quotations about war

In former days, when wars arose from individual causes, from the policy of a Minister or the passion of a King, when they were fought by small regular armies of professional soldiers, and when their course was retarded by the difficulties of communication and supply, and often suspended by the winter season, it was possible to limit the liabilities of the combatants. But now, when mighty populations are impelled on each other, each individual severally embittered and inflamed--when the resources of science and civilisation sweep away everything that might mitigate their fury, a European war can only end in the ruin of the vanquished and the scarcely less fatal commercial dislocation and exhaustion of the conquerors. Democracy is more vindictive than Cabinets. The wars of peoples will be more terrible than those of kings.

WINSTON CHURCHILL, speech in the House of Commons, May 13, 1901


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Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues.



If there is a God, the phrase that must disgust him is "holy war".

STEVE ALLEN, Reflections


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Is it not tragic, for example, that while in the last World War almost everyone believed it was the war to end all wars and wanted to make it so, now in this Second World War almost no writer that I have read dares even suggest that this is the war to end all wars, or act on that belief? We have lost the courage to hope.

LIN YUTANG, Between Tears and Laughter


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If you think of humanity as one large body, then war is like suicide, or at best, self mutilation.

JEROME P. CRABB, War Quotes and Quibbles


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Wars do not end wars any more than an extraordinarily large conflagration does away with the fire hazard.

HENRY FORD, My Life and Work


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No catalogue of horrors ever kept men from war. Before the war you always think that it's not you that dies. But you will die, brother, if you go to it long enough.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, "Notes on the Next War", Esquire, September 1935


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It is interesting ... how weapons reflect the soul of the maker.

DON DELILLO, Underworld


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Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology.

REBECCA WEST, attributed, Europe in Arms


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Now that I've seen what war is ... I know that everybody, if one day it should end, ought to ask himself: "And what shall we make of the fallen? Why are they dead?" I wouldn't know what to say. Not now, at any rate. Nor does it seem to me that the others know. Perhaps only dead know, and only for them is the war really over.

CESARE PAVESE, The House on the Hill


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I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen two hundred limping exhausted men come out of line-the survivors of a regiment of one thousand that went forward forty-eight hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT, Address at Chautauqua, August 14, 1936


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Beware the toils of war ... the mesh of the huge dragnet sweeping up the world.

HOMER, The Iliad


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I am not opposed to all wars. I'm opposed to dumb wars.

BARACK OBAMA, The New Yorker, May 31, 2004


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War is thus divine in itself, since it is a law of the world.... War is divine in the mysterious glory that surrounds it and in the no less inexplicable attraction that draws us to it.

JOSEPH DE MAISTRE, "Seventh Dialogue"


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War is a beastly business, it is true, but one proof we are human is our ability to learn, even from it, how better to exist.

M. F. K. FISHER, introduction to revised edition, How to Cook a Wolf


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When a war is waged by two opposing groups of robbers for the sake of deciding who shall have a freer hand to oppress more people, then the question of the origin of the war is of no real economic or political significance.

VLADIMIR LENIN, Pravda, April 26, 1917


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What lackeys men are, who might be such fine fellows!
To be killing each other, unmercifully,
At an order, as though one said, "Bring up the tea."

AMY LOWELL, "A Ballad of Footmen"


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Why is it that all wars are won by bankers?

CARLOS RUIZ ZAFON, The Prisoner of Heaven


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The term "just war" contains an internal contradiction. War is inherently unjust, and the great challenge of our time is how to deal with evil, tyranny, and oppression without killing huge numbers of people.

HOWARD ZINN, Terrorism and War


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History teaches that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.

RONALD REAGAN, Address to the Nation, January 16, 1984


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