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Verbal Shrapnel

a desiderative pastiche

The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a thousand meanings.
George Santayana (1920, 1956)

There is more truth in one sword than in ten-thousand words.
Islamic proverb

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 invalidates integrity.
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 economy.
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 September 2002]

... [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 attackers.
Don Coldsmith

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 account of.
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 attraction.
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
Adrienne Rich

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.
Henry Miller

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.
Abba Eban

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" (1852)]

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 League convention]

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.
Herman Melville

Only the history of free peoples is worth our attention; the history of men under a despotism is merely a collection of anecdotes.
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.
Bertrand Russell

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 great mercy.
Abraham Lincoln

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 their families.
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.
Pierre Corneille

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.
Russian proverb

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.
George Roemisch

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.
Martin Luther

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

Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.
preamble to United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) constitution (adopted 16 Nov 1945) [authorship attributed to both Clement Richard Attlee and to Archibald MacLeish]

More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars. Yes, an end to this brutal, inhuman and thoroughly impractical method of settling the differences between Governments. ... But the mere conquest of our enemies is not enough; we must go on to do all in our power to conquer the doubts and the fears, the ignorance and the greed, which made this [wartime] horror possible.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

A thousand men can be swayed by their prejudices faster and easier than one man can be persuaded by reason.
psychological warfare (PSYWAR/PSYOPS) postulate

The United States is not a nation to which peace is a necessity.
S. Grover Cleveland (7 Dec 1896)

... this nation made a pledge, and we renew that pledge tonight: Whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence in the affairs of men — free people will set the course of history.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union address (28 January 2003)]

The threat of force must remain. Force should always be a last resort. I have preached this for most of my professional life, as a soldier and as a diplomat, but it must be a resort.
Colin L. Powell [United Nations Security Council (14 Feb 2003)]

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union address (28 January 2003)]

History is Philosophy teaching by examples.

History should be written as philosophy.
François Marie Arouet de Voltaire

History: An account mostly false, of events mostly unimportant, which are brought about by rulers mostly knaves, and soldiers mostly fools.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Mythology: The body of a primitive people's beliefs concerning its origin, early history, heroes, deities and so forth, as distinguished from the true accounts which it invents later.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Those who weep for the happy periods which they encounter in history acknowledge what they want; not the alleviation but the silencing of misery.
Albert Camus [The Rebel (1951; tr 1953)]

What joy can the years bring half so sweet as the unhappiness they've taken away?
Logan Pearsall Smith

There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.
Harry S Truman

Academic wars are so interminably vicious precisely because they are so inherently meaningless.
anonymous scholar

There's no one more self-righteous than an irrelevant politician with a plausible excuse.

A warrior without doubt is a fool; but a determined and devoted politician is supposedly a champion ... even a fool can appear wise with hindsight!

Veterans fear that new soldiers won't understand war in time; and politicians fear that average citizens will understand war too soon.

I take it that what all men are really after is some form or perhaps only some formula of peace.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski]

Mankind has grown strong in eternal struggles and it will only perish through eternal peace.
Adolf Hitler

The pursuit of peace resembles the building of a great cathedral. It is the work of a generation. In concept it requires a master-architect; in execution, the labors of many.
Hubert H. Humphrey (17 Feb 1965)

It is an unfortunate fact that we can secure peace only by preparing for war.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (6 Sep 1960)

Peace hath her victories
No less renowned than War.
John Milton [To the Lord General Cromwell, May 1652]

War is pillage versus resistance and if illusions of magnitude could be transmuted into ideals of magnanimity, peace might be realized.
Marianne Moore (Apr 1929)

Man wants to live, but it is useless to hope that this desire will dictate all his actions.
Albert Camus [Resistance, Rebellion and Death (1961)]

To many men ... the miasma of peace seems more suffocating than the bracing air of war.
George Steiner

We grow with years more fragile in body, but morally stouter, and can throw off the chill of a bad conscience almost at once.
Logan Pearsall Smith

Conscience is but a word that cowards use, Devised at first to keep the strong in awe.
William Shakespeare [Richard III act 5 sc 6; King Richard before the Battle of Bosworth]

War is the province of chance.
Karl von Clausewitz

War is the province of danger, and therefore courage above all things is the first quality of a warrior.
Karl von Clausewitz

War is the province of physical exertion and suffering.
Karl von Clausewitz

The soldier is as proud of overcoming toil, as he is of surmounting danger.
Karl von Clausewitz

Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
F. Scott Fitzgerald

Men have always need of god! A god to defend them against other men.
Francis Picabia (19 Jan 1922)

As you know, God is generally on the side of the big squadrons against the small ones.
Comte De Bussy-Rabutin [16 Oct 1677 letter]

God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.
François Marie Arouet de Voltaire

Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee
And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me.
Robert Lee Frost

It cannot be insignificant that the word slaughter contains the word laughter!

How can one better magnify the Almighty than by sniggering with him at his little jokes, particularly the poorer ones.
Samuel Beckett [Happy Days (1961)]

To suggest that war can prevent war is a base play on words and a despicable form of warmongering. The objective of any who sincerely believe in peace clearly must [be] to exhaust every honorable recourse in the efforts to save the peace. The world has had ample evidence that war begets only conditions that beget further war.
Ralph Bunch

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children. The bond of our common humanity is stronger than the divisiveness of our fears and prejudices. God gives us a capacity for choice. We can choose to alleviate suffering. We can choose to work together for peace. We can make these changes. And we must.
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter [Nobel Peace Prize speech (Dec 2002)]

Many politicians of our time are in the habit of laying it down as a self-evident proposition that no people ought to be free till they are fit to use their freedom. The maxim is worthy of the fool in the old story who resolved not to go into the water until he had learnt to swim. If men are to wait for liberty till they become wise and good in slavery, they may indeed wait forever.
Thomas Babington Macaulay (Aug 1825)

Men fight wars the way they must ... not the way they like ... and having made their choice, but not their preferred one, the results are never desirable.

A treaty is just words on paper without men's hearts and hands to enforce it.

It is not the oath that makes us believe the man, but the man the oath.
Aeschylus [Frag 385]

Americans are willing to go to enormous trouble and expense defending their principles with arms, very little trouble and expense advocating them with words. Temperamentally we are ready to die for certain principles (or, in the case of overripe adults, send youngsters to die), but we show little inclination to advertise the reasons for dying.
E.B. White (23 Sep 1950)

The source of Pyrrhonism comes from failing to distinguish between a demonstration, a proof and a probability. A demonstration supposes that the contradictory idea is impossible; a proof of fact is where all the reasons lead to belief, without there being any pretext for doubt; a probability is where the reasons for belief are stronger than those for doubting.
Andrew Michael Ramsay

No matter how much you love your country, it won't love you back. No matter how much you believe in the military, it doesn't believe in you. Your duty is required and your loyalty is expected. If you scorn these traditions, you'll be branded as dishonorable. It is a difficult and thankless, and sometimes perilous, commitment fitted only for a few hard and dangerous men. Any who answer the urgent call of drums, and march toward the sound of distant guns, must be willing to die unsung, unwept, and unknown.
soldier's lament

The American flag stands for more than our power and our interests. Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union address (28 January 2003)]

You may either win your peace or buy it: win it, by resistance to evil; buy it, by compromise with evil.
John Ruskin (1859)

In those [crucial] hours, the success of our cause will depend on you [members of the American Armed Forces]. Your training has prepared you. Your honor will guide you. You believe in America, and America believes in you. Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a President can make. The technologies of war have changed; the risks and suffering of war have not. For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow. This nation fights reluctantly, because we know the cost and we dread the days of mourning that always come. We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all. If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means — sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military — and we will prevail.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union address (28 January 2003)]

There are no civilians in Japan. We are making war; and making it in the all-out fashion that saves American lives, shortens the agony which war is, and seeks to bring about an enduring peace. We intend to seek-out and destroy the enemy wherever he or she is; in the greatest possible numbers, in the shortest possible time.
5th U.S. Army Air Force intelligence statement (WWII)

All war represents a failure of diplomacy.
Tony Benn [28 Feb 1991 Gulf War speech to House of Commons]

War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of politics by other means.
Karl von Clausewitz [On War Preface (1832)]

War is an instrument of national policy. Victory in war is not measured by casualties inflicted, battles won or lost, or territory occupied; but whether or not political objectives were achieved.
U.S. Air Force doctrine, document one (Sep 1997)

Americans are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves. America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers. Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union address (28 January 2003)]

I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument.
Thomas Jefferson [1 Jun 1798 letter to John Taylor]

The first inclination of the uncertain is to accept that which seems easy.
Richard Henry Lee (1775)

There can be a true grandeur in any degree of submissiveness, because it springs from loyalty to the laws and to an oath, and not from baseness of soul.
Simone Weil

He was afraid he sounded too nostalgic. How could you long for horror? He was nostalgic for the way some men behaved facing horror, but that was impossible to explain at a restaurant table, or anywhere for that matter.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, [The Nautical Chart (2001)]

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things ....
John Stuart Mill

War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity.
Theodore Roosevelt

Although war is evil, it is occasionally the lesser of two evils.
McGeorge Bundy

It really seems to be the lesser evil. It sounds like a horrible thing, but I would rather have his [Saddam Hussein] people suffer in an invasion than seeing some kind of biological weapon or even nuclear go off in the middle of London six months from now.
Donald Rumsfeld

The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
Deuteronomy 32:25 Bible

The price of doing nothing exceeds the price of taking action, if we have to. We'll do everything we can to minimize the loss of life. The price of the attacks on America, the cost of the attacks on America on September the 11th were enormous. They were significant.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Patrick Henry

How much is freedom worth? How valuable is liberty? How much does patriotism cost? What would you pay for your homeland? What price can be placed on your family? How costly are essential defenses? How expensive is blood? How valuable is life?

The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.
Theodore Roosevelt

Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.
Robert Goodloe Harper [Congressional dinner toast for John Marshall (18 June 1798); often attributed to Charles C. Pinckney, who purportedly said "Not a penny! Not a penny!" or possibly "No, no, not a six-pence." during the 1797 XYZ Affair.]

Those who set out to serve both God and Mammon soon discover that there isn't a God.
Logan Pearsall Smith

Cash-payment never was, or could except for a few years be, the union-bond of man to man. Cash never yet paid one man fully his deserts to another; nor could it, nor can it, now or henceforth to the end of the world.
Thomas Carlyle

Dollars! All their cares, hopes, joys, affections, virtues, and associations seemed to be melted down into dollars. Whatever the chance contributions that fell into the slow cauldron of their talk, they made the gruel thick and slab with dollars. Men were weighed by their dollars, measures were gauged by their dollars; life was auctioneered, appraised, put up, and knocked down for its dollars. The next respectable thing to dollars was any venture having their attainment for its end. The more of that worthless ballast, honour and fair-dealing, which any man cast overboard from the ship of his Good Nature and Good Intent, the more ample stowage-room he had for dollars. Make commerce one huge lie and mighty theft. Deface the banner of the nation for an idle rag; pollute it star by star; and cut out stripe by stripe as from the arm of a degraded soldier. Do anything for dollars! What is a flag to them!
Charles Dickens

That doctrine [of "peace at any price"] has done more mischief than any I can well recall that have been afloat in this country. It has occasioned more wars than any of the most ruthless conquerors. It has disturbed and nearly destroyed that political equilibrium so necessary to the liberties and the welfare of the world.
Benjamin Disraeli

In the battle between corporate capitalism and utopian communism, the dominant force is not labor but innovation, the prevailing weapons are not votes but dollars, the implacable defenses are not laws but achievements. Might may not be right, but there can be no argument with success.

Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
Abraham Lincoln

The hour is late. I will not go on. I only ask you to consider that waging war is a simple act. It requires no great intelligence, no great abilities other than assembling a means of killing your enemy. It appalls me. Can we not make one more effort? There is time enough for chaos; can we not attempt reason?
John Dickinson [address to Continental Congress (July 1775)]

Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts — ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides.
George Walker Bush [UN Gen Assembly (12 Sep 2002)]

If the world fails to confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force, even as a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.
Colin Powell [response to query by George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury at Jan 2003 presentation to World Economic Forum in Switzerland] [nb: an apocryphal quote on "empire building" allegedly from a Feb 2003 MTV interview, in which Powell purportedly said: `Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector ... the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.' or `The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.', is another e-hoax]

Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

By the end of the war, German and Japanese leaders began the loser's lament: "We were beaten by more materiel; not good soldiers nor the highest quality weapons". But the war's outcome proved that Allied weapons were "good enough"; and men, not robots, made them work in battle.
Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett [A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War 2000]

Nobody likes war. The only thing I can do is assure the loved ones of those who wear our uniform that if we have to go to war, if war is upon us because Saddam Hussein has made that choice, we will have the best equipment available for our troops, the best plan available for victory, and we will respect innocent life in Iraq. The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow — that inaction will make the world safer, is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade. These are the actions of a regime that systematically and deliberately is defying the world. If the Iraqi regime were disarming, we would know it, because we would see it. Iraq's weapons would be presented to inspectors, and the world would witness their destruction. Instead, with the world demanding disarmament, and more than 200,000 troops positioned near his country, Saddam Hussein's response is to produce a few weapons for show, while he hides the rest and builds even more. Inspection teams do not need more time, or more personnel. All they need is what they have never received — the full cooperation of the Iraqi regime. Token gestures are not acceptable. The only acceptable outcome is the one already defined by a unanimous vote of the Security Council — total disarmament.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder.
George Walker Bush [UN Gen Assembly (12 Sep 2002)]

Unfortunately there are innocent casualties in every war, it's inevitable. It's a horrible thing, but war is a horrible thing.
Donald Rumsfeld

Military power was [formerly] used to end a regime by breaking a nation. Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

None knows better than the military leaders themselves the dangers of war, consequently they are usually the last to advocate it.
Wesley K. Clark

The character of our military through history — the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies — is fully present in this generation. When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength and kindness and goodwill. When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I'm honored to be your Commander-in-Chief.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others. All of you — all in this generation of our military — have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

My political enemies I can freely forgive; but as for who abused me when I was serving my country in the field, and those who attacked me for serving my country ... Doctor, that is a different case.
Andrew Jackson [letter to Rev. Dr. John Todd Edgar]

You people need to get out of Hollywood once in a while and get out into the real world. You'd be surprised at the hostility you would find out here. Stop in at a truck stop and tell an overworked, long-distance truck driver that you don't think Saddam Hussein is doing anything wrong. Tell a farmer with a couple of sons in the military that you think the United States has no right to defend itself. ... You people are some of the most disgusting examples of a waste of protoplasm I've ever had the displeasure to hear about. ... You scoff at our military who's[sic] boots you're not even worthy to shine. They go to battle and risk their lives so ingrates like you can live in luxury. ... God Bless America!
Charlie Daniels [Open Letter to Hollywood]

Honestly, the real trouble is ... a gang which unfortunately survives — made up mostly of those who were isolationists before December seventh and who are actuated today by various motives in their effort to instill disunity in the country .... The best comment I have heard was by Elmer Davis ... "Some people want the United States to win so long as England loses. Some people want the United States to win so long as Russia loses. Some people want the United States to win so long as Roosevelt loses."
Franklin D. Roosevelt [16 Mar 1942 letter to Russell Leffingwell]

In charity to all mankind, bearing no malice or ill-will to any human being, and even compassionating those who hold in bondage their fellow-men, not knowing what they do.
John Quincy Adams [30 July 1838 letter to A. Bronson]

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Abraham Lincoln [Second Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1865)]

I say unto you, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
Matthew 5:44 (Sermon on the Mount) Bible

Love thine enemies.
Matthew 5:44 (Sermon on the Mount) Bible

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
attributed to John Fitzgerald Kennedy [also ascribed to Robert Francis Kennedy]

Forgive your enemies, but first get even.
Lester Cole, Nathaniel Curtis, and Frank Lloyd [comment in film, Blood on the Sun, referring to U.S. response to WWII Japanese aggression (1945)]

Forgive your enemies, after they've been hanged.

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills]

Now it is known by experience, that the losses in physical forces in the course of a battle seldom present a great difference between victor and vanquished respectively, often none at all, sometimes even one bearing an inverse relation to the result, and that the most decisive losses on the side of the vanquished only commence with the retreat, that is, those which the conqueror does not share with him.
Karl von Clausewitz

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him.
Proverbs 24:17-18 RSV Bible

Don't cheer, men; the poor devils are dying.
John Woodward Philip [3 July 1898 battle of Santiago]

The war is over — the rebels are our countrymen again.
Ulysses S. Grant [silencing cheers at surrender on 9 April 1865 in Appomattox]

See you in Hell, brother.
common valediction between Civil War combatants

Both [North and South] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
Abraham Lincoln [second inaugural address (1865)]

One God, one people, two dreams.
anonymous summation of Civil War dispute

Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.
Lord Brougham [29 Jan 1828 speech to the House of Commons]

Fanatics are picturesque, mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1888)

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
George Santayana

I have often thought that if a rational Fascist dictatorship were to exist, then it would choose the American system.
Noam Chomsky

If fascism came to America, it would be on a program of Americanism.
Huey P. Long

I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.
Jim Garrison

I'm not a pacifist. I understand why the Vietnamese are fighting ... against a White Man's racist aggression. We know what U.S. imperialism has done to our country so we know what lies in store for any third world country that could have the misfortune of falling into the hands of a country such as the United States and becoming a colony.
Jane Fonda (1972)

We'll help that [Iraqi] nation to build a just government, after decades of brutal dictatorship. The form and leadership of that government is for the Iraqi people to choose. Anything they choose will be better than the misery and torture and murder they have known under Saddam Hussein.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn't stand on the doorstep with toothbrush moustache and swastika armband — it creeps up insidiously ... step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realises that it is gone.
Baron Lane, Lord Chief Justice of England (3 Feb 1990)

The Taliban [illegitimate, unelected terrorists] are responsible for civilian casualties too, even when American munitions cause the damage. The Taliban use Afghan civilians as human shields when they hide in mosques and residential areas. When the Taliban report instances of civilian casualties, they indict themselves.
Donald Rumsfeld

No people was ever held in subjection long except through their own consent.
Robert A. Heinlein

Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

It was downright therapeutic for action to take your mind off your problems. And for atavistic impulses from days when a person had to choose between death and survival to claim their place in the game of life. Maybe that's why the world was the way it was today, he reflected. Men had stopped fighting because it was frowned on, and that was making everyone crazy.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, [The Nautical Chart (2001)]

Non-Combatant: A dead Quaker.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

First we kill all the subversives; then, their collaborators; later, those who sympathize with them; afterward, those who remain indifferent; and finally, the undecided.
Iberico Saint Jean [Argentinian soldier politician (May 1985)]

Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.
Simone Weil

By strength shall no man prevail.
I Samuel 2:9 Bible

Wisdom is better than strength.
Ecclesiastes 9:16 Bible

Wisdom is better than weapons of war.
Ecclesiastes 9:18 Bible

In much wisdom is much grief.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 Bible

My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them nor indisposed me to serve them; nor, in spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present aspect of affairs, do I despair of the future. The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.
Robert E. Lee, General CSA [in a letter to Charles Marshall, Lieutenant Colonel CSA, grandson of US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall]

Know your enemy.
military maxim

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.
Sun-Tzu [ch 3 ax 18 The Art of War (ca490BC)]

Wherever the enemy goes, let our troops go also.
Ulysses S. Grant [1 Aug 1864 dispatch]

The enemy of my friend is my enemy; and the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
ancient proverb

He [the war horse] paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.
Job 39:21-22 Bible

He [the war horse] saith among the trumpets, Ha ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
Job 39:25 Bible

A good experience is a mistake you made that you survived; but a bad experience is a mistake you made that someone else was unable to survive.
modern adage

Life always administers the test before it teaches the lesson.
modern adage

An adventure is something you return home to tell about. If you don't make it back, it's just an exotic funeral.
Louis L'Amour

A warrior who does not conform to military discipline nor comply with social conventions is not a soldier ... such an armed outlaw is either an adventurer or a psychopath.

We are not naïve enough to ask for pure men; we ask merely for men whose impurity does not conflict with the obligations of their job.
Jean Rostand

Not all the water in the rough rude sea
Can wash the balm off from an anointed king;
The breath of worldly men cannot depose
The deputy elected by the Lord.
William Shakespeare [act 3 sc 2 ln 54-7 Richard II]

Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.
Samuel Johnson (10 April 1776)

[Veterans] feel disappointed, not about the 1914-1918 war but about this [WWII] war. They liked that war, it was a nice war, a real war, a regular war, a commenced war and an ended war. It was a war, and veterans like a war to be a war. They do.
Gertrude Stein [Wars I Have Seen (1945)]

An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.
Mao Tse-Tung / Mao Zedong ["The United Front in Cultural Work" (30 Oct 1944)]

To believe that you can live free of your cultural matrix is one of the easiest fallacies, and has some of the worst consequences. You are part of your group, whether you like it or not; and you are bound by its customs.
Robert A. Heinlein [Beyond This Horizon (1942, 1948)]

I wanted to apologize [to you, the younger generation] for my generation's failure to instill in you the values that our parents instilled in us. In our rush to give you the material goods we never had, we forgot to give you the values we did possess.
William Raspberry

It is open to a war resister to judge between the combatants and wish success to the one who has justice on his side. By so judging he is more likely to bring peace between the two than by remaining a mere spectator.
Mohandas K. Gandhi [ch 241 vol 1 Non-Violence in Peace and War (1942)]

Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?
Numbers 32:6 Bible

I know when I meet those men of my generation who did serve in Vietnam, I automatically feel less worthy than they are; yes, less of a man, if you want to use that phrase. Those of us who did not have to go to Vietnam may have felt, at the time, that we were getting away with something; may have felt, at the time, that we were the recipients of a particular piece of luck that had value beyond price. But now, I think, we realize that by not having had to go we lost forever the chance to learn certain things about ourselves that only men who have been in war together will ever truly know.
Bob Greene ["The I-missed-Vietnam Guilt"]

There are situations in life to which the only satisfactory response is a physically violent one. If you don't make that response, you continually relive the unresolved situation over and over in your life.
Russell Hoban

Twenty years too late, America has discovered its Vietnam veterans. Well intentioned souls now offer me their sympathy and tell me how horrible it must have been. The fact is, it was fun. Granted I was lucky enough to come back in one piece. And granted that I was young, dumb, and wilder than a buck Indian. And granted I may be looking back through rose colored glasses. But it was great fun. It was so great I even went back for a second helping. Think about it. Where else could you divide your time between hunting the ultimate big game and partying at the ville? Where else could you sit on the side of a hill and watch an air strike destroy a regimental base camp? Sure there were tough times, and there were sad times, but Vietnam is the benchmark of all my experiences. The remainder of my life has been spent hanging around the military trying to recapture some of that old time feeling. In combat I was a respected man among men. I lived on life's edge, and did the most manly thing in the world: I was a warrior in war. The only person you can discuss these things with is another veteran. Only someone who has seen combat can understand the deep fraternity of the brotherhood of war. Only a veteran can know about the thrill of the kill, and the terrible bitterness of losing a friend who is closer to you than your own family.
R.B. Anderson [Parting Shot, Vietnam was Fun? (Nov 1988)]

Contempt: The feeling of a prudent man for an enemy who is too formidable to safely be opposed.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

They can kill us, but they can't eat us. That's against the law!
Gil Doud and Jesse Hibbs [1955 film version of To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy]

To me it seems that the consummation which has overtaken these men shows us the meaning of manliness in its first revelation and in its final proof. Some of them, no doubt, had their faults; but what we ought to remember first is their gallant conduct against the enemy in defense of their native land. They have blotted out evil with good, and done more service to the commonwealth than they ever did harm in their private lives. No one of these men weakened because he wanted to go on enjoying his wealth; no one put off the awful day in the hope that he might live to escape his poverty and grow rich .... In the fighting, they thought it more honorable to stand their ground and suffer death than to give in and save their lives. So they fled from the reproaches of men, abiding with life and limb the brunt of battle; and in a small moment of time, the climax of their lives, a culmination of glory, not of fear, were swept away from us.
Pericles [funeral oration memorializing the Athenian dead in the Peloponnesian War recorded by Thucydides]

Naïve is a word that people who don't care about things use to describe people who do.
Ethan Black [All the Dead Were Strangers]

The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.
Calvin Coolidge [27 July 1920 speech]

The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional as to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.
George Washington

To travel by water without fear of sea-serpents and dragons, — this is the courage of the fisherman. To travel by land without fear of the wild buffaloes and tigers, — this is the courage of hunters. When bright blades cross, to look on death as on life, — this is the courage of the warrior. To know that failure is fate and that success is opportunity, and to remain fearless in times of great danger, — this is the courage of the Sage.

He who would assist a lord of men in harmony with the Tao will not assert his mastery in the kingdom by force of arms. Such a course is sure to meet with its proper return. Wherever a host is stationed, briars and thorns spring up. In the sequence of great armies there are sure to be bad years. A skilful (commander) strikes a decisive blow, and stops. He does not dare (by continuing his operations) to assert and complete his mastery. He will strike the blow, but will be on his guard against being vain or boastful or arrogant in consequence of it. He strikes it as a matter of necessity; he strikes it, but not from a wish for mastery. When things have attained their strong maturity they become old. This may be said to be not in accordance with the Tao: and what is not in accordance with it soon comes to an end.
Lao-Tzu ["Tao Te Ching" #30]

... it is a maxim in general not to suffer ourselves to be dictated to by the enemy.
Karl von Clausewitz

We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.
Nathanael Greene [April 1781 letter after the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill]

Oppression that is clearly inexorable and invincible does not give rise to revolt but to submission.
Simone Weil

Will power is only the tensile strength of one's own disposition. One cannot increase it by a single ounce.
Cesare Pavese [15 Jan 1938 entry The Burning Brand: Diaries 1935-1950 (1952; tr 1961)]

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God's service, when it is violating all His laws.
John Adams [2 Feb 1816 letter to Thomas Jefferson]

The war against Vietnam is only the ghastliest manifestation of what I'd call imperial provincialism, which afflicts America's whole culture — aware only of its own history, insensible to everything which isn't part of the local atmosphere.
Stephen Vizinczey ["Condemned World, Literary Kingdom" (21 Sep 1968) in Truth and Lies in Literature (1986)]

If we ever pass out as a great nation, we ought to put on our tombstone, 'America died of the delusion that she had moral leadership'.
Will Rogers

Where the people possess no authority, their rights obtain no respect.
George Bancroft (1834)

Power intoxicates men. It is never voluntarily surrendered. It must be taken from them.
James F. Byrnes (1956)

Nature in darkness groans
And men are bound to sullen contemplation in the night:
Restless they turn on beds of sorrow; in their inmost brain
Feeling the crushing wheels, they rise, they write the bitter words
Of stern philosophy & knead the bread of knowledge with tears & groans.
William Blake

Throw away thy rod,
Throw away thy wrath;
O my God,
Take the gentle path.
George Herbert

Now arms, however beautiful, are instruments of evil omen, hateful, it may be said, to all creatures. Therefore they who have the Tao do not like to employ them. The superior man ordinarily considers the left hand the most honourable place, but in time of war the right hand. Those sharp weapons are instruments of evil omen, and not the instruments of the superior man; — he uses them only on the compulsion of necessity. Calm and repose are what he prizes; victory (by force of arms) is to him undesirable. To consider this desirable would be to delight in the slaughter of men; and he who delights in the slaughter of men cannot get his will in the kingdom. On occasions of festivity to be on the left hand is the prized position; on occasions of mourning, the right hand. The second in command of the army has his place on the left; the general commanding in chief has his on the right; — his place, that is, is assigned to him as in the rites of mourning. He who has killed multitudes of men should weep for them with the bitterest grief; and the victor in battle has his place (rightly) according to those rites.
Lao-Tzu ["Tao Te Ching" #31]

Tyranny destroys or strengthens the individual; freedom enervates him, until he becomes no more than a puppet. Man has more chances of saving himself by hell than by paradise.
E.M. Cioran ["On the Verge of Existence" Anathemas and Admirations (1986)]

For verily I say unto you, that whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
Mark 11:23 Bible [and Matthew 21:21 Bible]

Our war against terror is proceeding according to principles that I have made clear to all: Any person involved in committing or planning terrorist attacks against the American people becomes an enemy of this country, and a target of American justice. Any person, organization, or government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and equally guilty of terrorist crimes. Any outlaw regime that has ties to terrorist groups and seeks or possesses weapons of mass destruction is a grave danger to the civilized world — and will be confronted. And anyone in the world, including the Arab world, who works and sacrifices for freedom has a loyal friend in the United States of America.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net. Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what they desire — they all conspire together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion. Do not trust a neighbor; put no confidence in a friend. Even with her who lies in your embrace be careful of your words. For a son dishonors his father, a daughter rises up against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man's enemies are the members of his own household.
Micah 7:2-6 NIV Bible

The real trouble with war (modern war) is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people.
Ezra Loomis Pound

The bloodthirsty hate the upright.
Proverbs 29:10 Bible

Preserve me from violent men, Who plan evil things in their heart, and stir up wars continually.
Psalms 140:1-2 RSV Bible

When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.
Proverbs 16:7 Bible

I think it runs much deeper than mere anger. I think when loneliness and fear drive a person too deep inside himself, faith shrivels into hopelessness. I think when tenderness diminishes and bitterness intensifies, rancor becomes a very sacred thing. And I think when the need for some form of meaningful human contact becomes an affliction, a soul can be tainted with madness, and allow violence to rage forth as the only means of genuine relief. A final grotesque expression of alienation that evokes "feeling something" in the most immediate and brutal form. The ghosts of my birth seem to agree with that. You read the account of the Utica killings in the paper, and then move quickly on to news about a train wreck in Iran, or a flood in Brazil, or riots in India, or the NASDAQ figures for the week, and unless you're from the town of Utica or in some way knew one of the victims of the man who killed them, you forget all about it; because you can't understand how a person, a normal enough person, a person like you and me, could do such a horrible thing. But he did; and others like him will; and all you can hope for is not to be one of the victims. You pray you will be safe.
Gary A. Braunbeck ["Safe" (1999)]

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.
Viktor E. Frankl

Nothing can save us that is possible.
W.H. Auden ["For the Time Being"]

We live mainly by forms and patterns ... if the forms are bad, we live badly.
Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Never enter a war unless the exit is already known ... preventing defeat is not equivalent to achieving victory.
military maxim

If you can't call it 'war', then you can't call its result 'victory' ... even though it was.
Wesley K. Clark [re: Bosnia (2000)]

In war there is no substitute for victory.
Douglas MacArthur [19 Apr 1951 speech to Congress]

Your system is not the only option the military has open to it; but it's the only one that will work. I am the military, General. The time of the uniformed thug is over. Now they're only useful for posturing in front of cameras, or as pawns to be sacrificed while people like me fight the real war. How could you ever possibly understand what it is to be a soldier? Ah, the honor and dignity of war. The courage it takes to fire missiles at helpless villagers. The inestimable bravery it takes to bomb technologically backward countries from the stratosphere. How many children have you set on fire, Colonel? And how did it make you feel to kill thousands with the touch of a button? ... the stroke of a pen? Did it make you feel like God?
Kyle Mills ["Burn Factor" (2001)]

I pondered all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.
William Morris [ch 4 A Dream of John Ball (1888); a religious leader of Wat Tyler's 1381 "Peasants' Revolt"]

If The Cause is tainted by doubt, the resulting hesitation may cause defeat; but if the military sacrifices that enabled victory are discovered to be protecting a Big Lie, then the mighty force may just continue fighting until there is nothing left.

Never in the history of warfare have so many made so much for such destructive purposes.
Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett [A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War (2000)]

How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.
Karl Kraus (1918)

Historian — An unsuccessful novelist.
H.L. Mencken [A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)]

History repeats itself. Historians repeat each other.
Philip Guedalla

History is the hidden battleground of present day politics, and there is ever increasing pressure [for distortion] on the concepts of historical truth and historical fact.
Romila Thapar

Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them, let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them rest in obscurity and peace! Let my memory be left in oblivion, my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times and other men can do justice to my character.
Robert Emmet [19 Sep 1803 speech from the dock on the eve of his execution]

Anybody can make history. Only a great man can write it.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills; "The Critic as Artist" Intentions, (1891)]

I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.
Psalms 120:7 Bible

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.
Winston L.S. Churchill

What we call heroism is that determined endurance for one moment more than our enemy.
Caucasian proverb

The high sentiments always win in the end, the leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

There is no home here. There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it, and you will be happy.
Christopher Isherwood

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of war, where every man is enemy to every man, the same consequent to the time wherein men live without other security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them withal.
Thomas Hobbes

Security is like liberty in that many are the crimes that are committed in its name.
Robert H. Jackson [dissent in U.S. v Shaughnessy (1950)]

The bourgeois treasures nothing more highly than the self ... And so at the cost of intensity he achieves his own preservation and security. His harvest is a quiet mind which he prefers to being possessed by God, as he prefers comfort to pleasure, convenience to liberty, and a pleasant temperature to that deathly inner consuming fire.
Hermann Hesse

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
Frederick Douglass [April 1886 speech]

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin [11 Nov 1755 speech]

He that's secure is not safe.
Benjamin Franklin [Poor Richard's Almanack (Aug 1748)]

The man who looks for security, even in the mind, is like a man who would chop off his limbs in order to have artificial ones which will give him no pain or trouble.
Henry Miller

A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself.
John Stuart Mill

Men are afraid to rock the boat in which they hope to drift safely through life's currents, when, actually, the boat is stuck on a sandbar. They would be better off to rock the boat and try to shake it loose, or, better still, jump in the water and swim for the shore.
Thomas Szasz

There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honor, beneath which are shielded and defended a people's safety and greatness.
Stephen Grover Cleveland

A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
Second Amendment, U.S. Constitution

Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills] ["The Soul of Man Under Socialism" in Fortnightly Review (Feb 1891)]

A man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one.
Henry David Thoreau

I against my brother
I and my brother against our cousin
I, my brother and our cousin against the neighbors
All of us against the foreigner.
Bedouin proverb

An enemy spared is an enemy that might have to be faced again some other day.
Elmer Kelton (1999)

All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know.
Romans 3:12-17 NIV Bible

You cannot teach people hate and then ask them to practice peace. But neither can you teach people peace except by according them dignity and granting them hope.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

Wars are not caused by persons wishing to kill each other. They are caused by ridiculous rivalries promoted by unscrupulous and ambitious politicians. Killing is merely the means by which they are carried on and, in due course, completed. You confuse cause and effect.
Gwyn Griffin (1967)

And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
Exodus 21:23-25 Bible

You have heard that it was said, `An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well ....
Matthew 5:38-40 Bible

Recompense to no man evil for evil.
Romans 12:17 Bible

Reparation: Satisfaction that is made for a wrong and deducted from the satisfaction felt in committing it.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Longanimity: The disposition to endure injury with meek forbearance while maturing a plan of revenge.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness!
Isaiah 5:20 Bible

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me.
Romans 7:21 NIV Bible

By the victims they choose, and by the means they use, the terrorists have clarified the struggle we are in. Those who target relief workers for death have set themselves against all humanity. Those who incite murder and celebrate suicide reveal their contempt for life, itself. They have no place in any religious faith; they have no claim on the world's sympathy; and they should have no friend in this chamber.
george Walker Bush [23 Sep 2003 UN Gen Assembly address]

There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary; or so misunderstood; or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day. We were all reared on battles between great warriors, between great nations, between powerful forces and ideologies that dominated entire continents. These were struggles for conquest, for land or money. The wars were fought by massed armies. The leaders were openly acknowledged: the outcomes decisive.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

For if the truth of God through my lie hath abounded more unto His glory, why am I also yet judged as a sinner? And why not say rather (as we are slanderously reported, and as some affirm that we say), "Let us do evil, that good may come"? Their damnation is just!
Romans 3:7-8 21KJV Bible

Yet even in all our might, we are taught humility. In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns but our beliefs.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

But there will be terrorists, and they want to fight us. Remember this is — Iraq is a battle in the war on terror. The war on terror is being fought on many fronts, and some of them obviously [are] more visible than others. ... The war on terror encompasses more than just military action, of course, or the use of special force strike teams. Cutting off money is an important part in the war on terror. ... it's very important for people to put this — Iraq in a broader context about a war that will continue on.
George Walker Bush [15 Dec 2003 press conference]

All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys, the champions and enthusiasts of the state.
Herman Melville

We must be eager to kill, to inflict on the enemy — the hated enemy — wounds, death, and destruction.
George Smith Patton Jr

War is cruelty. There's no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.
William Tecumseh Sherman

Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.
Ernest Miller Hemingway

Our wars have taken from us some of our finest citizens, and every hour of the lifetimes they hoped to live. And the courage of our military has given us every hour we live in freedom.
George Walker Bush [11 Nov 2003 address to Heritage Fdn]

Regardless of how persistent our diplomacy may be in activities stretching all around the globe, in the final analysis it rests upon the power of the United States, and that power rests upon the will and courage of our citizens, and upon you [soldiers] in this field [at a military post].
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (1962)

People don't start wars, governments do.
Ronald Wilson Reagan

Army: A body of men assembled to rectify the mistakes of the diplomats.
Josephus Daniels

Diplomats are just as essential in starting a war as soldiers are in finishing it.
W.P.A. "Will" Rogers

The foolish race of mankind
Are swarming below in the night;
They shriek and rage and quarrel —
And all of them are right,
Heinrich Heine (1844)

There is always inequity in life. Some men are killed in war and some men are wounded, and some men are stationed in the Antarctic and some are stationed in San Francisco. It's very hard in military or personal life to assure complete equality. Life is unfair.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy [21 Mar 1962 comment to Reservists anxious to be released from Active Duty]

WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS DETERMINED to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war ... and to ensure, by the acceptance of principles and the institution of methods, that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest....
Preamble, United Nations Charter (1945)

The founders [of the United Nations] sought to replace a world at war with a world of civilized order. They hoped that a world of relentless conflict would give way to a new era, one where freedom from violence prevailed. But the awful truth is that the use of violence for political gain has become more, not less, widespread in the last decade.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (26 Sep 1983 address to UN General Assembly)

If you wish to change the world, the place to begin is with your own hands, your own heart and your own mind.
Robert Pirsig [Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance]

To reform a world, to reform a nation, no wise man will undertake; and all but foolish men know, that the only solid, though a far slower reformation, is what each begins and perfects on himself.
Thomas Carlyle [Signs of the Times (1829)]

The amelioration of the world cannot be achieved by sacrifices in moments of crisis; it depends on the efforts made and constantly repeated during the humdrum, uninspiring periods, which separate one crisis from another, and of which normal lives mainly consist.
Aldous Leonard Huxley [ch 10 Grey Eminence (1941)]

Every reform, however necessary, will by weak minds be carried to an excess, which will itself need reforming.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge [ch 1 Biographia Literaria (1817)]

If we are wrong, we will have destroyed a [terrorist] threat that, at its least is responsible for inhuman carnage and suffering. That is something I am confident history will forgive. But if our critics are wrong, if we are right as I believe with every fibre of instinct and conviction I have that we are, and we do not act, then we will have hesitated in face of this menace, when we should have given leadership. That is something history will not forgive.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

No free nation can be neutral in the fight between civilization and chaos.
Colin Powell (13 Sep 2003)

And this is a brutal dictator. He's a person who killed a lot of people. But my views, my personal views aren't important in this matter. What matters is the views of the Iraqi citizens. And we need to work, of course, with them to develop a system that is fair and where he will be put on trial and will be brought to justice — the justice he didn't, by the way, afford any of his own fellow citizens.
George Walker Bush [15 Dec 2003 press conference]

Men must be capable of imagining and executing and insisting on social change if they are to reform or even maintain civilization, and capable too of furnishing the rebellion which is sometimes necessary if society is not to perish of immobility.
Rebecca West [pt 4 The Meaning of Treason (1949)]

We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
Stephen Vincent Benet

The most terrible fight is not when there is one opinion against another, the most terrible is when two men say the same thing — and fight about the interpretation, and this interpretation involves a difference of quality.
Søren A. Kierkegaard (1850)

No one is to blame. It is neither their fault nor ours. It is the misfortune of being born when a whole world is dying.
Aleksandr Ivanovich Herzen [From the Other Shore (1849)]

There is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your only music.
John Keats [1818 letter]

That which makes someone a good poet also makes them a poor soldier; but if the good soldier can survive his terrible education, then he will have also learned how to be a good poet or parent or priest.

