quotations about war
War is hell and all that, but it has a good deal to recommend it. It wipes out all the small nuisances of peace-time.
IAN HAY, The First Hundred Thousand
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, New Statesman, February 8, 1991
War hath no fury like a non-combatant.
C. E. MONTAGUE, Disenchantment
War ... has become impossible, except at the price of suicide.
IVAN STANISLAVOVICH BLOCH, The Future of War
However just the cause, we should mourn for all that is lost when war claims its wages from us.
JOHN MCCAIN, speech, August 30, 2004
The nation having the strongest war footing can easily find an excuse for going to war.
LEWIS F. KORNS, Thoughts
Man kills without ceasing, to nourish himself; but since in addition he needs to kill for pleasure, he has invented the chase! The child kills the insects he finds, the little birds, all the little animals that come in his way. But this does not suffice for the irresistible need of massacre that is in us. It is not enough to kill beasts; we must kill man too. Long ago this need was satisfied by human sacrifice. Now, the necessity of living in society has made murder a crime. We condemn and punish the assassin! But as we cannot live without yielding to this natural and imperious instinct of death, we relieve ourselves from time to time, by wars. Then a whole nation slaughters another nation. It is a feast of blood, a feast that maddens armies and intoxicates the civilians, women and children, who read, by lamplight at night, the feverish story of massacre.
GUY DE MAUPASSANT, "The Diary of a Madman"
A true warrior does not fight because he wishes to but because he has to. A man who yearns for war, a man who enjoys his killing, he is a brute and a monster. No matter how much glory he wins on the battlefield, that cannot erase the fact that he is no better than a rabid wolf who will turn on his friends and family as soon as his foes.
CHRISTOPHER PAOLINI, Brisingr
Let's face it--if mothers ruled the world, there wouldn't be any goddamn wars in the first place.
SALLY FIELD, acceptance speech at 2007 Emmy Awards
Spies could be invaluable in peacetime, once the fighting actually started, their value dropped steeply. When the swords were out, it was the information your own scouts provided that mattered, not reports from unknown people whose veracity you couldn't prove.
DAVID WEBER, Off Armageddon Reef
I cannot now, as I once did, talk lightly, thoughtlessly, of fighting with this or that nation. That nation is no longer an abstraction to me. It is no longer a vague mass. It spreads out before me into individuals, in a thousand interesting forms and relations. It consists of husbands and wives, parents and children, who love one another as I love my own home. It consists of affectionate women and sweet children. It consists of Christians united with me to the common Savior, and in whose spirit I recognize the likeness of his divine virtue. It consists of a vast multitude of laborers at the plough and in the workshop, whose toils I sympathize with, whose burden I should rejoice to lighten, and for whose elevation I have pleaded. It consists of men of science, taste, genius, whose writings have beguiled my solitary hours, and given life to my intellect and best affections. Here is the nation which I am called to fight with, into whose families I must send mourning, whose fall or humiliation I must seek through blood. I cannot do it without a clear commission from God.
WILLIAM E. CHANNING, Thoughts
A fighter should not think only of his shete, just because he has a shete in his hand. Everything is a weapon in the warrior's mind.
S. M. STIRLING, The Sunrise Lands
War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease -- the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences. And over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers and clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a "just war" emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when certain conditions were met: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the force used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence. Of course, we know that for most of history, this concept of "just war" was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God.
BARACK OBAMA, Nobel Lecture, December 10, 2009
There comes a terrible moment to many souls when the great movements of the world, the larger destinies of mankind, which have lain aloof in newspapers and other neglected reading, enter like an earthquake into their own lives--when the slow urgency of growing generations turns into the tread of an invading army or the dire clash of civil war, and grey fathers know nothing to seek for but the corpses of their blooming sons, and girls forget all vanity to make lint and bandages which may serve for the shattered limbs of their betrothed husbands.
GEORGE ELIOT, Daniel Deronda
War must never be a condition but, rather, a temporary scourge which we suffer as a child does a fever, knowing that health follows the long night of pain and that peace is health.
DAN SIMMONS, The Fall of Hyperion
What small account
The All-living seems to take of this thin flame
Which we call life. He sends a moment's blast
Out of war's nostrils, and a myriad
Of these our puny tapers are blown out
DINAH CRAIK, "Looking Death in the Face"
All wars are boyish, and are fought by boys,
The champions and enthusiasts of the state:
Turbid ardors and vain joys Not barrenly abate--
Stimulants to the power mature,
Preparatives of fate.
HERMAN MELVILLE, "The March Into Virginia"
We rush like bridegrooms to Death's grisly arms:
Surely the very longing for that clasp
Proves us immortal. Immortality
Alone could teach this mortal how to die.
Perhaps, war is but Heaven's great ploughshare, driven
Over the barren, fallow earthly fields,
Preparing them for harvest; rooting up
Grass, weeds, and flowers, which necessary fall,
That in these furrows the wise Husbandman
May drop celestial seed.
DINAH CRAIK, "Looking Death in the Face"
War is the sure result of the existence of armed men. That country which maintains a large standing army will sooner or later have a war. The man who prides himself on fisticuffs is going, some day, to meet a man who considers himself the better man, and they will test the issue.
ELBERT HUBBARD, The American Bible
The abolition of war is no longer to be set down as a creation of fancy, a dream of enthusiastic philanthropy. War rests on opinion; and opinion is more and more withdrawing its support. War rests on contempt of human nature; on the long mournful habit of regarding the mass of human beings as machines, or as animals; having no higher use than to be shot at and murdered for the glory of a chief, for the seating of this or that family on a throne, for the petty interests and selfish rivalries which have inflamed states to conflict. Let the worth of a human being be felt, and a main pillar of war will fall.
WILLIAM E. CHANNING, Thoughts