quotations about war

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"


Tags: Amy Lowell

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.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER, speech, April 16, 1953


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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Every war involves a greater or less relapse into barbarism. War, indeed, in its details, is the essence of inhumanity. It dehumanizes. It may save the state, but it destroys the citizen.

CHRISTIAN NESTELL BOVEE, Intuitions and Summaries of Thought


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War is a brutal and fierce means of pacification; it means the suppression of resistance by the destruction or enslavement of the conquered.



Tags: Henri-Frederic Amiel

History shows that wars are divided into two kinds, just and unjust. All wars that are progressive are just, and all wars that impede progress are unjust. We Communists oppose all unjust wars that impede progress, but we do not oppose progressive, just wars. Not only do we Communists not oppose just wars; we actively participate in them.

MAO ZEDONG, "On Protracted War", May 1938


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I have not spoken in three years: not since I left boot camp. It has been three years of a senseless war, and though the reasons for it are clear, and though we will continue to fight until we are ordered to stop--and probably for a while after that--none of us can remember the hate that led us here. We are simply fighting to survive the war. It is a strange place to be at fifteen, bereft of hope and very nearly of your humanity. But that is where I am nonetheless.

CHRIS ABANI, Song for Night


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Does it make a difference if warriors go to battle changing their appearance or not? Does it make a difference if they're anonymous, in how they treat their victims? We know in some cultures, they go to war, they don't change their appearance. In other cultures, they paint themselves like "Lord of the Flies." In some, they wear masks. In many, soldiers are anonymous in uniform. So this anthropologist, John Watson, found 23 cultures that had two bits of data. Do they change their appearance? Do they kill, torture, mutilate? If they don't change their appearance, only one of eight kills, tortures or mutilates. The key is in the red zone. If they change their appearance, 12 of 13 -- that's 90 percent -- kill, torture, mutilate. And that's the power of anonymity.

PHILIP ZIMBARDO, TED talk, September 2008


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On the whole, more men had perhaps escaped into the war than from it.

STEFAN ZWEIG, Beware of Pity


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Alas for my country, thy evergreen valleys,
Are wet with a tide that is red,
Alas for thy hills for they shudd'ringly cover
War's sacrifice, bloody and dread!

MARY T. LATHRAP, "Man's Work in God's World"


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Men who fight wars in winter don't live till spring.

URSULA K. LE GUIN, Planet of Exile


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We may have hell if we have war, and we may have hell if we have peace. But if we have no vision for what we do, we have hell anyway.

GERALD STANLEY LEE, The Air-line to Liberty: A Prospectus for All Nations


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For wide, ah! wide is the woe when the foeman has mounted the wall;
There is havoc and terror and flame, and the dark smoke broods over all,
And wild is the war-god's breath, as in frenzy of conquest he springs,
And pollutes with the blast of his lips the glory of holiest things!

AESCHYLUS, The Seven Against Thebes


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Hollywood blockbusters, like The Hurt Locker, American Sniper, and Lone Survivor, have popularized a narrative rooted more in tropes than truth: a combination of the PTSD-riddled warfighter, the morally ambiguous killer, and the gallant, altruistic hero. However, this narrative is a Frankenstein summation of extremes, arbitrarily splicing and simplifying the truth into digestible and marketable bits. They are stories of exceptionality designed for an audience who has come to expect and want a narrow, unrealistic narrative of war and its combatants. The truth of the war is complex and paradoxical, equal parts nightmarish terror, jaw-dropping inspiration, mind numbing boredom, and incongruous humor. But most of all, the story of the war is as numerous and diverse as those who fought and endured them.

THOMAS E. RICKS, "Writing today's war literature: Figuring out our story, not Hollywood's or D.C.'s", Foreign Policy, February 4, 2016


Looking at what's going on in the world right now, it's easy to feel hopeless and frightened. Violent conflict is erupting around the world -- from our own streets, schools, churches and mosques to war-torn countries far away. The call to war is being fueled by capitalizing on the fear people are feeling, but the strategies we are currently employing most often as a response to violent conflict in the world are incredibly expensive and they don't work. In fact, it seems they are making the problem worse.

LORI DRAPER, "Conflict resolution is a much better investment than war", Alaska Dispatch News, January 6, 2016


While aggression is deeply rooted in the human psyche, the roots of organised conflict remain unclear with most experts believing warfare developed when nomadic groups finally settled with the emergence of agriculture some 6,000 years ago.... Cambridge researchers argue that the Nataruk massacre may have been a "raid for resources" such as women, children or stored food because pottery found at the site may suggest a family group that had begun to settle. Such a finding would extend by up to 4,000 years the known time frame for war-like conflict. Alternatively, the killings may simply have been an example of what happened when two groups of prehistoric humans crossed paths.

CAHAL MILMO, "War is as old as time: Cambridge University researchers unveil massacred bodies dating back 10,000 years", The Independent, January 20, 2016


War ... it paid well and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.



Tags: Joseph Heller

The second best thing about space travel is that the distances involved make war very difficult, usually impractical, and almost always unnecessary. This is probably a loss for most people, since war is our race's most popular diversion, one which gives purpose and color to dull and stupid lives. But it is a great boon to the intelligent man who fights only when he must--never for sport.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN, Time Enough For Love


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