There's something simple about it — like the Golden Rule. If you want boys to be decent, if you care about helping them grow up to be good men, why just get them out into the open, take them on hikes, teach them to tie knots, to make fire with flint and steel, to believe that the Kingdom of Heaven is not a bull stock market, but a khaki uniform that a boy wins by proving he has accepted the ludicrous belief that it is admirable to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Silly, of course.
Jerome Weidman ["Good Man, Bad Man" The Saturday Evening Post (1 Jul 1967)]

I have not changed my philosophy of how a President ought to act during wartime, which is to set the strategy, lay out the goals and empower the military people — both civilian and uniform — to make the decisions necessary to achieve the objective. And they will make those recommendations about troop levels and what is necessary.
George Walker Bush [15 Dec 2003 press conference]

We all felt that the men about us were making history, and that we were looking at heroes, if we could only find them out.
M.E.W. Sherwood [ch 5 An Epistle to Posterity (re: 1862; 1897)]

Whatever we had missed, we possessed together the precious, incommunicable past.
Willa Cather [My Antonia (1918)]

History changes with each successive generation.
Russian addage

We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.
Frederick Douglass

It has become fashionable in our modern, more cynical time to reexamine our history, to throw a supposedly new light on those who are famous for their accomplishments, to instead expose their faults, to topple the statue of the hero, to replace the honor and respect with the sensational and the shameful, as though it were the only meaningful way these [historical] characters can be relevant to today's world. I most adamantly disagree. That we know so much about these characters today is a testament to their accomplishments, their extraordinary achievements, and, yes, their astounding heroism. That they can so easily become targets is a testament to their humanity.
Jeffrey M. Shaara [Rise to Rebellion, a Novel of the American Revolutionary War (Oct 2000)]

Down these mean streets must go a man who is not himself mean; who is neither tarnished nor afraid. ...He must be the best man in his world, and a good enough man for any world.
Raymond Thornton Chandler [The Simple Art of Murder (1950)]

All the wrong people remember Vietnam. I think all the people who remember it should forget it, and all the people who forgot it should remember it.
Michael Herr (15 Jan 1989)

In the end, Vietnam was lost on the political front in the United States; not on the battle front in Southeast Asia.
Richard Milhous Nixon [No More Vietnams (1985)]

All gave some — some gave all!
lyrical phrase popular after Vietnam War

Above all, Vietnam was a war that asked everything of a few and nothing of most in America.
Myra MacPherson [Long Time Passing: Vietnam and the Haunted Generation (1984)]

No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is misremembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.
Richard Milhous Nixon [No More Vietnams (1985)]

Some of the critics viewed Vietnam as a morality play in which the wicked must be punished before the final curtain and where any attempt to salvage self respect from the outcome compounded the wrong. I viewed it as a genuine tragedy. No one had a monopoly on anguish.
Henry Alfred Kissinger [ch 8 The White House Years (1979)]

Our men had gone to war but it was difficult to find out what was happening in that war. I remember a time, sixty-odd years later, when the malevolent eye of television turned war into a spectator sport, even to the extent, I hope that this is not true, that attacks were timed so that the action could be shown live on the evening news. Can you imagine a more ironically horrible way to die than to have one's death timed to allow an anchorman to comment on it, just before turning the screen over to the beer ads?
Robert A. Heinlein [To Sail Beyond the Sunset (1987)]

The Vietnam War has been the subject of thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, hundreds of books, and scores of movies and television documentaries. The great majority of these efforts have erroneously portrayed many myths about the Vietnam War as being facts.
Richard Milhous Nixon [No More Vietnams (1985)]

And there's another thing I've always noticed: that arguments sound a lot different indoors than outdoors. There's a kind of insanity that comes from being between walls and under a roof. You're too cooped up, and don't get a chance to test ideas against the real size of things.
Walter Van Tilburg Clark

A handful of soldiers is always better than a mouthful of arguments.
G.C. Lichtenberg (1765-99)

Better is a handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.
Ecclesiastes 4:6 Bible

To a reasonable man, only unreason is unreasonable. Blows, by nature, are not intolerable.
attributed to Epictetus

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw ["Maxims for Revolutionists: Reason" Man and Superman (1903)]

O God, O God,
How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
William Shakespeare [act 1 sc 2 Hamlet]

Man dies of cold, not of darkness.
Miguel de Unamuno [ch 4 The Tragic Sense of Life (1913)]

Despair is the price one pays for setting oneself an impossible aim. It is, one is told, the unforgivable sin, but it is a sin the corrupt or evil man never practises. He always has hope. He never reaches the freezing-point of knowing absolute failure. Only the man of goodwill carries always in his heart this capacity for damnation.
Graham Greene [bk 1 pt 1 ch 2 sct 4 The Heart of the Matter (1948)]

One thing I've learnt about peace processes. They're always frustrating, often agonising and occasionally seem hopeless. But for all that, having a peace process is better than not having one.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

Because I remember, I despair. Because I remember, I have the duty to reject despair.
Elie Wiesel [11 Dec 1986 Nobel lecture]

Let judges secretly despair of justice: their verdicts will be more acute. Let generals secretly despair of triumph; killing will be defamed. Let priests secretly despair of faith: their compassion will be true.
Leonard Cohen ["Lines From My Grandfather's Journal" The Spice-Box Of Earth (1961)]

The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defence and our first line of attack.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

So long as we have failed to eliminate any of the causes of human despair, we do not have the right to try to eliminate those means by which man tries to cleanse himself of despair.
Antonin Artaud (1925)

To sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last — but eat you he will.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (7 Nov 1974)

Americans are a peaceful people, and this nation has always gone to war reluctantly, and always for a noble cause. America's war veterans have fought for the security of this nation, for the safety of our friends, and for the peace of the world. They humbled tyrants and defended the innocent, and liberated the oppressed. And across the Earth, you will find entire nations that once lived in fear, where men and women still tell of the day when Americans came and set them free.
George Walker Bush [11 Nov 2003 Arlington Nat'l Cemetery address]

Gentle folk rest peacefully in their comfortable homes each night, because their security is guarded by rough men, who stand ready to do violence for their protection.
paraphrase of George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.
Winston L.S. Churchill]

I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it.
Jack Nicholson [A Few Good Men]

Yes, making mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
J. Rudyard Kipling [Tommy]

Our men and women in uniform are warriors and they are liberators, strong and kind and decent. By their courage, they keep us safe; by their honor, they make us proud.
George Walker Bush [11 Nov 2003 address to Heritage Fdn]

Yet it is mistaken, and condescending, to assume that whole cultures and great religions are incompatible with liberty and self-government. I believe that God has planted in every human heart the desire to live in freedom. And even when that desire is crushed by tyranny for decades, it will rise again.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

George W. Bush is a simple person — and he simply wants war. ... Mr. Bush, you never fought in a war, so you have no idea what war is like. You could have fought for your country in Vietnam, but you were a coward.
Bob Fertik (12 Sept 2002)

George Bush is a moral coward.
Howard Dean

The programs and policies of George Bush are unpatriotic.
Al Gore

George Bush is a lunatic.
Bon Jovi

Mr. Bush, you spent one million of our tax dollars to learn how to fly a combat plane. And then you got drunk — rotten, stinking drunk. So drunk that you couldn't pass the Air Force physical exam. So you were grounded from flight, and you deserted your country during war. If you were the son of an ordinary American, you would have gone to jail.
Bob Fertik (12 Sept 2002)

There was no reason for us to become involved in Iraq recently. That was a war based on lies and misinterpretations from London and from Washington, claiming falsely that Saddam Hussein was responsible for [the] 9/11 attacks, claiming falsely that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. And I think that President Bush and Prime Minister Blair probably knew that many of the allegations were based on uncertain intelligence ... a decision was made to go to war [then people said] "Let's find a reason to do so." I think the basic reason was made not in London but in Washington. I think that Bush Junior was inclined to finish a war that his father had precipitated against Iraq.
James Earl Carter Jr (22 Mar 2004)

I hate everything about this war except that we're winning it ... the only real good news will be when this terrible time in American history is over.
Andy Rooney (6 April 2003)

I have not been a supporter of his. I did not vote for him. And I was very critical of what he did here. And I must say that fortunately, he's president and I'm not. It appears as though he did the right thing and I didn't think he was doing the right thing. And, if he's listening ... I was wrong, Bush was right.
Andy Rooney [radio interview with Don Imus (10 Apr 2003) on Bush's decision to liberate Iraq]

I felt chastened. I had to think that I was a little wrong. There's no question that it's better without him in there, without Saddam Hussein. [But] You can't even be critical, either, without sounding unpatriotic.
Andy Rooney (28 April 2003)

Under the guise of 'support your neighbor' we're all expected not to criticize the president because it's unpatriotic. I think it's unpatriotic to do some of the things that this president has done to this country.
Howard Dean

Mr. Bush, you are not a legitimate President. And you do not have the power — or the right — to send our precious children off to war.
Bob Fertik (12 Sept 2002)

We've sterilized war ... made it easy. Stripped it of the smell of infection and the silence of death. We've bled off the terror and the sorrow. And because of us, the power to wage war now rests in the hands of cowards and hypocrites.
Kyle Mills ["Burn Factor" (2001)]

Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.
Ernest Hemingway

The difference between a coward and a brave man is mostly a matter of timing.
Robert A. Heinlein

For all men would be cowards if they durst.
John Wilmot, Second Earl of Rochester [A Satire Against Mankind]

More frayd then hurt.
John Heywood

Repartee: Prudent insult in retort. Practiced by gentlemen with a constitutional aversion to violence, but a strong disposition to offend.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

He discounted that kind of rough humor, having learned in the last war that the men with the quickest wit around the campfire rarely show themselves to good effect on the battlefield.
attributed to George Washington [in defense of Henry Knox]

Feare may force a man to cast beyond the moone.
John Heywood

That man is not truly brave who is afraid either to seem or to be, when it suits him, a coward.
Edgar Allan Poe

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
William Shakespeare [sc 2 act 2 Julius Caesar]

Man gives every reason for his conduct save one, every excuse for his crimes save one, every plea for his safety save one; and that one is his cowardice.
George Bernard Shaw [act 3 Man and Superman]

When cowardice is made respectable, its followers are without number both from among the weak and the strong; it easily becomes a fashion.
Eric Hoffer [aph 203 The Passionate State of Mind (1955)]

The only thing I am afraid of is fear.
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington

Nothing is to be so much feared as fear.
Henry David Thoreau [Journal 7 Sep 1851)]

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself, nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (4 March 1933)

As we gather tonight, hundreds of thousands of American servicemen and women are deployed across the world in the war on terror. By bringing hope to the oppressed, and delivering justice to the violent, they are making America more secure. ... We have faced serious challenges together, and now we face a choice: We can go forward with confidence and resolve, or we can turn back to the dangerous illusion that terrorists are not plotting and outlaw regimes are no threat to us. ... We've not come all this way — through tragedy, and trial and war — only to falter and leave our work unfinished. Americans are rising to the tasks of history, and they expect the same from us. In their efforts, their enterprise, and their character, the American people are showing that the state of our union is confident and strong. Our greatest responsibility is the active defense of the American people. Twenty-eight months have passed since September 11th, 2001 — over two years without an attack on American soil. And it is tempting to believe that the danger is behind us. That hope is understandable, comforting — and false. ... The terrorists continue to plot against America and the civilized world. And by our will and courage, this danger will be defeated.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

A fearless fool is sometimes better than a wise man or a timid angel.
paraphrase of Nancy Astor [My Two Countries (1920)]

There's something about American ingenuity and American civic culture that's combined with American military courage that is producing incredible results in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world.
Paul Wolfowitz (27 Feb 2004)

For all Americans, the last three years have brought tests we did not ask for, and achievements shared by all. By our actions, we have shown what kind of nation we are. In grief, we have found the grace to go on. In challenge, we rediscovered the courage and daring of a free people. In victory, we have shown the noble aims and good heart of America. And having come this far, we sense that we live in a time set apart. I've been witness to the character of the people of America, who have shown calm in times of danger, compassion for one another, and toughness for the long haul. All of us have been partners in a great enterprise.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

... he knew that war is treachery and hatred, the muddling of ignorant generals, the torture and killing, and sickness and tiredness, until at last it is over, and nothing has changed, except for new weariness and new hatreds.
John Steinbeck (1942)

Rather perish than hate and fear, and twice rather perish than make oneself hated and feared.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

The nation's honor is dearer than the nation's comfort; yes, than the nation's life itself.
Woodrow Wilson [26 Jan 1919 speech]

I am tired of people who have not been at war but who know all about it.
John Steinbeck (1942)

We are not descended from fearful men.
Edward R. Morrow (7 Mar 1954)

Then Jesus asked them, "When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?" "Nothing," they answered. He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment." The disciples said, "See, Lord, here are two swords." "That is enough," he replied.
Luke 22:35-8 NIV Bible

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
Matthew 10:34 Bible

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Behold, I will bring My words upon this city for evil and not for good; and they shall be accomplished in that day before thee. But I will deliver thee in that day, saith the Lord; and thou shalt not be given into the hand of the men of whom thou art afraid. For I will surely deliver thee, and thou shalt not fall by the sword; but thy life shall be as a prize unto thee, because thou hast put thy trust in Me, saith the Lord.
Jeremiah 39:16-18 21KJV Bible

Every man's sword was against his fellow.
I Samuel 14:20 Bible

After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn't do it. I sure as hell wouldn't want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.
William Burroughs [The War Universe in Painting and Guns (1992)]

Now they're tryin' to take my guns away
And that would be just fine
If you take 'em away from the criminals first
I'll gladly give ya mine
The Charlie Daniels Band [What This World Needs Is A Few More Rednecks]

When I hold you in my arms
And I feel my finger on your trigger
I know no one can do me no harm
Because happiness is a warm gun.
John Lennon & Paul McCartney [Happiness Is a Warm Gun (1968)]

The main foundations of every state, new states as well as ancient or composite ones, are good laws and good arms ... you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.
Niccolò di Bernardo Machiavelli [ch 12 The Prince, (1514)]

Men who've seen alot of combat don't have many illusions about solving problems with weapons.
Greg Iles (2001)

It just isn't in human nature to throw away a weapon.
David Brin [Kiln People (2002)]

Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things, that are decisive. The contest of strength is not only a contest of military and economic power, but also a contest of human power and morale. Military and economic power is necessarily wielded by people.
Mao Tse-Tung / Mao Zedong [On Protracted War (May 1938)]

War is war, and not popularity-seeking.
William Tecumseh Sherman

Return with your shield, or return upon it.
familial injunction of ancient Greece and medieval Scotland

For among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible; which is one of those disgraceful things which a prince must guard against.
Niccolò di Bernardo Machiavelli [ch 14 The Prince, (1514)]

The troops will march in, the bands will play, the crowds will cheer, and in four days everyone will have forgotten. Then we will be told we have to send in more troops. It's like taking a drink ... the effect wears off, and you have to take another.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy [re: Maxwell Taylor's Vietnam report (1961)]

War is a matter not so much of arms as of expenditure, through which arms maybe made of service.
Thucydides [bk 1 ch 83 sec 2 History of the Peloponnesian Wars]

The wars in Laos mostly resemble pillow-fights. When two armies can no longer avoid battle, the side that remembers not to throw down its weapons when fleeing declares victory.
attributed to U.S. military advisor

The loss in physical force is not the only one which the two sides suffer in the course of the combat; the moral forces also are shaken, broken, and go to ruin.
Karl von Clausewitz

Confrontations are like haircuts: some are good and some are bad, but none of them can change the essential nature of one's own hair ... that nothing will ever alter the unforgettable or unforgivable nature of the truth inside one's head.
paraphrase of T. Jefferson Parker (2002)

Battles could be won ... the war, never. The important thing was not to surrender.
Lawrence Sanders

Even the propagandists on the radio find it very difficult to really say let alone believe that the world will be a happy place, of love and peace and plenty, and that the lion will lie down with the lamb and everybody will believe anybody [after this war].
Gertrude Stein [Wars I Have Seen (1943-5)]

Among the wise and high-minded people who in self-respecting and genuine fashion strive earnestly for peace, there are the foolish fanatics always to be found in such a movement and always discrediting it — the men who form the lunatic fringe in all reform movements.
Theodore Roosevelt (1913)

A man must not swallow more beliefs than he can digest.
Havelock Ellis [ch 5 The Dance of Life (1923)]

If peace is not an option, then violence is inevitable.

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence. Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle.
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn (1973 Nobel Prize lecture)

If the war is about power, then the side with the most guns will win; but if it's about ideas, then the side with the biggest lie will win ... at least until they are overthrown, and it starts all over again. It doesn't take long to discover that the peace that was so dearly bought is not worth the war that was paid for it!

Every military organization prepares for the next war by studying the last war; but the side that is victorious will most rapidly adapt and innovate their proven doctrine.
military maxim

We can best help you to prevent war not by repeating your words and following your methods but by finding new words and creating new methods.
Adeline Virginia Stephen Woolf (1938)

A master of the art of war has said, 'I do not dare to be the host (to commence the war); I prefer to be the guest (to act on the defensive). I do not dare to advance an inch; I prefer to retire a foot.' This is called marshalling the ranks where there are no ranks; baring the arms (to fight) where there are no arms to bare; grasping the weapon where there is no weapon to grasp; advancing against the enemy where there is no enemy.
Lao-Tzu [#69 Tao Te Ching]

People always talk about preventing another world war. Look around you. World peace is what's destroying this planet. ... You see, son, you can live through a war and they call you a survivor, maybe even a hero, but no one ever survives peace. We all die wondering what we might have done differently.
John Hockenberry (2001)

"Maybe when life [after the war] is less complicated."
"Does life get any less complicated [than war]?"
"Possibly not," he said, "but there are good complications and bad ones."
"We have a choice?"
"No; but to seize the good ones when they come along, that's the thing."
Robert Wilson (2001)

"War is not a natural state, sir. It is not a fact of nature, something that man must adapt to or accept, like floods or small pox. We create it. We perpetuate it. And it is incumbent on us to do the best job we can, or we suffer the consequences. The worst consequence of fighting a war is not if you lose, sir. The worst thing you can do is win badly. The losers go back to their people and endure the shame or the humiliation, and the politicians make excuses — they were out gunned or out fought — but still they hold on to their cause, create their martyrs. The winner, he has proven that his cause is stronger — perhaps might makes right — the glory, all the celebrations, and the parades are his. But if the winner has not won completely, efficiently, [then] the loser will not respect him, will never accept that the defeat was just. They will begin to find strength. The cause, the martyrs will come back to life; and before you know it, there is another war. And if the winner isn't careful, all his boasting and bluster may make him blind to history."
Jeffrey M. Shaara (2000)

Men since the beginning of time have sought peace ... all in turn have failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war .... If we do not now devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.
Douglas MacArthur [1945 radio address after Japan's surrender]

There is no calamity greater than lightly engaging in war. To do that is near losing (the gentleness) which is so precious. Thus it is that when opposing weapons are (actually) crossed, he who deplores (the situation) conquers.
Lao-Tzu [#69 Tao Te Ching]

A just war is hospitable to every self-deception on the part of those waging it, none more than the certainty of virtue, under whose shelter every abomination can be committed with a clear conscience.
Alexander Cockburn (8 Feb 1991)

It is not the cause for which men took up arms that makes a victory more just or less, it is the order that is established when arms have been laid down.
Simone Weil

Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace.
Romans 14:19 Bible

Peace is normally a great good, and normally it coincides with righteousness, but it is righteousness and not peace which should bind the conscience of a nation as it should bind the conscience of an individual, and neither a nation nor an individual can surrender conscience to another's keeping.
Theodore Roosevelt (4 Dec 1906)

The work of righteousness shall be peace.
Isaiah 32:17 Bible

Thus Belial, with words clothed in reason's garb,
Counseled ignoble ease, and peaceful sloth,
Not peace.
John Milton [bk 2 Paradise Lost (1667)]

The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
Exodus 14:14 Bible

I will give you peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid.
Leviticus 26:6 Bible

He [God] makes wars cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow, and shatters the spear, He burns the chariots with fire!
Psalms 46:9 RSV Bible

A man must feel he belongs to something. As long as he floats around space, doing little chores that start and end with his hands, and never reach his heart, he's no good to himself. Some things are real, and some are only tinsel paper that people wrap themselves in ... having nothing more important to do with their time. Dust is an honest thing ... and so is sweat, and the bruises you get from fighting. ... Some [men] do [understand], and some don't [realize it at all]. Some [men] are good, and some are pretty bad; but the point is that when the trumpet blows Boots and Saddles, they'll all swing up together ... and when action begins, they'll all run forward together. That is what men were made for.
Ernest Haycox [Bugles in the Afternoon (1944)]

Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down.
Job 14:1-2 Bible

"You guys ... you guys come back from the war; you think because you made it out alive that everything and everybody has got to lay down right in front of you. Everything is a gift now, wrapped up special with a bow on it just for you. You think because you've made it you're never going to die, but I'm telling you it's only a reprieve that you got ... just a reprieve. Guys like you, you just don't get it."
George P. Pelecanos

You don't save the peace by breaking it ... I wish that men would learn that simple lesson.
Inglis Fletcher [The Scotswoman (1954)]

Can any peace be dishonorable? How many more will die while the [peace] negotiations plod along? I also wonder what would happen if the widows of soldiers and the mothers of men who have died on both sides sat down and talked peace. I feel they would cut right through the ideological barriers that so often bog peace processes down. Somehow I think they'd find an end to all this with haste and without argument.
David K. Harford ["A Death on the Ho Chi Minh Trail" (1999)]

Women think peace is valuable enough to preserve by not fighting at all; and men believe that peace is important enough to protect by fighting for it.

Seek peace, and pursue it.
Psalms 34:14 Bible

This [assemblage of wounded and dead] was the glory of battle. This was the end of the band playing, and the bright pennants flying, and all the dreams of gallantry and personal triumph. A man dreamed of glory, and it came to this. A [commander signaled] ..., and the regiment went into battle line. The voices of men shouting out their power and their excitement. And afterwards, the smoke and heat and dust folded over them, and death struck. And long, later in the aftermath's stillness, men lay physically and spiritually smashed ... and thought only of water, and rest, and peace.
Ernest Haycox [Bugles in the Afternoon (1944)]

Before honor is humility.
Proverbs 15:33 Bible

To my mind, as you know, there's but one good reason for fighting, but that reason is undeniable. It may be that only by fighting can we bring peace to the land.
Inglis Fletcher [The Scotswoman (1954)]

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Romans 12:18 Bible

It is an honor for a man to cease from strife.
Proverbs 20:3 Bible

Peace, being more than the simple cessation of war, is poignantly defined by whether the sentinels are facing out, or whether they are facing in.

Men were vessels, to carry the dreams of the race. The bright visions of gallantry and courage and daring which made the light stream fresh and quick. The steadfast visions of honor and loyalty, and the great flame of faith. The good and the bad died for those visions, never wholly realizing why they fought. The good and the bad lived to enjoy the peace which came of nights like these, never fully understanding how their peace was secured for them. The name of this little battle in a remote western valley would fade as time went on, until few people knew of it, or the reason for it. But even if they forgot it, it would still be a part of that red thread which ran continuously through the fabric of the country. Battles of the past had stained the thread, and this battle now would add its scarlet color ... and other battles yet to come. Some of these battles were just, and some were unjust. Some were necessary struggles of survival. Some need never have been fought. But there was never any way of knowing. A man was faithful and he fought, and had his hopes of betterment. ... The just and the unjust, the faithful and the crooked, the pure and the sinful. All were one; breathing a common air and pacing a common earth. The most pure with his temptations. And the most dissolute with his moments of grandeur. All were one; walking forward through the sunlight and the dark. Each with his end, but each a part of the light stream that came out of time ... and went on into time. This was his country, and this was his part and his place. ... Tonight the camp lay at fitful rest, and each of the living nourished his memories, his wishes, and his hatreds; but all were waiting together for tomorrow. And again would stand together. Their lot was a common one. The commonness of it made all of them good.
Ernest Haycox [Bugles in the Afternoon (1944)]

This war was a revolution against the moral basis of civilization. It was conceived by the Nazis in conscious contempt for the life, dignity and freedom of individual man and deliberately prosecuted by means of slavery, starvation and the mass destruction of noncombatants' lives. It was a revolution against the human soul.
Time (14 May 1945)

As the past recedes from memory and takes form on the printed page, historians and other commentators have begun to depict victory in that terrible conflict in soft words. A number have suggested that the Allied war effort was nothing more than the opposite side of the same coin — that the Allied cause was as morally bankrupt as the Axis cause, that an American or British war crime can be found for every one committed by the Germans or Japanese. Across the ledger from Nanking, Rotterdam, Belgrade, Oradour-sur-Glane, or Malmëdy, they place the Allies' refusal to bomb the rail lines to Auschwitz, the starvation of German POWs at war's end, and the incineration of Hiroshima — that worst of all "crimes against humanity." These advocates for moral equivalence are wrong. In considering the war's human cost, those of us privileged to live at the dawn of a new millennium should renew our effort to remember why the war was fought and why so many were called to pay the ultimate price for victory. The wars unleashed by the Japanese in 1937 and by the Germans in 1939 came close to destroying the two great centers of world civilization and to imposing in their stead imperial regimes founded on racial superiority, slavery, and genocide. They did not succeed because of the extraordinary efforts and sacrifices made by Allied soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines from around the world ....
Williamson Murray & Allan R. Millett [A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War (2000)]

'Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
George Washington (17 Sept 1796 Farewell Address)

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
John Quincy Adams (4 June 1821)

America is a nation with a mission, and that mission comes from our most basic beliefs. We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire. Our aim is a democratic peace — a peace founded upon the dignity and rights of every man and woman. America acts in this cause with friends and allies at our side, yet we understand our special calling: This great republic will lead the cause of freedom.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

I think that a young state, like a young virgin, should modestly stay at home, and wait the application of suitors for an alliance with her; and not run about offering her amity to all the world; and hazarding their refusal .... Our virgin is a jolly one; and tho at present not very rich, will in time be a great fortune, and where she has a favorable predisposition, it seems to me well worth cultivating.
Benjamin Franklin (22 Sept 1778 letter)

An alliance is like a chain. It is not made stronger by adding weak links to it. A great power like the United States gains no advantage and it loses prestige by offering, indeed peddling, its alliances to all and sundry. An alliance should be hard diplomatic currency, valuable and hard to get, and not inflationary paper from the mimeograph machine in the State Department.
Walter Lippmann ((5 Aug 1952)

Union of the weakest develops strength
Not wisdom. Can all men, together, avenge
One of the leaves that have fallen in autumn?
But the wise man avenges by building his city in snow.
Wallace Stevens [Like Decorations in a Nigger Cemetery in Ideas of Order (1936)]

There is a difference, however, between leading a coalition of many nations, and submitting to the objections of a few. America will never seek a permission slip to defend the security of our country.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

Alliance: In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply inserted in each other's pockets that they cannot separately plunder a third.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Our nation is strong and steadfast. The cause we serve is right, because it is the cause of all mankind. The momentum of freedom in our world is unmistakable — and it is not carried forward by our power alone. We can trust in that greater power who guides the unfolding of the years. And in all that is to come, we can know that His purposes are just and true. May God continue to bless America.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

A soft answer turneth away wrath.
Proverbs 15:1 Bible

Inconstancy causes misunderstandings, which can cause wars.
George F. Will

An adversary can be paralyzed by inconsistency, but will soon ignore the unexpected in favor of a more rapid attainment of goals. It is therefore more efficacious to create persistent uncertainty, even perturbation, with the careful crafting and sly insinuation of strategic ambiguity.
anonymous diplomat

Many U.S. actions during the [Vietnam] war ran counter to the Geneva Convention. I used a pretty harsh word [in description] and I regret the harshness of it, but the reality is that ... countless numbers of books have been written that have chronicled how we went awry over there.
John Forbes Kerry

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ought to be tortured in the Nazi gulag.
Randi Rhodes [Air America Radio (WLIB NYC)]

President Bush should be taken out and shot.
Al Franken [Air America Radio (WLIB NYC)]

There are Americans whose conduct, if not directly supportive of the [terrorist] enemy, is indistinguishable from someone who is.
Rush Limbaugh [EIB network (14 May 2004)]

We all have private ails. The troublemakers are they who need public cures for their private ails.
Eric Hoffer

The White Protestant's ultimate sympathy must be with science, factology, and committee rather than with sex, birth, heat, flesh, creation, the sweet and the funky; they must vote, manipulate, control, and direct, these Protestants who are the center of power in our land, they must go for what they believe is reason when it is only the Square logic of the past.
Norman Mailer

A ruling intelligentsia, whether in Europe, Asia or Africa, treats the masses as raw material to be experimented on, processed, and wasted at will.
Eric Hoffer

Its my fondest wish, that some day, every American will get down on their knees and pray to God that some day they will have the opportunity to live in a Communist Society.
Jane Fonda [1970 USC speech]

An ass may bray a good while before he shakes the stars down.
George Eliot [Mary Ann (or Marian) Evans]

If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist. I, a socialist, think that we should strive toward a socialist society, all the way to communism.
Jane Fonda [1970 Duke Univ speech]

The intellectuals and the young, booted and spurred, feel themselves born to ride us.
Eric Hoffer

Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America.
Eric Hoffer

All the reputedly powerful reactionaries are merely paper tigers. The reason is that they are divorced from the people. Look! Was not Hitler a paper tiger? Was Hitler not overthrown? ... U.S. imperialism has not yet been overthrown and it has the atomic bomb. I believe it also will be overthrown. It, too, is a paper tiger.
Mao Tse-Tung / Mao Zedong

It is better to kill ten innocents than let one enemy escape.
Vietnamese political maxim

It is better to free ten criminals than to convict one innocent.
American legal maxim

America's intentions [in liberating Iraq] are honorable. I believe that, and we must find a way of making the rest of the world believe it. We want to do the right thing. We care about the rest of the world.
Andy Rooney (12 April 2004)

The core responsibility of any government is to ensure the safety and security of its citizens – these are the foundations for every other right of citizenship, the essential conditions for every other freedom.
Anne McLellan

I know that some people question if America is really in a war at all. They view terrorism more as a crime, a problem to be solved mainly with law enforcement and indictments. After the World Trade Center was first attacked in 1993, some of the guilty were indicted and tried and convicted, and sent to prison. But the matter was not settled. The terrorists were still training and plotting in other nations, and drawing up more ambitious plans. After the chaos and carnage of September the 11th, it is not enough to serve our enemies with legal papers. The terrorists and their supporters declared war on the United States, and war is what they got.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

Treating soldiers fighting their [politician's] war as brave heroes is an old civilian trick designed to keep the soldiers at it. But you can be sure our soldiers in Iraq are not all brave heroes gladly risking their lives for us sitting comfortably back here at home. ... We pin medals on their chests to keep them going. We speak of them as if they volunteered to risk their lives to save ours, but there isn't much voluntary about what most of them have done. ... We must support our soldiers in Iraq because it's our fault they're risking their lives there. However, we should not bestow the mantle of heroism on all of them for simply being where we sent them. Most are victims, not heroes.
Andy Rooney (12 April 2004)

And, you know, sin is particular and individual. It's not like crime, where society has to assume everyone equal before the law, and judge which acts are worse for the social order, and punish them accordingly. You can damn yourself very thoroughly for acts that aren't even illegal. And, of course, some acts are made excusable by situation. Soldiers kill in war, and soldiers can be honorable ... in fact, we insist that they be. And that's probably the reason we license them to kill for us, so they have to be good men.
Robert K. Tanenbaum [True Justice (2000)]

Do you know what the one thing is that they [elite warriors] all have in common? They all hate politicians. The two professions couldn't be more fundamentally different. Commandos live by a warrior's code ... honor and integrity above everything. Do what you say, and mean what you do. Politicians just say whatever will keep them in office. Now where you run into a problem is when you have the unprincipled honorless politician telling the principled honorable warrior what to do. The way the relationship works, with the politicians in the position of authority, they're destined to foster disgust and animosity among the troops.
Vince Flynn (2002)

I don't know what effect these men [generals] will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they terrify me.
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington [Aug 1810 dispatch]

All leadership can be defined in two words: Follow Me!.
Roy Henry Boehm [as both SEAL creedo and infantry motto]

The general must be first in the toils and fatigue of the army. In the heat of summer he does not spread his parasol nor in the cold of winter don thick clothing. In dangerous places he must dismount and walk. He waits until the army's wells have been dug and only then drinks; until the army's food is cooked before he eats; until the army's fortifications have been completed, to shelter himself.
Ping Fa [Military Code (fifth century BC)]

To a surprising extent the war-lords in shining armour, the apostles of the martial virtues, tend not to die fighting when the time comes. History is full of ignominious getaways by the great and famous.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] [Who Are the War Criminals? (1943)]

Perfect soldier, perfect gentleman ... never gave offence to anyone not even the enemy.
A.J.P. Taylor [re: Field Marshal Alexander in 16 March 1973 letter]

The Creator has not thought proper to mark those in the forehead who are of stuff to make good generals. We are first, therefore, to seek them blindfold, and then let them learn the trade at the expense of great losses.
Thomas Jefferson [6 Feb 1813 letter]

The man who hires another to forge distinction for him deserves as little as he gets.
Rex Stout

A general is just as good or just as bad as the troops under his command make him.
Douglas MacArthur [16 Aug 1962 speech to Congress]

In enterprise of martial kind,
When there was any fighting,
He led his regiment from behind —
He found it less exciting.
W.S. Gilbert [act 1 The Gondoliers]

We have in the [military] service the scum of the earth as common soldiers.
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington [2 July 1813 dispatch]

He learned the arts of riding, fencing, gunnery,
And how to scale a fortress — or a nunnery.
George Gordon, Lord Byron [cto 1 st 38 Don Juan]

I am convinced that the best service a retired general can perform is to turn in his tongue along with his suit, and to mothball his opinions.
Omar Nelson Bradley [17 May 1959 Armed Forces Day address]

You have to understand the mentality of a commando. They've given everything they have to this country, and in return, they see those [political] whores selling America down the drain. I don't mean all of them ... there are some good honest politicians, but they are a rarity. Most of those guys are lying misdirected egomaniacs. They think it's just a game. There's alot of hate and distrust between the military and Washington ... there always has been. And it's even worse when you start talking about special forces personnel.
Vince Flynn (2002)

On becoming soldiers we have not ceased to be citizens.
address by Oliver Cromwell's soldiers to the English Parliament [Humble Representation (1647)]

When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen.
George Washington [26 June 1775 address to the New York legislature]

No profession or occupation is more pleasing than the military; a profession or exercise both noble in execution (for the strongest, most generous and proudest of all virtues is true valour) and noble in its cause. No utility either more just or universal than the protection of the repose or defence of the greatness of one's country. The company and daily conversation of so many noble, young and active men cannot but be well-pleasing to you.
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne (1588)

War of all things proceeds least upon definite rules, but draws principally upon itself for contrivances to meet an emergency; and in such cases the party who faces the struggle and keeps his temper best meets with most security, and he who loses his temper about it with correspondent disaster.
Thucydides [History of the Peloponnesian Wars]

Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For He wounds, but He also binds up; He injures, but His hands also heal. From six calamities He will rescue you; in seven no harm will befall you. In famine He will ransom you from death, and in battle from the stroke of the sword. You will be protected from the lash of the tongue, and need not fear when destruction comes.
Job 5:17-21 NIV Bible

Courage is, however, by no means an act of the understanding, but likewise a feeling, like fear; the latter looks to the physical preservation, courage to the moral preservation. Courage, then, is a nobler instinct. But because it is so, it will not allow itself to be used as a lifeless instrument, which produces its effects exactly according to prescribed measure. Courage is therefore no mere counterpoise to danger in order to neutralise the latter in its effects, but a peculiar power in itself.
Karl von Clausewitz

The trials that we have to undergo are sent to us for a good purpose, and we must think so, and learn to bear up with them in that spirit. Never despond but be cheerful as possible under all sufferings — and bless our good fortune, and be thankful that we are spared worse evils. As it is now we have won the respect of all the outside world by our valor, our patience, our endurance, and our trust in the final success of our cause. This we have gained when at first the opinion of the world was against us — the north had pursued a systematic course of vituperation and villification, detracting from us in all things — but now even those who were our bitterest enemies grant us the possession of the most noble qualities, and the Yankees themselves acknowledge our superiority of courage and spirit to themselves. They wonder how it is that our half clad, half starved soldiers can fight so well. The idea of anyone fighting for principle has never for once entered their understanding.
Lafayette McLaws [16 November 1862 letter]

It's only the civilized who are horrified at brutality — even when the brutes are their own kind, even when the victims are their sworn enemies.
Don Feder

The courage of a soldier is found to be the cheapest and most common quality of human nature.
Edward Gibbon [ch 26 vol 3 The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-88)]

Valor: A soldierly compound of vanity, duty and the gambler's hope.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

There is no question what the roll of honor in America is. The roll of honor consists of the names of men who have squared their conduct by ideals of duty.
R. Woodrow Wilson

Veterans are often haunted by their memories of war because there is nothing that any government can say that will make their experiences of death and destruction seem right and proper and good. At some fundamental level, no matter how justified, every combatant knows that killing another person is wrong. It affirms our deep appreciation for the sanctity of life, and presents us with the paradoxical recognition that freedom must be relinquished to be attained, that life must be sacrificed to be preserved.
anonymous Army nurse

You're not a man anymore — you are a soldier. Your comfort is of no importance, and Lieutenant, your life isn't of much importance. If you live, you will have memories — that's about all you will have. Meanwhile, you must take orders and carry them out. Most of the orders will be unpleasant, but that's not your business. I will not lie to you, Lieutenant — they should have trained you for this, and not for flower strewn streets. They should have built your soul with truth, not led [you] along with lies. But you took the job, Lieutenant — will you stay with it or quit it? We can't take care of your soul.
John Steinbeck [The Moon is Down (1942)]

I think it's very clear that one of the biggest costs of war is borne by the men who fight it — and I don't mean the ones who die — but even more by the ones who live through it and have to carry the memories and the scars, both physical and emotional.
Kevin L. Hoffman (2004)

There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.
Eric Hoffer [p181 The Passionate State of Mind]

After the second world war, returning veterans often said they had just been doing their jobs, or didn't talk about their service at all. Yet they knew the stakes of the fight they had been in, and the magnitude of what they had achieved.
George Walker Bush [11 Nov 2003 address to Heritage Fdn]

"In regard to your question about medals," he wrote back, "I got a few, but mostly for the wrong reasons. What I'm most proud of is just having the honor to have served with my Marines. No matter what anyone's view of the war was, they would've liked the men I fought with. They had manners. They took care of each other, rescued the wounded, suffered with dignity, and accepted that they would die in Vietnam. The medals don't mean shit. They're lost in a drawer somewhere. And some fine young men never came home. My greatest honor is to have known them."
Murry A. Taylor

Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They're just braver five minutes longer.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (22 Dec 1982)

Military virtue in an Army is a definite moral power which may be supposed wanting, and the influence of which may therefore be estimated — like any instrument the power of which may be calculated.
Karl von Clausewitz

The feeling about a soldier is, when all is said and done, he wasn't really going to do very much with his life anyway.
Kurt Vonnegut Jr (11 March 1983)

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
Saint Paul [I Corinthians 14:8 Bible]

So strong is the propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
James Madison

The history of most countries has been that of majorities — mounted majorities, clad in iron, armed with death, treading down the ten-fold more numerous minorities.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr [30 May 1860 speech]

Wars are, of course, as a rule to be avoided; but they are far better than certain kinds of peace.
Theodore Roosevelt (1897)

For what is war? ... but the getting together of quiet and harmless people, with swords in their hands, to keep the ambitious and the turbulent within bounds.
Lawrence Sterne [Tristram Shandy (1710)]

There is no safety for honest men but by believing all possible evil of evil men.
Edmund Burke

Life comes in a thousand shades of grey, and everyone except madmen think what they do is reasonable, and maybe even the madmen do too.
John D. MacDonald

No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism.
Winston L.S. Churchill

A Union that can only be maintained by swords and bayonets, and in which strife and civil war are to take the place of brotherly love and kindness, has no charm for me.
Robert E. Lee [Jan 1861 letter]

THE ROAD was changing with the season, though in many ways it still held the shape of spring, when it was churned by cavalry, deep-rutted by guns and limbers and the heavy train of armies pursuing and pursued. Infantry had passed here too, and the mud still bore in places the prints — barefoot and shod — of men who had come this way, and some of these were dead now, and some were home, and some were traveling other roads homeward. But all this impress was fading under the rains, and soon the ruts and the marks of men would collapse little by little and dissolve into summer dust. Then whatever memory the road clung to would be gone as well, as if what had happened here had never happened at all. Such was the way of roads then, if not of those who journeyed them.
Howard Bahr [The Year of Jubilo (2000)]

One thing alone not even God can do,
To make undone whatever hath been done.
attributed to Agathon, the Athenian poet, by Aristotle in The Nicomachean Ethics [also attributed to George Santayana as "Not even God can change the past." (1951)]

Just as a culture has grown decadent when its past has become more glorious than its future, so a man is decrepit when his regrets supplant his dreams.
paraphrase of John Barrymore

Tim pictured his father here — [a] wild young version who flew helicopters, pretty impressed with himself, a girl on each arm, but oblivious to the greed and desperation in their glances. The last time Tim had seen his father, the old man had bragged about feeling invincible, being invincible. "I'm still around aren't I?" said Dad; "Most of the guys I knew didn't have what it took." Tim had just looked at him, realizing that he was older than his father had been during his Asian tour. Still no clue, his old man — no survivor's guilt, no respect for the cosmic roll of the dice, flip of the coin, track of the bullet that said 'you live', 'you die'. "Maybe you're still alive because of dumb luck — not because you control the universe. I thought combat was supposed to teach you that," Tim would tell him one day.
Patricia McFall [The Foreigner's Watch (2004)]

"What! Are you saying that when some dip-shit lieutenant disobeys orders and puts his men at unnecessary risk, he is being heroic? You officer types might think that way, but that's not what us Snuffies think. We understand the accomplish the mission thing. But, we also think an officer's job is to make sure we get back to The World; and, if there is anything we don't need it's somebody who wants to trade in our Dog Tags for a hero medal."
Anthony F. Milavic, MAJ USMC(ret)

"That's right," he said, "I must remember that: not to get excited. Everybody is very thoughtful. They put you in uniform and teach you what every young man ought to know, and take you across the ocean into the middle of hell — bombs, bullets, shells, flamethrowers, your friends die right against you and bleed down your neck, and after two years of that, they bring you home and turn you loose and tell you: 'Now remember, don't get excited'. I'm all right," he said calmly.
Rex Stout

And then he said the one thing he had to say, while his hatred of the necessity twisted across his gray face and left its bitter taste upon his lips. "Gentlemen, I am operating under orders. You are operating under my orders. You need therefore have no thought for the consequences of tonight's work. That will be thrashed out thousands of miles away by men who wear clean clothing and sit in comfortable offices."
James Warner Bella [Mission With No Record]

The white man regards the universe as a gigantic machine hurtling through time and space to its final destruction: individuals in it are but tiny organisms with private lives that lead to private deaths: personal power, success and fame are the absolute measures of values, the things to live for. This outlook on life divides the universe into a host of individual little entities which cannot help being in constant conflict thereby hastening the approach of the hour of their final destruction.
policy statement of the Youth League of the African National Congress (1944)

Let me give you my simplified Marine's perspective on democracy: you know you're in a democracy if you can stand on a soap-box or wave a protest sign at a crowded corner and not wake up the next day in prison, or laying dead in a ditch. That's democracy.
Oliver North [radio comment on Iraq liberation (1 July 2004)]

Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have been called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans — we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments to the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.
Thomas Jefferson [1801 Inaugural Address]

Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, "What should be the reward of such sacrifices?" ... If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!
Samuel Adams

The bottom line is this: Republican or Democrat, approve or disapprove of the decision to go to war, you need to support our efforts here. You cannot both support the troops and protest their mission. Every time the parent of a fallen Marine gets on CNN with a photo, accusing President Bush of murdering his son, the enemy wins a strategic victory. I cannot begin to comprehend the grief he feels at the death of his son, but he dishonors the memory of my brave brother who paid the ultimate price. That Marine volunteered to serve, just like the rest of us. No one here was drafted. I am proud of my service and that of my peers. I am ashamed of that parent's actions, and I pray to God that if I am killed my parents will stand with pride before the cameras and reaffirm their belief that my life and sacrifice mattered; they loved me dearly and they firmly support the military and its mission in Iraq and Afghanistan. With that statement, they communicate very clearly to our enemies around the world that America is united, that we cannot be intimidated by kidnappings, decapitations and torture, and that we care enough about the Afghani and Iraqi people to give them a chance at democracy and basic human rights.
Kevin Brown [Open Letter to America from a Marine Cobra AH-1W Pilot in Iraq (11 Sep 2004)]

One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

The plain fact is that free speech in international affairs is a very dangerous privilege, and that its exercise would probably do vastly more harm than good. Nations get on with one another not by telling the truth, but by lying gracefully. The truth, no matter which way it runs, is always unpleasant and often intolerable.
paraphrase of Henry Louis Mencken

If you believe everything you read, better not read.
Japanese proverb

If you are not a thinking man to what purpose are you a man at all?
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

It is the same in all wars: the soldiers do the fighting, the journalists do the shouting, and no true patriot ever gets near a front line trench except on the briefest of propaganda tours.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

Diplomacy: The patriotic art of lying for one's country.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Diplomacy without armament is like music without instruments.
Frederick II "the Great"

For diplomacy to be effective, words must be credible, and no one can now doubt the word of America.
George Walker Bush

I have heard talk and talk, but nothing is done. Good words do not last long unless they amount to something. Words do not pay for my dead people. They do not pay for my country, now overrun by white men. They do not protect my father's grave. They do not pay for all my horses and cattle. Good words will not give me back my children.
Chief Joseph the Younger ["An Indian's View of Indian Affairs", The North American Review no 269 vol 128 (1879)]

Civilization is not inherited; it has to be learned and earned by each generation anew; if the transmission should be interrupted for one century, civilization would die, and we should be savages again.
Will and Ariel Durant [The Lessons of History]

The study of history is a powerful antidote to contemporary arrogance. It is humbling to discover how many of our glib assumptions, which seem to us novel and plausible, have been tested before, not once but many times and in innumerable guises; and discovered to be, at great human cost, wholly false.
Paul Johnson

I have a rendezvous with death
At some disputed barricade,
When spring comes round with rustling shade
And apple blossoms fill the air.
But I've a rendezvous with death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true.
I shall not fail that rendezvous.
Alan Seeger [nb: KIA 1916]

There lie many fighting men,
Dead in their youthful prime.
Never to laugh nor love again
Nor taste the summertime.
Joyce Kilmer [Rouge Bouquet (7 March 1918)]

This war was a revolution against the moral basis of civilization. It was conceived by the Nazis in conscious contempt for the life, dignity and freedom of individual man and deliberately prosecuted by means of slavery, starvation and the mass destruction of noncombatants' lives. It was a revolution against the human soul.
anonymous [p15 Time (14 May 1945)]

When the deserving receive their just deserts, the innocent always suffer with the guilty.

