half-assed, 'cause if you hang
around assholes, you're gonna get shit on!
War is disasterous for everyone, no matter who wins, but it is
always much worse for the losers.
There never was a good war or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin [letters to Sir Joseph Banks (27
July 1783) and Josiah Quincy (11 Sept 1783)]
They exalt peace after victory, which is like espousing rest
To the victors belong the spoils.
William Marcy [25 Jan 1832 U.S. Senate
Success in war, like charity in religion, covers a multitude of
Charles James Napier
Too much success is not wholly desirable; an occasional beating
is good for men – and nations.
Alfred Thayer Mahan [Life of Nelson
Should the Red hordes continue to pour across the Yalu [River
into Korea], it might not only render impossible the resumption
of our offensive, but conceivably could eventuate in a movement
Douglas "El Supremo" MacArthur [cf: "We took one
hell of a beating!" by Joseph W. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell after
reverses in the Burma campaign]
The more they take from you, the less vulnerable you are to them.
For authentic living, what is necessary is the resolute
confrontation of death.
A man's not finished when he's defeated; he's finished when he
Richard M. Nixon (18 July 1969)
We are confronted by insurmountable opportunities.
comment by Pogo, the cartoon possum drawn by Walt
If you have a bad strategy then no amount of good execution will
To secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the
opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy
himself. How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy's
own tactics -- that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]
Sometimes I wondered if problems are necessary to feel truly
alive — and if they don't come to us, we create them.
As had happened too often in the past, good intentions and a
desire for peace were useless against cold steel and people
willing to use it.
Harold Coyle (1987)
You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every
war they kill you in a new way.
William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers [New York
Times (23 Dec 1929)]
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.
George Bernard Shaw [The Devil act
3 Man and Superman (1905)]
Great warriors, like great earthquakes, are principally
remembered for the mischief they have done.
Christian Nestell Bovee
The gods of war take their toll without regard of race, creed,
color, religion, or national origin.
Accursed be he that first invented war.
Weapons are tools of violence; all decent men detest them.
Lao-Tzu [Tao Te Ching]
Instead of building newer and larger weapons of mass destruction,
I think mankind should try to get more use out of the ones we
It is the nation that has vision enough to seize a new weapon
before war has taught its need that will win.
William "Billy" Mitchell (1924)
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but
World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
No one won the last war, and no one will win the next.
Eleanor Roosevelt [5 Nov 1948 letter to Harry S.
The beginning of war is like the first days of peace: neither the
world nor our hearts know they are there.
Two days of war will teach the enemy more than two years of
negotiation ... but it's a terribly expensive lesson for both
sides, so if we don't prepare for this application with rigorous
study, then we forfeit our ability to be instructed by the best
lessons of history.
paraphrase of Fred Thompson
Any nation may make war at any time, but no nation can stop a war
at any time.
It is very important to the peace of the world that we understand
how wars begin. Unfortunately, most of our modern wars are too
big for the average person to even begin to understand. They take
place on five continents at once. One has to study geography for
twenty years just to locate the battlefields. They involve
hundreds of armies, thousands of officers, millions of soldiers,
and the weapons are so complicated that even the generals do not
understand how they work. The result is that we have been having
more and more wars simply because the whole procedure is so
complicated that peace-loving people give up trying to understand
what is going on.
Lyman Cumberley (1996)
The dove follows the hawk as surely as the vulture follows the
dove. A hawk is as much a harbinger of peace as it is of war, and
a dove as much a harbinger of scavengery as of peace.
As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower
beings, he will never know health or peace. For as long as men
massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows
the seeds of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.
In witnessing these hideous acts of brutality and destruction, he
was confirmed in his opinion that mankind was the product of
God's vilest process, and anyone who interfered in his inevitable
extermination from this earth was a fool.
paraphrase of Rafael Sabatini (1922)
The history of things that didn't happen has never been written.
Henry Alfred Kissinger
Do nothing without advice; and when thou hast once done, repent
Ecclesiasticus 32:19 Bible
Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galaitans 6:7 Bible
They have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.
Hosea 8:7 Bible
History teaches that whenever you are indifferent to
encroachment, and lose the will to resist aggression, then
someone else who has the will to power, the
fire in the belly, will take over what was yours
... he will dispossess you, despoil and dominate you, and make
you pray for the release of death! ... because nobody gets any
second chances to do it right.
paraphrase of Arthur D. "Bull" Simons
It is in the lovely lands where life is most difficult. The only
places where one may live in peace, so far as I know, are arid
desolations, where nothing grows and nothing is covetable.
Lloyd C. Douglas [The Robe (1942)]
How vast those Orbs must be, and how inconsiderable this Earth,
the Theatre upon which all our mighty Designs, all our
Navigations, and all our Wars are transacted, is when compared to
them. A very fit consideration, and matter of Reflection, for
those Kings and Princes who sacrifice the Lives of so many
People, only to flatter their Ambition in being Masters of some
pitiful corner of this small Spot.
Conceit, arrogance and egotism are the essentials of patriotism
.... Patriotism assumes that our globe is divided into little
spots, each one surrounded by an iron [fence, accessed by a
guarded] gate. Those who had the [good] fortune of being born on
some particular spot, consider themselves better, nobler,
grander, more intelligent than the living beings inhabiting any
other spot. It is, therefore, the duty of everyone living on that
chosen spot to fight, kill, and die in the attempt to impose his
superiority upon all others.
Humans are sufficiently conceited that we defend our integrity,
our integument, our identity, by setting our proud substance
apart from all other proud substances, and this ignoble act of
essential preservation, once a necessary protection, has become a
brutal hubris for which we should now be ashamed, not satisfied.
Better, they say, to sacrifice ourselves, rather than right the
wrongs ... better still, they aver, to have never been at all, so
as to have spared all the intermediate devastations. This would
be a better world without thee and thou, but only because of my
superior intellect, my cosmic sensitivity, my suicidal spirit,
they claim ... as they try to put me down with a will. I am not
perfect, but this contention was born of the Devil, is spreading
like a contagion across boundaries, and will only end with
extinction ... racial, global, or otherwise. Let the battles
reign. Peace awaits you in the grave.
Boundary: In political geography, an imaginary line between two
nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the
imaginary rights of the other.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce
There wouldn't be much to civilization without boundaries.
Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.
Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At
least they can find Afghanistan.
A. Whitney Brown
It was the scene of an earlier war, but of course, there are very
few places left that have not been battlefields.
Lyman Cumberley (1996)
Years of daily sorrow and bitter fighting vanished in an instant
when we first saw you smiling soldiers, you young fresh faced
liberators who'd come to our rescue. We can't tell you of the
deep gratitude that we feel. The tongue is such a helpless thing
when trying to express a heart drunken with happiness!
paraphrase of World War Two Luxembourg survivor
addressing American soldiers
You can't appreciate home till you've left it, money till it's
spent, your wife till she's joined a woman's club, nor Old Glory
till you see it hanging on a broomstick on the shanty of a consul
in a foreign town.
O. Henry [William Sydney Porter] ["The Fourth in
Salvador" Roads of Destiny, (1909)]
compiled by Ed Staff