quotations about war
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
War is a brutal and fierce means of pacification; it means the suppression of resistance by the destruction or enslavement of the conquered.
HENRI-FREDERIC AMIEL, Journal Intime
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
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
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
On the whole, more men had perhaps escaped into the war than from it.
STEFAN ZWEIG, Beware of Pity
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"
Men who fight wars in winter don't live till spring.
URSULA K. LE GUIN, Planet of Exile
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
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
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
Accursed be he that first invented war.
CHRISTOPHER MARLOWE, Tamburlaine the Great
War ... it paid well and liberated children from the pernicious influence of their parents.
JOSEPH HELLER, Catch-22
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
What weak, inglorious fools we mortals are
That war must be, or any need of war.
And yet, the better day is coming when
The teachings of the lowly Nazarene
Shall be the rule of nations--as of men;
The sword and bayonet shall be preserved,
By the fair children of a nobler race,
As relics only, of a barbarous past.
ANDREW DOWNING, "The Bluebird"
If civilization has an opposite, it is war. Of these two things, you have either one, or the other. Not both.
URSULA K. LE GUIN, The Left Hand of Darkness
We need to decide that we will not go to war, whatever reason is conjured up by the politicians or the media, because war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children. War is terrorism, magnified a hundred times.
HOWARD ZINN, The Progressive, November 2001
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
J. R. R. TOLKIEN, The Two Towers