We are going to win the war, and we are going to win the peace that follows.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1941)

And when he goes to heaven
To Saint Peter he will tell:
Another Marine reporting, sir;
I've served my time in hell.
epitaph on the Guadalcanal grave of Marine PFC Cameron (1942)

The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.
Dwight D. Eisenhower [6 June 1944 Normandy landing]

Gentlemen, we are being killed on the beaches. Let us go inland to be killed.
Norman D. "Dutch" Cota [Omaha Beach (6 June 1944)]

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true: Give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
Franklin D. Roosevelt [D-Day prayer (6 June 1944)]

We shall not grow wiser before we learn that much that we have done was very foolish.
Friedrich A. Hayek [The Road to Serfdom (1972)]

From my mother's sleep I fell into the State,
And hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life
I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.
Randall Jarrell [The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner (1945)]

Is the world a better place for all the death and suffering we have endured for the sake of these visions [of more perfect societies]? The moral content of human experience does not differ much I think from one epoch to another. All we shall ever know of order and meaning is that we live and nurture life in others, that we grow food and eat it, that we beget children and that we die. What else is there? And yet, we have the soldiers ... always the soldiers coming at us, faceless and solemn, through the mists of dawn, and armed with noble causes, descending upon our little village [that's] waking to the ever fresh delight of the uncreated day ... scaring the children, scattering the chickens, infuriating the dogs ... to insist that there is greater purpose and splendor to our lives than breakfast in the pool of morning, the unhurried walk of a high haunched woman, orange trees in blossom, and a page of fine prose like claret in the mouth.
Andrew Jolly [A Time of Soldiers (1976)]

But it was a long trail yet, a long and lonesome way, before the brightness of real peace would live in the hearts of man — until no man ran howling, wild with fear, any kind of fear, would there be actual peace — until the last man threw away his weapon, any sort of weapon, the tribe of man could not be at peace.
Clifford D. Simak [Way Station (1963)]

His masculine honor, it appeared, had been outraged. To the hint that he was less than he ought to be, there could be no answer, save a bath of blood. Unluckily, all this took place in the United States, where the word honor, save when it is applied to the anatomical chastity of women, has only a comic significance. One hears of the honor of politicians, of bankers, of lawyers, even of the honor of the United States itself — everyone naturally laughs — so everyone laughed at him. More, it ascribed his dudgeon to mere publicity seeking, which caused him to rise to even higher dudgeons still.
paraphrase of Henry Louis Mencken

Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.
T.S. ELiot [p111 The Cocktail Party (1974)]

If we don't have anyone else to fight, we'll fight each other!
old Scottish adage

Men never do evil so fully and cheerfully as when we do it out of conscience.
Blaise Pascal

All I'm saying is [that] violence can be helpful. Sometimes it's the best way to make your point.
Carl Hiaasen

Speak softly and carry a big stick.
Theodore Roosevelt

I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.
attributed to Soh Yamamura Yamamoto, Imperial Japanese Navy Admiral commenting on Pearl Harbor attack

Jackson suddenly exclaimed, "How horrible is war!" "Horrible, yes," McGuire replied, "but we have been invaded. What can we do?" "Kill them, sir!", Jackson shouted in savage tone, "Kill every man!".
13 Dec 1862 comment by Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson during the battle of Fredericksburg as reported by Hunter Holmes McGuire

The only thing worse than having a war is losing one.
Harry Turtledove

And for America, there will be no going back to the era before September the 11th, 2001 — to false comfort in a dangerous world. We have learned that terrorist attacks are not caused by the use of strength; they are invited by the perception of weakness.
George Walker Bush [7 Sep 2003 nat'l address]

No nation has ever been attacked because it was too strong.
paraphrase of "Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong." by Ronald Wilson Reagan (29 June 1980)

Anyone who thinks he understands the situation here simply does not know the facts.
attributed to an ambassador to Laos

There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.
Eric Hoffer

Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.
Martin Luther King Jr

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
C.S. Lewis

Perhaps the only true dignity of man is his capacity to despise himself.
George Santayana

Nowhere at present is there such a measureless loathing of their country by educated people as in America.
Eric Hoffer [First Things, Last Things]

I don't mind a healthy debate, but don't ever use a line of crap like that on me again. I'm not one of your naïve college students, and I'm not some little sycophant[ic] political activist. I've seen people killed, and I've killed people in the service of our country. Your idealistic philosophical theories might fly in the hallowed halls of Congress, but they don't work in the real world. Violence is a fact of life. There are people who are willing to use it to get what they want, and in order to stop them, they need to be met with violence. If it wasn't for war, or the threat of waging war, people like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin would be running the [entire] world. And you would get shot for going around saying stupid things like: "violence only begets violence"!
Vince Flynn (2002)

Examine the records of history, recollect what has happened within the circle of your own experience, consider with attention what has been the conduct of almost all the greatly unfortunate, either in private or public life, whom you may have either read of, or hear of, or remember, and you will find that the misfortunes of by far the greater part of them have arisen from their not knowing when they were well, when it was proper for them to set still and to be contented.
Adam Smith [The Theory of Moral Sentiments]

To save your world you asked this man to die: Would this man, could he see you now, ask why?
W.H. Auden [Epitaph for an Unknown Soldier (1945)]

If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go. Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may or may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own. And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.
Michael Davis O'Donnell [MIA/KIA 1970 near DakTo RVN]

In the next terrorist attack on America, the streets will run with blood, and America will mourn in silence because they will be unable to count the number of the dead. America has brought this on itself.
paraphrase of threat by Assam the American [Adam Gadhan (aka: Adam Pearlman); purported al-Qaida spokesman (Oct 2004)]

There is no "secret plan" for victory by any politician, and never has been; because the only way to win a war is to kill the enemy, to destroy his will to resist and to humiliate his cause through defeat. Anything less is just an interlude; and anything more is uncivilized.

We [terrorists] are the weak ones. They [Coalition allies] make demands on us that don't exist in international law. There must be reciprocity. If your city is being bombed .... Those who bomb Fallujah cannot prevent me from bombing Los Angeles. ... If we had missiles we should have bombed Los Angeles or any other city until they stopped bombing Fallujah, Samarra, and Ramadi.
Magdi Ahmad Hussein

I've learned that the countless paths one traverses in one's life are all equal — oppressors and oppressed meet at the end, and the only thing that prevails is that life was altogether too short for both.
don Juan Matus (as interpreted by Carlos Castaneda)

The truth is that war remains the same the more it changes. For all the technological gadgetry, foreign landscapes, baffling global communications, and endemic pacifism of the present age, war is still a struggle of the human spirit. In short, the more sophisticated, the more technological, the more hyped and televised war becomes, the more pundits and strategists warn us about "fourth-generational", "asymmetrical", "irregular", and "new dimensional" conflict, the more we simply forget the unchanging requisite of the will to win that trumps all other considerations.

It is necessary to turn political crisis into armed crisis by performing violent actions that will force those in power to transform the military situation into a political situation. That will alienate the masses, who, from then on, will revolt against the army and the police and blame them for this state of things.
Carlos Marighella [Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla (1969)]

If we were to promise people nothing better than only revolution, they would scratch their heads and say: "Is it not better to have good goulash?"
Nikita Khrushchev (12 Sep 1971)

The gods mercifully gave mankind this little moment of peace between the religious fanaticisms of the past and the fanaticisms of class and race that were speedily to arise and dominate time to come.
G.M. Trevelyan

If the sword ever needs to be drawn, then the scabbard needs to be cast away.
paraphrase of an English proverb: "When the sword of rebellion is drawn, the sheath should be thrown away." attributed to John Singleton Copley

But above all, what this Congress can be remembered for is opening the way to a new American revolution — a peaceful revolution in which power was turned back to the people — in which government at all levels was refreshed and renewed and made truly responsive. This can be a revolution as profound, as far-reaching, as exciting as that first revolution almost two hundred years ago — and it can mean that just five years from now America will enter its third century as a young nation new in spirit, with all the vigor and the freshness with which it began its first century.
Richard Milhous Nixon [State of the Union address (22 Jan 1971)]

There cannot be peaceful coexistence in the ideological realm. Peaceful coexistence corrupts.
Jiang Qing (Apr 1967)

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (13 Mar 1962)

Revolution: In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment. Specifically, in American history, the substitution of the rule of an Administration for that of a Ministry, whereby the welfare and happiness of the people were advanced a full half-inch. Revolutions are usually accompanied by a considerable effusion of blood, but are accounted worth it — this appraisement being made by beneficiaries whose blood had not the mischance to be shed. The French revolution is of incalculable value to the Socialist of to-day; when he pulls the string actuating its bones its gestures are inexpressibly terrifying to gory tyrants suspected of fomenting law and order.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Well, one parallel [with fighting in Iraq] is that the Revolutionary War more than any other war until recently has been the most bloody war we've fought. I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial's really legitimate complaints and requests, the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a non-violent way.
James Earl Carter Jr

Peoples, once accustomed to masters, are not in a condition to do without them. If they attempt to shake off the yoke, they estrange themselves even more from freedom. By mistaking for it an unbridled license to which it is diametrically opposed, they nearly always manage, by their revolutions, to hand themselves over to seducers, who only make their chains heavier than before.
Jean Jacques Rousseau

He'd always prided himself on his tolerance, but there's a limit to all good things. He regretted the occasional necessity of giving one man authority over another, because some people enjoyed that authority too much to be entrusted with it. They tended to be easily misled into a gross over-appraisal of their importance. It seemed to him that when a man was too thick-headed and too low-down trifling to hold an honest job, he was usually able to find some other damned fool willing to hand him a measure of jurisdiction over the lives of his betters.
Elmer Kelton

And then someone heard of the mongoose, how it kills snakes with joy, and they sent a man to Africa, and he brought a brood of mongooses, and they let them loose on the island. There were so many snakes that it was like a paradise for them. You could walk for miles and hear nothing but the hissing of snakes, and the shrieks of mongooses, and the bustle and rustle in the thicket. But then the mongooses killed all the snakes, and bred so much that the island became too small for them. Chickens started disappearing. Cats also. There were rumors of rabid mongooses, and some even talked about monster mongooses that were the result of paradisiacal inbreeding. Now they're trying to figure out how to get rid of mongooses. So that's how it is ... it's all one pest after another, like revolution. Life is nothing if not a succession of evils.
Aleksandar Hemon

The scientific observer of the realm of nature is in a sense naturally and inevitably disinterested. At least, nothing in the natural scene can arouse his bias. Furthermore, he stands completely outside of the natural so that his mind, whatever his limitations, approximates pure mind. The observer of the realm of history cannot be disinterested in the same way, for two reasons: first, he must look at history from some locus in history; secondly, he is to a certain degree engaged in its ideological conflicts.
Reinhold Niebuhr

The warning given to Louis XVI: "No, sire, this is not a rebellion, it is a revolution", accents the essential difference. It means precisely that “it is the absolute certainty of a new form of government.” Rebellion is, by nature, limited in scope. It is no more than an incoherent pronouncement. Revolution, on the contrary, originates in the realm of ideas. Specifically, it is the injection of ideas into historical experience, while rebellion is only the movement that leads from individual experience into the realm of ideas. While even the collective history of a movement of rebellion is always that of a fruitless struggle with facts, of an obscure protest which involves neither methods nor reasons, a revolution is an attempt to shape action to ideas, to fit the world into a theoretic frame. That is why rebellion kills men while revolution destroys both men and principles.
Albert Camus ["Historical Rebellion" The Rebel (1956)]

War is a simple matter compared with revolution. War is an applied science with well defined principles tested in history; analogous situations may be found from ballista to H-bombs. But every revolution is a freak, a mutant, a monstrosity; its conditions never to be repeated. And its operations carried out by amateurs and individualists.
Robert A. Heinlein

Every time you play the game by the rules, someone changes the rules.
Joseph W. "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell

Where you stand on any particular issue depends on where you sit relative to that issue.
political axiom

My anti-Americanism has become almost uncontrollable. It has possessed me, like a disease. It rises up in my throat like acid reflux, that fashionable American sickness. I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq and the rest of the helpless world. I can hardly bear to see the faces of Bush and Rumsfeld, or to watch their posturing body language, or to hear their self-satisfied and incoherent platitudes.
Margaret Drabble

If you are going to accept the protections of your fellow man and the privileges of the benign society wrought by them, then you must honor those brave souls and respect their shelter, even if you disagree with them ... anything less is cowardly, and anything else is traitorous.
anonymous Army nurse

Affection, indulgence, and humor alike are powerless against the instinct of children to rebel. It is essential to their minds and their wills as exercise is to their bodies. If they have no reasons, they will invent them, like nations bound on war. It is hard to imagine families limp enough always to be at peace. Wherever there is character there will be conflict. The best that children and parents can hope for is that the wounds of their conflict may not be too deep or too lasting.
New York State Division of Youth Newsletter (1975)

If a man hits the right nail on the head nobody cares where he hits it to or what it does. They care about the noise of the hammer, not about the silent grip of the nail. These nails were always being knocked in with ringing decisiveness, but what have these nails held together? What is the objective of such carpentry?
paraphrase of Gilbert K. Chesterton in "The Mildness of the Yellow Press" Heretics

If you put Jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad in the same room together, they will embrace each other. If you put their followers together, they may kill each other!
Swami Prabhavananda

Truth is strong enough to stand alone ... only lies need a government to support them.

Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff; you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.
William Shakespeare [act 1 sc 1 ln 115-8 The Merchant of Venice (1595)]

An empty bag cannot stand upright.
Benjamin Franklin ["Poor Richard's Almanac" (Jan 1740)]

A fact is like a sack-it won't stand up if it's empty. To make it stand up, first you have to put in it all the reasons and feelings that caused it in the first place.
Luigi Pirandello [act 1 Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)]

All these statistics cannot hide the fact that ultimately the current War, like all others, is about the lives and deaths of individual human beings. And although war, as a human phenomenon, has essential elements that have repeated themselves from the dawn of recorded history, every war is unique unto itself.
paraphrase of Allan R. Millett

Facts are mere accessories to the truth, and we do not invite to our hearth the guest who can only remind us that on such a day we suffered calamity. Still less welcome is he who would make a Roman holiday of our misfortunes. Exaggeration of what was monstrous is quickly recognised as a sign of egotism, and that contrarious symptom of the same disease which pretends that what is accepted as monstrous was really little more than normal is equally unwelcome.
Max Plowman ["Subaltern on the Somme"]

Pandemonium: Literally, the Place of All the Demons. Most of them have escaped into politics and finance, and the place is now used as a lecture hall by the Audible Reformer. When disturbed by his voice the ancient echoes clamor appropriate responses most gratifying to his pride of distinction.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

The fact which the politician faces is merely that there is less honor among thieves than was supposed, and not the fact that they are thieves.
Henry David Thoreau ["Slavery in Massachusetts" (1854)]

When it comes to integrity, there are no extenuating circumstances.
Robin Cook

It recognizes no morality but a sham morality meant for deceit, no honor even among thieves and of a thievish sort, no force but physical force, no intellectual power but cunning, no disgrace but failure, no crime but stupidity.
R. Woodrow Wilson (6 Feb 1887)

Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he think himself wise in his own conceit. He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet and drinketh [in] violence.
Proverbs 26:5-6 21KJV Bible

Who combats bravely is not therefore brave,
He dreads a death-bed like the meanest slave:
Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise,—
His pride in reasoning, not in acting lies.
Alexander Pope

You know, doing what is right is easy. The problem is knowing what is right.
Lyndon Baines Johnson

[These] words mean killing is wrong. And since war is nothing but organized killing, war is wrong.
Bob Fertik (12 Sept 2002)

If we who served and those who were otherwise involved do not, through our words and deeds, challenge the revisionist history, a generation of young American fighting men will be forever denigrated and a vital chapter in our national history will be remembered erroneously.
J. Eldon Yates

Alas, how many have been persecuted for the wrong of having been right?
Jean-Baptiste Say [p154 An Economist in Troubled Times (1997)]

War is when opposing forces fight each other as hard and long as they can ... and then lie about it as loud and long as they can!

The first thing a man will do for his ideals is lie.
Joseph A. Schumpeter [p43n History of Economic Analysis (1954)

Never suppose that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing ....
Thomas Jefferson

The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas — a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated. Ronald Wilson Reagan

The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.
Abraham Lincoln [1 Dec 1862 message to Congress]

What people believe is philosophy, and what people will do because of what they believe is politics. Philosophy is the art of the ideal, while politics is the craft of the possible.
paraphrase of Otto von Bismarck

The more one analyzes people, the more all reasons for analysis disappear. Sooner or later one comes to that dreadful universal thing called human nature.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills] ["The Decay of Lying" Intentions (1891)]

For assassination was political, even as diplomacy and war were political; after all, politics was little more than the short circuiting of violence. An election was held, rather than a revolution, but at all times, the partition between politics and violence was a thin and flimsy thing.
Clifford D. Simak

A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.
Niccol di Bernardo Machiavelli [ch 18 The Prince (1514)]

They had been strong, as those are strong who know neither doubt nor hope.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski]

For undemocratic reasons and for motives not of State,
They arrive at their conclusions — largely inarticulate.
Being void of self-expression they confide their views to none;
But sometimes in a smoking room, one learns why things were done.
J. Rudyard Kipling

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
John Kenneth Galbraith [2 Mar 1962 letter to President John F. Kennedy while serving as ambassador to India]

Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.
Mao Tse-Tung / Mao Zedong

War is politics by other means.
paraphrase of Karl von Clausewitz

Politics is war by other means.

The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.
Henry Alfred Kissinger [Foreign Affairs (1969)]

The natural approach to human relations presumes that to know any person well enough is to love him, and that therefore the only human problem is a communication problem. It refuses to admit the possibility that people might be separated by basic, deeply held, genuinely irreconcilable differences — philosophical, political, or religious. Thus the effort to trivialize etiquette as being a barrier to the happy mingling of souls actually trivializes intellectual, emotional, and spiritual convictions by characterizing any difference between one person's and another's as no more than a simple misunderstanding, easily solved by frank exchanges or orchestrated encounters. Many forms of etiquette are employed exactly to disguise those antipathies that arise from irreconcilable differences in order to prevent mayhem.
Judith "Miss Manners" Martin

Minister: An agent of a higher power with a lower responsibility. In diplomacy and officer sent into a foreign country as the visible embodiment of his sovereign's hostility. His principal qualification is a degree of plausible inveracity next below that of an ambassador.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Plenipotentiary: Having full power. A Minister Plenipotentiary is a diplomatist possessing absolute authority on condition that he never exert it.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.
Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi

Peace may be far more comfortable than war, but we learn more from sorrow than from ecstasy, from labor than from idle, from challenge than from security ... and from this learning we acquire understanding ... and through understanding we may obtain wisdom.

The more prosperous and settled a nation, the more readily it tends to think of war as a regrettable accident; to nations less fortunate the chance of war presents itself as a possible bountiful friend.
Lewis H. Lapham (1991)

A self-respecting nation is ready for anything, including war, except for a renunciation of its option to make war.
Simone Weil [The Power of Words, Nouveaux Cahiers (1937; 1962)]

Patriotism is an ephemeral motive that scarcely ever outlasts the particular threat to society that aroused it.
Denis Diderot [Observations on the Drawing Up of Laws (1774; 1921; 1966)]

I do not mean to exclude altogether the idea of patriotism. I know it exists, and I know it has done much in the present contest. But I Will venture to assert, that a great and lasting war can never be supported on this principle alone. It must be aided by a prospect of interest, or some reward.
George Washington [21 April 1778 letter]

For most men, their love of country is only represented in their courage to suffer the flagrant abuses of patriotism.
paraphrased from Duc François de la Rochefoucauld and Le Comte de Lautréamont [Isidore Lucien Ducasse]

You're not to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.
Malcolm X [Little]

You can only protect your liberties in this world by protecting the other man's freedom. You can only be free if I am free.
Clarence S. Darrow

The mark of a civilized person is his willingness to deny his own self-interest in recognition of some greater cause or finer motive. Culture, being the ultimate development of self by cooperative extension, would not exist without selflessness. Whenever justifying our transgressions, destruction seems to be inherently coupled with our aspirations; but some ill-defined things of no extrinsic value are worth dying for. These bloodstained dreams have made us better than we were.

Sacrifice and giving are the foundations of the good society. In fact, sacrifice is the pre-condition for a free people. Its neglect comes at the cost of all that has made America what it is. Promoting the common good is something that each of us must take up ourselves. America lives today because for two hundred years there have been women and men who prized freedom above life itself.
Jerry Brown

War alone brings up to their highest tension all human energies and imposes the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to make it.
Benito Mussolini [The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism Enciclopedia Italiana (1932)]

Several young ladies were assembled engaged in scoffing at our men as they passed, but they were treated with contempt or derision. I heard of nothing witty said by any of them. It was made evident however that they were not ladies in the southern acceptation of the word. The men I spoke to acknowledged that the brutalities practiced by their troops, upon the southern people, fully justified our retaliating and were surprised at our moderation — the poorer classes told me that our troops behaved better to them than their own did. ... The people of Chambersburg are decidedly. The men dare not show it but by their looks, the women tried to be sarcastic on various occasions but succeeded in being vulgar only. They are a very different race from the southern. There's a coarseness in their manners and looks and a twang in their voices — which grates harshly on the senses of our men; the distinction of class, the poor and sick is very marked. Everyone speaks for peace at any price, and since war has been brought to their own homes, they look desponding to the last degree, and begin to believe that they have been vastly deceived by engaging in it — I have found no one to speak of Lincoln as a man of either capacity or patriotism, everyone even the women think he is under abolition influence entirely, and they assert boldly that freedom should not be the lot of the negro.
Lafayette McLaws [15 June 1863 letter]

The flat unsmiling face, the glinting bayonet, and the polished boots all seemed impervious to thought, let alone fear. There is, as I later found out, no real fear unless you think about it. There is sudden terror, but that is more easily controlled than the kind of fear that gnaws away over a period of time. The first thing we had to do was make these people think. I use the word 'people' loosely, because except for the one I saw briefly smiling, they were as impersonal as tanks.
Nathaniel Benchley [Bright Candles (1974)]

It is fear, not law or clemency, that constrains the wicked. ancient axiom

Do not look back in anger, nor ahead in fear, but around in awareness.
James Grover Thurber

And yet here's a peculiar thing. Even in the echo of that awful deafening crash, which seemed to freeze me up from top to toe, I had time to think that there's something grand about the bursting of a big projectile. What does it sound like? It's hard to say; because what you hear is mixed up with what you're frightened of. Mainly it gives you a vision of bursting metal. You seem to see great sheets of iron bursting open. But the peculiar thing is the feeling it gives you of being suddenly shoved up against reality. It's like being woken up by somebody shying a bucket of water over you. You're suddenly dragged out of your dreams by a clang of bursting metal — and it's terrible — and it's real.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

[battle is not] the real war.
Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars

The real war was not movements or maps; it was not enlistments and discharges; it was not the relative abilities of officers and politicians. Nor was the real war manufacturing and supply; it was not regimental formations and battery organization, solid shot or shoes for horses; it was not numbers and losses, nor even killed and wounded, or battlefields and cemeteries. It was not anything we can count, measure, or read. The real war was a nightmare.
Kent Gramm [Somebody's Darling, Essays on the Civil War (2002)]

War is not a true adventure. It is a mere ersatz. Where ties are established, where problems are set, where creation is stimulated — there you have adventure. But there is no adventure in heads-or-tails, in betting that the toss will come out of life or death. War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry [Flight to Arras (1942)]

The ifs can kill you, and the never agains can gut you ... time divided by life equals death every time.
John D. MacDonald

There are no medals awarded for regret.

I had seen so much of real suffering, of conflict, danger and death, that for years I could read neither romance or history, for nothing equalled what I had seen and known. All tales of war and carnage, every story of sorrow and suffering paled before the sad scenes of misery I knew of.
Cornelia Peake McDonald [April 1865 diary entry]

The baby-boomers who advocated peace and championed the counter culture don't have any real battles to talk about, so they feel compelled to amend, colonize, annex, quantify, qualify, trammel, co-opt, usurp, steal, or commodify every meaningful thing from any other generation in hopes of investing some genuine value into their pretentious and selfish lives.
paraphrase of Joe Queenan

From my earliest childhood I have been toiling & wearing my heart out for other people, who took all I could do & suffer for them as no more than their just dues.
John Randolph [letter to John Brockenbrough]

The Army sure knows how to take the patriotism out of a man.
Irwin Shaw

When baiting a trap with cheese, always remember to leave room for the mouse.
Saki [Hector Hugh Munro]

The shattered heel and what remained of the calf of his right leg began to pain Doniphon [Lear], and he began to lean more heavily on the cane, which he had never learned to use properly, and with which he was even more clumsy now that he depended upon it more. It was a good cane, from what he knew of canes, a plain black military cane with a solid rubber tip, which they had issued him at the hospital, as though it were any other standard piece of Army equipment, with its own serial number stamped or engraved upon it somewhere, though he'd not yet found it. The fault was not with the cane but with him. He had never given canes enough thought in those days when he had not needed them. He had not prepared himself to be a cripple. He'd always been prepared to be a corpse, because that took only a certain viewpoint which had always been a part of his nature; but it required a special skill to be a cripple, and he had not foreseen that. The Army should give courses preparing men to be cripples. The mistaken assumption was that you survived battle intact, or you became a corpse. But there were always more cripples than corpses. He could imagine training lectures entitled: Procedures on Adapting to the Behavioral Pattern of a Minimal Functioning Human Organism; and the opening sentences of such lectures appeared in his brain as though they were printed on the brownish paper of military manuals. But since neither he nor the Army had had the foresight to prepare him to be a cripple, he had to drag himself inefficiently down the empty avenue, the smart click of his good left foot against the cement followed by the soft thump of the cane and scrape of his wounded leg. [He was] A hurt hawk, a fallen but undead Icarus on disability pay.
Andrew Jolly [A Time of Soldiers (1976)]

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, demoralisation and disorder on the part of the inferior ... jealousies, meanness, indifference, selfish brutality on the part of the superior.
Florence Nightingale [5 May 1855 letter, Forever Yours, Florence Nightingale; Selected Letters (1989)]

To me war is like an aging actress — more and more dangerous and less and less photogenic.
Robert Capa [Andrei Friedmann]

Two things greater than all things are
The first is love and the second war
And since we know not how war may prove
Heart of my heart, let us talk of love
J. Rudyard Kipling

For the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.
Matthew Arnold [Dover Beach]

Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.
George Santayana

It can be plausibly argued that the best possible contribution to a world in turmoil is sitting quietly and doing nothing; for only then will the ferment and upheaval have a chance to settle.
paraphrase of Alan Wilson Watts [The Way of Zen (1957)]

Who can make sense of a world like cloudy water?
Left alone and still, it becomes clear.
Should this stillness be maintained?
Moving hastily will surely cloud it again.
How then can one move and not become clouded?
Lao-Tzu [#15 Tao Te Ching]

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
Edna Saint Vincent Millay [Dirge Without Music (1928)]

You did much more than grow-up when you went away to war ... you left as a man and returned as a human being.
paraphrase of Stephen Hunter

Those who have been immersed in the tragedy of massive death during wartime, and who have faced it squarely, never allowing their senses and feelings to become numbed and indifferent, have emerged from their experiences with growth and humanness greater than that achieved through almost any other means.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross [ch 5 Death: The Final Stage of Growth (1975)]

You can't pick up a paper without seeing where the Marines were landed to keep some nation from shooting each other, and if necessary we shoot them to keep them from shooting each other.
William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (5 Jul 1925)

The only thing that's been a worse flop than the organization of non-violence has been the organization of violence.
Joan Baez

I don't know how a lot of these other nations have existed as long as they have till we could get some of our people around and show 'em how to be pure and good like us.
William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (27 Feb 1932)

The truth [about this ideological war] is in the millions of innocent families who have suffered the most horrible tragedies ... [they were] people who understood what was happening in only the vaguest way. The truth of this war lies buried with its victims, with those who died, and with those who are consigned to live in an oppressed silence, for now and for the coming generations. A silence the world calls peace.
Bui Diem

As civilization advances, the wilderness withdraws ... for history is just like the rule of beasts. It has ever been this way, and shall forever be ... such that when we are strong, we would not change it, and when we are weak, we cannot change it.
paraphrase of Elmer Kelton

Men never do evil so fully and cheerfully as when we do it out of conscience.
Blaise Pascal [#813/895 Pensées (1670)]

When you learn of the solemn and determined preparations for war being made by otherwise decent people, you think them ludicrous. And when you learn of the grotesque and devastated aftermath of this ever so essential war, you think them unreal. You do not understand how seemingly normal people can plan and execute such abnormalities, and then decry those same effects while pleading their innocence. You do not understand such mad recklessness; and because you are not utterly enthralled by their abandon, you shall be their next target.

I swear I've seen a hundred million miserable faces with those empty looking eyes [that] all those refugees [have] got ... Christ, you get tired of it. They [leaders] send you into these things [interventions], and you're supposed to just ... they call these things humanitarian operations, but a real humanitarian would go in and knock the crap out of the bad guys, wouldn't he? A real humanitarian wouldn't stand around putting Band-Aids on them after they got hurt. A real humanitarian would keep them from getting hurt in the first place, don't you think?
Brian Haig

Strength is inherently dangerous.
Dorothy M. Johnson

All I'm saying is [that] violence can be helpful. Sometimes it's the best way to make your point.
Carl Hiaasen

I don't mind a healthy debate, but don't ever use a line of crap like that on me again. I'm not one of your naïve college students, and I'm not some little sycophant[ic] political activist. I've seen people killed, and I've killed people in the service of our country. Your idealistic philosophical theories might fly in the hallowed halls of Congress, but they don't work in the real world. Violence is a fact of life. There are people who are willing to use it to get what they want, and in order to stop them, they need to be met with violence. If it wasn't for war, or the threat of waging war, people like Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin would be running the [entire] world. And you would get shot for going around saying stupid things like: violence only begets violence!
Vince Flynn (2002)

It [this weapon] kills people when that is a thing that has to be done, even though you can never be certain after it has been done that it had to be done, but when you get that far, survive it that much, it doesn't make any difference, because you can never get back into that time to find out for sure whether it was the thing that [really] had to be done. All you can do is get ready for the next time it may seem to be [necessary].
Andrew Jolly

GUNPOWDER: An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels. Moreover, it has the hearty concurrence of the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary Wilson became interested in gunpowder through an event that occurred on the Government experimental farm in the District of Columbia. One day, several years ago, a rogue imperfectly reverent of the Secretary's profound attainments and personal character presented him with a sack of gunpowder, representing it as the sed of the _Flashawful flabbergastor_, a Patagonian cereal of great commercial value, admirably adapted to this climate. The good Secretary was instructed to spill it along in a furrow and afterward inhume it with soil. This he at once proceeded to do, and had made a continuous line of it all the way across a ten-acre field, when he was made to look backward by a shout from the generous donor, who at once dropped a lighted match into the furrow at the starting-point. Contact with the earth had somewhat dampened the powder, but the startled functionary saw himself pursued by a tall moving pillar of fire and smoke and fierce evolution. He stood for a moment paralyzed and speechless, then he recollected an engagement and, dropping all, absented himself thence with such surprising celerity that to the eyes of spectators along the route selected he appeared like a long, dim streak prolonging itself with inconceivable rapidity through seven villages, and audibly refusing to be comforted. "Great Scott! what is that?" cried a surveyor's chainman, shading his eyes and gazing at the fading line of agriculturist which bisected his visible horizon. "That," said the surveyor, carelessly glancing at the phenomenon and again centering his attention upon his instrument, "is the Meridian of Washington."
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Therefore, if we find civilised nations do not put their prisoners to death, do not devastate towns and countries, this is because their intelligence exercises greater influence on their mode of carrying on War, and has taught them more effectual means of applying force than these rude acts of mere instinct. The invention of gunpowder, the constant progress of improvements in the construction of firearms, are sufficient proofs that the tendency to destroy the adversary which lies at the bottom of the conception of War is in no way changed or modified through the progress of civilisation.
Karl von Clausewitz

Customs always have a reason behind them, sometimes good, sometimes bad. This is a good one. ... in the first place, an armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. For me, politeness is a sine qua non of civilization. That's a personal evaluation only, but gunfighting has a strong biological use. We do not have enough things to kill off the weak and the stupid these days; but to stay alive as an armed citizen, a man has to be either quick with his wits or with his hands, preferably both. It's a good thing. Of course, our combativeness has to do with our ancestry and our history; but we have preserved that inheritance intentionally.
Robert A. Heinlein [Beyond This Horizon (1942, 1948)]

Guns don't kill people — people kill people.
slogan adopted by the National Rifle Association

A gun is just a tool. No better and no worse than any other tool ... a shovel, or an ax, or a saddle, or a stove, or anything. Think of it always that way. A gun is as good, and as bad, as the man who carries it.
Jack Schaefer (1948)

Death, wounds, suffering, and privation remain the same, whatever the weapons employed, and their reaction on the ultimate nature of man is the same now as in the struggle a century ago.
Karl von Clausewitz

Love is just another way of giving someone everything they may need to use in order to destroy you.
paraphrase of Marc Olden

When armageddon finally occurs, it will not be the ultimate contest between the forces of good and evil, but will be the final battle between true-believers and former believers – between those converted communists or christians or whatever and those formerly converted – in which they wrathfully condemn and righteously savage each other unto their utter extinction!
paraphrase of Arthur Koestler

The world is more apt to be destroyed by bad politics than bad physics.
Albert Einstein

The human race lost something when people stopped bashing one another with sticks, and started using [advanced] technology in their disputes; and what they lost was their humanness. We'll all wake up some morning and find that we're the aliens.
Donald E. Westlake (1975)

This [catastrophic] war may be the first in history which [selectively] kills the stupid, rather than the bright and able, where it makes any distinction. [Past] Wars have always been hardest on the best young men, [but] this time the boys in service are safe, or safer, than civilians; and of civilians, those who used their heads and made preparations, stand a far better chance. Not in every case, but on the average, and that will improve the breed. When it's over, things will be tough, and that will improve the breed still more. For years, the surest way of surviving has been to be utterly worthless and breed alot of worthless kids. All that will change.
Robert A. Heinlein

Combat takes from each soldier according to his ability, and gives to each according to his situation.
a Murphy Law of Combat [paraphrase of Comte de Saint-Simon]

As I know more of mankind I expect less of them, and am ready now to call a man a good man upon easier terms than I was formerly.
Samuel Johnson

One does not use good iron to make nails, nor good men to make soldiers.
ancient Chinese proverb

Hui-Tzu said to Chuang-Tzu, "I have a big tree of the sort that people call 'useless'. Its trunk is too gnarled and bumpy to apply a measuring line to, its branches too bent and twisty to match up to a compass or square. You could stand it by the road and no carpenter would look at it twice. Your words, too, are big and useless, and so everyone alike spurns them!" ... Chuang-Tzu said, "Now you have this big tree and you're distressed because it's useless. Why don't you plant it in Not-Even-Anything Village, or the Field of Broad-and-Boundless, relax and do nothing by its side, or lie down for a free and easy sleep under it? Axes will never shorten its life, nothing can ever harm it. If there's no use for it, how can it come to grief or pain?"

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.
Samuel P. Huntington

Defeat was one thing — anyone could have a bad day and get beaten in a fight. Humiliation was another thing altogether. You could live down a bad day — you lived with humiliation forever, if only inside your own head.
Mercedes R. Lackey (2001)

They say a good soldier fights a battle, never a war — that's for civilians.
John Ernst Steinbeck [Winter of Our Discontent (1961)]

Sometimes you win
Sometimes you won't
Sometimes you beat that devil
Sometimes you don't
We're all just killin' time
'til the Good Lord calls us home
And the best that you can hope for
Is to die
With your boots on
Toby Keith

To see him shine so brisk and smell so sweet And talk so like a waiting-gentlewoman Of guns, and drums, and wounds, — God save the mark!
William Shakespeare

I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.
Isaiah 63:3 Bible

The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary. Men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski]

There's a dark side to intelligent beings — an irrational craving for war, personal defilement, and reckless destruction, even if we know better.
Thom Jones

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
Robert Frost (1923)

Anger is like the sharp blade of a sword — it's too dangerous to hold for too long.
African proverb

Violence is always waiting for you around the next corner.
Lawrence Block

We're nearing a critical point. One day soon, two strangers will bump into each other at high noon in the middle of New York; but this time they won't snarl and go on. They will stop and stare, and then leap at each other's throats in a dreadful silence. The infection will spread outward from that point. Old ladies will crack skulls with their deadly handbags. Cars will plunge down the crowded sidewalks. Drivers will be torn out of their cars and stomped. It will spread to all the huge cities of the world, and by dawn of the next day, there will be a horrid silence of sprawled bodies and tumbled vehicles, gutted buildings and a few wisps of smoke. And through that silence will prowl a few, a very few, of the most powerful ones ... ragged and bloody ... slowly tracking each other down.
John D. MacDonald

I am existentialist. War enables people to be what they really are. The sadists become torturers. The psychopaths make brave frontline troops. The bullies and the victims alike have scope to play their roles to the hilt. And the whores are always busy.
Ken Follett (2001)

The moral effect of a victory increases, not merely in proportion to the extent of the forces engaged, but in a progressive ratio — that is to say, not only in extent, but also in its intensity.
Karl von Clausewitz

Integrity is not a conditional word ... it is your inner image of your [interactive] self. Integrity is not a search for the rewards of [reliable] integrity ... it is not supposed to be a productive asset.
John D. MacDonald (1972)

We suffer primarily not from our vices or our weaknesses, but from our illusions. We are haunted, not by reality, but by those images we have put in place of reality.
Daniel J. Boorstin [Intro The Image (1962)]

Difficulties is the name given to things which it is our business to overcome.
Ernest J. King [Adm, USN CNO (1942)]

The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer.
U.S. Army Service Forces motto (1945)

Be All That You Can Be.
U.S. Army recruiting motto (1980)

Military service does not build character — it reveals it!
a military leadership maxim

War doesn't mature men ... it merely pickles them in the brine of disgust and dread.
Rex Stout (1939)

His expression spoke volumes for the adrenalin euphoria of war. Once the perils of a situation have been escaped, the good times roll. It's alot like hitting yourself over the head with a hammer. It really feels good when you stop. And beyond that, there's no point or moral lesson to be learned whatever.
Thom Jones

There are more pleasant things to do than beat-up people.
Muhammad Ali [Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr]

It is by no means self-evident that human beings are most real when most violently excited; violent physical passions do not in themselves differentiate men from each other, but rather tend to reduce them to the same state.
Thomas Elliot

A hot war cannot be fought with cold blood.
D. Dean Rusk

There is the old brute, too, the savage, the hairy man who dabbles his fingers in ropes of entrails; and gobbles and belches; whose speech is guttural, visceral -- well, he is here. He squats in me.
Adeline Virginia Stephen Woolf [205p The Waves (1931; 1943)]

... excited and off his balance was evident on the afternoon of the 1st [of July 1863], and he [R.E. Lee] labored under that oppression until enough blood was shed to appease him.
James "Pete" Longstreet [From Manassas to Appomattox: Memoirs of the Civil War in America]

Destiny doesn't care about people. You can slaughter all the people you want and nobody will care. After the piles of flowers are taken away and the TV funerals are over, people forget. Killing people just rearranges carbon and water ... blood can be erased.
John Hockenberry (2001)

First you destroy those who create values. Then you destroy those who know what the values are, and who also know that those destroyed before were in fact the creators of values. But real barbarism begins when no one can any longer judge or know that what he does is barbaric.
Ryszard Kapuscinski [A Warsaw Diary (1985)]

The savage in man is never quite eradicated.
Henry David Thoreau [Journal (1859)]

Man was born into barbarism, when killing his fellow man was a normal condition of existence. He became endowed with a conscience, and he has now reached the day when violence toward another human being must become as abhorrent as eating another's flesh.
Martin Luther King Jr

It is fortunate that each generation does not comprehend its own ignorance. We are thus enabled to call our ancestors barbarous.
Charles Dudley Warner [Second Study Backlog Studies (1873)]

We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it.
Blaise Pascal [#166 Pensées (1670)]

When a romantic fails at something, they give him a medal; but when a pragmatist succeeds at it, they just curse him for it.
Stephen Edwin King

Hell, what do you expect? ... as long as there are [natural and man-made] jungles, there will be rapacious animals.
Chester Himes (1965)

We all carry within us our places of exile, our crimes, and our ravages. But our task is not to unleash them on the world; it is to fight them in ourselves and in others.
Albert Camus [Moderation and Excess pt 5 The Rebel (1951; tr 1953)]

But there was no one, nor any other sound but the monotonous drone of the crickets. Then he thought "No, I have seen this before" and remembered how it was: how a man might be sitting by the fire, or cleaning his musket, or bending to tie his shoe, and all at once he would crack open, lift his face in terror as some dormant image burst unexpected out of his fragile heart. Gawain had seen men cry like this, had heard the sounds they made as they tried to push closed the door of memory. Most times they succeeded and would slink away abashed while their comrades pretended to be busy with the fire. But sometimes a man could not close the door again. Then he might cry out and wave his arms and run madly away, the demons pursuing like a cloud of hornets — or he might sit upon the ground, moaning, rocking slowly back and forth, gone to a place where no one could reach him. This was the worst, for when his comrades knelt before him, they could see their own fate in the dull mirror of his eyes.
Howard Bahr [The Year of Jubilo (2000)]

The bourgeoisie of the whole world, which looks complacently upon the wholesale massacre after the battle, is convulsed by horror at the desecration of brick and mortar.
Karl Heinrich Marx

I understand what it is. I'll tell you what it is. I was there, and it was horrible. You can't imagine it, but I don't have to imagine it ... I was there. So what I have is a memory, and memories fade. All memories fade ... that's what they do ... but you don't have the memory. All you have is imagination, and imagination never fades.
Donald E. Westlake

As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills] [pt 2 The Critic as Artist (1891)]

It is becoming more and more obvious that it is not starvation, not microbes, not cancer, but man himself who is mankind's greatest danger, because he has not adequate protection against psychic epidemics, [which are] infinitely more devastating in their effect than the greatest natural catastrophes.
Carl Gustav Jung

... closed his eyes and realized its great streaming force, and knew he was under the sway of the enemy .... You could not really feel the full implications of [a natural disaster] without knowing that any conflict between men could never be more than internecine. And once you felt this, your patience grew shorter with the voices of hate. You came to know more clearly that whatever hand reached for the sword must be chopped off by the sword. Once you knew ... that [natural disasters] were the great eternal enemies of man, there could be no tolerance for those who sought to replace the processes of patient reason by violent joint effort, by war. More clearly could you see that whatever force sought to divide the people, on whatever pretext, was the enemy of the people; the toxin that would, if permitted, destroy their strength and blight their decent aspirations. Further, [a natural disaster] told you that until humans could rise to the necessity to trust each other, their vigor would be lost in disunion. It told you that if salvation, in the form of progress and fulfillment, were ever to come to men, it must come through intelligent trust, by rising above fear, and by means of the natural affection of man for man that automatically occurs when fear is removed, like the emergence of green leaves when winter is over.
George Sessions Perry [Hold Autumn in Your Hand (1941)]

War is a formless and furious evil that brutalizes everyone ... leaving some stunned, some haunted, some terrified, some fascinated, some ashamed, and too many dead.

To say that war is madness is like saying that sex is madness: true enough, from the standpoint of a stateless eunuch, but merely a provocative epigram for those who must make their arrangements in the world as given.
John Updike [ch 4 Self-Consciousness: Memoirs (1989)]

When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy (12 Apr 1959)

We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analysing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a programme would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators.
Neville Chamberlain [6 Oct 1938 speech to House of Commons after Munich Conference]

Ultimatum: In diplomacy, a last demand before resorting to concessions.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

I know how to stop war, to put an end to fighting, to halt the bleeding and suffering — finish it!
paraphrase of Elmore Leonard

If you're going to count the casualties, then you should never have gone to war in the first place.
Lawrence Sanders

I shall fight to the death, and I shall not count my life more valuable than freedom.
ancient Hellenic oath

Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?
I Corinthians 15:54-55 Bible

For something as large as it is, death doesn't look like much ... at first.
Robert B. Parker

Creation destroys as it goes, throws down one tree for the rise of another. But ideal mankind would abolish death, multiply itself million upon million, rear up city upon city, save every parasite alive, until the accumulation of mere existence is swollen to a horror.
D.H. Lawrence [St. Mawr (1925; repr 1979)]

The dying ask questions that the living cannot answer, and the dead will never tell.

Everyone who dies joins everyone else who ever died through water .... Somehow, wherever they fall or are buried, water connects them. Rain falls on their quiet resting places, and runs off to join other water. It's the melding agent of wars. For the blood of soldiers from all the battles of history have been washed away by the rain, and eventually found its way down rivers and streams to some ocean, becoming one with its salt and the blood of others.
Sue Henry

It is better for us to die in battle, than to behold the calamities of our people and our sanctuary.
I Maccabees 3:59 Apocrypha

Death before dishonor.
proverbial military slogan

When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.
Thomas Paine [Common Sense (1776)]

Honor is not heritable, but the common man does not aspire to the condition of his commonness. Remember that tragedy is an expression of the people ... not a representation of them ... for as each man comes forth to be tried, the whole community is tried. No one escapes. Soldiers are always around, in one capacity or another, whenever things are happening, because they need to protect the present from the future ... or for the future ... in ways that imperil their precious honor.
Andrew Jolly

The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword.
Lamentations 2:21 Bible

Out of life's school of war: What does not destroy me, makes me stronger.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1888)

Victory without God is mockery and delusion, but defeat with God is not defeat.
William Faulkner

What does not destroy us, we destroy, and it makes us stronger.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche [earlier version of 1888 maxim]

Seest thou these great buildings? There may not be left a stone upon a stone, that may not be thrown down. And when ye may see the abomination of the desolation ... let him not come down to the house, nor come in to take anything out of his house; and he who is in the field, let him not turn to the things behind, to take up his garment. And wo to those with child, and to those giving suck, in those days; and pray ye that your flight may not be in winter, for those days shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation that God created, till now ....
Mark 13:2,14-18 (YLT) Bible

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sand stretch far away.
Percy Bysshe Shelley [Ozymandias (1818)]

The Lord is slow to anger and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.
Nahum 1:3 Bible

And having gone forth, Jesus departed from the temple, and his disciples came near to show him the buildings of the temple, and Jesus said to them, "Do ye not see all these? verily I say to you, There may not be left here a stone upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down." And when he is sitting on the mount of the Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, "Tell us, when shall these be? and what [is] the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?" And Jesus answering said to them, "Take heed that no one may lead you astray ...."
Matthew 24:1-4 YLT Bible

And when we decide to destroy a nation, we first send warning to those who are given abundance in this life and still transgress, so that the sentence is proven against them, then we annihilate them utterly.
Koran 17:16.5

Their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
Isaiah 59:6-8 KJV Bible

Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!
Omar Khayyám [st 12 The Rubaíyát]

How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we are marching into battle against an enemy.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche [aph 557 "Into Battle Against an Enemy" (1881)]

A scrap of phrase, a wail of bugles ... all countries bleed and die in the same way, and for the same thing.
Andrew Jolly

Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skilful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.
Sun-Tzu [ch 6 ax 9 The Art of War (ca490BC)]

Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is [only] momentary.
Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi [Satyagraha Leaflet No. 13 (3 May 1919)]

Whenever time permits, thought before action; but when time does not permit, above all, ACTION! ... quick, thorough, decisive action.
military maxim

In time of war, first commit the nation, then commit the troops.
H. Ross Perot

Strategy fixes the point where, the time when, and the numerical force with which the battle is to be fought. By this triple determination it has therefore a very essential influence on the issue of the combat. If tactics has fought the battle, if the result is over, let it be victory or defeat, Strategy makes such use of it as can be made in accordance with the great object of the War.
Karl von Clausewitz

Because military affairs often employ scientific methods, too many practitioners neglect its concomitant artistry ... no formula can counter inspiration, neither can intuition be backtracked.

Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.

The few who command the many are never as formidable as the many who command themselves and lead the few. A conscript army must be kept strong enough to defeat its adversaries, but never strong enough to defeat its leaders. A mob has only numbers to lend it strength for any purpose. But an army of free men is composed of soldiers who captain their own skills and general their own cause. They lead by example, reinforce one another, and inspire others to follow. Free men will rout driven conscripts and factious mobs ... they can only be conquered by exhaustion and treachery.
paraphrase of Hellenic justification

Real soldiers, the professionals, can always recognize each other, can sense another's presence and smell their skill.
paraphrase of Brian Haig

Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.
Sun-Tzu [ch 5 ax 17 The Art of War (ca490BC)] [explanatory note by translator Lionel Giles: "If you wish to feign confusion in order to lure the enemy on, you must first have perfect discipline; if you wish to display timidity in order to entrap the enemy, you must have extreme courage; if you wish to parade your weakness in order to make the enemy over-confident, you must have exceeding strength."]

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Isaac Asimov

Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.
Leo Buscaglia

Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Man is the cruelest animal.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Those who love to be feared fear to be loved, and they themselves are more afraid than anyone, for whereas other men fear only them, they fear everyone.
Saint Frances de Sales

We see, therefore, how, from the commencement, the absolute, the mathematical as it is called, nowhere finds any sure basis in the calculations in the Art of War; and that from the outset there is a play of possibilities, probabilities, good and bad luck, which spreads about with all the coarse and fine threads of its web, and makes War of all branches of human activity the most like a gambling game.
Karl von Clausewitz

As always, victory finds a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.
Galeazzo Ciano [on 9 Sep 1942 in The Ciano Diaries: 1939-43]

Victory has innumerable parents, while defeat is an orphan.
ancient maxim

Blunders are an inescapable feature of war, because choice in military affairs lies generally between the bad and the worse.
Allan Massie [pt 3 ch 11 A Question of Loyalties (1989)]

The oplan is always perfect in the briefing session, and the op order is always clear in the headquarters, because the system is designed to protect itself. There is no such thing as "freedom of movement" in the chain-of-command. Any operational element that has been given a license for tactical initiative has not been granted permission to innovate or interpret, and is not independent or autonomous, but rather has been issued a blueprint for scapegoating.
paraphrase of Jeff Rovin

Unfortunately, our species has demonstrated a striking lack of caution in the past. It is hard to imagine that we will behave differently in the future. We think we know what we are doing. We have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future. Instead, each generation writes off earlier errors as the result of bad thinking by less able minds, and then confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own.
Michael Crichton

War is an act of belief on the past of a people in their conception of the meaning of human life. The way in which people make war is influenced by this conception.
Andrew Jolly

History is about what actually happened; not about what didn't happen. Speculating on what might have happened is not history, it is fiction.
paraphrase of Stephen E. Ambrose

Today we know that World War II began not in 1939 or 1941 but in the 1920's and 1930's when those who should have known better persuaded themselves that they were not their brother's keeper.
Hubert H. Humphrey

There is always a chance that he who sets himself up as his brother's keeper will end up by being his jailkeeper.
Eric Hoffer

This [Spanish Civil War] is not a war. It's a comic opera punctuated by an occasional death.
attributed to George Cox by George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Alfred Tennyson [The Charge of the Light Brigade (1854)]

For every state, war is always incessant and lifelong against every other state, for what most men call peace, this is really only a name. In truth, all states, by their very nature, are always engaged in an informal war against all other states.

Neither side ever wins a war. The best that can happen is that some good comes out of the bad, that in some small way the rights of the innocent survive, that in some unknown manner civilization will learn from its mistakes, so another historical debacle may be averted.
paraphrase of Clay Fisher [Henley W. Allen]

"Direct action ... that's your style. You're an old relic. You ought to be displayed under glass in a museum. Manipulating the law is better than manipulating a gun ... safer, more profitable."
Jack Schaefer

If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible warning.
Jennifer Crusie Smith

It's a little ironic that we're advancing civilization by eliminating all hostility and resistance to it ... something like a lawman taming a town by threatening to kill everything until peace is the only thing left! We are the essential men, the necessary evil, who make the development of civilization possible, but then there is no room for us in that new society, no place left for us. We are unwelcome in the very thing we enabled. Having worked ourselves out of a job, there is nothing else for us to do ... nowhere else for us to go. From once being important and essential, we have now become worthless and unwanted.
paraphrase of Elmer Kelton (1956)

There will always be men who need killing, and there must be good men to do this necessary killing as well as possible, but when once started, how will they know when to stop?
paraphrase of Loren D. Estleman

All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulties.
William Bradford [History of Plymouth Plantation (1630-1651)]

It is the object only of war that makes it honorable.
Thomas Paine [#V The American Crisis (21 March 1778)]

Every kind of service necessary to the public good becomes honorable by being necessary.
Nathan Hale [10 Sep 1776 letter to William Hull]

Who, then, is the servant, faithful and wise, whom his lord did set over his household, to give them the nourishment in season? Happy that servant, whom his lord, having come, shall find doing so; verily I say to you, that over all his substance he will set him. And, if that evil servant may say in his heart, "My Lord doth delay to come", and may begin to beat the fellow-servants, and to eat and to drink with the drunken, the lord of that servant will arrive in a day when he doth not expect, and in an hour of which he doth not know, and will cut him off, and his portion with the hypocrites will appoint; there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.
Matthew 24:45-51 YLT Bible

You have done all I asked and more than could be reasonably expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your homes and all you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will consent to stay only [a little longer], you will render that service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you probably never can do under any other circumstance.
George Washington

I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary to the public good becomes honorable by being necessary. If the exigencies of my country demand a peculiar service, its claim to perform that service are imperious.
Nathan Hale

Men are often false to their country and their honor, false to duty and even to their interest, but multitudes of men are never long false or deaf to their passions.
Fisher Ames [8 Feb 1800 speech]

When your decisions, the best no less than the mistakes, result in the deaths of good people, then you weigh the risks against the potential for dishonor or disgrace, so that you may be worthy of the uniform you wear.

Honor is impossible in a defeated country.
Niccol di Bernardo Machiavelli

In spite of the moral and political confusion, in spite of the horror and shame of war, we knew that by our own lights that we had done something good. And we clung to that belief even when the war and its warriors were out of fashion.
William Broyles Jr

Bravery never goes out of fashion.

Men fight wars the way they must ... not the way they want ... and having made their choice, but not their preferred one, the results are never pleasing. Their personal desires, like their private hopes, are put away for a better, for a finer, for a safer time.

The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials.
Chinese proverb

Anything worthwhile will be challenging, and will also be desired by others, who will threaten your possession. As long as you let your enemy define you, you will continue to be on the defensive ... you can never proceed while sheltering, you can never achieve while shielding, and you can never progress while preserving. You must struggle to survive, and you must risk defeat in order to win mastery over your opponents. Victory is not for the fainthearted.

Chi Hsing Tzu trained fighting cocks for King Hsuan. He was training a fine bird, and the king kept asking if the bird was ready for combat. "Not yet", said the trainer. "He is vain and confident of his own strength. He is ready to pick a fight with every other bird. He is full of fire." After ten days the trainer answered again. "Not yet. He starts at shadows, and flares at the crow of another bird." Ten days later the king asked again. "Not yet. He still glowers fiercely, and swells his ruffled feathers with rage." After another ten days the trainer responded. "He is nearly ready now. When another bird calls, he doesn't flinch — his eyes don't even flicker. From a distance, his stance resembles a statue carved from wood. He has mastered his power. When faced by him, other cocks will turn and run."

Train hard; fight easy.
Field Marshal Suvorov

The more troops sweat in training, the less they'll bleed in combat.
military maxim

Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Sun-Tzu [ch 3 ax 2 The Art of War (ca490BC)]

The bitter and sweet come from the outside, the hard from within, from one's own efforts.
Albert Einstein [Out of My Later Years (1950)]

If things get bad at the rear, go to the front ... things are always better up at the front.
William Tecumseh Sherman

Honor always seems to lead to violence, and that's because violence is where honorable behavior is most important. When things are easy, the requirements of honor are meaningless. But when things are hard and times are tough, when sacrifice and discipline will affect the final outcome, then honor is more than necessary ... it's essential to the preservation of common humanity.
paraphrase of Robert B. Parker

Every contest has its rituals and rules, so when the restraints on action are fewest, one's adherence to them is greatest ... such that the least order promotes the highest standards, the finest skill, and the best performance. It is not unlike courage or honor in war, regardless of victory.
Thai kick-boxing aficionado

A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

A soldier who trains all the time for a battle he never fights is like a politician who talks all the time about averting disaster.

The untruthful soldier trifles with the lives of his countrymen, and with the safety and honor of his country.
Douglas MacArthur

The right things to do are those that keep our violence in abeyance; the wrong things are those that bring it to the fore.
Robert J. Sawyer [Calculating God (2000)]

The wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.
Omar N. Bradley [15 May 1951 Korean conflict expansion speech to U.S. Senate committees on Armed Services and Foreign Affairs]

The order for this attack, which I could not favor under better auspices, would have been revoked had I felt that I had that privilege.
James "Pete" Longstreet [re: Pickett's Charge at the 1863 battle of Gettysburg]

We must cut our way out as we cut our way in.
Ulysses S. Grant [re: when surrounded at Belmont Missouri on 7 Nov 1861]

Fortune favors the bold.
Terence (Publius Terentius Afer) ["Fortes fortuna adiuvat."; also cited as: Fortune favors the bold but abandons the timid.]

All good fortune is a gift of the gods, and ... you don't win the favor of the ancient gods by being good, but by being bold.
Anita Brookner

As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
Job 14:11-12 Bible

"You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn't come here to fight a war. We came here to help."
SPC Cliff Ferguson [527th Engineer Battalion during relief after hurricane Katrina]

Democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems once considered unsolvable... We refused to leave the problems of our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the hurricanes of disaster.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"I never thought that, as a National Guardsman, I would be shot at by other Americans, and I never thought I'd have to carry a rifle when on a hurricane relief mission. This is a disgrace."
SPC Philip Baccus [527th Engineer Battalion during relief after hurricane Katrina]

Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark.
Jeffrey B. Starr [USMC KIA Iraq]

I've been to war. Twice now, already in OIF (Operation Iraqi Freedom), and I'm heading back to war within the month. Should I die in Iraq, on this, my third tour, my wife will have in her possession, a letter from me to be released to the press, should some slimy dirtbag like the NYT editor try to make it look like I served in anything other than an honorable manner. I'm proud of what I do, I do it knowingly and with full knowledge of what the background on this war is. And likely better knowledge of what the outcome can be. I'm not some poor schlep who needs a NYT reporter to "interpret" my thoughts. I've lived in the Middle East longer than the NYT stringer, I've met more common Iraqis than has the foreign correspondent, and I know more about the military soldiers I serve with than the entire NYT staff will ever know in a lifetime of mis-reporting on soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
anonymous posting to New York Times blog

But no one who goes to war as a young man comes back in one piece. War marks the men and women who are caught up in it for life. It visits them in the hour before sleeping. It comes to them, bringing grief, pride, shame, and even laughter, in the casual moments of everyday life. It never goes away.
William Broyles Jr

For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.
Thomas Jefferson [8 Nov 1808 message to Congress]

The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.
Thomas Jefferson [28 Feb 1807 letter to Chandler Price]

Every citizen [should] be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and the Romans, and must be that of every free state.
Thomas Jefferson [1813 letter to James Monroe]

Recruit: A person distinguishable from a civilian by his uniform and from a soldier by his gait.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Veteran: A person distinguishable from a civilian by his bearing and from a noncombatant by his gaze.

Men do not take good iron to make nails, nor good men to make soldiers.
Chinese aphorism utilized by Pearl S. Buck [The Young Revolutionist (1932)]

A soldier has a hard life, and but little consideration.
Robert E. Lee [5 Nov 1855 letter to Mary Custis Lee, his wife]

And every now and then my father would talk about his days in the Resistance. He didn't talk about it much, but sometimes he'd meet another Dane who'd been doing the same thing, and then they'd get into the aquavit and beer and talk all night. I got the feeling he'd been doing something great. He and all the others had a sort of camaraderie — fighting for a cause, and they'd shared an experience they could all be proud of — brothers under the skin and all that sort of thing. I would think they should [be proud], and I guess they were right; but I somehow got the idea that Army life was all like that — that all you had to do was join up and you'd find yourself in one big brotherhood. And to me, that sounded like the cat's ass — make lifelong friendships, be able to reminisce with your buddies, stuff like that. My father tried to tell me that it wouldn't be the same, but I didn't listen. He'd done it, so there was no reason I couldn't. I overlooked two very important things: first, he wasn't actually in the Army, and second, he and the others had a common enemy in the Germans. When I joined up there was no common enemy except the officers, and there was no feeling of brotherhood at all. Everyone was out to get what he could, and screw the next man — looking out for number one I believe it's called.
Nathaniel Benchley [Sweet Anarchy (1979)]

Comradeship does not demand for its sustenance the reciprocity, the pledges of affection, the endless reassurances required by the love of man and woman. It is, unlike marriage, a bond that cannot be broken by a word, by boredom or divorce, or by anything other than death.
Phillip Caputo

Let me be clear, for the last year I have worked in a Regimental Headquarters behind a computer turning big Orders into littler Orders. Had I not been here, there would have been no negative or positive impact on the fight. We don't have Divisions storming beaches here, or battalions going head-to-head with enemy battalions; the fight here is at the Platoon and Company level -- that's just the way it is. I have never been shot at, there was little-to-no danger to me personally, and the greatest threat I faced was (and is) carpal-tunnel syndrome. The Army needed numbers, and numbers is what I gave them. I say that only to say this: I am acutely aware that my contribution has been a little bit more than a lot of other people's but so very much less than the guys who came here and took fire, or kicked down doors, or drove convoy routes every day to keep supply trains running, or killed insurgents. Those kids are the heroes of this war, they are the ones who defend our civilization daily; I thank God for them, and I am thankful that I got to watch from somewhat close-up. And so in a couple of weeks this deployment will end for me in much the same way as it began -- a chartered military airlift plane; the sandy, dusty fields of the Middle East; and a small group of soldiers -- all of us with very little in common, but all with that common thread or two that I mentioned earlier. Only this time we're getting on the plane rather than getting off. Granted we have changed, whether we've changed for the better remains to be seen. We may not soon be able to leave this year behind, despite how much we may want to, but one thing is certain; I am glad it is over, and if I had to, I'd do it again. I'd certainly do it a little differently, but I'd do it again.
a Reserve U.S. Army Intelligence officer ending a tour with a Cavalry unit in Iraq

Here before us lie the bodies of comrades and friends. Men who, until yesterday or last week, laughed with us, joked with us, trained with us. Some of us have buried our closest friends here. We saw these men killed before our very eyes. Any one of us may have died in their places. Indeed, some of us are alive breathing at this very moment only because men who lie here beneath us had the courage and strength to give their lives for ours. Here lie officers and men, Negroes and whites, rich men and poor [all] together. Theirs is the highest and purest democracy. We shall not foolishly suppose, as did the last generation of America's fighting men, that victory on the battlefield will automatically guarantee the triumph of democracy at home. This war, with all its frightful heartache and suffering, is but the beginning of our generation's struggle for democracy.
chaplain's eulogy at Iwo Jima

The issue here is not guilt or innocence, or even justice or morality. The issue here is the past ... the shadows stretch from here to home. We, as soldiers, were collectively reviled and spit on at that time, and we don't owe anyone any explanation for our actions, or [for] any new revelations about that war. If we have any guilt, it is a shared guilt. If we have any honor, it's amongst ourselves only. We are bound together for all time by blood and common nightmares. I tell you this, my friend, this [investigation of conduct in a distant war] has little or nothing to do with [any individual participant]. To a greater or lesser degree, we are all [that individual participant].
Nelson DeMille [Up Country (2002)]

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression, for if he violates this duty, he will establish a precedent that will reach himself.
Wiley B. Rutledge [in Supreme Court review of the "war crimes" conviction of Yamashita]

By this you may see who are the rude and barbarous Indians: for verily there is no savage nation under the cope of Heaven, that is more absurdly barbarous than the Christian World. They that go naked and drink water and live upon roots are like Adam, or Angels in comparison of us.
Thomas Traherne [Third Century #12 Centuries (1672; 1908)

The real test of a man is not when he plays the role that he wants for himself, but when he plays the role destiny has for him.
Vaclav Havel

When we finally got there, wherever "there" was, tired and dirty, thirsty and scared, the night erupted in explosions and pops that momentarily flashed horrific scenes of hell, which disoriented and confused us. All the movements seemed pointless, and all the activity was violent. It made no sense at all, and there was no time to try to make sense out of it. You knew what your job was, and you did it. If you lived through it, that's all you ever knew about a fight, about the battle, about the war. All of that frightful insanity stripped you down to your essential core, and that was the only other thing you knew: you learned what you were made of.
anonymous WWII Marine Raider on New Georgia, Solomon Islands

I did find the grave of an enemy I never knew, the man I could have been; and I discovered I had more in common with my old enemies than with anyone except the men who had fought at my side. My enemies and I had shared something almost beyond words.
William Broyles Jr

Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions, and see what they would be at, as often as it is practicable; and to make this custom the more significant, practice it first upon yourself.
Marcus Aurelius [bk 10 sct 37 Meditations]

Keep in mind that the presumption that the artist can create is the twin of the proposition that nothing matters, that the universe operates without consequence or meaning. Briefly stated and without evangelical impulse, if God does not exist and neither does His order, then we are all free to do as we wish, to make our own order, and the one that prevails will simply be the one that can marshall the greatest power. This, the rule of force, is the legacy of nihilism, which is the gift of the belief that the universe is devoid of purpose.
Mark Helprin

Because we cannot imagine anything as great as God, we imagine something as insignificant as power. Because we cannot envision anything more than what we already know, we visualize a portion of the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. Because we cannot imagine anything larger than life, we imagine ourselves to be the culmination of all life. And because we can only conceive minor affairs and petty acts, we must inflate them ... we are so very proud to have attained "peace in our time" and "brotherly love" and "goodness for all our days". We fail to recognize that our finest achievement is our compassion for the suffering of others.
paraphrase of Mark Spragg (2003)

Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own.
J.M. Barrie [3 May 1922 rectorial address, St. Andrew's University, Scotland]

Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.
Oscar Wilde [ch 6 The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)[

Nobody ever did anything very foolish except from some strong principle.
David Cecil, Lord Melbourne (1939)

I never knew a man [the quiet American] who had better motives for all the trouble he caused.
Graham Greene

It is easy in a time of great events ... to overlook one of the hard facts of history: a nation may lose its power and integrity slowly, in minute particles. We believe that a nuclear cataclysm is unlikely, but that our free life may well be lost in a succession of bits and fragments.
William Julius Lederer and Eugene Burdick [epilogue The Ugly American (1958)]

When the human race exterminates itself, it will end, not with a bang or a wimper, but with a snappish quibble ... our epitaph shall be that we always had a very good excuse for everything.

Verily I say to you, this generation may not pass away till all these may come to pass. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. `And concerning that day and the hour no one hath known – not even the messengers of the heavens – except my Father only....
Matthew 24:34-6 YLT Bible

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
T.S. Eliot [The Hollow Men (1925)]

If you are ever compelled by circumstance or happenstance to act in a manner that violates morality, or conflicts with personal standards and community laws, then don't lie to yourself about it. Don't excuse yourself with concerns about the victim, or explanations about protection, or rationalizations about infractions ... never justify your conduct. As long as you are a contributing member of society, its particular and peculiar laws don't matter, because the distinction is not between self and others, but between self and God. Divine judgement or ultimate determination is the only assessment that matters. Without ascribing or imputing motives beyond oneself, never come to terms with or become comfortable with your conduct. And never talk about it with anyone ... not your closest friend, dearest love, or trusted confessor, at no time or place. No one else needs to know. Nobody else can change any part of it. It is private, if not secret, in the same way that prayer is personal and restricted. Recognize that it happened, realize that it's over, so now get on with your life. Cherish whatever you've learned, since you'll probably need it again.
paraphrase of Bill Pronzini

Operating on the presumption that one can be a god leads very quickly to sterility, and though an entire cultural apparatus may be primed to say it isn't so, what is sterile is sterile, and eventually you know.
Mark Helprin

I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.
Henry David Thoreau [Civil Disobedience (1849)]

Private: A military gentleman with a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack and an impediment in his hope.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

A soldier's life is organized boredom.
Benjamin Franklin

Dragoon: A soldier who combines dash and steadiness in so equal measure that he makes his advances on foot and his retreats on horseback.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

A fine sword is made by beating the metal a thousand times, folding and beating it a thousand more, then beating it a thousand more ... in the exact same way that a superior soldier is made. He will stand in any climate, march in his sleep, and fight when he is exhausted. He is strong enough to resist the agonies of pain and the temptations of fear. He is tough and hard and lethal and so very beautiful ... just like his sword.
paraphrase of Japanese samurai

Go, tell the Spartans, thou who passest by
That here obedient to their laws we lie.
Simonides of Ceos [epitaph for Thermopylae]

Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.
Psalms 39:4 Bible

The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
I Corinthians 15:26 Bible

There will be no lasting peace either in the heart of individuals or in social customs until death is outlawed.
Albert Camus [Reflections on the Guillotine Resistance, Rebellion and Death (1961)]

Death is the last enemy: once we've got past that I think everything will be alright.
Alice Thomas Ellis [19 Aug 1992 In the Psychiatrist's Chair BBC Radio 4 broadcast]

In the attempt to defeat death man has been inevitably obliged to defeat life, for the two are inextricably related. Life moves on to death, and to deny one is to deny the other.
Henry Miller [Creative Death The Wisdom of the Heart (1947)]

Your body must become familiar with its death -- in all its possible forms and degrees -- as a self-evident, imminent, and emotionally neutral step on the way towards the goal you have found worthy of your life.
Dag Hammarskjöld [Night is Drawing Nigh Markings (1957; 1963)]

Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.
James Baldwin [Letter from a Region in My Mind (1962; 1963)]

I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable greyness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamour, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski; Heart of Darkness (1902)]

Never fight against heavy odds, if by any possible maneuvering you can hurl your own force on only a part, and that the weakest part, of your enemy and crush it. Such tactics will win every time, and a small army may thus destroy a large one in detail, and repeated victory will make it invincible.
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson [attributed by John D. Imboden in Century magazine]

All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]

Force, and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues.
Thomas Hobbes [Leviathan (1651)]

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
Edmund Burke [ch 2 pt 2 The Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1756)]

Never believe a straggler, and rarely believe a casualty.
leadership maxim

Multitude: A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue. In a republic, the object of the statesman's adoration. "In a multitude of counsellors there is wisdom," saith the proverb. If many men of equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting together. Whence comes it? Obviously from nowhere -- as well say that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains composing it. A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Consult no council on war, for these counselors never fight, except for primacy among themselves.
paraphrase of Henry W. Halleck [13 July 1863 telegram to George Gordon Meade: "Call no council of war. It is proverbial that councils of war never fight."]

There is no council, high or low, that knows the ways of men as well as any crew doing hard or even dangerous work together.
paraphrase of Clair Huffaker (1973)

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.
Dwight D. Eisenhower [17 Jan 1961 Farewell Address]

Do not take counsel of your fears.
variously attributed to Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Andrew "Old Hickory" Jackson, Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, George Smith Patton Jr, et al

In art as in politics, entrenched institutions with an affinity for survival give off the scent of revolution even as they sustain a suffocating order.
Mark Helprin

People react to fear, not love -- they don't teach that in Sunday School, but it's true.
Richard Milhous Nixon [prologue Before The Fall by William Safire (1975)]

He has not learned the lesson of life who does not every day surmount a fear.
Ralph Waldo Emerson [Courage Society and Solitude (1870)]

How does one kill fear, I wonder? How do you shoot a spectre through the heart, slash off its spectral head, take it by its spectral throat?
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski; ch 33 Lord Jim (1900)]

The unmistakable odor of the dead pervades everything ... the distinctive stench of those slain in combat penetrates the clothing and even the very minds of the survivors ... until it can never be forgotten.
paraphrase of Robert Bowen

When you first see a corpse sprawled in an ungainly fashion on the battlefield, you suddenly realize that there is no other dead thing in all of Creation that is quite so entirely useless as the human body, once devoid of its animating spirit.
paraphrase of Clair Huffaker (1973)

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
T.S. Eliot [The Burial of the Dead in The Waste Land (1922)]

How beautiful is death, when earn'd by virtue!
Who would not be that youth? What pity is it
That we can die but once to serve our country!
Joseph Addison [act 4 sc 4 Cato (1713)]

I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.
Nathan Hale (22 September 1776)

Like figures on an ancient clock,
Warrior, or saint, or clown
(All's one to the machine) that wake
When each stale hour is done,
And with preliminary whirr
Play their allotted role,
Stiffly advance, engage, retire
Trembling a little still,
So blandly nodding Death and I
Nearer and nearer march,
At the click of night and the click of day,
— Click-clack! We approach, we approach!
C.D. Andrews [An Idle Song for the Journey in London Town (Summer 1934)]

We sometimes congratulate ourselves at the moment of waking from a troubled dream; it may be so the moment after death.
Nathaniel Hawthorne [25 Oct 1836 entry Passages from the American Notebooks (1868?)]

Death ... [is] the only thing we haven't succeeded in completely vulgarizing.
Aldous Huxley [ch 31 Eyeless in Gaza (1936)]

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives. The act of dying is not of importance, it lasts so short a time.
Samuel Johnson (26 Oct 1769)

It is hard to have patience with people who say "There is no death" or "Death doesn't matter." There is death. And whatever is matters. And whatever happens has consequences, and it and they are irrevocable and irreversible. You might as well say that birth doesn't matter.
C.S. Lewis [pt 1 A Grief Observed (1961)]

They will live a long time, these men of the South Pacific. They had an American quality. They, like their victories, will be remembered as long as our generation lives. After that ... they will become strangers. Longer and longer shadows will obscure them, until Guadalcanal sounds distant on the ear like Shiloh and Valley Forge.
James Albert Michener (1947)

When it comes to my own turn to lay my weapons down, I shall do so with thankfulness and fatigue, and whatever be my destiny afterward, I shall be glad to lie down with my fathers in honour. It is human at least, if not divine.
Robert Louis Stevenson [autumn 1894 letter]

I will be conquered; I will not capitulate.
Samuel Johnson (Nov 1784)

He that is taken and put into prison or chains is not conquered, though overcome; for he is still an enemy.
Thomas Hobbes [A Review and Conclusion Leviathan (1651)]

I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.
Acts 10:34 Bible

Extinction is the only end to war.
paraphrase of Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

Because of its tremendous solemnity death is the light in which great passions, both good and bad, become transparent, no longer limited by outward appearances.
Søren Kierkegaard (17 July 1840)

Opinions founded on prejudice are always sustained with the greatest of violence.
Francis Jeffrey

There is no prejudice so strong as that which arises from a fancied exemption from all prejudice.
William Hazlitt [The Round Table (1817)]

No man is prejudiced in favor of a thing knowing it to be wrong. He is attached to it on the belief of it being right.
Thomas Paine [The Rights of Man (1791)]

Man associates ideas not according to logic or verifiable exactitude, but according to his pleasure and interests. It is for this reason that most truths are nothing but prejudices.
Rémy de Gourmont [The Dissociation of ideas (1899)]

Prejudices are so to speak the mechanical instincts of men: through their prejudices they do without any effort many things they would find too difficult to think through to the point of resolving to do them.
G.C. Lichtenberg [aph 17 Notebook A Aphorisms (1765-99)]

That which is asserted without proof may be dismissed without proof.
classic apothegm

The best way to lie convincingly is to tell the truth unconvincingly.
Robert A. Heinlein

What men value in this world is not rights but privileges.
H.L. Mencken [#36 Minority Report: H.L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)]

What men prize most is a privilege, even if it be that of chief mourner at a funeral.
James Russell Lowell [6 Oct 1884 address Democracy and Other Addresses (1886)]

One forgets joy, but one never forgets sorrow.
Mikhail Yurievich Lermontov [A Hero of Our Time]

It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski; ch 16 Lord Jim (1900)]

You cannot have both truth and what you call civilisation.
Iris Murdoch [ch 9 A Severed Head (1961)]

I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Barry Goldwater [16 July 1964 speech]

I want to remind you that extremism in the defense of peace is no vice ... and let me also remind you that moderation in the resistance of repression is no virtue!
parody of notorious Goldwater slogan by YIPpie protestors (1968)

Men are rewarded for learning the practice of violence in virtually any sphere of activity by money, admiration, recognition, respect, and the genuflection of others honoring their sacred and proven masculinity. In male culture, police are heroic and so are outlaws; males who enforce standards are heroic and so are those who violate them.
Andrea Dworkin [ch 2 Pornography (1981)]

There are no hundred percent heroes. Every man can be broken when things happen to him in a certain order with a momentum and an intensity that awaken ancient fears in the back of his mind. He knows what he must do but suddenly the body will not obey the mind. Panic becomes like an unbearably shrill sound. It has never happened to me, but I have been so close that I know that somewhere sometime it could happen. The myth of the unbreakable hero has shattered too many good men.
paraphrase of John D. MacDonald

There is nothing strange about fear: no matter in what guise it presents itself it is something with which we are all so familiar that when a man appears who is without it we are at once enslaved by him.
Henry Miller [The Enormous Womb The Wisdom of the Heart (1947)]

It's [honor is] an emblem for what they've done here, isn't it? They say everything is anything but what it is, and that makes them heroes. It's the way they live with themselves: they keep on believing their own lies.
Robert Houston

Soldiers who wish to be a hero
Are practically zero.
But those who wish to be civilians,
Jesus, they run into millions.

Bravery is a quality not to be dispensed with in officers -- like charity, it covers a great many defects.
Benjamin Stoddert [13 Dec 1798 letter to James Simons]

The proper time for courage is every time it matters.

Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says: I will try again tomorrow.
Mary Anne Radmacher

Look at an infantryman's eyes, and you can tell how much war he has seen.
Bill Mauldin [Up Front (1945)]

The time to play the hero is when they're passing out medals and everyone is watching.
paraphrase of Elmore Leonard

As there is a use in medicine for poisons, so the world cannot move without rogues.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anytime medals are being passed out, good men have died.
anonymous veteran

The single best augury is to fight for one's country.
Homer [The Iliad]

When a nation is filled with strife, then do patriots flourish.
Lao-Tzu [bk 1 ch 18 Tao-te-Ching]

When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Patriotism having become one of our topicks, Johnson suddenly uttered, in a strong determined tone, an apophthegm, at which many will start: "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." But let it be considered that he did not mean a real and generous love of our country, but that pretended patriotism which so many, in all ages and countries, have made a cloak of self-interest.
James Boswell [on 7 April 1775 in Life of Samuel Johnson (1791); Ambrose Bierce disagreed in The Devil's Dictionary: "With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer I beg to submit that it is the first {resort of a scoundrel}."]

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent, rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
Barbara Ehrenreich [The Worst Years of Our Lives]

When I am abroad, I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the government of my own country. I make up for lost time when I come home.
Winston L.S. Churchill

War is not heroic. War is not patriotic. War is psychotic. War is Hell.
Bob Fertik (12 Sept 2002)

I've seen a lot of patriots and they all died just like anybody else if it hurt bad enough and once they were dead their patriotism was only good for legends; it was bad for their prose and made them write bad poetry. If you are going to be a great patriot i.e. loyal to any existing order of government (not one who wishes to destroy the existing for something better) you want to be killed early if your life and works won't stink.
Ernest Hemingway [12 Jan 1936 letter]

As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought the enemy instead of ourselves.
Margaret Chase Smith [Declaration of Conscience (1 June 1950)]

I left Baghdad and a war that has every indication that we are winning, to return to a demoralized country much like the one I returned to in 1971 after my tour in Vietnam. Maybe it's because I'll turn sixty years old in just four months, but I'm tired:
          I'm tired of spineless politicians, both Democrat and Republican, who lack the courage, fortitude, and character to see these difficult tasks through.
          I'm tired of the hypocrisy of politicians who want to rewrite history when the going gets tough.
          I'm tired of the disingenuous clamor from those that claim they Support the Troops by wanting them to Cut and Run before victory is achieved.
          I'm tired of a mainstream media that can only focus on car bombs and casualty reports because they are too frightened to leave the safety of their hotels to report on the courage and success our brave men and women are having on the battlefield.
          I'm tired that so many Americans think you can rebuild a dictatorship into a democracy overnight.
          I'm tired that so many ignore the bravery of the Iraqi people to go to the voting booth and freely elect a Constitution and soon a permanent Parliament.
          I'm tired of the so called Elite Left that prolongs this war by giving aid and comfort to our enemy, just as they did during the Vietnam War.
          I'm tired of anti-war protesters showing up at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. A family, whose loved ones gave their lives in a just and noble cause, only to be cruelly tormented on the funeral day by cowardly protesters is beyond shameful.
          I'm tired that my generation, the Baby Boom - Vietnam generation, have such a weak backbone that they can't stomach seeing the difficult tasks through to victory.
          I'm tired that some are more concerned about the treatment of captives then they are the slaughter and beheading of our citizens and allies.
          I'm tired that when we find mass graves it is seldom reported by the press, but mistreat a prisoner and it is front page news.
          Mostly, I'm tired that the people of this great nation didn't learn from history that there is no substitute for victory.
Joe Repya

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
Bertrand A.W. Russell

Propaganda is persuading people to make up their minds while withholding some of the facts from them.
Oliver North

It seems that American patriotism measures itself against an outcast group. The right Americans are the right Americans because they're not like the wrong Americans, who are not really Americans.
Eric Hobsbawm [Marxism Today (Jan 1988)]

Always mystify, mislead, and surprise the enemy, if possible; and when you strike and overcome him, never let up in the pursuit so long as your men have strength to follow; for an army routed, if hotly pursued, becomes panic-stricken, and can then be destroyed by half their number.
Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson [attributed by John D. Imboden in Century magazine]

Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing. Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]

Under all conditions, well-organized violence seems to him [Stalin] the shortest distance between two points.
Leon Trotsky [Lev (or Leib) Davidovich Bronstein]

The most obvious or direct route between any two points invariably proves to be the longest or hardest way.
a Murphy Law of Combat

Adolf Hitler was a Jeanne d'Arc, a saint. He was a martyr. Like many martyrs, he held extreme views.
Ezra Pound [9 May 1945 interview]

Hitler is no worse, nay better, in my opinion, than the other lugs. He makes the German mistake of being tactless, that's all.
Henry Miller [March 1939 letter to author Lawrence Durrell]

A man who believes in nothing is capable of anything.
James Hynes

I'm tired of hearing politicians yelling about what they stand for, what they believe, what they think the voters believe. I'm an adult. I earn my own living, take care of my family, and can think for myself. From the available information, I can make a decision. I don't need a politician to do that for me. I just want the politicians to shut up and listen for a change!
anonymous paratrooper interviewed for a Man on the Street broadcast segment

Congressmen who willingly take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.
Abraham Lincoln

Many people surmise that one of the reasons we haven't been attacked here, is because they are being so successful at doing what they need to do to attack us in Iraq and elsewhere.
John Kerry [not commander-in-chief]

We enter parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons .... If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and salaries for this bear's work, that is its affair .... We do not come as friends, nor even as neutrals. We come as enemies. As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come.
Joseph Goebbels (30 April 1928)

It could take a hundred years, or as little as a generation, to rediscover the freedom our Founders hammered into the U.S. Constitution. Much of our freedom has already been lost, but the rediscovery cannot even begin to emerge until the weight of government oppression grows too heavy to bear. Early Americans felt the weight of King George's oppression, until they could bear it no more. Then, they acted. Not all of the early Americans had reached the tipping point in 1776. In fact, many, if not most of the people, preferred to suffer oppression by the king, rather than to pay the cost of freedom. Many, if not most, of the people in America today, prefer to suffer governmental oppression, rather than to pay the cost of freedom. So far, governmental oppression is not too heavy; people can still do almost anything they wish – if they can get a permit.
Thomas Sowell

Commerce may be a better or happier inducement to change, but without the prospect of enforcement, even unto war, it is merely an invitation to exploit the weak and unwary with chicanery and brigandage under the guise of trade.

If there's "peace and order" in the land, then how will soldiers win medals? ... how will lawyers earn money? ... how will reporters make their reputation? ... how will women manipulate changes?
paraphrase of Thomas B. Costain

Half the world's suffering is caused by earnest messages contained in grand theories bearing no relation to reality.
P.J. [Patrick Jake] O'Rourke

Almost anything that can be praised or advocated has been put to some disgusting use. There is no principle, however immaculate, that has not had its compromising manipulator.
Wyndham Lewis ["The Family and Feminism" ch 8 The Art of Being Ruled (1926)]

If peace reigns supreme, how will people exploit each other? ... and what will everyone do with their anger? Peace never lasts long because it frustrates our natural tendencies toward violence and hatred! ... and wars never last long because our gross and bloody lusts, so shamelessly displayed for everyone to see, are so utterly shocking that we are stunned into cessation.

... and when ye may hear of wars and reports of wars, be not troubled, for these behove to be, but the end [is] not yet; for nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles; beginnings of sorrows [are] these. And take ye heed to yourselves, for they shall deliver you up to sanhedrims, and to synagogues, ye shall be beaten, and before governors and kings ye shall be set for my sake, for a testimony to them; ... And brother shall deliver up brother to death, and father child, and children shall rise up against parents, and shall put them to death, and ye shall be hated by all ....
Mark 13:7-13 YLT Bible

Our vengeance shall equal the cruelties of the Spaniards, for our forbearance is exhausted. Since our oppressors forced us into this deadly war, they will vanish from the face of America. ... Our hatred knows no bounds, and the war shall be to the death!
Simón "El Libertador" Bolívar

Everyone needs someone or something to hate. It gives their endurance more strength than anything else possibly could. It gives purpose to their suffering.
paraphrase of James Jones [Whistle (1978)]

then they shall deliver you up to tribulation, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated by all the nations because of my name; and then shall many be stumbled, and they shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another.
Matthew 24:9-10 YLT Bible

[L]iberals tend to blame outside forces for evil. This emanates from the secular humanistic view of people as basically good – and therefore human evil must come not from the bad choices and bad values of the evildoer, but from the unfortunate socioeconomic and other circumstances of the person's life .... [A]s you go further left on the political spectrum, it becomes increasingly difficult to blame the weak for any atrocities they commit. The Left does not divide the world between good and evil nearly as much as it does between rich and poor, and between strong and weak. Israel is stronger and richer, so Palestinian terror is excused. White America is stronger and richer than black America, so black violence is excused. The West is stronger and richer than the Muslim world, so Muslim violence is explained accordingly .... We don't know who will be the next target of Islamic or other murderers from poor or non-Western or non-white groups. All we can know is that liberal and leftist thought will find reasons to hold the targeted group largely responsible [for its own targeted position].
Dennis Prager

Islam does not need improvement of its image .... But there are some ignorant Muslims who do not understand the tenets of their faith .... It is [our] duty to repel any enemy of the Islamic and Arab countries, using 'terrorism' rather than using violence. We need an accurate definition of [the term] 'terrorism' in the negative climate in which we live – a climate that makes no distinction between a criminal and one who is prepared to sacrifice his life or a terrorist. In defining [this term], we must not be influenced by American pressures, but consider the issues in the light of shari'a. They should not tell us to fight terrorism and to fight it as they command us to. The Americans are the ones who perpetrate violence in the Arab countries! ... Islam Encourages Terrorism and Jihad – [Though] Not Terrorism in the Common Sense of the Term.
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood)

Let us pray in this hour that nothing can divide us, and that God will help us against the Devil! Almighty Lord, bless our fight!
Adolf Hitler (1930)

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.
Louis D. Brandeis [obiter dictum Olmstead v. United States (1928)]

Years after 9-11 and the crazy zeitgeist that permeated the United States, Americans have still not learned to know their enemies instead of just hating them. If we stop trying to figure out the other side, we've given up. The person on the other side is not evil, they just have a different perspective. The smartest people understand the enemy's point of view, because they understand what's driving them.
Chris Matthews [20 Nov 2005 speech at the University of Toronto]

To learn without thinking is fruitless;
To think without learning is dangerous.

Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think, the small fraction who do think, mostly can't do it very well. The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively, and without self-delusion – in the long run, these are the only people who count.
Robert A. Heinlein

I have no trouble with my enemies, but my friends are a constant vexation.

Choose your enemy with care, for in time you will become just like him.
ancient aphorism

So long as there are men there will be wars.
Albert Einstein

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Henry Louis Mencken

Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.
Henry Adams [The Education of Henry Adams (1907)]

Politics is the continuation of war by other means.
restatement of Karl von Clausewitz by Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin

In a crisis, don't ever expect accuracy or authenticity, because politics is just another form of war ... and the first casualty of any war is truth.
paraphrase of Jeff Greenfield

In a crisis, civilians seek causes while soldiers make effects. In a crisis, civilians seek policies while soldiers make strategies. In a crisis, civilians seek scapegoats while soldiers make leaders. In a crisis, civilians seek escape while soldiers make resolution. In a crisis, civilians seek security while soldiers make security.

War is the trade of kings.
John Dryden

The only good bureaucrat is one with a pistol at his head. Put it in his hand and it's good-by to the Bill of Rights.
Henry Louis Mencken

Just as nobody wins a lawsuit, except the lawyers, so nobody ever wins a war, except the politicians and businessmen who promote it.
paraphrase of Robert A. Heinlein

When you listened to the president talking, you forgot the reek of unburied bodies, the mud, the lice, the barbed wire, the machineguns ... you saw farther than your [short] length of trench. You got a glimpse of the country that would come out the other side of this war. It was a place where you wanted to be too. The president made you feel the war had a point, a goal, beyond the miseries of the front.
Harry Turtledove

That skull had a tongue in it and could sing once.
William Shakespeare [Hamlet (1599)]

When you read that a town was taken, or a certain hill was taken, remember that in the process of that accomplishment, lives of fine fellows were lost, and also that during this accomplishment, for the participants, life was a horrifying massacre. You lose your buddies, fellows with whom you laughed, ate, slept, sweated. They grow to be more than mere buddies. They become blood relations to you, and they die before your eyes. Not a pleasant natural death, but an unimaginable kind of mutilation, mixed with groans and prayers, ending with a gurgling last breath. Only five minutes ago you might have been laughing with that buddy of yours.
in a letter from an unknown Japanese-American soldier serving with the 100th Infantry Battalion, a Hawaiian National Guard unit composed of Neisei, Kibei, and Sansei citizens, that was integrated into the 442nd Regimental Combat Team after its baptism by fire in WWII Italy

In every field of endeavor, the boys want to become something, while the men want to do something.
paraphrase of Eric Severide

If you're not making mistakes then you're not making an effort to advance.

These men are not an army, they are citizens defending their country. General Wright is not a soldier, he is a lawyer. The soldiers know their duties better than the general officers do and they have fought magnificently. ... You understand all this, but if you humiliated General Wright, the people of Georgia would not understand. Besides, whom would you put in his place? You will have to do as I do: when a man makes a mistake, I call him to my tent, talk to him, and use the authority of my position to make him do the right thing the next time.
Robert E. Lee [in restraining Ambrose Powell Hill at Spotsylvania (1864)]

Admiral: That part of a war-ship which does the talking while the figure-head does the thinking.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

As with so many other ruthless men who have attained the highest possible position of power, the general's talent was not for governing, but for relentlessly climbing to the top. With nowhere left to climb, these men devote themselves to retaining their authority. Having succeeded, they do not suddenly acquire a conscience, for any reformation that might improve the system would be perceived as a vulnerability.
paraphrase of Donald E. Westlake

Nothing lingers longer in a soldier's mind than a bad idea ... and the worst is that rationalized for not having come to fruition.
a Murphy Law of Combat

The quality of ideas seems to play a minor role in mass movement leadership. What counts is the arrogant gesture, the complete disregard of the opinion of others, the singlehanded defiance of the world.
Eric Hoffer [p107 The True Believer]

It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.
Samuel Adams

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing more to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

Power over men belongs to men alone, as God is not responsible for the order and disorder of the world ... His realm is not of this world, but of the next.
paraphrase of William of Occam/Ockham

It is sad to remember that when anyone has fairly mastered the art of command, the necessity for that art usually expires – either through the termination of the war or through the advanced age of the commander.
George S. Patton Jr [War As I Knew It (1947)]

Some commanders will put their butt on the line to protect their troops, while other commanders will put their troops on the line to protect their butt!
a military chiasmus

Too often commanders take refuge from confronting morality by issuing lawful orders, the results of which may be indistinguishable from irresponsibility or inhumanity ... this is not leadership but dictatorship, and is reprehensible and dishonorable, unworthy of the bond and trust of comradeship.

A good battlefield commander is rare because he is always suspended between dismissal and disrespect, between praise and punishment – if he isn't left hanging over the edge, then he's getting a medal hung on him or a court martial hung over him, and he can be lowered anytime into his grave.
paraphrase of World War Two German soldier

We have already eaten breakfast to the accompaniment, in our morning newspapers, of too many Yankee Go Home signs, too many riots, too many denunciations of ourselves, to believe that leadership, even in the cause of peace, can reward us with international laurel wreaths.
Hubert H. Humphrey [31 May 1966 address at Huron College, SD]

Peace, the deeper concept of peace, is not [appropriate] for the human race, never was meant for [the use of] the human race. Conflict is our meat. The desire to beat the other fellow to it, the hankering for glorification, the tendency to heave out one's chest and say: "I'm the guy that done it!", the satisfaction of tackling a hard job and doing it, even looking for a hard job just for the hell of doing it!
Clifford D. Simak

It seems that the wrong people always speak first, shouting so loud that they cannot listen. I don't understand why it's always easier to fight than talk. As a man who tries to understand both sides, I am always miserable; but a man who sees only his own side is at peace with himself.
paraphrase of Elmer Kelton

It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens]

People with virtue must speak out;
People who speak are not all virtuous.

Friendship: A ship big enough to carry two in fair weather, but only one in foul.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Domestic policy can only defeat us; but foreign policy can destroy us.
attributed to John F. Kennedy by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr [The Imperial Presidency (1973)]

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.
Jeannette Rankin

Victory sometimes carries more responsibilities than gains. That is because it marks the return of conscience. In a time of war, conscience is put aside, and it used to be kept aside, at least in so far as the conquered were concerned. It used to be a case of the spoils for the victors and woe for the conquered. War had some sense then. But nowadays we suffer from the mistake of being half civilized. We turn barbarian during the war as a matter of patriotism, and civilized when the war is over as a matter of humanitarianism. We first kill off as many of the enemy as we can by as efficient a method as we can devise, and then save as many of them as we're able, with all the energy involved at our disposal. War, in fact, has become an atrocious waste of time. Unconditional surrender brings, as its corollary, unrestricted rehabilitation. If it were possible to devise a method whereby each side could half win a war and no more, things of course would be different. But then, that cannot be done.
Leonard Wibberley [The Mouse that Roared (1955)]

The welfare of humanity is always the alibi of tyrants.
Albert Camus

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.
Henry Louis Mencken

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies.
C.S. Lewis

A friend cannot be known in prosperity; and an enemy cannot be hid in adversity.
Ecclesiasticus 12:8 Apocrypha

Each sunset and every mile leaves more than dust behind ... they mark the passage of remembered friendships, of forlorn dreams, and of abandoned hope.

He doesn't want you for friends, that's why he did it. You see, when guys have been in the line as long as we have, you find out it's no good to make friends, 'cause when a friend gets it — well, it's rough on you. The buddies that come with you you're stuck with, but you don't make no new ones. It's the dyin' truth.
Gil Doud and Jesse Hibbs [1955 film version of To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy]

Friendless: Having no favors to bestow. Destitute of fortune. Addicted to utterance of truth and common sense.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

True friends stab you in the front.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills]

Truth exists ... only falsehood has to be invented.
George Brock

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his followers and the sacrifices of his friends.
Dwight David Eisenhower [12 July 1945 speech at Guildhall in London, England]

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13 Bible

War was hell on men, but in its way, it was as bad or worse on women [who stayed at home and could not fight].
Elmer Kelton

For the female of the species is more deadly than the male.
J. Rudyard Kipling (1919)

Most women defend themselves. It is the female of the species – it is the tigress and lioness in you – which tends to defend when attacked.
Margaret Hilda Thatcher

War is a woman ... so beautiful when first kissed.
Ernest Haycox [Bugles in the Afternoon (1944)]

Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.
Psalms 85:10 Bible

We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some, the word means: for each man to do as he pleases with himself and with the product of his labor. With others, the same word means: for some men to do as they please with other men and the product of other men's labor. The fullness of time, I am convinced, will prove to the world which is the true definition of the word; and my earnest hope remains that the United States of America shall yet lead the way in the proving.
Harry Turtledove

The weakling and the coward cannot be saved by honesty alone; but without honesty, the brave and able man is merely a civic wild beast who should be hunted down by every lover of righteousness.
Theodore Roosevelt (12 May 1900)

You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have taken at the start of my battle, and for those who wish to know the day of my return, I shall now repeat it to the hearing of the world: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live my life for the sake of another man, nor ask another to live for mine.
Ayn Rand [Fountainhead (1943)]

Philosophy is not the province of primitivism, where drudgery and sustenance preoccupies each inhabitant, but is exercised in the realm of sophisticated cultures, where every civilized advancement benefits each community member, directly or indirectly, by the multiplication of options, of potential, of possibility. Each instance of self indulgence, of self absorption, of self restraint merely limits the individual, but will not retard society until the accumulated inhibitions stifle expansion by their mass. A society which is not predominantly composed of persons who are willing and able to share their freedoms will devolve into some type of cloister, of dungeon, of cantonment, that will exchange hope for fear. People who are unwilling to live for each other are, by definition, unwilling to die for each other, and so shall die alone, frightened and bewildered by the hostility of neighbors and strangers. A once great civilization will then be rent and reduced to a new dark age.

Men are eager to tread underfoot what they have once too much feared.
Titus Lucretius Carus

There is the great, silent, continuous struggle: the struggle between the State and the Individual; between the State which demands and the individual who attempts to evade such demands. Because the individual, left to himself, unless he be a saint or hero, always refuses to pay taxes, obey laws, or go to war.
Benito "Il Duce" Mussolini

Fascist ethics begin ... with the acknowledgment that it is not the individual who confers a meaning upon society, but it is, instead, the existence of a human society which determines the human character of the individual. According to Fascism, a true, a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, and this need of rising the State to its rightful position.
Mario Palmieri [The Philosophy of Fascism (1936)]

Palestine means Palestine in its entirety – from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Why should we recognize Israel's Right to Exist? We can found a state on any piece of the land, and this will not mean we give up on any other part of the land.
Mahmoud Al-Zahar (25 January 2006)

Altogether, national hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I said these things in an [Egyptian] parliament session dealing with the Inter-Arab Agreement on Combating Terrorism. I noticed that the report of the [Parliamentary] Committee for Defense and National Security and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry were inaccurate when [they] dealt with terrorism, since [they] dealt with it in general [terms]. I specifically wanted to explain that [the term] 'terrorism' is not a curse when given its true meaning. [When interpreted accurately,] it means opposing occupation as it exists in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq!... From my point of view, bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi are not terrorists in the sense accepted by some. I support all their activities, since they are a thorn in the side of the Americans and the Zionists... [On the other hand,] he who kills Muslim citizens is neither a jihad fighter nor a terrorist, but a criminal and a murderer. We must call things by their proper names!
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood)

Most of the world today not only is in denial concerning the truly appalling likely consequences of the rise of radical Islam, it often refuses to even accept unambiguous evidence of its existence.
Tony Blankley

It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mister Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You are not – you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You are no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal." You are no big deal. What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have, as honestly as I know how, tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty, and admit you are guilty, of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mister Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bare any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure. Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice. See that flag, Mister Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.
William Young [District Court judge ruling (30 Jan 2003) re: United States v Richard C. Reid, the Islamic terrorist who was intercepted while attempting to activate a "shoe bomb" on an airline, and who proclaims himself to be a soldier at war with America]

I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time is come ... when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship.
Thomas Sowell

Representing a profound attitude of fairness between man and man, and more particularly between the individual and government, Due Process is compounded of history, reason, the past course of decisions, and stout confidence in the strength of the democratic faith which we profess.
Felix Frankfurter [obiter dictum Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v McGrath (1951)]

I love my country too much to be a nationalist.
Albert Camus

I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my lifetime.
Albert Einstein (1947)

Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor.
Arnold Joseph Toynbee (Oct 1958)

In the future, I will answer anyone who attacks me for my views, especially since all the organizations, without exception – judicial and other, in Egypt and abroad – are [nothing but] 'market stalls' full of spies that receive bribes from the Americans. In the future I will tell them that America and Israel are the only violent [parties], and that they are responsible for the wave of killing and violence that is sweeping over the world!
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood)

I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
Albert Einstein

War means fighting and fighting means killing.
Nathan Bedford Forrest ("Wizard of the Saddle")

Israel has occupied what they claim is their historic homeland, but we too have a long history of occupation by Romans and Persians, of dislocation by Crusaders and British, and we are still here, after they have all gone, fighting for what belongs to us, for what has always belonged to us.
paraphrase of Mahmoud Al-Zahar

To many people the past seems inevitable and the future impossible. History is seen to have arisen not from unpredictable flows of genius and heroism, but more or less inevitably, from preordained patterns of natural resources and population.
George Gilder

History is like the planks of a shipwreck ... because more is missing than is present, we must guess at its form and function.
paraphrase of Roger Bacon

The past is a bullet streaking into the future to kill civilization as we know it, while the present is a struggle over the target. We will never know how the point of impact was affected

If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
Winston L.S. Churchill

The degeneracy of the times has always been a favorite theme, but one which is liable to mislead, and ever must be so, for the imperfections, weaknesses and follies of the present are not only seen, but are felt, whereas the imperfections, weaknesses and follies of the past are not only unfelt, but are mostly unseen, because the mists of oblivion hide all but the more conspicuous objects and events from our view. While, therefore, different periods of history may be compared, it is very difficult to compare the present with any other time.
John Peter Altgeld

I'd like to let you in on a little secret: there's no such thing as history. History is the name given to events in order to mark them for our forgetfulness. Nothing is really past us, in the same way that nothing is really with us. It all changes between blinks of the eye – no two moments the same. Those ignorant of history are not doomed to repeat it – that would be a staggering achievement – they are simply doomed to ignorance of everything else.
T. Jefferson Parker (1991)

History never looks like history when you are living through it. It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.
John W. Gardner

Don't fix it if it ain't broke!
modern maxim

If it ain't broke, then it ought to be! ... we don't need perfection, we need jobs!
riposte to modern maxim

The Army does not solve its problems, it overwhelms them!
unknown supply officer in WWII north African campaign

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (11 Dec 1972)

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
Henry Louis Mencken

Government is not reason, it is force; like fire, it's a dangerous servant of a fearful master.
George Washington

In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, Make us your slaves, but feed us.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' interests, I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.
Barry Goldwater

An attacking army is more dangerous but a retreating army is more destructive.
military maxim

What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility; what an extension of agriculture even to the tops of our mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, acqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices, and improvements ... might not have been obtained by spending those millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief.
Benjamin Franklin [27 July 1783 letter to Sir Joseph Banks]

If everyone thought that someone else, instead of them, should get killed in war, then fighting would have to cease ... but with all these cowards quaking in cellars and deserters hiding in attics, there would be nobody to work the fields and run the factories, so the children would starve, the women would be enslaved, and the bullies would take over everything! ... just so some frightened little boys don't have to get hurt. Once the war is over they won't be able to fight, so they may as well die now!

Anything worth living for is worth dying for. And anything worth dying for is certainly worth living for.
Joseph Heller [Catch-22 (1961)]

War is like love, it always finds a way.
Bertolt Brecht [Mother Courage and Her Children]

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. This 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. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight David Eisenhower

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!
Helen Keller

The doctrine that might makes right has covered the earth with misery. While it crushes the weak, it also destroys the strong. Every deceit, every cruelty, every wrong, reaches back sooner or later and crushes its author. Justice is moral health, bringing happiness, wrong is moral disease, bringing mortal death.
John Peter Altgeld

How little, after all, do we shape our actions by reason when once the senses feel their strength ... and how hideously ugly does the truth appear when our senses have forced us to nurse a lie.
Rex Stout (1914)

Not long ago, art and civilization took a horribly wrong and mistaken turn. My proof of this is not merely the contrast between this and other ages of art but the unparalleled devastation of this century — by war, by mass bondage, by the neglect of what is humane. In arrogating to ourselves powers that we did not have or that we could not handle, we have been the cause of untold suffering and destruction. Though it cannot be undone, it can be left behind.
Mark Helprin

Perhaps I know why it is man alone who laughs: He alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
Gaius Julius Caesar

Patriotism is the first refuge and last virtue of the vicious.
paraphrase of Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills]

There is no necessary connection between the desire to lead and the ability to lead, and even less to the ability to lead somewhere that will be to the advantage of the led. Leadership is more likely to be assumed by the aggressive than by the able, and those who scramble to the top are more often motivated by their own inner torments than by any demand for their guidance.
Berger Evans [The Spook of Spooks and other Nonsense (1954)]

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best 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 for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of a 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. 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 [their] lack of patriotism and [for] exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
Hermann Wilhelm Goering

People – for civilization is only the accumulations from innumerable people sharing the experience of a place over time – do not know what a burden they impose upon the souls of their finest compatriots when they insist that these estimable scions be both honorable and compassionate. Like every society, our laws make us less than humane, and our charity makes us less than reasonable, such that either would be a worthy obligation, but together are intolerable, since their mutual necessity for compromise is quite corrupting. It is no wonder that inconsistency is the persistent state of the imperfect human condition, waxing and waning by extremes. People arise by hopeful promises, and decline by unrequited pledges. This relentless conflict can only destroy one's spirit, and degrade our culture.

War is neither the cause nor the result of hate ... rather it is the arena where love and hate battle. If someone hates something enough to want to destroy it, then that effort of destruction violates the love of whoever made it, and they will resist those attacks. A bad man goes to war because he has already surrendered to evil. A good man goes to war because he loves something more than himself. A bad man loses his soul in war, and its devastation disspirits him; while a good man finds his soul in war, and victory refreshes his spirit. Bad men seek to prove that all men are weak and vulnerable, while good men attract the goodness in others, which reinforces them. War is not the problem ... men are ... and without war, men would be worse. The warpath to love is hard and lonely.
adaptation of Forrest Carter

Our acts, passionate and sincere in their necessity, can take us places that our souls will not follow, searing images into our minds that leave us mute, leaving us to slowly bleed to death from within our broken hearts ... to have felt our brave hope and terrible fear turn into horrible lust and transcendent joy is more than any mere mortal should ever be expected to bear! A warrior in battle feels like he has a foot in two worlds: one in Heaven and one in Hell, scorched on one side and frozen on the other, simultaneously sundered and melded, and pierced by love and hate from all sides. It is worse than torture because it is entirely volitional.

The principles which men give to themselves end by overwhelming their noblest intentions.
Albert Camus [pt 3 "State Terrorism and Rational Terror" The Rebel (1951)]

The long term versus the short term argument is one used by losers.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton

You know what makes a good loser? Practice.
Ernest M. Hemingway [Papa, a Personal Memoir (1976)]

If you show me a good loser, [then] I'll show you a loser.
Marc Olden

Lose as if you like it; win as if you were used to it.
Tommy Hitchcock (1932)

They say I can't take up my rifle
An' fight 'em now no more,
But I ain't a' gonna love 'em,
An' that's for certain sure.
An' I don't want no pardons
For what I was, an' am;
An' I won't be reconstructed,
'Cuz I don't give a damn!
rebel ditty (1867)

Either come back with your shield – or come back on it.
a mother's injunction to her son in ancient Greece

Come back dead.
a Japanese father's admonition to his son in the period before democracy

Nice guys finish last.
Leo Durocher ["Take a look at them. All nice guys. They'll finish last. Nice guys. Finish last." (5 July 1946)]

Show me a good and gracious loser, and I'll show you a failure.
Knute Rockne

If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler's bidding.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]

It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government.
Thomas Paine

They're voting with their feet.
comment by V.I. Lenin about Czarist troops fleeing WWI battles [also cited as "They voted with their feet."]

A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the public treasure. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world's great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence: from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back to bondage.
Alexander Tyler [re: fall of the Athenian Republic]

Rome fell September 4, 476AD. It was overrun with illegal immigrants: Visigoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, Lombards, Jutes and Vandals, who at first assimilated and worked as servants, but then came so fast they did not learn the Latin Language or the Roman form of government. Highly trained Roman Legions moving rapidly on their advanced road system, were strained fighting conflicts worldwide. Rome had a trade deficit, having outsourced most of its grain production to North Africa, and when Vandals captured that area, Rome did not have the resources to retaliate. Attila the Hun was committing terrorist attacks. The city of Rome was on welfare with citizens being given free bread. One Roman commented: "Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them." Tax collectors were "more terrible than the enemy." Gladiators provided violent entertainment in the Coliseum. There was injustice in courts, exposure of unwanted infants, infidelity, immorality and perverted bathhouses. 5th-Century historian Salvian wrote: "O Roman people be ashamed .... Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have alone conquered us."
William Federer

Democracies don't have their freedoms taken away from them by some external military force. Instead, they give their freedoms away, politically correct piece by politically correct piece.

You can shackle a man without taking his freedom, and you can release his bonds without giving him freedom; so the only thing you can do with a free man is share his freedom.

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other."
Benjamin Franklin [Constitutional Convention, speech]

Power intoxicates men. It is never voluntarily surrendered. It must be taken from them.
James F. Byrnes [15 May 1956 The New York Times]

And remember, where you have a concentration of power in a few hands, all too frequently men with the mentality of gangsters get control. History has proven that. All power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton

There is nothing so good that politicians can't make it bad and nothing so bad that politicians can't make it worse.
Thomas Sowell

For rulers who think it [rebellion] possible take care to ensure [against] the risk by ruling reasonably. This brings about a condition fatal to all political stability, namely that you never know where to have the politicians. If the fear of God was in them, it might be possible to come to some general understanding as to what God disapproved of, and Europe might pull together on that basis. But the present panic, in which prime ministers drift from election to election, either fighting or running away from everybody who shakes a fist at them, makes a European civilization impossible. For peace and prosperity depend upon the loyalty of states to civilization. Every meaner consideration should have given way to this loyalty.
George Bernard Shaw [preface Back to Methuselah (1921)]

War is the surest enemy of democracy.

In order for us human beings to commit ourselves personally to the inhumanity of war, we find it necessary first to dehumanize our opponents, which is in itself a violation of the beliefs of all religions. Once we characterize our adversaries as beyond the scope of God's mercy and grace, their lives lose all value. We deny personal responsibility when we plant landmines and, days or years later, a stranger to us – often a child – is crippled or killed. From a great distance, we launch bombs or missiles with almost total impunity, and never want to know the number or identity of the victims.
James Earl Carter Jr (10 Dec 2002)

We have learned that we cannot live alone, at peace; that our own well-being is dependent on the well-being of other nations far away. We have learned that we must live as men, not as ostriches, nor as dogs in the manger.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Pleasant it is, when over a great sea the winds trouble the waters, to gaze from shore upon another's tribulation: not because any man's troubles are a delectable joy, but because to perceive from what ills you are free yourself is pleasant.
Titus Lucretius Carus

History may not have credited a country's economy for winning a war, but national economies have been blamed for losing a war ... likewise honor. It is strength that wins wars. Money and pride are just representatives of power ... as a standing military is a representative of force, a reminder of consequences.

I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies ... if the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency ... the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent that their fathers conquered.
Thomas Jefferson

Politicians and economists always offer a "change of history" as their motivation, but history always emphasizes terminal events ... and it is the military, on both sides of the alteration, that generates the final conclusion.
paraphrase of Albert Speer

History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.
Ronald Wilson Reagan

The liberty we cherish, and in which we want all people to share, has a price. Young Americans are paying it tonight in Iraq – not out of any grand design for empire, not for oil, not out of dislike for the Iraqi people, but for love – love of America, love for her founding principles, love for her way of life, and love for the greatness that history has judged to be hers, not because of riches or power, but because of her abiding commitment to the cause of human freedom.
John Sidney McCain, Capt USN(ret), US Senator (20 Mar 2003)

Trouble doesn't come from someplace out there, but from someplace in here ... not outside of us, but inside of us.

A mind at peace does not engender wars.
Sophocles [Oedipus Rex]

A nation, like a person, has a mind that must be kept informed and alert, that must know itself, that understands the hopes and the needs of its neighbors – all the other nations that live within the narrowing circle of the world. ... And a nation, like a person, has something deeper, something more permanent, something larger than the sum of all its parts. It is that something which matters most to its future which calls forth the most sacred guarding of its present.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Every tree and every blade of grass appears to be enemy soldiers.
unknown author of ancient Chinese story

When I was in the army, many years ago, I was an infantryman, and in the course of what I saw, and did, and came to understand, I was broken. Sometime after I had returned to the United States and my life had resumed, I rounded a corner in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and saw a painting I had known all my life but which I had not until that moment been able to understand. This was Winslow Homer's masterfully restrained portrait of a veteran returning to his fields. The generation touched by fire in the Civil War understood the great import of this painting, they knew why the veteran had his back turned to the painter, why he was alone, why he worked in utter quiet, why the light was so clear, the scene so tranquil. After years of war and destruction, they understood, and after having passed this painting for the first time as a man, so did I.
Mark Helprin

In the days and in the years that are to come we shall work for a just and honorable peace, a durable peace, as today we work and fight for total victory in war. ... We can and we will achieve such a peace.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

If you agree to do something, do it; don't come back with an explanation. Explanations as to how you came to fail are not worth two cents a ton. Nobody wants them or cares for them.
John Peter Altgeld

Freedom: Exemption from the stress of authority in a beggarly half dozen of restraint's infinite multitude of methods. A political condition that every nation supposes itself to enjoy in virtual monopoly. Liberty. The distinction between freedom and liberty is not accurately known; naturalists have never been able to find a living specimen of either.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

... for, as long as but a hundred of us remain alive, never will we on any conditions be brought under English rule. It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.
The Declaration of Arbroath (6 Apr 1320)

It ain't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog [that matters]!
folk chiasmus

In every arduous enterprise we consider what we are to lose as well as what we are to gain; and the more and better stake of liberty every people possess, the less they will hazard in a vain attempt to make it more.
Edmund Burke

He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.
Ts'ao Kung

He had never been convinced of that [the purported benefits of progressive civilization]. What his people had gained in security they had lost in independence. They had been given knowledge at the expense of wisdom. Faith had taken the place of religions. They had secured life and surrendered livings.
Jeff Rovin

American intelligence, and especially American SIGINT, signals intelligence, is the frontline of defense in [these] dramatically changed circumstances, circumstances in which if we fail to do our job well and completely, more Americans will almost certainly die. The speed of operations, the ruthlessness of the enemy, the pace of modern communications have called on us to do things and to do them in ways never before required. We've worked hard to find innovative ways to protect the American people and the liberties we hold dear. And in doing so, we have not forgotten who we [as fellow Americans] are either.
Michael V. Hayden, GEN AUS [23 Jan 2006 address to the National Press Club by the principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence and the former Director of the National Security Agency]

Fighting insurgents is messy and slow, like eating soup with a knife.
Thomas Edward Lawrence ["Lawrence of Arabia"; T.E. Shaw]

It's very hard to fight a terrorist war without intelligence. By definition, you can only win battles against terrorists preemptively – that's to say, you find out what they're planning to do next Thursday and you stop it cold on Wednesday. Capturing them on Friday while you're still pulling your dead from the rubble is poor consolation.
Mark Steyn

No society that's unfair is ever stable; so to wreck it, just exploit the unfairness.
agent provocateur

We must find the strength to fight for this idea [liberty]; and the compassion to make it universal.
Tony Blair [18 July 2003 address to Congress]

We [the USA] are the outpost of freedom, and if we don't defend it [liberty] around the world, then we won't defend it at home.
Rush Limbaugh (14 March 2005)

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate.
Hubert H. Humphrey

As long as people believe in absurdities, they will continue to commit atrocities.
François Marie Arouet de Voltaire

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.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens; What Is Man?]

For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.
Isaiah 59:3 KJV Bible

If you show a slogan to an American, he will admire it so much that he'll either kill for it, or die for it.
paraphrase of William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1925)

Logomachy: A war in which the weapons are words and the wounds punctures in the swim-bladder of self-esteem -- a kind of contest in which, the vanquished being unconscious of defeat, the victor is denied the reward of success.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together and if we are to live together we have to talk.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Truth will do well enough if left to shift for herself .... She has no need of force to procure entrance into the minds of men.
Thomas Jefferson

Truth will not set you free – it will only change your shackles, and fetter you to a different master.
anarchic declaration

You see, a fool slogan can get you into anything, but you never heard of a slogan getting you out of anything. It takes either bullets, hard work, or money to get you out of anything.
William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1925)

Freedom of speech is not what it used to be in America. It has been so abused by some that it is not exercised by others.
Margaret Chase Smith ["Declaration of Conscience" (1 June 1950)]

At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is not done .... Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

Such as it is, the press has become the greatest power within the Western World, more powerful than the legislature, the executive and judiciary. One would like to ask: by whom has it been elected, and to whom is it responsible?
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn

Vietnam was the first war ever fought without any censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
William C. Westmoreland [Time 5 Apr 1982]

Nothing can be more contemptible than to suppose Public Records to be true.
William Blake ["Annotations to Bishop Watson" in An Apology for the Bible in a Series of Letters Addressed to Thomas Paine (1798)]

The loud little handful will shout for war. The pulpit will warily and cautiously protest at first .... The great mass of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes, and will try to make out why there should be a war, and they will say earnestly and indignantly: It is unjust and dishonorable and there is no need for war. Then the few will shout even louder .... Before long you will see a curious thing: anti-war speakers will be stoned from the platform, and free speech will be strangled by hordes of furious men who still agree with the speakers but dare not admit it .... Next, statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens]

Every war is a battleground of contending ideas ... begun with passionate phrases and ended with exhausted clichés. New words can always be invented, but a dead language means nothing to the living. If speech is to matter, it must be demonstrated, surely and unequivocally. Imprecise and erratic utterances are an invitation to chaos.

If it [U.N.] cannot – or will not – distinguish between terrorists who target civilians and a democracy that seeks to stop the terrorism while minimizing civilian casualties, [then] it has become part of the problem, rather than part of the solution.
Alan Dershowitz

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem – neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken

Everything in war is very simple, but the simplest thing is difficult.
Karl von Clausewitz

We live in a world of unnecessary complexity ... such is our curse. We don't believe that the mad world is sufficiently mad, so we create even greater madness, and then point to the chaos we have created as proof of our theory. Ours is a tragic history, but the greatest comedy of all is tragedy.
paraphrase of Stuart M. Kaminsky

There is no greater chaos than when violence suddenly and unexpectedly rips through a crowd of artless people, instantly changing its indifferent selfishness or innocent peace or ignorant joy into maddened panic.
paraphrase of David Baldacci (2003)

It is staggering that anyone could be so self-infatuated as to single out their own particular policy preferences as anti-war. Anyone who is not a sadist or an idiot is anti-war. The only serious issue is how best to limit, deter or conclude war. But responsibility for confronting this issue is evaded by those preoccupied with the moral preening of being anti-war.
Thomas Sowell

My instinct as an individualist and artist has always warned me most urgently against this capacity of men for becoming drunk on collective suffering, collective pride, collective hatred, and collective honor. When this morbid exaltation becomes perceptible in a room, a hall, a village, a city, or a country, I grow cold and distrustful; a shudder comes over me, for already, while most of my fellow men are still weeping with rapture and enthusiasm, still cheering and venting protestations of brotherhood, I see blood flowing and cities going up in flames.
Hermann Hesse

It's not that politicians never want to know the truth, or are incapable of speaking it, but that they always want to make it into something more useful or more profitable.
paraphrase of Vince Flynn (2001)

If you tell the truth only because you might get caught in a lie, then you're not honest, but merely cunning.
paraphrase of Suzanne Brockmann (2002)

I have noticed that if you have deeply held political opinions, you can pretty much make anything and everything fit them.
paraphrase of Robert B. Parker

Political language ... is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

Battle: A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Controversy: A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and cooperation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.
Adolf Hitler [1 February 1933 Proclamation]

There have been a lot of memorable days in our country's history, but some of them we'd rather forget. September 11th, 2001 is one of those. It isn't a day to celebrate, but it's a day we shouldn't forget, either .... Death by design. Some people who hated Americans set out to kill a lot of us and they succeeded. Americans are puzzled over why so many people in the world hate us...We know that and we're trying to protect ourselves with more weapons. We have to do it, I guess, but might be better if we figured out how to behave as a nation in a way that wouldn't make so many people in the world want to kill us.
a CBS News commentator

Since these spoiled brats come from a privileged lifestyle in a protected culture where words seldom have any consequences, as long as you choose the right ones, words don't seem like weapons to them.
paraphrase of Gerard van der Leun

The problem with the shrinking landscape of our modern crises is that well educated and well paid professionals no longer put their lives on the line for anything except privilege or advantage, and firmly believe that anyone who accedes to more noble motives is either foolish or stupid.
paraphrase of Robert K. Tanenbaum (2003)

We must avoid using misleading and offensive terms that link Islam with those who subvert this great religion or who distort its teachings to justify terrorist activities...Fascist ideology doesn't have anything to do with the way global terrorist networks think or operate, and it doesn't have anything to do with the overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world who practice the peaceful teachings of Islam.
Russ Feingold [Wisconsin Democrat Senator objecting to use of the term "Islamic fascists" as a descriptor]

Cry less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.
Swedish proverb

Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.
Pope Benedict XVI [at Regensburg University]

Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.
Manual II Paleologos of Byzantine (14th-Century Orthodox Christian emperor)

Jihad is not about spreading Islam with the sword.
Javed Ahmed Gamdi

Words are weapons, and it is dangerous ... to borrow them from the arsenal of the enemy.
George Santayana [Orbiter Scripta (1936)]

Language can infiltrate and control a society more effectively than a military force.
Jeff Rovin

Poetry, what is it? Just a voice, a bit of an eddy in the air, and gosh, what use would that be against machineguns?
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

When words fail, war begins; and when dispute fails, words make peace.
paraphrase of Wilford Funk ["When words fail, wars begin. When wars finally end, we settle our disputes with words."]

Mischief begins with words.
Edmund Burke

A very great part of the mischiefs that vex the world arises from words.
Edmund Burke

It is scary how easily so many people can be brainwashed by sheer repetition of a word.
Thomas Sowell

Like every argument I ever had a part of, nobody changed anybody.
Rex Stout

When a thing is said to be not worth refuting you may be sure that either it is flagrantly stupid -- in which case all comment is superfluous -- or it is something formidable, the very crux of the problem.
Miguel de Unamuno [ch 5 The Tragic Sense of Life (1913)]

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 assassins.
George Walker Bush [State of the Union Address (20 Jan 2004)]

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 Hitler’s 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 Mar 2003)

It is their war and you are to help them, not win it for them.
Thomas Edward Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"; T.E. Shaw)

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 activity]

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 national power.
Peter Schoomaker

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 your enemies.
Thomas Sowell

Soldiers in peace are like chimneys in summer.
John Ray

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 (ca490BC)]

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, 2006)]

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.
Thomas Sowell

I'd rather die for speaking out, than to live and be silent.
Fan Zhongyan

Beautiful that war and all its deeds of carnage must in time be utterly lost,
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 draw near,
Bend down and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.
Walt Whitman [Reconciliation]

Their memory is engraved on our hearts.
Michael J. Durant [In the Company of Heroes (2003)]

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.
Wen Tianxiang

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 cake.
Kurt Vonnegut

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 there.
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.
Richard Belzer

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 too,
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.
J. 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 patriots.
paraphrase of Simón "El Libertador" Bolívar (1812)

Patriotism is just another word for fanaticism.
Ted Allbeury

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 words.
A.J. Cronin [The Keys of the Kingdom (1942)]

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 at all.
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 (1911)]

The only thing more inaccurate than a weather report is a battle report from the front.
Christopher Reich

The known facts are not all the facts.
military maxim

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 Methuselah (1921)]

The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know.
Harry S. Truman [Plain Speaking by Merle Miller (1982)]

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.
Wendell Berry

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 desperation.
Pietro Aretino

Diplomacy: the art of doing the nastiest things in the nicest way.

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 crisis]

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 soon.
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 Aug 1988)]

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 a purgatorio.
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 gates only.
Arabian proverb

He who eats alone, chokes alone.
Arabian proverb

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 others.
Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clérel de Tocqueville [vol 2 pt 1 ch 5 Democracy in America (1840)]

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 March 1992)

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 (1905-6)]

I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills] [The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)]

I joined the fight because it occurred to me that many modern day "humanists" who claim to possess a genuine concern for human beings throughout the world are in fact quite content to allow their fellow "global citizens" to suffer under the most hideous state apparatuses and conditions. Their excuses used to be my excuses. When asked why we shouldn't confront the Ba'ath party, the Taliban, or the various other tyrannies throughout this world, my answers would allude to vague notions of cultural tolerance (forcing women to wear a veil and stay indoors is such a quaint cultural tradition), the sanctity of national sovereignty (how eager we internationalists are to throw up borders to defend dictatorships!), or even a creeping suspicion of America's intentions. When all else failed, I would retreat to my fragile moral ecosystem that years of living in peace and liberty had provided me. I would write off war because civilian casualties were guaranteed, or temporary alliances with illiberal forces would be made, or tank fuel was toxic for the environment. My fellow "humanists" and I would relish [sic: revel] content[ed]ly in our self righteous declaration of opposition against all military campaigns against dictatorships, congratulating one another for refusing to taint that aforementioned fragile moral ecosystem that many still cradle with all the revolutionary tenacity of the members of Rage Against the Machine and Greenday. Others would point to America's historical support of Saddam Hussein, sighting it as hypocritical that we would now vilify him as a thug and a tyrant. Upon explaining that we did so to ward off the fiercely Islamist Iran, which was correctly identified as the greater threat at the time, eyes are rolled and hypocrisy is declared. Forgetting that America sided with Stalin to defeat Hitler, who was promptly confronted once the Nazis were destroyed, America's initial engagement with Saddam and other regional actors is identified as the ultimate argument against America's moral crusade. And maybe it is. Maybe the reality of politics makes all political action inherently crude and immoral. Or maybe it is these adventures in philosophical masturbation that prevent[s] people from ever taking any kind of effective action against men like Saddam Hussein. One thing is for certain, as disagreeable or as confusing as my decision to enter the fray may be, consider what peace vigils against genocide have accomplished lately. Consider that there are 19 year old soldiers from the Midwest who have never touched a college campus or a protest who have done more to uphold the universal legitimacy of representative government and individual rights by [literally] placing themselves between Iraqi voting lines and homicidal religious fanatics. Often times it is less about how clean your actions are and more about how pure your intentions are. So that is why I joined [the military mission in the Middle East]. In the time it took for you to read this explanation, innocent people your age have suffered under the crushing misery of tyranny. Every tool of philosophical advancement and communication that we use to develop our opinions about this war are denied to countless human beings on this planet, many of whom live under the regimes that have, in my opinion, been legitimately targeted for destruction. Some have allowed their resentment of the president to stir silent applause for setbacks in Iraq. Others have ironically decried the war because it has tied up our forces and prevented them from confronting criminal regimes in Sudan, Uganda, and elsewhere. I simply decided that the time for candid discussions of the oppressed was over, and I joined. In digesting this posting, please remember that America's commitment to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his sons existed before the current administration, and would exist into our future children's lives had we not acted. Please remember that the problems that plague Iraq today were set in motion centuries ago, and were, up until now, held back by the most cruel of cages. Don't forget that human beings have a responsibility to one another, and that Americans will always have a responsibility to the oppressed. Don't overlook the obvious reasons to disagree with the war, but don't cheapen the moral aspects either. Assisting a formerly oppressed population in converting their torn society into a plural[istic], democratic one is [a] dangerous and difficult business, especially when being attacked and sabotaged from literally every direction. So if you have anything to say to me at the end of this reading, let it at least include "Good Luck".
2LT Mark J. Daily [ROTC Outstanding Cadet (2005), Distinguished Military Graduate (2006); KIA in Mosul Iraq on 15 January 2007]

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analyzed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.
W.H. Auden ["September 1, 1939" (1939)]

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.
Wendell Berry ["We Who Prayed and Wept"]

The U.S. is in the process of building the world's first 21st century model economy. The only other countries doing this are U.K. and Australia. The model is fast, flexible, highly productive and unstable in that it is always fracturing and re-fracturing. This will increase the economic gap between the U.S. and everybody else, especially Europe and Japan. At the same time, the military gap is increasing. Other than China, we are the only country that is continuing to put money into their military. Plus, we are the only military getting on-the-ground military experience through our war in Iraq. We know which high-tech weapons are working and which ones aren't. There is almost no one who can take us on economically or militarily. There has never been a superpower in this position before. On the one hand, this makes the U.S. a magnet for bright and ambitious people. It also makes us a target. We are becoming one of the last holdouts of the traditional Judeo-Christian culture. There is no better place in the world to be in business and raise children. The U.S. is by far the best place to have an idea, form a business and put it into the marketplace. We take it for granted, but it isn't as available in other countries of the world. Ultimately, it's an issue of culture. The only people who can hurt us are ourselves, by losing our culture. If we give up our Judeo-Christian culture, we become just like the Europeans. The culture war is the whole ballgame. If we lose it, there isn't another America to pull us out.
Herbert Meyer ["What in the World is Going On?" (Feb 2007)]
[nb: America is ranked sixteenth internationally, behind Sweden and Switzerland, Saudi Arabia and Syria, on per capita military spending; and except for consumerism, does not rank in the top ten percentile on the global index of ANYTHING, from educational attainment to public health!/s/Ed]

Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.
Joseph Story (1833)

Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us.
Thomas Jefferson

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
Samuel Adams

It is the manners and spirit of a people which preserve a republic in vigor. A degeneracy in these is a canker which soon eats to the heart of its laws and constitution.
Thomas Jefferson

I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.
Thomas Paine

The belief in a God All Powerful wise and good, is so essential to the moral order of the world and to the happiness of man, that arguments which enforce it cannot be drawn from too many sources nor adapted with too much solicitude to the different characters and capacities impressed with it.
James Madison

Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep for ever.
Thomas Jefferson

Without liberty, law loses its nature and its name, and becomes oppression. Without law, liberty also loses its nature and its name, and becomes licentiousness.
James Wilson

It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.
George Washington

The real purpose of those [little yellow] ribbons is to ease some of the guilt we feel for voting to send them to war and then making absolutely no sacrifices .... I understand the guilt. We know we're sending recruits to do our dirty work, and we want to seem grateful. After we've decided that we made a mistake, we don't want to blame the soldiers who were ordered to fight. Or even our representatives, who were deceived by false intelligence. And certainly not ourselves, who failed to object to a war we barely understood. But blaming the president is a little too easy.
Joel Stein [Warriors and Wusses Los Angeles Times (24 Jan 2006)]

Vietnam wasn't a real war – not like the world wars that were main events that took center stage in dramatizing our lives! It was just a little side show on amphetamines! All those other little skirmishes since Vietnam don't even deserve to be dignified by the term war – they're not even interesting enough to make a movie about them.
unknown political commentator

This is Jane Fonda. During my two week visit in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, I've had the opportunity to visit a great many places and speak to a large number of people from all walks of life – workers, peasants, students, artists and dancers, historians, journalists, film actresses, soldiers, militia girls, members of the women's union, writers. I visited the (Dam Xuac) agricultural co-op, where the silk worms are also raised and thread is made. I visited a textile factory, a kindergarten in Hanoi. The beautiful Temple of Literature was where I saw traditional dances and heard songs of resistance. I also saw unforgettable ballet about the guerrillas training bees in the south to attack enemy soldiers. The bees were danced by women, and they did their job well. In the shadow of the Temple of Literature I saw Vietnamese actors and actresses perform the second act of Arthur Miller's play All My Sons, and this was very moving to me – the fact that artists here are translating and performing American plays while US imperialists are bombing their country. I cherish the memory of the blushing militia girls on the roof of their factory, encouraging one of their sisters as she sang a song praising the blue sky of Vietnam – these women, who are so gentle and poetic, whose voices are so beautiful, but who, when American planes are bombing their city, become such good fighters. I cherish the way a farmer evacuated from Hanoi, without hesitation, offered me, an American, their best individual bomb shelter while US bombs fell near by. The daughter and I, in fact, shared the shelter wrapped in each others arms, cheek against cheek. It was on the road back from Nam Dinh, where I had witnessed the systematic destruction of civilian targets-schools, hospitals, pagodas, the factories, houses, and the dike system. As I left the United States two weeks ago, Nixon was again telling the American people that he was winding down the war, but in the rubble-strewn streets of Nam Dinh, his words echoed with sinister [words indistinct] of a true killer. And like the young Vietnamese woman I held in my arms clinging to me tightly – and I pressed my cheek against hers – I thought, this is a war against Vietnam perhaps, but the tragedy is America's. One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo-colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist. I've spoken to many peasants who talked about the days when their parents had to sell themselves to landlords as virtually [sic] slaves, when there were very few schools and much illiteracy, inadequate medical care, when they were not masters of their own lives. But now, despite the bombs, despite the crimes being created – being committed against them by Richard Nixon, these people own their own land, build their own schools – the children learning, literacy – illiteracy is being wiped out, there is no more prostitution as there was during the time when this was a French colony. In other words, the people have taken power into their own hands, and they are controlling their own lives. And after 4,000 years of struggling against nature and foreign invaders – and the last 25 years, prior to the revolution, of struggling against French colonialism – I don't think that the people of Vietnam are about to compromise in any way, shape or form about the freedom and independence of their country, and I think Richard Nixon would do well to read Vietnamese history, particularly their poetry, and particularly the poetry written by Ho Chi Minh.
Jane Fonda [22 August 1972 Radio Speech from Hanoi, transcript (page 7671) Travel to Hostile Areas, HR 16742, 19-25 September 1972, US Congress House Committee on Internal Security]

It amazes me that I still get letters about you [Jane Fonda] ... what has it been since Vietnam? ... forty years? ... the anger. "Traitor to her country." "Honoring her would be traitorous, stupid," and so on. It goes on and on and on.
Barbara Walters

It's sad, and in a way, it's pathetic, that lo, these many years later, these people have not made sense of the [Vietnam] War. They're off base in terms of where the anger needs to be placed. And I'm made a lightning rod, and the right wing has been very assiduous in fanning the flame of the "myth of Hanoi Jane". You know, they've spread lies on the Internet about things I supposedly did that aren't true.
Jane Fonda

The human mind's ability to rationalize its own shortcomings into virtues is unlimited.
Robert A. Heinlein

I departed from legality only to return to justice.
Louis Napoleon Bonaparte [1851 speech explaining coup d'état]

Though the command of superior officers be very absolute, yet no command against the laws of nature is binding; so that a soldier, retaining his commission, ought to refuse to execute any barbarity, as if a soldier should be commanded to shoot a man passing by inoffensively, upon the street, no such command would exempt him from the punishment of murder.
inquiry commission on the Glencoe Massacre (1692)

Tolerance has been one of the virtues of western civilization. But virtues can be carried to extremes that turn them into vices. Toleration of intolerance is a particularly dangerous vice to which western nations are succumbing, both within their own countries and internationally. Double standards are being wrapped in the mantle of morality.
Thomas Sowell [The Week's Revelations (26 Sept 2006)]

If someone denies their behavior, like a frightened child too afraid to admit the truth and accept the consequences of their misconduct, then that person is either a coward or hysteric or both. If they benefit from telling lies, like actors and politicians, then such cowardice or hysteria is an asset. If "good citizens", who have paid their taxes, who have sometimes paid their dues with blood, do not believe the outrageous claims of people shown to be duplicitous and irresponsible, then these plaints, even when reinforced by sympathizers, are just noise, static, interference in our commonplace lives ... that normal routine which is so uninteresting to those lost in illusions. It is only by the kindness of "good people" that tolerance is shown these defectives, when true justice would warrant their utter extermination. Good men and women have died protecting everyone's rights and privileges, and these societal parasites have no appreciation for our forbearance, but complain even louder that we are not as stupid and blind as they. No, we are not like you, nor you like us, and we thank God, while you curse our charity. Your synthetic realm is tawdry, your revisionism is transparent, and your persistence is annoying, so don't be surprised when we run out of patience.
anonymous combat veteran

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to fear.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Treason and betrayal is possible only among those who are trusted.
Russian adage

Thirty five years ago, after the Vietnam veterans fulfilled our civic responsibilities at a terrible cost, the American people allowed Congress to weasel out of their promises to our allies at a far more terrible cost. You then relegated us, the veterans who served and died for your freedom, to second class citizenship. You honored the tiny minority among us like John Kerry who attacked our honor. To assuage your guilt, you funded programs that destroyed the resilience of many of our brothers. You kept our point of view out of the history texts. You lionized our peers that refused to serve. You allowed them to keep us out of academia, the media, politics and in many areas of employment, unless we masked or denied the truths which we had bitterly learned. You stereotyped us in books, television, movies and the news. You destroyed the values and the beliefs of the society in which the tenets of our lives had been shaped. Now you do the same to another generation, many of whom are our sons and daughters, nephews and nieces. You write off our allies and laud our enemies again. You honor those who despise their betters, precisely because they fear to do what their betters do for them. You leave the song unsung, unheard, and allow the noblest deeds to die, suffocated. It has proven otherwise. America should beware.
Steve Sherman [op-ed, The Wall Street Journal]

Governments don't live together ... men live together. Nobody can get either a fair word or a fair fight from governments. But men, between themselves, can give either one to each other without denying manhood to each other for the transaction.
paraphrase of Forrest Carter [Asa Earl Carter]

The [American] government keeps getting us into war, so the [peace-loving] people must keep getting us back out, and solving the problems [made by war] directly ... people to people, not government to government.
T. Jefferson Parker

No sensible person seeks conflict, especially with governments, but if we don't pursue the truth, we are lost as individuals and as a society.
Timothy Ball (2007)

We have arrived at the present unhappy situation not so much because we challenged those with a different worldview, but because we ceased to assert our own values and advance our world view.
Michael Ledeen

"Peace" movements don't bring peace but war.
Thomas Sowell

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 civilization 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 a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.
Albert Einstein

People say talk is cheap but it can be enormously costly when it becomes just a way to forestall action while an enemy nation builds up its military threat.
Thomas Sowell [The Week's Revelations (26 Sept 2006)]

People with big mouths keep getting people with big backs into war, leaving it to people with big feet to flee while people with big hearts finish it; and then people with big butts tell others what people with big shoulders did wrong. If people with big heads can't stop wars then people with big hands ought to shut the big mouths that start them!
anonymous juvenilia

Once and for all the idea of glorious victories won by the glorious army must be wiped out. Niether side is glorious. On either side they're just frightened men messing their pants and they all want the same thing – not to lie under the earth, but to walk upon it – without crutches.
Peter Weiss

A sudden, mirthless, ugly violence is the great leveler. Men revert to childhood, where the night is full of spooks and ghosties, when they are reminded of death. A man whipped in a fair fight retains stubborn remnants of pride and honor; but a man rendered helpless without warning is much more susceptible, tractable, even amenable. Such rapid and raw cruelty exposes his true nature, reveals his underlying character, displays his essential being ... a fearful thing anxious to survive. All that is pretty and brave lies abandoned beside the bloody corpse, the reeking offal, the nasty inexorable truth.
paraphrase of John D. MacDonald (1964)

In the entire history of the human race there is not a single instance in which cruelty effected a genuine reformation. It can crush, but it cannot improve. It can restrain, but, as soon as the restraint is removed, the subject is worse than before. The human mind is so constituted that it must be led toward the good, and be driven only in one direction, and that is toward ruin.
John Peter Altgeld

We have been told, on leaving our native soil, that we were going to defend the sacred rights conferred on us by so many of our citizens settled overseas, so many years of our presence, so many benefits brought by us to populations in need of our assistance and our civilization. We were able to verify that all this was true, and, because it was true, we did not hesitate to shed our quota of blood, to sacrifice our youth and our hopes. We regretted nothing, but whereas we over here are inspired by this frame of mind, I am told that in Rome, factions and conspiracies are rife, that treachery flourishes, and that many people in their uncertainty and confusion lend a ready ear to the dire temptations of relinquishment and vilify our action. I cannot believe that all this is true and yet recent wars have shown how pernicious such a state of mind could be and to where it could lead. Make haste to reassure me, I beg you, and tell me that our fellow citizens understand us, support us and protect us as we ourselves are protecting the glory of the Empire. If it should be otherwise, if we should have to leave our bleached bones on these desert sands in vain, then beware of the anger of the legions!
Marcus Flavinius (a centurion in the 2nd Cohort of the Augusta Legion writing to his cousin Tertulus in Rome about 20BC)

But the fact that you cannot stop something does not mean that you have to become an accomplice.
Thomas Sowell

Records of old wars mean nothing to me. History is more or less bunk. It's tradition.
Henry Ford [Chicago Tribune (25 May 1916)]

The more individuals capable of watching the world theater calmly and critically, the less danger of monumental mass stupidities – first of all, wars.
Hermann Hesse

You must know a great many unimportant things in order to know a very few important things.

Call if you will, but who will answer you? To which of the holy ones will you turn? Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple. I myself have seen a fool taking root, but suddenly his house was cursed. His children are far from safety, crushed in court without a defender. The hungry consume his harvest, taking it even from among thorns, and the thirsty pant after his wealth. For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.
Job 5:1-7 NIV Bible

Did you know that for everyone who dies in war there are others who are born, and re-born? That is why veterans will never make the peace. And why, in denying the nobility of battle, pacifists cultivate war. To stop something so powerful, you must at least tell the truth about it, and they don't. What I'm trying to say is: don't feel bad about us. There is a balance to everything ... symmetry, compensation. A soul buried in the ground rises in the air. When you go home and make a new life, thrive in peace ... but don't pity those of us still in war.
Mark Helprin (1977)

Being a soldier [in the wars of modern power politics] was like being on a team in a sport that drew no crowds, except for the players' own parents and friends.
Dan Wakefield

If you haven't been to war then you can't have any war stories to tell! Lying about war won't make you a warrior any more than lying about sex makes you a lover, or about fishing makes a fisher! ... besides, the important part of any story is not what's said, but what's felt.

We pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society? ... [It] is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary – oops sorry, volunteer – force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.
William Arkin

I say to you: that we are in a battle, and that more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.
Sheikh Ayman Muhammad al-Zawahiri [an authenticated communications intercept used as a declassified example in a "Media as Terrain" military briefing; excerpted from a message by Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant sent to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, before Zarqawi's termination in June 2006]

The torrents of [complaints] represent the worst of polarized and hate-filled America. [I am not] apologizing for being critical of the military. Instead, I'm trying to make sense of the worldview of those who have responded. For the critics, I have become the enemy and have been demonized ... I am part of the all powerful, self-congratulatory, far-left, Bush-bashing, fifth-column mainstream. It isn't so much what I say ... it is more that I sit in my safe little cubicle in front of a keyboard sipping lattes, giving aid and comfort to the enemy while our boys and girls die. In other words, I'm comfortable while others suffer.
William Arkin

Democratic politicians rarely feel they can afford the luxury of telling the whole truth to the people. And since not telling it, though prudent, is uncomfortable, they find it easier if they themselves do not have to hear too often too much of the sour truth. The men under them who report and collect the news come to realize in their turn that it is safer to be wrong before it has become fashionable to be right.
Walter Lippmann [p26 Essays in the Public Philosophy (1935)]

It might seem at first glance that the left wing of the Democrat Party should be in the forefront to fight radical Islam. Islamic radicals despise women's rights and gay rights. I think we all know what they would do with Hillary Clinton or Barney Frank. [Their] reluctance to support the war on terror ... has nothing to do with cultural relativism or multiculturalism. It has everything to do with domestic politics. Basically the Left hates Bush more than it hates Bin Laden .... Consider the war in Iraq. This war is tough going in Iraq. But it is even tougher going in America. The war is being lost not on the streets of Baghdad but right here in America .... There is no way that Bin Laden could persuade America to give up on the war on terror and get out of Iraq and the Middle East. Fortunately for Bin Laden he has a whole political movement in the United States that is dedicated to exactly this objective.
Dinesh D'Souza [The Enemy At Home (2007)]

Islamic organizations are carefully orchestrating lawsuits, marches, large propaganda campaigns all across the nation. Islamic schools and mosques are being built in record numbers across the nation with Saudi oil money being funneled into the US legally. Islam is on the march. The submission of the great country of the United States to Islam has begun, just as planned. Just as we were warned by Osama bin Laden, Islam is using Americas own laws and freedoms to destroy us.
Randy Taylor (19 March 2007)

History is made, wars are won and lost, cultures and nations and civilizations come and go, rise and fall, as much by blunders as by victories. The failure of many Americans, including many of the leading Democrats in Congress, and some Republicans, to fully appreciate the persistent, long-term threat posed to America's liberties and survival, and to the future of Liberal Democracies everywhere, by an Islamic Resistance Movement that envisions a world dominated and defined by an Islamic Caliphate of religious totalitarianism, and which will fight any war, make any sacrifice, suffer any hardship, and pay any price to achieve it, may prove to be the kind of blunder upon which the fate of America turns, and falls.
Raymond S. Kraft [Terrorism (24 Oct 2006)]

[The troops here in Iraq] all told me it's time to end this war .... [T]he soldiers also asked why it seems from here there are no plans to end the war, just discussions of battle tactics?
Richard Engel

I don't oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war.
Barack Obama

Having lost in Vietnam, many Americans cannot bear the thought of another defeat. That's why the stakeholders in the current conflict – the president and his party, principally – cannot bring themselves to accept the fact that the Iraq war is lost.
Eleanor Clift

Nothing is easier than to second-guess decisions made in wartime. Anyone who has bothered to read the history of wars knows that very few wars have been without disastrous surprises, often on both sides. It is not that the people in charge are stupid. Too many things are unpredictable in war, despite politicians who demand timetables, as if running a war is like running a train. ... We have learned the hard way, notably in the Vietnam war, that military victories are not enough. American troops scored a big victory on the battlefield in 1968 that was presented in the American media as a big defeat – and that began the political unravelling of the Vietnam war. Many in the media seem to think that they did something noble, to get us out of an "unwinnable" war. But the war was unwinnable only because they made it so politically. Even after American troops were withdrawn from Vietnam, South Vietnam was able to hold off the invaders from North Vietnam. Only after Congress cut off financial support for South Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese continued to get support from the Communist bloc, did South Vietnam fall. Since then, even the Communist conquerors have admitted that they did not win on the battlefield, but in the American media and in the American political arena, surrounded by an atmosphere created by a defeatist media.
Thomas Sowell ["Another Vietnam?" (16 Jan 2007)]

It is very hard for us to understand the American attitudes about the war in my homeland – about their role and our role and the results. Although we have sought independence for centuries, our first encounter with America was as an oppressed people who were offered assistance by a great and noble power, and when things were not as quick or as easy, as simple or as satisfactory as our allies would've preferred, they abandoned us to a worse fate ... where thousands were exploited and murdered as refugees, and a million innocent people were starved and tortured to death in slave labor camps that were politely called "re-education centers" by the ruling regime. We have lost everything that we cherished – our ancestral homes, our families, our livelihoods and fortunes, our culture and homeland – and despite our greater commitment and greater losses, we are blamed for "not trying hard enough"! Facts about the Vietnam war are being distorted by the lies of our enemies and the myths of our allies, and scholars are not even recording the truth, much less refuting the misinformation. Being responsible for the loss of our heritage is very difficult, but it's almost impossible to endure the blame for causing America's only ever wartime defeat! Because America does not want to accept the results of her own mismanagement, she has blamed the victim for being victimized! America is doing to us after the war what she did to us during the war – finding us guilty for her sins. Nobody seems to care about the truth anymore, but this is more than anyone should be expected to bear.
comment in a review of an academic book about the Vietnamese military by an unknown émigré, a former ARVN officer

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
Wendell Berry ["The Peace of Wild Things"]

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.
Brent Scowcroft

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 your command.
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 you.
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 1959)]

War, empire, revenge ... scale them down and what did you have? ... anger, avarice, pride. History was only personal grievance writ large.
Christopher Reich

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 things.
Jonathan Kellerman

It doesn't have to be this way at all! Shooting will only make things worse. Fighting is a stupid, immoral, wasteful way of effecting change.
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.
Mark Helprin

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 forces.
Maxwell D. Taylor [The Uncertain Trumpet (1960)]

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.
John Dryden

It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.
Douglas MacArthur

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 conference]

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 1950)]

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 Confederate territory]

If I cannot find a way, I will make one.
Hannibal Barca

If McClellan is not using the army, I should like to borrow it for a while.
Abraham Lincoln (9 April 1862 comment)

So long as victory can be attained, stupid haste is preferable to clever dilatoriness.
Chang Yu

If war cannot be avoided, it must be pursued and won. War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.
Douglas MacArthur

You don't never go into a war half-assed, 'cause if you hang around assholes, you're gonna get shit on!
anonymous Marine

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 after death!

To the victors belong the spoils.
William Marcy [25 Jan 1832 U.S. Senate speech]

Success in war, like charity in religion, covers a multitude of sins.
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 (1897)]

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 in retrograde.
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.
Martin Heidegger

A man's not finished when he's defeated; he's finished when he quits.
Richard M. Nixon (18 July 1969)

We are confronted by insurmountable opportunities.
comment by Pogo, the cartoon possum drawn by Walt Kelly

If you have a bad strategy then no amount of good execution will save it.
Michael Mankins

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.
Lawrence Sanders

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.
D.J. Meador

Accursed be he that first invented war.
Christopher Marlowe

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 already have.
Jack Handey

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.
Albert Einstein

No one won the last war, and no one will win the next.
Eleanor Roosevelt [5 Nov 1948 letter to Harry S. Truman]

The beginning of war is like the first days of peace: neither the world nor our hearts know they are there.
Jane Wagner

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.
diplomatic maxim

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 not.
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.
Christiaan Huygens

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.
Emma Goldman

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.
Jonathan Kellerman

Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.
Paul Rodriguez

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)]

You don't have money to fund the war or children, but you're going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the President's amusement.
Fortney Hillman "Pete" Stark Jr (19 October 2007)

Negative comments from politicians played over television have a dramatic effect on morale, especially on troops who are otherwise indifferent and disdainful of politics in general. I cannot tell you how many times I have overheard marines and soldiers talking about various inconsiderate comments made from the likes of John Kerry, Murtha, Reid, and Pelosi about how we cannot win, how we should be brought home, etc. The Kerry comments really cemented his reputation with the troops and upset people [here] more than anything else. It is unnerving to volunteer for service during wartime hoping to be deployed and having to listen to a politician explain how the troops need to come home, especially when we clearly have not finished what we started. There is a widespread perception amongst the marines I know, even those uninterested in politics, that the Democratic Party does not want us to win in Iraq for whatever reason. This is true even amongst Democrats who still maintain the Party viewpoint on almost every other issue but the war. Morale is always a tricky issue to deal with, and it is difficult to tell a marine to buck up when he sees important people back home undercutting his primary reason for existing at the moment.
David Goldich, CPL USMC (Iraq 2007)

National [war] efforts to date have been corrupted by partisan politics that have prevented us from devising effective, executable, supportable solutions. These partisan struggles have led to political decisions that endangered the lives of our sons and daughters on the battlefield. The unmistakable message was that political power had greater priority than our national security objectives.
General Ricardo S. Sanchez

You will never be alone as long as you can live with your decisions, and you will never be disappointed as long as you maintain your own integrity.

The military builds muscle on the body politic, and danger keeps those muscles well toned.
paraphrase of Jeff Rovin

Militarism is the great preserver of our ideals of hardihood, and human life with no use for hardihood would be contemptible.
William James [The Moral Equivalent of War (1910)]

A man who experiences no genuine satisfaction in life does not want peace .... Men court war to escape meaninglessness and boredom, to be relieved of fear and frustration.
Nels F.S. Ferre

It is required of a man that he share the action and the passion of his times at peril of being judged not to have lived [fully].
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Just as wilderness without the untamed is not genuine, and adventure without risk is not authentic, so soldiering without sacrifice is not true soldiering, and war without destruction is not real war. It's not that peril and devastation are so appealing, but that life without meaning is pointless.

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?
Mohandas Karamchand Mahatma Gandhi

Nothing serious ever gets accomplished in this world unless someone's willing to die for it.
G. Gordon Liddy (2003)

There is indeed an increasing tendency among modern men to imagine themselves ethical because they have delegated their vices to larger and larger groups. To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behavior as individuals within the group.
Reinhold Niebuhr

If the excesses of mob violence are just the indulgences of immaturity or the atavism of primitives, then modern armies, with all their disciplined complexity, are not more civilized for being more extreme in their destruction.

The sight of a battlefield is one of the most awful lessons in international ethics which a civilized man can receive.
E.L. Godkin

So long as antimilitarists propose no substitute for war's disciplinary function, no moral equivalent of war, ... so long they fail to realize the full inwardness of the situation.
William James [The Moral Equivalent of War in Memories and Studies (1911)]

War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men.
Georges Clemenceau

War, without virtue in itself, breeds virtue. It breeds patience in the impatient, and heroism in the cowardly. But mostly it breeds patience. For war is a dull business, the dullest business on earth. War is a period of waiting. Each day of it is crammed with the little hesitations of men uncertain of themselves, and awed by their ghastly responsibilities. The responsibilities of life and death. The responsibilities of God that have been thrust into their hands.
Harry Brown [A Walk in the Sun (1944, 1971)]

So strong is the propensity of mankind to fall into mutual animosities, that where no substantial occasion presents itself, the most frivolous and fanciful distinctions have been sufficient to kindle their unfriendly passions and excite their most violent conflicts.
James Madison [#10 The Federalist (1787)]

Unconditional war can no longer lead to unconditional victory. It can no longer serve to settle disputes. It can no longer be of concern to great powers alone. For a nuclear disaster, spread by winds and waters and fear, could well engulf the great and the small, the rich and the poor, the committed and the uncommitted alike. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
John F. Kennedy

If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
Thomas Jefferson [28 July 1791 letter]

Power usually lasts ten years, but influence not more than a hundred.
Korean proverb

If enough influential people excuse it, whatever "it" may be, then nothing will ever be wrong; and if nothing is ever wrong, then everything must be right ... and are my enemies not destroyed when we have made peace?

We should keep silent about those in power; to speak well of them almost implies flattery; to speak ill of them while they are alive is dangerous, and when they are dead is cowardly.
Jean de la Bruyère ["Of Great Nobles" aph 56 Characters (1688)]

When you hear somebody usin' words ag'in somebody, don't go by his words, for they won't make no damn sense, [but] go by his tone, and you'll know if he's mean and lying.
Forest Carter [The Education of Little Tree (1976)]

It should be noted that when he seizes a state the new ruler ought to determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He should inflict them once and for all, and not have to renew them every day. Whoever acts otherwise, either through timidity or bad advice, is always forced to have the knife ready in his hand. ... Violence should be inflicted once and for all; people will then forget what it tastes like and so be less resentful.
Niccolò Machiavelli [ch 8 The Prince (1514)]

Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true.
Eric Hoffer [aph 78 The Passionate State of Mind (1955)]

Power! Did you ever hear of men being asked whether other souls should have power or not? It is born in them. You may dam up the fountain of water, and make it a stagnant marsh, or you may let it run free and do its work; but you cannot say whether it shall be there, it is there. And it will act, if not openly for good, then covertly for evil; but it will act.
Olive Schreiner [ch 4 pt 2 The Story of an African Farm (1883)]

You cannot have power for good without having power for evil too. Even mother's milk nourishes murderers as well as heroes.
George Bernard Shaw [act 3 Major Barbara (1905)]

He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]

Retreat, hell! We're attacking in a different direction!
O.P. Smith [Chosin Reservoir (1950)]

Retreat, hell! We just got here!
Lloyd Williams [Belleau Wood (1918)]

An army, like a snake, goes on its belly.
Frederick II "the Great"

A preoccupation with peace is simply a desire for death. From the day we are born we must fight to survive. When we are not fighting the elements, we are fighting each other. When we stop fighting for air, for food and water, for sex and power, then we begin dying. And anyone who does not want to fight for his share has lost the will to live. Peace is just another form of suicide.
paraphrase of Sigmund Freud [The World and its Discontents]

There is nothing I love so much as a good fight.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt (22 Jan 1911)

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light!
Edna Saint Vincent Millay

When folks get heated up, there ain't no halfway. It's one thing or the other ... the sheep or the goats, followers or avoiders, friends or foes. You're either with them or against them.
paraphrase of Ernest Haycox (1939,1967)

Peacetime, in the time of capitalism, can only be understood as the preparatory interval between wars. That idea is intrinsic to understanding the socialist perspective on war and peace.
Erich Ludendorff

For WAR, consisteth not in Battle only, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to content by Battle is sufficiently known .... So the nature of War, consisteth not in actual fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is PEACE.
Thomas Hobbes [ch 13 Leviathan (1651)]

It is paradoxical that violence not only breaks the peace, but it takes violence to restore the peace.

The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton

Men do not make laws. They do but discover them. Laws must be justified by something more than the will of the majority. They must rest on the eternal foundation of righteousness. That state is most fortunate in its form of government which has the aptest instruments for the discovery of law.
Calvin Coolidge [address to the Massachusetts State senate (7 Jan 1914)]

Herein lies a riddle: How can a people so gifted by God become so seduced by naked power, so greedy for money, so addicted to violence, so slavish before mediocre and treacherous leadership, so paranoid, deluded, lunatic?
Philip Berrigan

We are a conquering race. We must obey our blood and occupy new markets and if necessary new lands.
Albert J. Beveridge [27 April 1898 address]

The desire to conquer is itself a sort of subjection.
George Eliot / Mary Ann Evans [bk 1 ch 10 Daniel Deronda (1876)]

If the Nuremberg laws were [equally] applied, then every post-war American president would have been hanged.
Avram Noam Chomsky

It's remarkable how many political solutions today are directed toward dealing with the problems created by previous political solutions.

Conquest is the missionary of valour, and the hard impact of military virtues beats meanness out of the world.
Walter Bagehot [ch 2 sct 3 Physics and Politics (1872)]

Violence is the first resource of the insane, and the last resort of the foolish.
paraphrase of Isaac Asimov

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
David Friedman

At once the most preposterous and the most dangerous of contemporary beliefs is 'nothing was ever settled by violence'. A cursory reading of history makes it clear that virtually every important development in the history of mankind has been, for good or ill, a product of violence.
Jack Kelly

The use of violent force may not be fair or right, may be incapable of justification, but because nothing else prevents or persuades evil, protects the innocent from wrongdoing, then it remains essential ... and it is a mark of our humanity that we can regret its necessity.

Our strengths are our weaknesses.

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.
Ernest M. Hemingway

The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops ....
Noah Webster [An Examination of the Leading Principles of the Federal Constitution (1787)]

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
Mao Tse-Tung / Mao Zedong [6 Nov 1938 speech "Problems of War and Strategy"]

Power may be at the end of a gun, but sometimes it's also at the end of the shadow or the image of a gun.
Jean Genet [pt 1 Prisoner of Love (1986)]

Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.
Saul Alinsky ["Tactics" Rules for Radicals (1971)]

You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.
Alphonse Scarface Capone

I had wished to instruct the brothers myself, that their hearts might grow much larger than the castles and armour of all the godless rascals on earth. Forward, forward, forward while the fire is hot! Let your swords be ever warm with blood; forge the hammer on the anvil of Nimrod raze his tower to the ground!
Thomas Münzer

Peace purchased at the cost of any part of our national integrity is fit only for slaves, and even when purchased for such a price it is a delusion, for it cannot last.
Wm.E. Borah

By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.
Massachusetts motto [Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem.]

The essential American character is hard, insular, stoic, and lethal.
paraphrase of David Herbert Lawrence

We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.
Omar Nelson Bradley

Problems worthy of attack prove their worth by hitting back.

Fighting isn't about bravery. It's about failure ... failure to communicate, failure to compromise, failure to say I'm sorry.
Steven Bochco (2003)

War will reveal more to a man about himself than anyone would ever want to know ... and having learned, there is nothing he can do to change it, though he wish it could be otherwise.
paraphrase of James W. Huston (2002)

Knowledge makes a man unfit to be a slave.
Frederick Douglass

The most violent element in society is ignorance.
Emma Goldman

He had undergone a fundamental change. He was no longer a man who knew how to kill – he had become a killer who still wore the trappings of a man. It wasn't his fault. In living with the cunning and ruthlessness of an animal, he had become an animal. In waking each morning with a sense of impending death, he had lost all respect for life.
William P. Kennedy (1993)

There are many reasons for becoming a soldier. It may be a matter of hereditary luck or abject hunger or heroic virtue or fugitive vice; it may be an interest in the work or a lack of interest in any other work.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Wars change in the details, but soldiers pretty much stay the same.
James Brady (2003)

Armies, for the most part, are made up of men drawn from simple and peaceful lives. In time of war they suddenly find themselves living under conditions of violence, requiring new rules of conduct that are in direct contrast to the conditions they lived under as civilians. They learn to accept this to perform their duties as fighting men.
Gil Doud and Jesse Hibbs [prologue delivered by General Bedell Smith in 1955 film version of To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy]

Killing someone is more difficult than it seems. Soldiers are specially trained to do it, and so are cops. Society gives them permission to do this terrible thing for the greater good, and it still messes them up afterwards.
paraphrase of Steven Bochco (2003)

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one!
Charles Mackay [Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841)]

Tut, I have done a thousand dreadful things. As willingly as one would kill a fly; And nothing grieves me heartily indeed. But that I cannot do ten thousand more.
William Shakespeare [Titus Andronicus (1594)]

At bottom, we are not homo sapiens [rational humans] at all. Our core is madness. The prime directive is murder. What Darwin was too polite to say is that we came to rule the earth not because we were the smartest, or even the meanest, but because we have always been the craziest – [the] most murderous motherfuckers in the jungle.
Stephen Edwin King

Sanity is like a clearing in the jungle where the humans agree to meet from time to time and behave in certain fixed ways that even a baboon could master.
Wilfrid Sheed [In Love with Daylight (1995)]

Out of the crooked tree of humanity, no straight thing can ever be made.
Immanuel Kant

Few of us can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that The State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.
Arthur Miller

Thought for many is like visiting a foreign land. When we go there, we go as tourists, and like most tourists, we feel uncomfortable and out of place. Like most tourists, we therefore move on before too long, going somewhere else and doing something else.
paraphrase of Robert McAfee Brown

I think I feared guns and violence because they were so much a part of me. Perhaps no one is more aware of, and is enticed by, and frightened of violence than the man whose brain is a bomb.
Joe R. Lansdale

War is a stupefying and brutalizing business ... but that does not mean that the people involved in it are either stupid or brutish!
anonymous Marine Corps officer (1965)

In our own time we have seen domination spread over the social landscape to a point where it is beyond all human control. ... Compared to this stupendous mobilization of materials, of wealth, of human intellect, of human labor for the single goal of domination, all other recent human achievements pale to almost trivial significance. Our art, science, medicine, literature, music and "charitable" acts seem like mere droppings from a table on which gory feasts on the spoils of conquest have engaged the attention of a system whose appetite for rule is utterly unrestrained.
Murray Bookchin [Epilogue Statecraft as Soulcraft (1984)]

Only the bee stores more than he can use, and so he is robbed by the bear, and the coon, and the Cherokee. It is so with people who store and fat themselves with more than their share. They will have it taken from them. And there will be wars over it, and they will make long talks trying to hold more than their share. They will say a flag stands for their right to do this. And men will die because of the words and the flag. But they will not [be able to] change the rules of the way.
Forest Carter [The Education of Little Tree (1976)]

Do not think me gentle because I speak in praise of gentleness, or elegant because I honor the grace that keeps this world. I am a man crude as any, gross of speech, intolerant, stubborn, angry, full of fits and furies. That I may have spoken well at times, is not natural. A wonder is what it is.
Wendell Berry ["A Warning to My Readers"]

Reveille: A signal to sleeping soldiers to dream of battlefields no more, but get up and have their blue noses counted. In the American army it is ingeniously called "rev-e-lee", and to that pronunciation our countrymen have pledged their lives, their misfortunes and their sacred dishonor.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Do not fear the enemy, for your enemy can only take your life. It is far better that you fear the media, for they will steal your HONOR. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens]

National character is only another name for the particular form which the littleness, perversity and baseness of mankind take in every country. Every nation mocks at other nations, and all are right.
Arthur Schopenhauer

Do your duty in all things. You could not do more. You would not wish to do less.
Robert E. Lee

My honor is my loyalty.
Heinrich Himmler [formulated as the watchword of the Nazi Schutzstaffel (SS), as translated by Hannah Arendt in The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951); an alternative translation is provided in volume 5 of Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression by USGPO (1946-8): "My honor signifies faithfulness."]

Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral laws are written on the table of eternity.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton

Moral influence means persuading another that one can make that other more uncomfortable than that other can make oneself.
Samuel Butler

In any conflict, the boundaries of behavior are defined by the party that cares the least about morality.
Randy Wayne White

In every conflict, the limits of conduct are defined by the ferocity of violence, by the extremes of death and destruction, since everyone always finds some moral or rational justification for their behavior, no matter how vile or brutal.

[Terrorists] are not bound by the rules of warfare. I see a long-term struggle” that will be fought in irregular ways and often in urban areas. We will be fighting more among the people, not around the people.
GEN George W. Casey Jr, U.S. Army Chief of Staff (16 Jan 2008)

Arguably the most important military component in the war on terror is not the fighting we do ourselves, but how well we enable and empower our partners to defend and govern their own countries.
Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense (10 October 2007)

If people want to hate, they will find a reason.
Belva Plain

A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski]

Like alot of others, he had trouble with military etiquette at first. Having now experienced all the phases of military existence, except for the terminal ones (ie: violent death, court martial, retirement), he has finally come to understand the culture for what it is: a system of etiquette within which it becomes possible for groups of competitive young men to live together for years, travel to the ends of the earth, and do all kinds of incredibly weird shit without killing each other or completely losing their minds in the process. The extreme formality of address between enlisted and officer ranks carries an important subtext: your problem, sir, is deciding what you want me to do, and my problem, sir, is doing it.
paraphrase of Neal Stephenson (1999)

Combat reorders a rifleman's priorities, making him forget his contempt for aviation and armor, and appreciating how much their support of the mission advances his operations while sparing lives from degenerative firefights. In combat, everything is relative.
paraphrase of James Brady (2003)

What anyone gets and what they deserve has little to do with noble ideals, so we perform the requisite duties, the necessary customs and rituals, knowing them to be deficient, but doing them nonetheless because everything else is worse. At one time there were standards, and now there are only rules. If the system works at all, it's because an idealist tried and failed to some degree. We're all better than the worst things we do. Cataclysms are tempered by favors. Those without compassion or charity, stinking of certitude and rectitude, ought to be pitied.
paraphrase of Kermit Roosevelt (2005)

I feel at great pain when the spotlight is on the death of 4,000 American soldiers, while 600,000 Iraqi deaths are ignored. War is not a movie, it is a tragedy of dead bodies, victims, the disabled, orphans, widows and the displaced.
Sharon Stone

A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America, for an amount of up to and including my life. That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.

In thy face I see / The map of honor, truth, and loyalty.
William Shakespeare [Henry VI pt 2, act 3, sc 1, l 202-3 (1592)]

We do not believe in evil anymore ... only in evil acts that can be explained away by the new science of the mind. For modern man, there is no evil, and to believe in it is to fall prey to superstition, like checking beneath the bed at night, or being afraid of the dark. But there are those for whom we have no easy answers, those who do evil because that is their nature, because they are evil personified. It is easy to get lost in the darkness of modern life, and once lost, victimized by others, destroyed by actors in an evil play, where the roles of an improvisational script are interchangeable. Our ancestors were not wrong in their superstition ... there is reason to fear the dark.
paraphrase of John Connolly (1999)

No one actually loves the truth, but someone has to say it.
Lars Vilks

I thought that experience would inform me ... making me wise with hard lessons ... but I am no less confused now than I was then, and experience has not enlightened me, or made anything clearer.
paraphrase of William Dietrich

People find God, truth or justice, permission or forgiveness, wherever they happen to be when they discover their need for it ... alone or with company, in darkness or light, in joy or sorrow, in striving or fulfillment, at the death of despair or the birth of hope. And at this moment, we believe our insight is just like all other revelations, giving us commonality with all other enlightened beings, except that such a state reveals itself to be illusory and transitory, and little by little we are again bereft and alien.
paraphrase of Michael Connolly

Truth can be obscured by time.

Ah, the truth, what a thing it is! I sacrifice so much for it, with people: I forego, for truth's sake, discretion, loyalty, diplomacy, tact, polite manners, elegance, grace, poise, balance, good taste, conformity, image-role, fashionableness, polish, confidences, promises, ambition, consistency, identity, clarity, comprehensibleness, good will, hypocrisy, and lots of other things – a mass sacrifice, at truth's altar. God! Is truth worth it? I hope it is. It better be, in fact.
Marvin Cohen ["Fables at Life's Expense" Where Does Truth Lie (1975)]

Nothing is worth doing unless the consequences may be serious.
George Bernard Shaw [Misalliance (1910)]

If a man's oath does not bind him, then he is unfit for the company of any society.
Anne Perry

There may be such a thing as "situational ethics" so that marginal people can rationalize their mixed motives and contrary desires, but there's no such thing as "plastic honor" ... a creed that's capable of being molded to accommodate any imperfection or sin. An honor violation is irrevocable and irredeemable ... for anyone who has once passed beyond the pale is forever untrustworthy. And that's why a sworn oath, simultaneously binding and liberating, is so crucial to activities that function on nothing more than a commitment, from relationships to professions to vocations. There are lines, moral or symbolic, that should not be crossed, but if they are, they can never be uncrossed. There is no way to undo a wrong ... only to prevent it ... and no amends will ever make it right.

Whenever confronted with several targets of opportunity, always take the surest shot first ... for despite all of the preliminary planning and training, war is very sudden and haphazard, quite imprecise and most inelegant.
military adage

What we still don't understand is why you Americans stopped the bombing of Hanoi. You had us on the ropes. If you had pressed us a little harder, just for another day or two, we were ready to surrender! It was the same at the [1968] battles of Tet. You defeated us! We knew it, and we thought you knew it. But we were elated to notice your media was definitely helping us. They were causing more disruption in America than we could in the battlefields. We were ready to surrender. You had won!
Vo Nguyen Giap

Old days always look simple and innocent to those who have not lived through them.
John Dunning

Results are what you expect, and consequences are what you get.
anonymous [attributed as Schoolgirl's Definition in Ladies' Home Journal (Jan 1942)]

It's a truism of war that it is dynamic, not static, that it is non-linear, not progressive, that every act redounds and multiplies, and has decisive potential; but alas, wars are not fought by theoreticians and the troops are not led by scholars. Men with rote learning and small imagination command other men who are exhausted and afraid, so each side plods, in its own blundering way, toward a surprise ending ... with the survivors astonished by their brilliant victory. Their wisdom makes them vulnerable to every new encounter and each different episode until they are inevitably humbled by a chance defeat. It's not that fortune accrues and mistakes accumulate, and only the savvy strategist knows how to anticipate the odds or read the omens. It's simpler than that: success nestles within every failure, and failure within every success; and sometimes the trigger is merely for the want of a nail.

I fear that we are close to the bleak choice between war and shame. My own feeling is that we shall choose shame, and then have war thrown in a little later under even more adverse terms than at present.
Barnaby Williams

They say that the task is hopeless and victory is impossible, so it doesn't matter if you have faith and are honorable ... nothing can reverse the inevitable. If you lose, or win, your devotion will not change. You will do the best you can because you could not live with yourself if you did anything else. You are a professional ... only amateurs keep score.
paraphrase of Robert K. Tanenbaum

Hope is not a feeling. It is not the belief that things will turn out well, but the conviction that what we are doing makes sense, no matter how things turn out.
Vaclav Havel

Hope is not a principle of war ... and neither is luck.
military maxim

When a task cannot be subdivided, or when a process cannot be partitioned, because of sequential restraints or inherent structure, then the deliberate application of more time or effort or assets will have no effect on the schedule or outcome.
paraphrase of Fredrick T. Brooks Jr.

Those who discuss the current war in terms of frivolous talking points make a big deal out of meaningless details. If we are serious about fighting this war then the time or toll or any other tally is unimportant. It's the achievement that is crucial. If we are going to discuss war, the least we can do is be serious.
paraphrase of Thomas Sowell

Those who talk too much in the marketplace about what happened to them in the forest or the desert ought not to be trusted.
paraphrase of Nathaniel Hawthorne

If they take liberties with the facts, it is in the interest of what experience has taught them is most valuable.
Benjamin Capps

There is nothing incompetence hates more than virtue. Be careful whom you trust, because you never know who your friends are, or when your enemies will become friends.
paraphrase of William Dietrich

The confession of our failings is a thankless office. It savours less of sincerity or modesty than of ostentation. It seems as if we thought our weaknesses as good as other people's virtues.
William Hazlitt [#43 Characteristics (1823)]

A man's very highest moment is, I have no doubt at all, when he kneels in the dust, and beats his breast, and tells all the sins of his life.
Oscar Wilde / Fingal O'Flahertie Wills [De Profundis (1905)] [cf: "It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution." by Oscar Wilde, ch 8 The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)]

People are generally better persuaded by the reasons which they themselves have discovered than by those which have come into the mind of others.
Blaise Pascal

If you will not fight for right when you can easily win without bloodshed; if you will not fight when your victory is sure and not too costly; you may come to the moment when you will have to fight with all the odds against you and only a precarious chance of survival. There may even be a worse case. You may have to fight when there is no hope of victory, because it is better to perish than to live as slaves.
Winston L.S. Churchill

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace -- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!
Patrick Henry

Anyone who cherishes liberty must always expect to defend it against sudden and violent attacks.
paraphrase of Robert A. Heinlein

Instead of thinking myself freed from all civil obligations by this mark of confidence [commission], I shall constantly bear in mind that as the sword was the last resort for the preservation of our liberty, so it ought to be the first to be laid aside when those liberties are firmly established.
George Washington

United Now
Alive and Free
Firm on this Basis
Liberty Shall Stand
And Thus Supported
Ever Bless Our Land
Till Time Becomes Eternity
unknown early American source

Our fathers were men – they were heroes and patriots – they fought – they conquered – and they bequeathed to us a rich inheritance of liberty and empire which we have no right to surrender.
Noah Webster

Every next generation believes that it will change the world with its vigor and passion, will improve the status quo and right its wrongs, but the world always changes in its own way, making the new just like the old, only different.
paraphrase of James Clavell (1981) from a Chinese proverb

Civilization is an enormous improvement on the lack thereof ... we are fools when[ever] we fail to defend civilization.
P.J. [Patrick Jake] O'Rourke

Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us. The Lord hath wrought great glory by them through his great power from the beginning. Such as did bear rule in their kingdoms, men renowned for their power, giving counsel by their understanding, and declaring prophecies: Leaders of the people by their counsels, and by their knowledge of learning, meet for the people, wise and eloquent are their instructions: Such as found out musical tunes, and recited verses in writing: Rich men furnished with ability, living peaceably in their habitations: All these were honoured in their generations, and were the glory of their times. There be of them, that have left a name behind them, that their praises might be reported. And some there be, which have no memorial; who are perished, as though they had never been; and are become as though they had never been born; and their children after them. But these were merciful men, whose righteousness hath not been forgotten. With their seed shall continually remain a good inheritance, and their children are within the covenant. Their seed standeth fast, and their children for their sakes. Their seed shall remain for ever, and their glory shall not be blotted out. Their bodies are buried in peace; but their name liveth for evermore. The people will tell of their wisdom, and the congregation will shew forth their praise.
Ecclesiasticus 44:1-15

During each day that we labor to reconstruct The Garden we lost, snakes and rats watch from hiding to learn where we are vulnerable, and how to destroy our ambitions. It seems that they do not want us to cease our endeavors, so cannot let us finish; and we, who can neither complete our own work nor prevent theirs, can neither rest nor withdraw from our task. It is endless war. It is the only life we have left.

In this uncivilized crisis, this insane war, anyone who cannot put away their finer sensibilities may die.
paraphrase of Stephen Edwin King

And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
I'd toddle safely home and die – in bed.
Siegfried Sassoon ["Base Details"]

Old men marvel at their younger selves, and wonder if any battle was ever really worth its toll.

In war we fight to preserve the very things that, by fighting, we are changing, perhaps destroying, and making so many alterations that we will be unable to recognize the future, and shall deny any responsibility for creating the incalculable results of our innocent acts. Not only do we not know what we do, but we do not believe the causal sequence was ineluctable, which merely perpetuates the process, compounding fault with error. We strive so valiantly to warrant a just inheritance for the deserving, but merely condemn them to repetition or rejection, guaranteeing our own demise. At the moment, our honor is noble and heroic, but from a distance it is simply foolish or pathetic. There isn't much dignity in defeat, but more than futility.

America is addicted to wars of distraction.
Barbara Ehrenreich [22 Apr 1991 column in London Times]

On the home front, life goes on today as if there were no war. Consumer goods are as abundant as ever and no real sacrifices are demanded of the civilian population, who are spectators rather than even tangential participants. None of this is healthy. Some have suggested a military draft as a way to at least create some sense of realism about [this] war and to share its burdens more widely and equitably. Those on the left play the class-warfare card and the race card to say that the elites are sending other people's youths into battle while their own offspring are sheltered from sacrifice. But the over-riding question is: What would be the effect of instituting a military draft? Such questions cannot be answered as if we were talking about drafting abstract people into an abstract army. A military draft today would be very different in its consequences from the military draft in World War II. Back in the days of World War II, the military were drafting young men who were, by and large, patriotic Americans, people who felt that they had a duty to protect this country from its enemies. Today, a military draft would bring in large numbers of people who have been systematically "educated" to believe the worst about this country or, at best, to be non-judgmental about the differences between American society and its enemies. The fact that we could use a larger army of the kinds of people who have already volunteered to put their lives on the line does not mean that we can get it by adding warm bodies fresh from our politically correct schools and colleges, where standards and self-discipline are greatly lacking.
Thomas Sowell

Discipline is the soul of an army. It makes small numbers formidable, procures success to the weak and esteem to all.
George Washington [July 1759 letter to the captains of Virginia regiments]

The military practices drill and routine as a preparation for battle because it knows that every act in a combat situation contributes to the confusion and compounds the chaos. Disciplined coordination is an illusion of perspective.
paraphrase of Thomas Perry

No sane man is unafraid in battle, but discipline produces in him a form of vicarious courage.
George S. Patton Jr [War As I Knew It (1947)]

Get 'em skeered and keep the skeer on 'em.
Nathan Bedford Forrest ("Wizard of the Saddle")

Almost all of the brave things ever done were done out of fear.
attributed to folk wisdom by William Penn Adair "Will" Rogers (1925)

Naive courage is never so brave again.
veteran's view

What a people love, they will defend.
John Hewitt [The Colony (1950)]

In schools all over the world, little boys learn that their country is the greatest in the world, and the highest honor that could befall them would be to defend it heroically someday. The fact that empathy has traditionally been conditioned out of boys facilitates their obedience to leaders who order them to kill strangers.
Myriam Miedzian [ch 3 Boys Will Be Boys (1991)]

The world consists largely of weak men made and kept free by better men than themselves.
John Stuart Mill (1865)

Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace.
Amelia Earhart (1927)

Courage -- a perfect sensibility of the measure of danger, and a mental willingness to endure it.
William Tecumseh Sherman

Nobody knows how much courage they have until they need to use it.
Louis L'Amour [Callaghen (1972)]

Everybody has a limit, but nobody knows their limit until they actually reach it; some never do, and mistakenly believe they have none, while others must somehow keep going long afterwards ... persistence beyond coping takes unimaginable fortitude.

If you ain't brave without a gun, you ain't brave.
Robert B. Parker

I have often puzzled over the difference between a brave man and a man who is not brave. And it is a thing that will always baffle me. Indeed, I dislike to say this man is brave and that man a coward, because often a man will do a cowardly thing that requires more courage in the doing than a brave thing. There are many who have done brave things because they were afraid to do the cowardly thing they would have preferred to do. Also, some are cowards about fighting but heroes over money. Some brave before audiences but cowardly alone. Some brave alone but cowardly before audiences. Some deadly afeard of sickness but contemptuous of a storm at sea ... and so on. When I think about these things, my brain is muddled and I arrive at no conclusion save that every man, somewhere, has in him the spark of bravery.
Kenneth Roberts [Arundel (1930)]

The battle, sir, is not to be to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave.
Patrick Henry [23 March 1775 speech to the Virginia Convention]

I returned and saw under the sun that The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong .... Ecclesiastes 9:11

Only the brave and fearless can be just. old Lakota proverb

Armies are strange human societies – ruthless, wholly self contained, creating derisive legends and folk tales as they tramp along toward death and destiny.
Bruce Catton

The warmest instincts of every man's soul declare the glory of the soldier's death. It is more appropriate to the Christian than to the Greek to sing: Glorious his fate, and envied is his lot, Who for his country fights and for it dies. There is a true glory and a true honor: the glory of duty done, the honor of the integrity of principle.
Robert E. Lee

Military glory – [is] the attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood.
Abraham Lincoln [12 Jan 1848 speech against the Mexican War given to the House of Representatives]

What a calamity it would be if we ever ran out of enemies to fight! ... no honor, no glory, no passion, no legends ... we would become just like women!
complaint of old Cheyenne warrior

The true nature of a man can be judged by those who hate him ... having enemies keeps a man from being distracted or becoming complacent.
paraphrase of Louis L'Amour

May your enemies know you by the quality of your anger and the manner of your deportment.

An ordinary man regards everything that happens in his life as either a blessing or a curse, but a warrior regards everything as a challenge to his ingenuity and skill.
paraphrase of Carlos Castaneda

I know no study which is so unutterably saddening as that of the evolution of humanity, as it is set forth in the annals of history. Out of the darkness of prehistoric ages, man emerges with the marks of his lowly origin strong upon him. He is a brute, only more intelligent than the other brutes, a blind prey to impulses, which as often as not led him to destruction; a victim to endless illusions, which make his mental existence a terror and a burden, and fill his physical life with barren toil and battle.
Thomas Henry Huxley ["Agnosticism" (1889), Collected Essays vol 5 (1894)]

Those patriots who acted so fervidly were not heroes, but neither were they enemies ... it was just history ... all the passions and the bloodshed and the destruction was just history.
paraphrase of Cixin Liu

It was not reason that besieged Troy; it was not reason that sent forth the Saracen from the desert to conquer the world; that inspired the crusades; that instituted the monastic orders; it was not reason that produced the Jesuits; above all, it was not reason that created the French Revolution. Man is only great when he acts from the passions; never irresistible but when he appeals to the imagination.
Benjamin Disraeli [bk 4 ch 13 Coningsby (1844)]

So it is more useful to watch a man in times of peril, and in adversity to discern what kind of man he is; for then at last words of truth are drawn from the depths of his heart, and the mask is torn off, reality remains.
Titus Lucretius Carus

All men are the same ... if you discover kindness in a man, then you will also find weakness, and if you discover strength in a man, then you will also find cruelty.
paraphrase of Lewis B. Patten

Some men can only be reasoned with when brought to their knees ... and others, not even then. Our enemies do not want to discuss our differences ... they use talk as a strategy to gain a tactical advantage. If our opponents had better weapons, they would use them to defeat us. They are determined and dedicated, and will rear another generation to continue the fight. Our failure to recognize this fact will put our children, or our children's children on their knees.

The difference between war and peace is not that great ... people are the same in both. In the struggle of man against man, fighting is cleaner, quicker, more honest. In combat, there's a clash of great force and powerful emotions that leaves your senseless opponent crumpled at your feet. And if he was a worthy opponent, then he will have brought out the best in you. In a so-called normal society, one that is not openly fighting, the results are the same ... except that you break your opponent slowly. The innocent always suffer with the vanquished, but this slow decline is so very much crueler. Perhaps civilization will someday evolve into a world of reason and refinement, but until then the law of the primitive jungle still prevails. This is neither a complaint nor a value judgement, but a simple observation. It's an indisputable fact that man reveals more of his best qualities in fighting than in any other expressive endeavor. Large or small, we've licensed and sold tickets to war because it has the real truth in it ... a spectacular truth. I wish I could explain it to you, but nobody can ever explain truth to anybody else.
paraphrase of W.C. Heinz

The truth is that no one who hasn't actually experienced the senseless chaos and violence of combat can possibly understand it, but those who have and who try to explain it to the rest of us are offering us a precious gift: a part of their soul that's been scorched in the flames of Hell. It's a little like trying to describe music to the deaf or color to the blind ... to make the irrational somewhat sensible, which is always confusing and frustrating, and ultimately futile.
paraphrase of Khaled Hosseini [And the Mountains Echoed (2013)]

Human beings were meant to be ordinary. The stress inherent in not being able to fulfill our greatest expectations, our highest ambitions, our heart's fondest desire is the cause of all our misery, of all our frustration, of all our dissatisfaction with an otherwise pleasant life ... this aspiration accounts for all our vanity and cruelty, for all our cheating and lying, for all our discomfiture and unhappiness. We make ourselves pathetic, and then wonder why we feel estranged. To inspire individuality is to promote dissention, division, and distrust; the more we wander away from our focus, the more eccentric we become, and the more we stumble from the path in search of the unknown, the more lost we become in the unknowable. Love is rare enough, and life is challenging enough, that we don't have to make things worse for ourselves and others ... but we do.
admonition of an anonymous Buddhist monk

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.
Thomas Stearns Eliot

He wouldn't credit a particular German love of brutality, since in his experience, all people loved brutality; but the Germans were unique in other ways ... they could have been naked girls wrestling but no, it had to be in the mud, because they were scrupulously clean but fantasized about filth. They wrapped themselves in rules, but longed for anarchy. They worshipped order, but dreamed of riot. It was the way they denied themselves what they really wanted. He stopped walking and stood rock still as he realized for the first time that Hitler understood his countrymen perfectly ... Hitler understood that war would unleash them, and they would be capable of anything. They would be terrible. And as he stood there in the darkness, he shivered.
paraphrase of William Christie

Now, philanthropists may easily imagine there is a skilful method of disarming and overcoming an enemy without great bloodshed, and that this is the proper tendency of the Art of War. However plausible this may appear, still it is an error which must be extirpated; for in such dangerous things as War, the errors which proceed from a spirit of benevolence are the worst. As the use of physical power to the utmost extent by no means excludes the co-operation of the intelligence, it follows that he who uses force unsparingly, without reference to the bloodshed involved, must obtain a superiority if his adversary uses less vigor in its application. The former then dictates the law to the latter, and both proceed to extremities to which the only limitations are those imposed by the amount of counter- acting force on each side. This is the way in which the matter must be viewed and it is to no purpose, it is even against one's own interest, to turn away from the consideration of the real nature of the affair because the horror of its elements excites repugnance. If the Wars of civilized people are less cruel and destructive than those of savages, the difference arises from the social condition both of States in themselves and in their relations to each other. Out of this social condition and its relations War arises, and by it War is subjected to conditions, is controlled and modified. But these things do not belong to War itself; they are only given conditions; and to introduce into the philosophy of War itself a principle of moderation would be an absurdity.
Karl von Clausewitz [On War (1832)]

Blood is the god of war's rich livery ... accurs'd be he that first invented war.
Christopher Marlowe

Everyone decries war, but what would innocent people do about avaricious depredations without self-defense? ... acquiescence, nonviolent resistance, prayer?

The worst thing about bad people is what they force good people to do in order to preserve and protect their most precious values.

Because I am a good person, I am going to kill you with kindness; and because I truly care, I am going to destroy your home and wreck your civilization so as to teach you a lesson, and to protect what's precious to me. Because I am not like you, brutal and savage, ruthless and pitiless, I will do this as cleanly and remotely as possible, without anger or hate, like exterminating a pest or a toxin, just to make the world a better place. I will aid any survivors, help them rebuild, and my sleep will not be disturbed by bad dreams. You'll be vanquished, we'll be contented, and someday we'll build a memorial to our brave determination.
anonymous soldier

Young Americans have been fighting for freedom – for liberty – since the American Revolution. They've fought kings, rebels, dictators, communists, oligarchies, and now religious fanatics. They've been maimed and killed on battlefields all over this planet. Black, white, yellow, brown – they come from the four corners of the earth, and obey the orders of elected officials. Those officials have made many mistakes – sometimes grievous ones – but still young people step forward to wear an American uniform – to fight for the flag.
Stephen Coonts (2006)

Those who must be laid low before allowing others to stand up are the bane of those who must knock them down to lift them up ... it would be so much simpler and easier without the ordeal, but then it would not be freedom without the opportunity to do wrong.

When society decides that it's finished with the soldiers that it once thought so essential for its protection, it declares them a potential threat, and tries to render them impotent, if not quite harmless.
paraphrase of James Sallis (1997)

Within any important issue, there are always aspects that no one wishes to discuss.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair]

A bitter or unfashionable truth is all the more reluctant for being indisputably true.
Michael Dibdin

I confess frankly that we were afraid. Nothing can prevent one from being afraid, no military or civil regulation. One can only be forbidden to show fear. We did our best, and marched on.
Felice Benuzzi (1946)

The thing about brave men is that you can trust them; but it's not courage that keeps us alive ... it's fear.
paraphrase of Peter Bowen

Scared people do scary things.

Will power is the only way to suppress the fear generated by an active imagination, since native courage only exists in people lacking the insight to anticipate the consequences of their impetuous bravery ... anyone who can foresee the results of their behavior will be too scared to act without extraordinary discipline.
paraphrase of Robert K. Tanenbaum

The general, who'd deliberately falsified reports and made himself a hero, never thought about the price of failure. If things had gone wrong, had they lost, then his reputation would have been ruined by the court martial. Ignoring the price of failure in battle may be the mark of a hero. On the other hand, it just may be the mark of a damned fool.
paraphrase of Harry Turtledove

Any fool can easily start a war that a hundred wise men would be unable to stop. Greek proverb

A fool repeats the same process expecting a different result.
paraphrase of Albert Einstein

If some fool were not insane enough to keep repeating the same mistake until he got a different result, then nothing would ever change, and good people would forever bear the brunt of evil.

There's always something to be said against any plan. A good leader is not confused by the variety or possibility of change. He's steady and reassuring. He makes the best of a good plan ... not regretting a better one, not waiting for the perfect one, not changing back and forth.
Donald Hamilton

A good plan violently executed NOW is better than a perfect plan next week.
George S. Patton Jr

In order to stand before me, you must be a brave and cunning warrior; I can make you a rich and strong chief, but only time, failure, and sorrow can make you a wise leader. attributed to Attila, high king of the Huns and Scourge of God (ca453)

War is always improvisation.
military maxim

Courage takes two forms in War. Courage in the face of personal danger, whose effects are felt in the tactical sphere, and the courage to take responsibility, a requirement of strategic success.
Hew Strachan

In premodern times, the courage of a leader often had to be physical. In the last 500 years it is more often moral. Moral courage is the ability to do what's right even when it is deeply unpopular, even dangerous. Courage is only found where there is the genuine possibility of loss – loss of friends, reputation, status, power, possessions or, at the extremes, freedom or life.
Mark McCloskey

The only thing worse than a moral coward is a moral coward who hypocritically swears he is morally courageous.
John T. Reed

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the control of fear.
Dickey Chapelle

Fighting is like champagne. It goes to the heads of cowards as quick as heroes.
Margaret Mitchell

Everybody's got snakes ... some must be watched and others must be ignored, some should be befriended and others should be killed ... it's not the snakes, but what you do with them.

The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero uses his fear, projects it onto his opponent, while the coward runs. It's the same thing, fear, but it's what you do with it that matters.
Cus D'AmAto

A wise person does at once, what a fool does at last. Both do the same thing; only at different times.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton

You cannot be a hero without being a coward.
George Bernard Shaw [preface Other Island (1907)]

Cowards are the most dangerous men around, because their fear and stupidity makes them unpredictable.
paraphrase of Elmer Kelton

You can't predict how a man will act in a battle. It wasn't the tough profane type who turned out to be the best soldier in the end; it was rather the more thoughtful, the more sensitive, the more gentle chap. The man who did not kill because he enjoyed killing, but who did it because it was necessary, and only when it was necessary. The tough guy on the parade ground is not the bravest soldier on the field. The ones who acted ferocious back at home base, who did not have the intelligence or the sensitivity to admit they were afraid, as we all were, who swore and boasted to mask their fears; on the battlefield, I found these men cowering out of the way, hidden away, afraid to come out to face the onslaught.
paraphrase of Louis Hagan

There are men of a rough persuasion who are willing to take care of the kinds of situations that ordinary people can't. They are called soldiers.
Jack Higgins

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.
Charles Dickens [A Tale of Two Cities (1859)]

When an individual shows courage under stress, we feel a thrill at his achievement, but when a group of men flash out in the splendor of manliness we feel a lasting glow that is both pride and a renewed faith in our fellow man.
Charles Whittlesey (11 November 1920)

Then I found an old Marine Kabar knife that's been in my family since Uncle Ernie served in the Pacific. The knife, according to Uncle Ernie, had drawn blood, so it was not just any knife, it had been baptized. It also needed sharpening, which I did with a honing stone from the kitchen drawer, and while I was sharpening the big knife I understood a little of how ancient warriors must have felt on the eve of battle, or modern soldiers who sharpened their bayonets before an attack. The sharpening of the steel was less about the cutting edge of the blade than about the cutting edge of the soul and psyche. It was an ancient communion with every man who ever faced battle and death, and who stood with his comrades, but stood alone with his own thoughts and his own fears, waiting for the signal to meet the enemy, and to meet himself.
Nelson DeMille (2010)

More men have been flattered into courage than have ever been bullied out of cowardice.

Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It's not a day when you lounge around doing nothing; it's when you've had everything to do, and you've done it.
John E.E. Dalberg-Acton

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40 Bible

We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done. General Confession, Morning Prayer [Book of Common Prayer (1662)]

Duties are not performed for duty's sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty – the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.
Mark Twain [Samuel Langhorne Clemens] [sct 2 "What Is Man?" (1906)]

A man is not a hero for doing his duty.
Owen Parry (1999)

It is a legend that dying men think of their deeds done ... no, no, I think of what I've not done, or what I might have done in the years that are dying with me.
John Steinbeck (1929)

Military courage is man's greatest feat of imagination.
Wilfred Sheed

Heroism is man's greatest act of selflessness ... it is only in such moments of sacrifice and forgetting that people attain a modicum of godliness.

I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom.
Bob Dylan [booklet in Biograph album (1985)]

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 (1945)]

War comprises a million silent prayers, a thousand private acts of cowardice, and a hundred public demonstrations of courage ... all for a score of reasons that depend upon a single conclusion.

And when it was done, all that bespoke their exemplary conduct and extraordinary achievement was their torn bodies, jumbled in the grotesquery of death ... resplendent, and utterly magnificent.

Never settle for knocking out your opponent's teeth when you can rip out his heart!
military maxim

We were all of us covered in blood, and even in the tumult of combat, the flies would not leave us ... black and biting and big as buzzards they were. Men fell to bullets and blades, and I learned how ugly we are beneath our bit of skin, how rancid. Others fell to the heat or thirst or just to exhaustion. The lines were gone. Men in a crawling stupor clubbed one another to death. We screamed our throats dry and bloody, and we left our wounded behind to save ourselves. God forgive me, I loved it.
Owen Parry (1999)

Hating the enemy is a waste of time and energy. It's only necessary that the enemy be killed.
Donald Hamilton (1960)

Killing is work, and slaughter is a job ... just like any other job. And like any other demanding work, it's exhausting. It becomes routine, and that is its worst element: the death of the spirit. Machines can readily do it, more indiscriminately but less thoroughly, so good soldiers will never be out of work. But I'm not sure that there's anything worth fighting for that can't be accomplished as well or better by negotiation ... except that soldiers are never given the choice to decide which war is worthwhile, and which is not.

The sovereign franchise has been bestowed by all sorts of rules – place of birth, family of birth, race, sex, property, education, age, religion, et cetera. All these systems worked, and none of them well. All were regarded as tyrannical by many, all eventually collapsed or were overthrown .... Under our system [stratocracy] every voter and office holder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.
Robert A. Heinlein [Starship Troopers]

War, by its very nature, is a time of meager fare and unusual occupations.

Science is, I believe, nothing but trained and organised common-sense, differing from the latter only as a veteran may differ from a raw recruit; and its methods differ from those of common-sense only so far as the guardsman's cut and thrust differ from the manner in which a savage wields his club.
Thomas Henry Huxley [Science and Education (1902)]

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and people who mean to be their own governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.
James Madison

The voice of intelligence ... is drowned by the roar of fear. It is ignored by the voice of desire. It is contradicted by the voice of shame. It is biased by hate and extinguished by anger. Most of all, it is silenced by ignorance.
Karl Menninger

Knowledge brings power. Power brings foolishness. Foolishness brings destruction. Destruction brings wisdom.
Shoshone proverb

Because the weak fear and resent the strong, honor and probity are celebrated consolations that distract them from their inability to attain power ... they proudly wrap themselves in exquisite dignity, since they are too weak to clutch the sword and bear the shield and wear the armor of imperium.

Kiss any hand that you cannot cut off.
Arab proverb

We are all weak and imperfect creatures. We are tempted to ignore our meager talents and to indulge our base appetites, to abuse our paltry strengths and to quash our forebodings. We are jealous of those with slightly more and contemptuous of those with slightly less, exaggerating our trivial achievements and resenting any who have not succumbed as readily as ourselves. Kindness merely makes things worse, and isolation simply makes things fester. This is the origin of hate, and the basis for war. Wrong does not need to apologize, only be corrected.

And this is the forbidden truth, the unspeakable taboo, that evil is not always repellent, but frequently attractive, that it has the power to make of us not simply victims, as nature and accident do, but active accomplices.
Joyce Carol Oates

He truly is a foul man! They're all foul men ... we're all of us foul and wicked and evil ... each of us in our own way. We excuse it in ourselves, and perhaps in those we love, but we delight to condemn it in others. And ironically, our pride in being spiteful or vengeful makes us powerfully moral.
paraphrase of David Liss (2009)

Decent and honest men get up every morning, fired up with nobility and good purpose, then go forth to do what's right as they see it. There's never been an act done since the beginning of time, from a kid stealing candy to a dictator committing genocide, that the person doing it didn't think he was fully justified ... that's a mental trick called 'rationalizing', and it's done the human race more harm than anything else you can name. No matter how thoughtful or experienced, nobody has any misgivings at the time ... the doubts always come later, after the fact, when it's much too late.
paraphrase of Leigh D. Brackett (1955)

The critic always has an excuse for why nothing ever gets fixed, why changes never solve the problem, why everything stays the same.

Combat is where nothing ever works properly, and the only surplus is an excess of suffering and dying.

War, except in self defense, is a failure of moral imagination, political nerve, and diplomacy.
Bill Moyers (2003)

Mankind, it seems, does not deserve peace, because people are troublemakers ... if there is no conflict, they make it; if there is no crisis, they create it; if there are no enemies, they are invented; and if there are no heroes, they are lifted above their imperfections to become demigods. We are endlessly dissatisfied, and by some ironical paradox, that seems to satisfy us.

Some people see war as an opportunity to make mischief.

There will be no peace until the power of love is greater than the love of power.
Stephen Edwin King

There might be more zealous, dumb-assed fuckers around the world than America has ever produced, but the normal response to that has usually been irony or sarcasm ... more outrageous humor than outrage. Nowadays terms like America, democracy, freedom, and God are used in a mocking derisive way, usually by people who realize that those deploying them without irony only want to control you or to sell you some worthless shit.
paraphrase of Irvine Welsh (2014)

It's not war but society that changes our true nature ... civilization inhibits our base characteristics, while battle releases our beastial traits.

Idealists say that knowledge is power and that knowledge will triumph over barbarity, but these people don't live across the tracks on the wrong side of town, nor have they ever been in a street brawl or a fight to the death ... if they had, they wouldn't utter such nonsense! Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and there are many shining examples of its constructive application, but any ignorant fool can pull down a grand palace, or wreck an artistic treasure, or destroy a civilized culture ... things that no fool can replicate or replace. You'd think these people would at least read a little history before they propounded such idiotic tripe! God bless the strong man who thinks about how to best use his strength before his passions drive him beyond redemption.

Every war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
anonymous proverb

Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak, and that it is doing God's service when it is violating all His laws.
John Adams

Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny.
Edmund Burke [speech at Bristol previous to the election (6 September 1780)]

No one is as clever as he imagines himself to be, so humiliation is a necessary precursor of wisdom, just as failure is a preliminary of success and defeat a prelude of victory.

Just as all politics is local, so all history is personal ... those so-called epochal events mean nothing until they influence your own home, and your family's disaster means nothing to your neighbors until it affects them too. Civilization is supposed to sensitize and elevate humanity, but chronic crises have kept us selfish and careless, so we're wary of exhausting our resources. The future is meaningless without the past, but a future is impossible without sustaining the here and now.

War is like any other bad relationship ... of course, you want out, but at what price? ... and perhaps more importantly, once you get out, will you be any better off?
Chris Falconer

God alone knows the future, but only an historian can alter the past.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

There are no great men who make history like wise and powerful gods ... there are only frightened midwives and exhausted pallbearers of the confused events that we try to dignify by calling them historic.

I don't need to read nothin' ... I know what happened 'cause I was there!
unknown veteran commenting on various accounts of campaign history

Some fool, sitting comfortably in his ivory tower, miles and years away from the battlefield, is going to recreate the action and explain its effect to people who are more inexperienced and uninformed than himself, so that he can acquire a reputation or attain a promotion! ... and the cowardly bastard hasn't even got the gumption to serve a hitch in the peacetime military just for some verisimilitude! ... and I, a combat veteran and retired grunt, am supposed to respect his so-called scholarship because some publisher is making a profit from this distorted drivel?! The pen may be mightier than the sword but, if so, only because there are more liars than warriors!

History is a story of what happened; while a story is a history of what might have happened.

Those who assert the final judgement of history as a warrant are the first to decry its deficient determination ... and so attempt to remedy its arbitrary decision.
paraphrase of Michael Dibdin

Oh senseless man, who cannot possibly make a worm, and yet will make Gods by dozens.
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne

In a world of destruction and despair, impermanence and illusion, power represents the ability to create ... and that artistry is the only answer to chaos and the void. Creation that does not entail its own decline and renewal is static and changeless and moribund ... so is no different than war. Power is not the proof of life, but the love of power is the love of death.
paraphrase of Dean Koontz (2005)

There is nothing permanent, except change.
Heraclitus the Obscure

Power-worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] ["Second Thoughts on James Burnham" Shooting an Elephant (1950)]

To the soldier, there has been across the millennia, despite advancing technologies and tactics, but one kind of war, forever and ever. And that is the war whose parameters are exactly the distance from where a man stands to where the smoke and dust and fear blot out the extent of his experiences. It has been the length of an assagai spear, or the space between the waist-gun windows of a B-17, or the few yards' distance from the flash guard of an M-16 to where the claustrophobic jungle conceals the enemy. But it has been the same forever, this small, singular kind of war, and it lasts only minutes or maybe – rarely – an hour, and then it is over, immutable, yet changing everything.
Mark Nesbitt [35 Days to Gettysburg (1992)]

Went the day well?
We died and never knew.
But, well or ill,
Freedom, we died for you.
Went the day well?
John Maxwell Edmonds (6 Feb 1918)

Only the dead have seen the end of war.

In a generation or two, we vanish without a trace. And if, against all odds, we manage to engrave a line in a stone, its impress upon history an act or deed, we [then] become "it" and nothing more ... and so depart according to the original premise.
Mark Helprin (2012)

Everything established, settled, everything to do with home and order and the common round, has crumbled into dust and been swept away in the general upheaval and reorganization of the whole of society. The whole human way of life has been destroyed and ruined. All that's left is the bare, shivering human soul, stripped to the last shred, the naked force of the human psyche for which nothing has changed because it was always cold and shivering and reaching out to its nearest neighbor, as cold and lonely as itself.
Boris Pasternak

A true warrior has the soul of a poet.

Teach me, like you, to drink creation whole
And casting out my self, become a soul.
Richard Wilbur

What is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of Thy hands.
Psalms 8:4-6 RSV Bible

All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf.
Isaiah 64:6 Bible

... till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Genesis 3:19 Bible

This seems to be what life is all about: where we either die, leaving others to mourn, or mourn the loss when others die.
paraphrase of Fredrick Nebel

Death is not the worst that can happen to men.

The role of the officer, in my experience, is nothing grander than to stand sentinel over himself and his men towards the end of keeping them from forgetting who they are, and what their objective is, how to get there, and what equipment they're supposed to have when they arrive – oh, and getting back – that's the tricky part.
Steven Pressfield (2008)

You don't [know how you'll handle combat] – you'll never know until you're there. What you know for certain is that it will be chaotic and loud, and you'll be ready to piss in your boots. You'll be more scared of letting down your men than anything the enemy's going to do to you – and then you'll lead from instinct and judgement. That's the price of a salute.
Craig M. Mullaney [The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education (2009)]

There's an old Army adage that armies are best built from the bottom up, squad by squad, platoon by platoon. Winning wars is not a test of numbers or materiel so much as it is a test of will. The side that wins is the side that wants most to win, and has young soldiers willing to die to secure victory. In good armies, the will to win is set by example, by junior leaders, sergeants and lieutenants, who lead from the front. Wars are not won by the bigger force, but by intangibles. Leadership, courage, adaptability, integrity, intellectual agility and allegiance ultimately determine who wins wars.
Robert H. Scales

Sending young men to an unnecessary death is not an act of leadership, but of vainglory, and unworthy of a professional soldier.
Jeffrey Archer

I've seen war from the inside and from the out. The battlefield is horrible, inconceivably horrible, but how much purer and cleaner, even angelic, is such war compared with the struggle where your enemies are beside, instead of facing you.
Jeffery Deaver [The Garden of Beasts (2005)]

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.
attributed to Francis Meehan

The controversies and contentions that have distracted us from the proper management of serious crises this past week has told us more than we wanted to know about ourselves and about our enemies.
paraphrase of Thomas Sowell [The Week's Revelations (26 Sept 2006)]

Honor ... means that a man is not exceptional; fame, that he is. Fame is something which must be won; honor, only something which must not be lost.
Arthur Schopenhauer (1851)

The drying up a single tear has more
Of honest fame than shedding seas of gore.
George Gordon, Lord Byron [cto 8 st 3 Don Juan (1823)]

All the strong agonized men
Wear the hard clothes of war,
Try to remember what they are fighting for.
But in dark weeping helpless moments of peace
Women and poets believe and resist forever.
Muriel Rukeyser [pt 1 ln 7-11 "Letter to the Front" (1944)]

Perhaps it is God's merciful gift to soldiers, that they can look upon themselves as if, from the future or afar, that even the most terrible sounds are silenced, and time slows, so as to lift them gently from the things of the world.
Mark Helprin (2012)

I resolved not to be defined by my grief and regrets, but not to cherish those experiences, those episodes, those events would be a betrayal of myself and others far worse than betrayal by an indifferent institution, an impersonal machine, an immune management, an inconsiderate strategy. Even if war doesn't kill you, it wounds you in myriad ways, even if the scars are invisible. Warriors, by their necessary acts, are made unfit for the trivial trifles of so-called normal society.

Every soldier knew that to tell was to remember, and to remember was to experience, and to experience was to kill and die all over again. So to tell was to risk death, and to talk would be to lose your best comrade all over again. How was he to say: something in me died over there with every one of them killed. How was he to say: I have lost my brother. He thought for awhile about the things he did not want to think about – he tried to chase them from his mind. Then he said, "It's not simple to forget, and right now I'd like to stop remembering."
paraphrase of Robert Olmstead

Every episode of war gives a proud young soldier so much more than he seeks ... we can only marvel at his persistence. Our only reward is his dedication. The lessons of our ordeal taught him well and truly.

I am sore wounded but not slain
I will lay me down and bleed a while
And then rise up to fight again
John Dryden

"Fight on, my men," says Sir Andrew Barton,
"I am hurt, but I am not slain;
I'll lay me down and bleed awhile,
Then I'll rise and fight again."
an English folk song: The Ballad of Sir Andrew Barton

The poetry of heroism appeals irresistibly to those who don't go to a war, and even more to those whom the war is making enormously wealthy. It's always so.
Louis-Ferdinand Céline [Journey to the End of the Night (1932; tr 1934)]

War is the statesman's game, the general's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade, the citizen's obligation, and the priest's burden.
paraphrase of Percy Bysshe Shelley

With no memory of the past, one can have no measure of the present, and no dream of the future ... without an understanding of disasters repaired, one is compelled to forever live in shambles.

The future is no more uncertain than the present.
Walt Whitman

To have no heroes is to have no aspiration, to live on the momentum of the past, to be thrown back upon routine, sensuality, and the narrow self.
Charles Horton Cooley [ch 8 Human Nature and the Social Order (1902)]

A nation that does not honor its heroes will no longer have heroes to honor.
Russian proverb

I offer neither pay, nor quarters, nor food; I offer only hunger, thirst, forced marches, battles and death. Let him who loves his country with his heart, and not merely with his lips, follow me.
Giuseppe Garibaldi [2 July 1849 speech to his besieged legion in Rome]

Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy.
F. Scott Fitzgerald ["Notebook E" The CrackUp (1945)]

I see no gleem of victory alluring, no chance of splendid booty or gain, if I endure, I must go on enduring, and my reward for bearing pain is pain.
Henry G. Lee ["Fighting On"]

In a world of grief and pain,
Flowers bloom,
Even then.
Matsuo Basho

Pain is a gift. Humanity without pain would know neither fear nor pity. Without fear, there could be no humility, and every man would be a monster. A recognition of pain and fear in others gives rise in us to pity ... and in our pity is our humanity, our redemption.
Dean Koontz (2005)

There may be suffering in our poetry but there is no poetry in our suffering.
Owen Parry

Mankind's common instinct for reality ... has always held the world to be essentially a theatre for heroism. In heroism, we feel, life's supreme mystery is hidden. We tolerate no one who has no capacity whatever for it in any direction. On the other hand, no matter what a man's frailties otherwise may be, if he be willing to risk death, and still more if he suffer it heroically, in the service he has chosen, the fact consecrates him forever.
William James ["The Value of Saintliness" Lectures 14-15 The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902)]

And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his Gods?
Thomas Babington Macaulay [st 27 "Horatius" Lays of Ancient Rome (1842)]

One may ask how such dangers [undergoing barrage] can be faced. The answer is, there are many things more to be feared than death. This is duty. I'll trust in God and do it. If I fall, I cannot die better.
Frederick Hitchcock, adjutant, 132rd Pennsylvania at the Battle of Fredericksburg (13 Dec 1862)

Who feareth to suffer suffereth already, because he feareth.
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne

You'll never know how much you can do until you've gone beyond your limits.
veteran's view

I am convinced that a light supper, a good night's sleep, and a fine morning, have sometimes made a hero of the same man, who, by an indigestion, a restless night, and rainy morning, would have proved a coward.
Philip Dormer Stanhope, Lord Chesterfield [26 April 1748 letter]

Had we lived I should have had a tale to tell of the hardihood, endurance and courage of my companions which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale.
Robert Falcon Scott [29 March 1912 diary entry extract in "Message to the Public" Scott's Last Expedition (1913)]

If we are marked to die, we are enough
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
William Shakespeare [sc 3 act 4 King Henry V (1599)]

If heroism is the act of an ordinary person in an extraordinary situation, then having done it, that person becomes abnormal in a perfectly normal world wherein heroism is uncommon. It is only in time of war that the universal rise to greatness is commonplace.

I did not consider myself a hero, just a soldier who had done his best under difficult circumstances. Most of the true heroes I had ever known were dead. The rest of us were just survivors with medals.
Michael J. Durant [In the Company of Heroes (2003)]

The awards and rewards stuff in this war, like every war, is mostly a farce based on a little courage. The real heroes, the ones who deserve our recognition, are either dead or have been lost in the shuffle.
paraphrase of Fredrick E. Fox (23rd Headquarters Special Troops)

You didn't have to die on the battlefield to lose your life in a combat zone. Some of the men who went over there are still there, but most came back to homes or graves. Everyone touched by war is forever changed ... veterans, families, or friends ... and afterwards, they must make new lives. Some of those who returned never adjust, because their hearts or minds are still over there.
unknown VA counselor

Everybody in America had his own little war, and everybody in that war did his own little thing. Everybody in America who'd ever fought, or merely served, in any of the country's innumerable little wars, would never forget his own particular war, although sometimes he would like to. But there would always be more little wars, and even some big ones, and therefore many more opportunities to remember ... or perhaps forget.
Ed McBain

I joined the military so I could challenge myself with some harrowing adventures, could experience some thrilling escapades, but now I just want to forget everything I never suspected was possible, and find a nice quiet home ... like the one I couldn't wait to escape so long ago.

War may make a fool of man, but it by no means degrades him; on the contrary it tends to exalt him.
Henry Louis Mencken [Minority Report]

All our lives we fought against exalting the individual, against the elevation of the single person, and long ago we were over and done with the business of a hero, and here it comes up again: the glorification of one personality. This is not good at all.
Vladimir Ilyich (Ulyanov) Lenin

So long as men worship the Caesars and Napoleons, Caesars and Napoleons will duly rise and make them miserable.
Aldous Huxley [ch 8 Ends and Means (1937)]

There is probably an element of malice in the readiness to overestimate people: we are laying up for ourselves the pleasure of later cutting them down to size.
Eric Hoffer [aph 129 Reflections on the Human Condition (1973)]

They wouldn't be heroes if they were infallible, in fact they wouldn't be heroes if they weren't miserable wretched dogs, the pariahs of the earth, besides which the only reason to build up an idol is to tear it down again.
Lester Bangs [Creem (March 1975)]

Nothing, except a battle lost, can be half so melancholy as a battle won.
Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington

Down the line of torn and maimed I pass. After battle, a wounded man feels abandoned and alone. He hears his unharmed mates outside the hospital tent, full of vigor and eager to go forward again. Dare he call to them? Often his comrades are loath to seek him out, lest the sight of his injuries cause them grief. Or, superstitious as all soldiers are, that his bad luck will rub off on them. Often a wounded man feels he has failed. Will he return home a cripple? Would he read pity in his wife's eyes? A wounded man feels diminished and bereft, but most of all he feels mortal. He has smelled hell's breath and felt the earth yawn beneath him. For these reasons, and to honor their valor, I leave no man forgotten. I kneel at the side of every one, taking his hand and soliciting his saga ... to be wounded is a thing of terror, but to be honored and remembered fills a man with pride. Not one does not burn to return to the ranks as soon as he is able.
Steven Pressfield [The Virtues of War (2004)]

There were casualty lists a plenty in that war, but there were no lists of G.I.'s that didn't die, who weren't wounded. There's no monument on a battlefield where an enemy breakthrough didn't take place on a certain date because a few clever men were holding the thinnest of lines by a deceptive ruse. There are no parks established on the sites where impending battles didn't occur at the last minute. There are no statues to heroic action against attacks that never came. So in the end, it's impossible to measure exactly what these phantom operations by ghost units truly accomplished. Their achievement is measured in negatives: men who didn't die, battles that never took place, defeats that were avoided ... and negatives can't be counted.
paraphrase of Fredrick E. Fox (23rd Headquarters Special Troops)

A soldier's longing to talk about his experiences of battle is a wound that never heals.
paraphrase of Owen Parry (1999)

That was a long time ago. What happened to them is over and done. I'm not ashamed of anything that happened, but I haven't talked about it since I came back and spoke with their families. I stopped talking about them because they're dead, and the dead will drag you down with them into the grave.
paraphrase of Robert Crais (2003)

When will the world learn that a million men are of no importance compared with one man?
Henry David Thoreau

I never count my dead.
Ulysses Simpson Grant

Generals translate their battle casualties into statistics, while colonels see names and faces in their rosters of the dead.
Thomas John "Tucker" Giblin

I wish to die like a warrior, respected by all and mourned by many, and not like a snake or scorpion, hated by all and mourned by none.
Peshawar aphorism

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. – Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.
William Shakespeare [The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1603)]

It is when we try to grapple with another man's intimate need that we perceive how incomprehensible, wavering, and misty are the beings that share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun.
Joseph Conrad [Teodor Jozef Konrad Korzeniowski]

The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

It was strange to be so close to things, and yet so far away. That was war. That was always war. It was confused, and it was incoherent, and it was unreasonable. Nothing ever happened quite on time. Nothing ever happened exactly as was expected. War, itself a paradox, was full of paradoxes.
Harry Brown [A Walk in the Sun (1944, 1971)]

It's not that the beginning and end are foregone conclusions, but if chess is a metaphor of life, then it's all about the middle game ... that's where we came in, and that's where we'll go out.
paraphrase of Randy Wayne White

You can never plan the future by the past.
Edmund Burke [letter to a member of the National Assembly (1791)]

There is not any present moment that is unconnected with some future one. The life of every man is a continued chain of incidents, each link of which hangs upon the former. The transition from cause to effect, from event to event, is often carried on by secret steps, which our foresight cannot divine, and our sagacity is unable to trace. Evil may at some future period bring forth good; and good may bring forth evil, both equally unexpected.
Joseph Addison [Interesting Anecdotes, Memoirs, Allegories, Essays, and Poetical Fragments (1794)]

When you are going outside the wire every day it is easy to lose your humanity. The patrol becomes your life and primary if not sole reason for existing. Events become statistics and every Iraqi civilian is viewed as a potential threat. Interacting with the Iraqis and seeing them in a human light that day was the defining moment of my deployment, and I would like to think that being treated like people instead of threats left them with a similarly good feeling.
David Goldich, CPL USMC (Iraq 2007)

In history an additional result is commonly produced by human actions beyond that which they aim at and obtain -- that which they immediately recognize and desire. They gratify their own interest; but something further is thereby accomplished, latent in the actions in question, though not present to their consciousness, and not included in their design.
Georg W.F. Hegel [Introduction The Philosophy of History (1837)]

Use humility to make the enemy haughty. Tire them by flight. Cause division among them. When they are unprepared, attack and make your move when they do not expect it.
Sun-Tzu [The Art of War (ca490BC)]

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, 'I am strong!'
Joel 3:9-10 Bible

We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage.
James Russell Lowell

He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.
Micah 4:3 / Isaiah 2:4 Bible

A sword does not decide how it is employed.
military maxim

Good judgment comes from experience -- which in turn comes from bad judgment.

War is a learning experience ... with insufficient intelligence, inadequate support, out-dated equipment, substandard weapons, too little training, too rapid promotions, and unknown replacements, it's no wonder that disasters regularly occur on the battlefield. What's remarkable is that they don't happen more often! Good judgement is borne of hard-earned experience, and as such is the most valuable commodity in combat ... more useful than guns or genius or guts.
paraphrase of James Brady (2003)

The greatest blunders, like the thickest ropes, are often compounded of a multitude of strands. Take the rope apart, separate it into the small threads that compose it, and you can break them one by one. You think, "That is all there was!" But twist them all together and you have something tremendous.
Victor Hugo

Nothing worthwhile is ever done by evading a fight.
Lewis b. Patten

The same reason that makes us chide and brawl and fall out with any of our neighbours, causeth a war to follow between Princes.
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne

Princes give me sufficiently if they take nothing from me, and do me much good if they do me no hurt; it is all I require of them.
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne

Life yields only to the conqueror. Never accept what can be gained by giving in. You will be living off stolen goods, and your muscles will atrophy.
Dag Hammarskjöld

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow [ch 1 bk 1 Kavanagh (1849)]

Most people are too timid or lazy to be truly evil. They vacillate between their impulses and temptations, being alternately tantalized and redeemed by their vagaries. Being wicked, like being intractable or implacable, industrious or ingenious, requires dedication; and the fact that few people succeed at anything in life explains why only a few bad guys have attained recognition as arch fiends, a rare distinction. Too many people are pathetic in any of the multitude of extant mediocre conditions, but at least a good man can suffer with honor ... that alone is an inspiration that has the power to uplift us. Evil is the foil that's necessary for us to prove our mettle.

The world needs decent people like you to make it worth living in, but it also needs relentless people like me to make it possible to live in.
Kyle Mills (2005)

To say of men that they are bad is to say they are worse than we think we are, or worse than the ideal man whose image we have built up on the basis of a certain few.
Jean Rostand [Carnets d'un Biologiste (repr 1962)]

There is a sort of enthusiasm in all projectors, absolutely necessary for their affairs, which makes them proof against the most fatiguing delays, the most mortifying disappointments, the most shocking insults; and, what is severer than all, the presumptuous judgement of the ignorant upon their designs.
Edmund Burke [pp 19-20 An Account of the European Settlements in America (1757)]

Everyone accused of evildoing has a plausible excuse, and their rationale for failure is not that their motives were bad nor their aspirations were wrong, but that they were stymied in their fulfillment ... their glorious creation would have been marvelous if only they had not been interrupted, and this wretched world would be a better place.

War exposes the capacity for evil that lurks not far below the surface within all of us, and this is why, for many, war is so hard to discuss once it is over.
Chris Hedges

War is a dissonant symphony that's conducted by the Devil, played by maniacal performers, accompanied by screeching widows and wailing orphans, for the base entertainment of an audience of ghosts.

When casting out the devil ensure that the angels are not being expelled at the same time.
attributed to John Milton

When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
Edmund Burke [commonly paraphrased as: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." by John F. Kennedy]

No great country was ever saved by good men, because good men will not go to the lengths that may be necessary.
Horace (Horatio) Walpole

Memories promote ideas, right or wrong, that allow people to feel justified about themselves.
paraphrase of Richard Flanagan

No one really believes that anything they do is genuinely evil ... there's always a justifying excuse for doing what's necessary, for doing our duty, unpleasant and distasteful as it may be ... so evil is what we call other people, people we don't agree with, people who have grossly violated our own personal sense of right and wrong. Deciding what's bad is the proper exercise of power, a privilege of victory. There can be no lies in such self-justifications because everything we posit is true.
paraphrase of Robert K. Tanenbaum

Every act of war is made in revenge for the one before it, and is the excuse that's made for the next one.
paraphrase of Nelson DeMille

We sincerely and earnestly believe in peace; but if peace and justice conflict, we scorn the man who would not stand for justice though the whole world came in arms against him.
Theodore Roosevelt (23 April 1910)

We will bring our enemies to justice, or justice to our enemies.

In this life, we get opportunity and free will; and in the next, we get justice and grace.
anonymous proverb

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.

If you're not part of the solution, then you're part of the problem. modern proverb [cf: "Be part of the answer, not part of the problem, as the American revolution proceeds." by Buell Gallagher (1964); "You're either part of the solution or part of the problem." by Eldridge Cleaver (1968)]

No one who's part of the problem can possibly identify its cause, and so cannot possibly recognize its solution. The problem is that everyone is part of the problem! Since a good solution seems to generate the same result as an improper solution, there are no valid solutions ... and if there are no solutions, then ipso facto, there are no more problems. If there're no problems, then there's nothing for everybody to fight about ... or there's everything to fight about ... just the same as it's always been.

Like someone with a simple key in a world full of complex locks, everyone with a perfect solution keeps trying to make it resolve each new problem ... surprised again and again when none yields.

Where physical survival has been made fairly easy, people make social survival unfairly difficult.
Anne Perry

When you and I look back on the country over which we have passed, what a field of slaughter does it exhibit! Where are all the friends who entered it with us, under all the inspiring energies of health and hope? As if pursued by the havoc of war, they are strewed by the way, some earlier, some later, and scarce a few stragglers remain to count the numbers fallen, and to mark yet, by their own fall, the last footsteps of their party. Is it a desirable thing to bear up through the heat of action, to witness the death of all our companions, and merely be the last victim?
Thomas Jefferson [letter to Governor John Page (25 June 1804)]

The only part of Russia that my troops ever saw was the back of the man ahead of them.
Napoleon Bonaparte

These scared kids went far away to stumble around in a dark and alien forest, and if they lived through it, after being lost and confused, they came home too exhausted to think about what had happened, and they still don't know why they went, where they were, or who they were fighting. The average Vietnam veteran knows less about that war than about any other war in history. No wonder he believes all the lies and myths.
unknown historian

A wayfaring man, traveling in the desert, met a woman standing alone and terribly dejected. He inquired of her, "Who art thou?" "My name is Truth," she replied. "And for what cause," he asked, "have you left the city to dwell alone here in the wilderness?" She made answer, "Because in former times, falsehood was with few, but is now with all men."
Aesop [Truth and the Traveler in Aesop's Fables]

In our all too human society, the truth is usually whatever lie that everyone agrees to believe, making our interactions and negotiations possible, and without which concession, every relation would be more contentious.
paraphrase of Vincent Lardo

Wars start in furiously passionate anger, but peace is made slowly and painfully, one concession at a time, each party agreeing to give away things it wants to keep, to do things it doesn't want to do ... the objective being to reach an arrangement of which both parties can eventually, reluctantly say: "I can live with that."
K.J. Parker [Tom Holt (Summer 2014)]

Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known.
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne

How many things served us but yesterday as articles of faith, which today we deem but fables?
Michel Eyquem, Seigneur de Montaigne

Progress and reaction have both turned out to be swindles. Seemingly, there is nothing left but quietism – robbing reality of its terrors by simply submitting to it.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] ["Inside the Whale" (1940)]

War ... What is it good for? Absolutely nothing. recorded by Edwin Starr [War written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong (1970)]

Nobody really needs to know the truth. The truth is sharp and hard and painful, while lies are soft and dull and comfortable. That's why society adopts lies and promotes liars. Social misfits are the only people who try to tell the truth, and nobody wants to believe them. The truth is ugly and violent and frightening.

The civilized people in the world, the ones who hide behind culture and art, behind politics and even the law, they're the ones to watch out for the most -- they've got that perfect disguise going for them, but they're the most vicious of all -- they're the most dangerous people on earth.
paraphrase of Michael Connelly

There's no way anyone who's ever been in combat can glorify war. It's the most horrible experience, and one of the worst things a human being can live through. The sounds are bad ... the sights are awful ... and the smells are even worse.
unknown WWII veteran of Saipan

The essence of war is violence; moderation in war is imbecility.
John Fisher / Thomas Babington Macaulay

I believe that truth has only one face: that of a violent contradiction.
Georges Bataille [Preface The Deadman (1967)]

Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance.
Sam Brown

Consensus seems to be something in which no one believes and to which no one objects.
paraphrase of Margaret Thatcher [cf: "Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks." by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr (1859)]

We ought not be outraged by lies, nor offended by liars, for we desperately need them to allay our rancor and assuage our hostilities. Lies are not the culprit. It is truth that makes enemies everlasting!

Truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills]

There are times when an artistic lie can crowd the truth right off the stage ... a good lie can sometimes have all the grace of artistry, but only the truth can have the ring of sincerity.
Erle Stanley Gardner (1947)

The truth has never been of any real value to any human being — it is a symbol for mathematicians and philosophers to pursue. In human relations kindness and lies are worth a thousand truths.
Graham Greene [bk 1 pt 1 ch 2 sct 4 Heart of the Matter (1948)]

Obscurity, no matter how devious or complex, is never a substitute for security.
paraphrase of Bruce Sterling (2004)

The body armor situation [in Iraq] I think represents a microcosm of larger trends happening in society and/about the military. Our society has placed so much emphasis on protecting the troops that our military has acceded to it. My job is to defeat the enemy, not protect myself.
David Goldich, CPL USMC (Iraq 2007)

The episodes of war are not a warning to be cautious, but to be careful and thorough in our bold acts. War is the one place where dash and risk are actually safer than security and stolidity.
veteran's view

If you can't remember the formula, then you won't know how it might have helped your situation at any particular time; but if you can recall the formula, then you probably won't have a chance to use it, because you'll need a different one ... one you weren't taught, one that nobody was taught, and because the enemy is now using a new technique, you'll have to generate an untested formula that you'll have to resolve on your own without any help or direction.
paraphrase of John Crawford

The misuse or abuse of something is no argument against its proper use.
variously attributed to Paracelsus (Philippus Aureolus / Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim), Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro), and Saint Thomas Aquinas [Abusus non tollit usum.]

Some men have a peculiar ability not to learn that which they do not wish to know.
frontier aphorism of the 19th century

Despite the many opportunities offered by war, some men are magnificently resistant to learning any lessons from their mistakes, no matter how disastrous or how often repeated, finding excuses more agreeable to their mind-sets than change.
veteran's view

Our uniforms were identical and our classrooms were all tents, our library was the range and our schoolyard was the parade ground; our drillmasters led each lesson, and we carried our homework with our meals in a backpack ... our final exams were conducted on the battlefield, and what we learned was unforgettable.

I have tamed men of iron in my day, shall I not easily crush these men of butter?
Ferdinand Alvarez De Toledo, Duke of Alba [alleged reply to the Duchess of Parma on his appointment as Governor-General of the Netherlands in 1567]

Given the current climate, what does 'truth' or 'justice' or 'the American way' mean anymore? Everything we thought we were fighting for has been changed, as if traditional values were passing fads that have become embarrassing in retrospect. How can we tell someone to go out and fight for something that will become a joke or a lie in a few years? It's impossible to expect anyone to bleed for something that will soon be distorted or perverted by some politician or banker or priest.
paraphrase of Kyle Mills (2005)

If we ain't gonna study war no more then we're inviting some ignorant savage tribe to enslave us and utterly eradicate our civilization.
paraphrase of David Weber

All this will go on in some way or other. The only thing we humans managed to destroy was ourselves. We're a curse; a blight. First we gave everything names, and then we invented hatred, and then we made the mistake of domesticating animals ... almost as big a mistake as that of discovering fire. It's only one step from there to slavery, and once you think of humans as animals, we become a disposable commodity ... war a commonplace. Add in a dominant religion that preaches the end of the world, and holy books that have been used to justify atrocity after atrocity, and you're only a step away from annihilation. It's better not to let society develop at all, to leave each person on their own ... alone, shivering, and afraid in the dark.
Brian Evenson

If the military isn't charging toward victory, then it's slouching toward defeat ... at first, the loss feels like a tangled nightmare, but at its conclusion, defeat feels like a ragged amputation.
paraphrase of Seth Dickinson

Of all the offspring of Time, Error is the most ancient, and is so old and familiar an acquaintance, that Truth, when discovered, comes upon most of us like an intruder, and meets the intruder's welcome.
Charles Mackay [Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841)]

As the door closed, a sound of subdued yet excited chatter began. The tragedy was being turned into a story. Before much time passed, the story would be worked and reworked by subsequent tellings until it became legend. Storytelling is the way humans assimilated tragedy, made out of things that, instead of defeating, became strengthening ... a cautionary tale, a teaching story, a rallying cry for the truth ... a builder of pride and a sense of brotherhood.
Nevada Barr

Men can always be blind to a thing so long as it is big enough; it is so difficult to see the world in which we live.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton

The critical issue [in this war] is you, the American viewing audience, not us [the American soldier] ... we will get the job done ... always have, always will. The bad guys know that ... they are prepared to lose every battle as long as they can win the TV ratings game. So, dear reader, the battlefield is in your living room. The strategic fight for the freedom of Iraq has now shifted to your AO. Do you panic? Do you give up? Do you write off Iraq and the 85% of the people there who yearn to be free? Do you give in to the Islam-fascists and the former-Baathist thugs? We can't control that from here. We can do the dirty work and the heavy lifting. We are willing and able. We can't think for you. Freedom isn't free ... remember that when you watch TV tonight.
C.H. Morris

If you read about fighting, but have never done it, then you're just a spectator, and have to believe at least some of the lies that are written about it. The people who do the things that get written into stories don't have to read them for the right answers. Authenticity creates the mythology that everyone thinks is real. Truth isn't bigger than life ... it is life. The people who tell lies about it are afraid to live it.
paraphrase of W.C. Heinz

I think it's [the Army] may be different than what you think it is. There's a lot more freedom than you think. It's America's army, so it's kind of a reflection of the American people. It's not a robotic organization -- obviously they have orders -- but I think you can grow and develop in it. And I'll see. I may not have the skill sets to do it anyway, so we'll find out. And maybe we would stay, but to be able, I'd have to be effective at combat or else I couldn't stay, and I realized this isn't for everybody, and combat isn't for everybody, but I would have to prove this to myself, as well as to my soldiers that I'm leading, that I can really do this and do it -- I said, 'I just don't want to be okay at it; I want to be really good at it or I won't stay.' So I did find out that I could do it and be effective, and it gave me a lot of confidence as a result of that. But war is a very humbling experience because of the human suffering that takes place. And I think there's exponential growth for someone who goes through an experience like that, and I became a zealot when I came out of the war experience as a platoon leader and company commander. I didn't think we had been prepared as well as we could have been in our training program for what we were dealing with. And I wanted to make certain that something like that wouldn't happen again.
Jack Keane, GEN AUS(ret)

Combat is being cold, wet, and miserable while somebody's trying to kill you ... all while being paid less than working in a gas station.
Kyle Mills (2005)

I fear that we read of war, like women gossip, to enjoy the bitter misery of others.
Owen Parry

There is nothing quite like danger to clear the bullshit from daily life.
Alan Furst

Restraint in the face of evil is no virtue, and to hate an implacable foe is no sin.
Dean Koontz [phrasing styled after Goldwater's famous dictum]

Your enemy cannot send your soul to hell, but your hatred will do it for him.
unknown Tibetan Buddhist monk

A true soldier fights, not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton

The people who make wars, the people who reduce their fellows to slavery, the people who kill and torture and tell lies in the name of their sacred causes, the really evil people in a word – these are never the publicans and the sinners. No, they're the virtuous, respectable men, who have the finest feelings, the best brains, the noblest ideals.
Aldous Huxley [pt 1 ch 9 After Many a Summer Dies the Swan (1939)]

You only have power over people so long as you don't take everything away from them. But when you've robbed a man of everything, he's no longer in your power – he's free again.
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn [ch 17 The First Circle (1968)]

The harder an Afghani is beaten, the stronger he becomes.
Pashtun proverb

The strong take from the weak, but the smart take from the strong!

When these matters are discussed by practical people, the standard of justice depends upon the equality of power to compel, and that, in fact, the strong do what they have the power to do, and the weak accept what they have to accept.
Thucydides [History of the Peloponnesian Wars]

In time of war, the law is silent.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

In this war, as in every war, governments impose their political system as far as their armies reach.
unknown diplomat commenting on the annexation of the Slavic countries at the end of World War II

Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.
Frederick the Great, King of Prussia

Wars make states, and then the state makes war.
sociological postulate

Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] [ch 3 pt 3 Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)]

Politicians use history to rationalize confrontation, religion to explain restraint, and academia to justify cowardice.
Randy Wayne White

The more afraid that politicians can make people feel, the easier it is for them to get re-elected ... because insecurity is their guaranty of job security. Politicians want to get enough people scared so that the weak and timid will grant them more and more power.
paraphrase of Kyle Mills (2005)

We are engaged in a shitty war -- a shitty little war that's tearing apart the very thing I love best: the corps of fighting men that's as loveable when it is sour and tired as when it is clean and polished. America uses us like whores -- when it wants a good fuck, it pours in the money and we give it a moment of glory. Then when it's over, it sneaks out the back door and pretends it doesn't know who we are. Yeh, soldiers are whores, but we're good ones -- we're good at fucking. We admit that we like our work. So what if the customer gets ashamed afterwards -- hypocrisy has always been part of the profession. We know that. But this time the customer doesn't want to fuck -- he wants to come in through the back door and play horsie, riding us around the room with a whip and spurs and bridle. We aren't much good at that -- it turns our stomach, and the humiliation is destroying us. God damn the greedy politicians and the weak officers who are exploiting those cherished fighting men, those rough crude bastards that I love with all my heart.
paraphrase of Karl Marlantes

The war is inevitably lost when the commanders become fixated on the appearance of the combat zone, the morale of the combatants, and documentation of the proceedings ... an army that has time for distractions isn't prosecuting its primary mission with enough dedication and determination! ... anything that doesn't contribute to military effectiveness and tactical efficiency is impeding victory!
veteran's observation

If the troops have time to polish boots and shine brass, to trim lawns and paint rocks, to wax floors and decorate offices, then they aren't fighting hard enough! lean 'n' mean isn't just a motto, it's a formula for victory!
old soldier's maxim

Humankind, or at least American-kind, will lose its edge as we produce more and more pipsqueaks, and everyone gets nicer. Whole generations of pipsqueaks will be so fucking nice that you won't be able to tell a man from a woman. And it will get worse and worse as people mistake nice for good. Luxury and prosperity breeds pipsqueaks. A century from now the country won't even be able to defend itself. The pipsqueaks are on the way precisely because our conquering heroes just triumphed over unspeakable evil in a worldwide war. The universe isn't homogenized. Everything changes, and there's only one direction in which we can go in the near future. Brace yourself for a different world, where you'll be totally out of place, and hope that your children are strong enough to carry through to the hard generations that will protect your line from extinction.
paraphrase of Mark Helprin (2012)

We have tried since the birth of our nation to promote our love of peace by a display of weakness. This course has failed us utterly.
George Catlett Marshall (1945)

Democracies, it is now well established, do not go to war with each other. But they often get into wars with non-democracies. Overwhelmingly the non-democracy starts the war; nonetheless, in the vast majority of cases, it is the democratic side that wins. In other words, dictators consistently underestimate the strength of democracies, and democracies provoke war through their love of peace, which the dictators mistake for weakness.
Joshua Muravchik [Winds of War (25 June 2007)]

When it becomes dominated by a collectivist creed, democracy will inevitably destroy itself.
Fredrich August von Hayek

The power of discretionary disqualification by one law of Parliament, and the necessity of paying every debt of the Civil List by another law of Parliament, if suffered to pass unnoticed, must establish such a fund of rewards and terrors as will make Parliament the best appendage and support of arbitrary power that ever was invented by the wit of man. This is felt. The quarrel is begun between the Representatives and the People. The Court Faction have at length committed them. In such a strait the wisest may well be perplexed, and the boldest staggered. The circumstances are in a great measure new. We have hardly any land-marks from the wisdom of our ancestors, to guide us. At best we can only follow the spirit of their proceeding in other cases.
Edmund Burke

A perfect democracy, a 'warm body' democracy in which every adult may vote and all votes count equally, has no internal feedback for self correction. It depends solely on the wisdom and self-restraint of citizens ... which is opposed by the folly and lack of self-restraint of other citizens. What is supposed to happen in a democracy is that each sovereign citizen will always vote in the public interest for the safety and welfare of all. But what does happen is that he votes his own self-interest as he sees it ... which for the majority translates as 'Bread and Circuses'. 'Bread and Circuses' is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves 'Bread and Circuses' without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader – the barbarians enter Rome.
Robert A. Heinlein [To Sail Beyond the Sunset] [nb: 'bread and circuses' ("panem et circenses" from Decimus Junius Juvenalis) originally described all that was needed for emperors to placate the Roman mob, but today is used to describe any entertainment that's used to distract public attention from more important matters]

And having looked to Government for bread, on the very first scarcity they will turn and bite the hand that fed them.
Edmund Burke ["Thoughts and Details on Scarcity" (1795)]

America's greatest problems are not with foreign countries but are internal, endemic to the nation's own political genetics. Reflections of this serious predicament can be seen in the partisan divisions and the take-no-prisoners domestic contentions that prevail in the modern American daily news cycle. This constant infighting is largely intended to favor the acquisition of personal power by a handful of celebrities, select arbiters of fashion in our sociopolitical culture, for the benefit of brokers, shielded by the media and the stock market, whose goal is to monopolize as many resources as possible. And because such inefficient partisan disputes are so ineffective, albeit expressed by rights warranted to be inalienable, they are nobody else's business ... being well beyond the purview of outside intervention! Their positive resolution by one or another faction only revives the essential competition. An inability to be constant and consistent, resolute and reliable bespeaks an undependable system without the integrity to fulfill its promises or finish its commitments ... democracy is too irrational to function persistently. Results that depend upon the whim of fickle voters, who often have no idea of the consequences of their capricious decision, and whose actions are often rooted in lies from ambitious politicians who are willing to deceive in order to attain higher office, are ultimately compromised by the vagaries of the very system that proffers the abundance of options and alternatives. In America, politicians and the media, including the news outlets that pretend to cover government affairs, downplay this near full time exercise in deceit by calling it something as innocuous as 'spin'. This seems to excuse it from the more serious lies committed by ordinary citizens who would pay dearly if they tried to deceive the state, with the rationale being that if the pols seeking power were punished with imprisonment every time they lied, then nobody would run for public office. It's ironic that in America, supposedly the 'gold standard' of modern law and justice, with its multitude of statutes, legions of lawyers, and armies of judges, there has not been a single instance of the penal law punishing any official who has intentionally and repeatedly lied to their constituents on important issues of state. The average American can no longer be shocked by the scope of the scandal or the damage caused by such misfeasance ... they have come to expect this level of misconduct from their representatives. The 'shining city on a hill' is either a fanciful illusion or a cruel deception ... regardless, it's a hollow redoubt.
paraphrase of Steve Martini (2015)

The only excuse for going to war is that we may live in peace unharmed; and when the victory is won, we should spare those who have not been bloodthirsty and barbarous in their warfare. Not only must we show consideration for those whom we have conquered (by force of arms), but we must also ensure protection to those who laid down their arms and threw themselves upon the mercy of our generals.
Marcus Tullius Cicero

When push comes to shove, people will support tyranny rather than suffer lethal chaos that makes normal everyday life impossible for themselves and their children.
Thomas Sowell [Another Vietnam? (16 Jan 2007)]

Tyrants seldom want pretexts.
Edmund Burke [letter to a member of the National Assembly (1791)]

The nation's true interests require at all times that all honorable means of avoiding war should be essayed before the sword be appealed to.
John Marshall

... and the hardly silenced cannon of the East proclaim once more that combat and pain still are the portion of man. For my own part, I believe that the struggle for life is the order of the world, at which it is vain to repine. I can imagine the burden changed in the way it is to be borne, but I cannot imagine that it ever will be lifted from men's backs. ... But we are far from such a future, and we cannot stop to amuse or to terrify ourselves with dreams. Now, at least, and perhaps as long as man dwells upon the globe, his destiny is battle, and he has to take the chances of war.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr ["The Soldier's Faith" (1895)]

The tyranny of a multitude is a multiplied tyranny.
Edmund Burke [letter to Thomas Mercer]

Whoever lives for the sake of combating an enemy has an interest in the enemy staying alive.
Friedrich wilhelm Nietzsche

The use of force alone is but temporary. It may subdue for a moment; but it does not remove the necessity of subduing again: and a nation is not governed, which is perpetually to be conquered.
Edmund Burke

If you can't accept the outcome, then don't play the game. If it's the only game in town, then move to a new town. If it's the only game anywhere, then make a new game. No game is perfect, so find one that you can win ... or at least enjoy losing.

When little boys play games, there are inevitably winners and losers, but when they play at killing small animals, these minor creatures remain dead. It's always the insignificant who must suffer from our mistakes, from our miscalculations, from our presumptions.
paraphrase of Thomas H. Cook

When the battlefield results do not complement the political lies ... concoct better lies.

Nations, not armies, wage wars. While impetuous civilians start fights, they are also the first to seek any "quick and easy" conclusion when the death toll relentlessly rises, when the acute suffering becomes chronic, when persistent sacrifices have become insufficient. Soldiers try to end battles in a way that they will not need to be refought; but civilians are impatient and undisciplined. So when the war they have demanded becomes tedious and disruptive, they desire something new or different, something more interesting or entertaining. With their passions spent, they want a return to normalcy; and will even persuade themselves that "peace at any price" is tolerable ... until it again becomes intolerable, and they again clamor for someone to rescue them. Civilians are like children in that they never anticipate the consequences of their tantrums; and soldiers are also like children in that they want the world to be the way they think it should be. Regardless of their motivations, the same people who make war can never be expected to make peace ... not a lasting peace.
paraphrase of Joseph Joffre, World War I French Marshal

We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again.
Nathanael Greene [April 1781 letter after the Battle of Hobkirk's Hill]

Violence is born of passion, and passion attains its greatest intensity in war.

War, when you are at it, is horrible and dull. It is only when time has passed that you see that its message was divine.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr ["The Soldier's Faith" (1895)]

War is as horrible as the mind of man can make it, but if we return barbarism with injustice then we are only staging the excuses for the next war.
paraphrase of David Kenyon Webster

A tribunal where the enemy will be judge and party would not be an organ of the law but an instrument of political tyranny aiming only at justifying my condemnation [for causing the Great War].
Wilhelm II, emperor of Germany and king of Prussia

People crushed by law, have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous.
Edmund Burke [letter to Charles James Fox (1777)]

How easy it is to judge rightly after one sees what evil comes from judging wrongly!
Elizabeth Gaskell [ch 43 Wives and Daughters (1866)]

... and ye shall begin to hear of wars, and reports of wars; see, be not troubled, for it behoveth all [these] to come to pass, but the end is not yet. 'For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places; and all these [are] the beginning of sorrows; ... for there shall be then great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world till now, no, nor may be. ... for wherever the carcase may be, there shall the eagles be gathered together. 'And immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from the heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken .... Matthew 24:6-8, 21, 28-9 YLT Bible

There are no atheists in the foxholes.
William Thomas Cummings [chaplain's sermon at Bataan (1942)]

There are no atheists at night with muzzles aimed their way in the dark.
British military expression after Waterloo (ca1815)

An atheist is a man who has no invisible means of support.
Fulton J. Sheen [Look (14 Dec 1955)]

He [Jesus Christ] comes to us, not to shield us from the harshness of the world but to give us the courage and strength to bear it; not to snatch us away by some miracle from the conflict of life, but to give us peace – His peace – in our hearts, by which we may be calmly steadfast while the conflict rages, and be able to bring to the torn world the healing that is peace.
unknown author in Advent devotional guide (2007)

The days were so terrible that we would pray for darkness to put an end to it, but then the nights were so frightening that we would pray for light to bring us relief from it ... there was never any relief.
unknown World War II soldier

The anticipation of our dreams once lulled us to sleep, but now their consequences keep us awake throughout the night. For the young and inexperienced, any tragedy that's been averted is just an exciting fantasy, but for the tired old veteran, they are horrible nightmares.
paraphrase of Stephen Edwin King

Those of us on the battlefield need to believe in God more than anyone else ... not because He will protect us or promote our cause, but for much greater benefits. In the terrible carnage of battle, our faith in God may limit the mayhem, may constrain our savagery. And afterwards, our faith in God may redeem us ... for He is the only one who can forgive our iniquities, can absolve our transgressions. Without God, soldiers would be lost in a nightmarish fight where the damned endlessly slaughter the damned.
paraphrase of Scott Turow [Ordinary Heroes (2005)]

No warrior is ever going to heaven because the saints would make him feel unwelcome there, and no warrior is ever going to hell because the devils are afraid that he would takeover there, so when warriors die, they go to their own special place, where they can be with others of their own kind.

I'm already in good with Heaven – just give me a goddamned prayer like I asked for! I'll do the rest [of the fighting] myself!
George S. Patton Jr

The difference between prayer and the effects of prayer is like the difference between vigilance and defense.
paraphrase of Mark Spragg (1999)

A soldier finds technology so much easier to deal with than God, but the realities of battle, which make him long for the innocent belief of his childhood, force him to confront his essential nature – perhaps for the very first time ever – and religion is the only comfort he can find amongst all the cold and impersonal machineries of destruction – no matter how mixed or muddled.
paraphrase of Harold Coyle (1987)

The number of people with any criteria for distinguishing between good and evil is very small.
T.S. Eliot [1933 Virginia Lectures]

... changing mores have changed military tactics. The current ascendant belief in the West that war is unnatural, preventable, and the result of rational grievances – that it can, with proper training and education, be eliminated – has probably made battle less tenable among the general public.
Victor Davis Hanson

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality. (mis-)attributed to Dante Alighieri by John F. Kennedy (24 June 1963)

I think that technologies are morally neutral until we apply them. It's only when we use them for good or for evil that they themselves become good or evil.
William Gibson

The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.
Omar N. Bradley [1948 Armistice Day speech]

He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. When you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Tyranny destroys or strengthens the individual; freedom enervates him, until he becomes no more than a puppet. Man has more chances of saving himself by hell than by paradise.
E.M. Cioran ["On the Verge of Existence" Anathemas and Admirations (1986)]

Nature in darkness groans
And men are bound to sullen contemplation in the night:
Restless they turn on beds of sorrow; in their inmost brain
Feeling the crushing wheels, they rise, they write the bitter words
Of stern philosophy & knead the bread of knowledge with tears & groans.
William Blake ["Night the Ninth" The Four Zoas (1795-1804)]

When something good fails, it's because the world is run by men and not by ideas. Some men will be honored by inclusion, embracing the thesis and endeavoring their best, but some will envision the opportunities such inclusion avails and the shield it provides, while still others will resent the exclusion, scorning the thesis and endeavoring their worst. It is human nature that collapses the rise of civilization, and it is human nature that sustains the flickering of hope through our darkest days. Our fountainhead is not our mind or heart, but our spirit.

Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none.
Edmund Burke [speech on the Bill for the Relief of Protestant Dissenters (1773)]

There is, however, a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.
Edmund Burke ["Observations on a Late Publication on the Present State of the Nation" (1769)]

Do not be misled by the fact that you are at liberty and relatively free; that for the moment you are not under lock and key: you have simply been granted a reprieve.
Ryszard Kapuscinski ["A Warsaw Diary" (1985)]

Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn't stand on the doorstep with toothbrush moustache and swastika armband – it creeps up insidiously ... step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realises that it is gone.
Baron Lane (3 Feb 1990)

Confederates were confident that they fought for a just cause and believed that men struggling for independence possessed great moral advantages over their oppressors. And they had great hopes that a just God would look kindly upon a people battling oppression.
Joseph T. Glatthaar (2008)

It looks to me to be narrow and pedantic to apply the ordinary ideas of criminal justice to this great public contest. I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against a whole people.
Edmund Burke

It is not true that suffering ennobles the character; happiness does that sometimes, but suffering, for the most part, makes men petty and vindictive.
W. Somerset Maugham [ch 17 The Moon and Sixpence (1919)]

Suffering is by no means a privilege, a sign of nobility, a reminder of God. Suffering is a fierce, bestial thing, commonplace, uncalled for, natural as air. It is intangible; no one can grasp it or fight against it; it dwells in time – is the same thing as time; if it comes in fits and starts, that is only so as to leave the sufferer more defenseless during the moments that follow, those long moments when one relives the last bout of torture and waits for the next.
Cesare Pavese [The Burning Brand. Diaries 1935-1950 (1952)]

Everywhere a donkey goes, it is still a donkey.
Peshawar aphorism

The child of a snake is also a snake.
Peshawar aphorism

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger and honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
G.K. Chesterton [The Secret People]

One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should, there is nothing to be done about it.
F. Scott Fitzgerald [ch 11 bk 2 Tender is the Night (1934)]

A mute scar can be eloquent in its evocation.
paraphrase of Juan Gabriel Vásquez

It is by a wise economy of nature that those who suffer without change, and whom no one can help, become uninteresting. Yet so it may happen that those who need sympathy the most often attract it the least.
F.H. Bradley [aph 22 Aphorisms (1930)]

You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.
Franz Kafka [aph #103 The Collected Aphorisms (Oct 1917-Feb 1918)]

There is no true love save in suffering, and in this world we have to choose either love, which is suffering, or happiness .... Man is the more man – that is, the more divine – the greater his capacity for suffering, or rather, for anguish.
Miguel de Unamuno [ch 9 The Tragic Sense of Life (1913)]

In default of inexhaustible happiness, eternal suffering would at least give us a destiny. But we do not even have that consolation, and our worst agonies come to an end one day.
Albert Camus [pt 4 The Rebel (1951)]

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.
George Orwell [Eric Arthur Blair] [ch3 pt 3 Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)]

Oh, fear not in a world like this,
And thou shalt know erelong,
Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ["The Light of Stars" (Jan 1839)]

Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.
Calvin Coolidge

Strengthen me by sympathizing with my strength, not my weakness.
A. Bronson Alcott [Table Talk (1877)]

A handful of soldiers is always better than a mouthful of arguments.
G.C. Lichtenberg [aph 19 "Notebook E" Aphorisms (1765-99)]

You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.
Leon Trotsky [Lev Davidovich Bronstein] [paraphrase of "You may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in you." by Pericles]

Men grow tired of sleep, love, singing, and dancing sooner than war.

The last pitiful plaint of the pathetically too reasonable person on the verge of victimization is: Why won't they just leave me alone? ... and the nation, however it arose, which expects consideration and tolerance will not long endure.

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been unfurled, there will [America's] heart, her benedictions, and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
John Quincy Adams (4 June 1821)

We don't live in America; America lives in us.

Many of us remember parents and grandparents who served in the Second World War as our greatest generation. Another generation of heroes is being forged from the ruins of the attacks of September 11th.
John Sidney McCain, Capt USN(ret), US Senator (20 Mar 2003)

There are no youths in combat ... except the ones who stay forever young beneath grave markers.
paraphrase of Suzanne Brockmann (2002)

Most of all we learned about death at an early age when it is common to think of oneself as immortal. Everyone loses that illusion eventually, but in civilian life it is lost in installments over the years. We lost it all at once and, in the span of months, passed from boyhood through manhood to premature middle age. The knowledge of death, of the implacable limits placed on a man's existence, severed us from our youth as irrevocably as a surgeon's scissors had once severed us from the womb. And yet, few of us were past twenty-five. We left Vietnam peculiar creatures, with young shoulders that bore rather old heads.
Phillip Caputo [A Rumor of War]

I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to fight in.
George McGovern

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 Clark Hoover [27 June 1944 convention speech]

The Statesman who, knowing his instrument to be ready, and seeing War inevitable, hesitates to strike first is guilty of a crime against his country.
Von der Goltz (1899)

Over the centuries, countless warriors and thinkers, far wiser than I, have addressed the issue of morality in war, and the right and wrong of taking human life. I can speak only for myself. No martial credo, however lofty or noble sounding, will ever convince me that those men were enemy, even though I know that they were, and that had they got the chance, they would have visited upon me and my comrades the same destruction we loosed upon them. That changes nothing. We took their lives. By willful violence ordered by me, our guns tore them from wives and children, fathers and mothers, from their country and from themselves. Rivers of tears cannot alter that fact. I have lived with it every day, every hour. Like many of my generation, I did not go to war gravely and soberly, as Lao-tzu tells us a wise man ought ... but I returned from it that way.
Steven Pressfield (2008)

When holy men rule based on religious scripture, one gets hell on earth – not heaven. History teaches that holy men always lose in the end. Even if they win the battles, they always lose their wars. It would be better for everyone if they lost quickly.
Stephen Coonts (2006)

It is said that God's wrath is revealed by the unrighteousness of men, so our random acts of kindness seemingly offset our deliberate acts of brutality, because it is supposedly more blessed to give than receive.

The best response to outrageous terror is righteous anger.
Dean Koontz (2005)

Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.
John Steinbeck

Young men are passionate and full of ideals, so they are disappointed when war is not as noble and romantic as their dreams of glory; but wars are declared by mean old men who intend to win by any means, and will fight dirty to achieve it.

Attacking your enemy when he doesn't expect your assault will make him angry, but not attacking your enemy when he expects ... nay, invites ... your assault will make him even angrier.
attributed to Crazy Horse (Tashunca-Uitco)

It's better to win ugly than lose pretty.
Ace Atkins (writing in imitation of Robert B. Parker)

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 Bismarck [Aug 1867 speech in Berlin]

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity ....
Dwight David Eisenhower

Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace .... We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace.
Thomas Aquinas [Summa Theologica (ca1265)]

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.
Martin Luther King Jr.

Every new stroke of civilization has cost the lives of countless brave men, who have fallen defeated by the "dragon," in their efforts to win the apples of the Hesperides, or the fleece of gold. Fallen in their efforts to overcome the old, half sordid savagery of the lower stages of creation, and win the next stage.
D.H. Lawrence (1925)

When peace reigns, the bellicose man makes war with himself.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Fascism finds it necessary, at the outset, to take away from the ordinary human being what he has been taught and has grown to cherish the most; personal liberty. And it can be affirmed, without falling into exaggeration, that a curtailment of personal liberty not only has proved to be, but necessarily must be, a fundamental condition of the triumph of Fascism.
Mario Palmieri [The Philosophy of Fascism (1936)]

All the people I know who are driving for a form of national service, primarily want it to be compulsory. They realize that's a terrible problem politically, so they're not willing to say it. It is endangerment of freedom and the potential for indoctrination that skeptics do not like in the national service concept. However benign the program, some think it will not succeed on any meaningful scale unless it is compulsory.
Martin Anderson

Self-denial and self-control are essential to achievement. Great endurance is impossible where there is great indulgence .... The appetites give not inspiration and kindle no fires, and their free gratification weakens the body and chokes the soul.
John Peter Altgeld

Just as perception distorts our focus until that which is terrible becomes endurable, so memory is a deception that allows whatever is beautiful and tender, soft and sweet to infiltrate our catalogue of transgressions to comfort us in our inevitable shortcomings ... life is the burden of everyday dread and inescapable suffering that our meager soul struggles to uplift.

A man's memory is the faultiest of instruments; vulnerable to retrospection and revisionism, altered by age and distance, skewed by heartbreak and disappointment and vanity, tainted always by the inconsolable hope that the past was somehow different than we really knew it to be. This is why memoirs are always, by definition, false.
Jim Fergus (2005)

It's impossible to drown your bad memories in alcohol, because if they are real, then they can swim!
paraphrase of William Manchester

If the world kept itself staggering drunk for a couple of centuries, there wouldn't be any wars. Armies would fall down and go to sleep before they could reach each other. And when they woke up, the soldiers' hands would be so unsteady, they wouldn't be able to do much damage.
James Thorne Smith Jr [The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (1939)]

You grab a gun and you feel the dense solidity of it, the purposefulness of it. Nothing feels better than a gun to a man who's [been] hunted or hated, or been oppressed or beaten. He can lose his imagination in it, because he knows that no matter what they do to him, if he uses it well, they will [long] remember that night. Their widows will cry and their orphans will beg ... that is something to a man who has no other thing. God, he wanted a gun.
Stephen Hunter

If a man feels better, safer or stronger, whenever he's armed, then he's the wrong person to be entrusted with a weapon. And if a nation feels more powerful or more secure with guns and bombs, then it ought not have them. A weapon, like any other tool, has no intrinsic value, no innate quality, no native character; so the person who imbues or derives such from its possession is deficient, and should not be trusted with anything so potentially dangerous. A wholly integrated person doesn't need a weapon to fulfill their persona, but a truly sane man can employ a weapon to fulfill a role without spiritual destruction. If we instill discipline during maturation, then violence will be redirected ... perhaps creatively ... and wars may become obsolete.

I have spent years away from the high places, where the wind stirs your soul and snow teaches wisdom. I went away happy and have returned despondent. Many people have lost the way. Many people down below ignore what is in their hearts because it is the safe way. Incredibly, there are many people who just want to live to be old – as if they were enslaved to their bodies. So instead of human beings fighting the wrong, they say it is for government to do so. And governments say we must have armies to be safe – so armies are raised. And armies say we must have wars to be safe – so wars are fought. And wars kill children and devour souls that have not developed – all because people just want to be old, instead of being true. This, I have learned, is the history of the world.
unknown Tibetan Buddhist monk

Every second spent in combat is worth a month in training.
military maxim

Discipline more than numbers gives one army superiority over another.
George Washington [6 July 1777 General Order]

This archive of sundry quotations, comments and observations, expressed on war and conflict is neither representative nor exhaustive. It's being compiled as a desiderative pastiche by the editorial staff of COMBAT. Its diverse contrast is almost as interesting as its diverse content.

Please send all corrections and contributions to the editorial staff at:

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