WAR QUOTES VII

quotations about war

War is bestowed like electroshock on the depressive nation; thousands of volts jolting the system, an artificial galvanizing, one effect of which is loss of memory. War comes at the end of the twentieth century as absolute failure of imagination, scientific and political. That a war can be represented as helping a people to "feel good" about themselves, their country, is a measure of that failure.

ADRIENNE RICH, What is Found There

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For most of history, war has been a more or less functional institution, providing benefits for those societies that were good at it, although the cost in money, in lives, and in suffering was always significant. Only in the past century have large numbers of people begun to question the basic assumption of civilized societies that war is inevitable and often useful.

GWYNNE DYER, War: The Lethal Custom

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War-making is one of the few activities that people are not supposed to view "realistically"; that is, with an eye to expense and practical outcome. In all-out war, expenditure is all-out, unprudent--war being defined as an emergency in which no sacrifice is excessive.

SUSAN SONTAG, AIDS and Its Metaphors

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War was return of earth to ugly earth,
War was foundering of sublimities,
Extinction of each happy art and faith
By which the world had still kept head in air.

ROBERT GRAVES, Recalling War

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War can only be abolished through war ... in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun.

MAO ZEDONG, "Problems of War and Strategy"

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People do not want war. War springs from causes wholly outside the lives, interests, and feelings of the people.

FREDERIC CLEMSON HOWE, Why War

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War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups, and it has existed ever since the emergence of private property and of classes.

MAO ZEDONG, "Problems of Strategy in China's Revolutionary War", December 1936

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Fifteen millions of soldiers with popguns and horses
All bent upon killing, because their "of courses"
Are not quite the same.

AMY LOWELL, "A Ballad of Footmen"

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We don't call war hell because it is fought without restraint. It is more nearly right to say that, when certain restraints are passed, the hellishness of war drives us to break with every remaining restraint in order to win. Here is the ultimate tyranny: those who resist aggression are forced to imitate, and perhaps even to exceed, the brutality of the aggressor.

MICHAEL WALZER, Just and Unjust Wars

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War and culture, those are the two poles of Europe, her heaven and hell, her glory and shame, and they cannot be separated from one another. When one comes to an end, the other will end also and one cannot end without the other. The fact that no war has broken out in Europe for fifty years is connected in some mysterious way with the fact that for fifty years no new Picasso has appeared either.

MILAN KUNDERA, Immortality

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Is war necessary? Can some conflicts only be solved by violence? Human history is indeed often presented as primarily a history of wars and battles, conquests and defeats. While that is only one perspective amongst many possible ones, violence of one sort or another has certainly been, if not centre-stage, at least lurking in the wings throughout the human story. Man (especially Man, but also Woman) clearly has the propensity not only to behave aggressively to other humans but also to do so in an organized way and not infrequently with calculated cruelty.

ROBERT AUBREY HINDE, War: The Bases of Institutionalized Violence

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War is no strife
To the dark house and the detested wife.

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, All's Well That Ends Well

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In the days of peace every precaution should be taken to insure that there are no forces making for war. Just as we now forbid the trafficking in certain drugs, in the sale of poisons, just as we forbid the making of any imprint that suggests a coin or currency, just as experience has demonstrated that men may not make profit out of certain things because of the danger of abuse, so in the gravest of all dangers laws should be passed taking from those who might gain from war or preparations for war every hope that advantage could come to them by such a calamity.

FREDERIC CLEMSON HOWE, Why War

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This is a war universe. War all the time. That is its nature. There may be other universes based on all sorts of other principles, but ours seems to be based on war and games.

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS, "The War Universe"

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For as long as men and women have talked about war, they have talked about it in terms of right and wrong. And for almost as long, some among them have derided such talk, called it a charade, insisted that war lies beyond (or beneath) moral judgment. War is a world apart, where life itself is at stake, where human nature is reduced to its elemental forms, where self-interest and necessity prevail. Here men and women do what they must to save themselves and their communities, and morality and law have no place. Inter arma silent leges: in time of war the law is silent.

MICHAEL WALZER, Just and Unjust Wars

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It is only through an abandonment of the idea that those entrusted with power have an exclusive right to decide upon war, and the substitution of a public opinion equipped with all the facts and taken into the confidence of the ruling classes, that peace can be assured to the world.

FREDERIC CLEMSON HOWE, Why War

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War is a most uneconomical, foolish, poor arrangement, a bloody enrichment of that soil which bears the sweet flower of peace.

M. E. W. SHERWOOD, An Epistle to Posterity

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War had become nothing more than slaughtering soldiers from a safe distance. When this failed to produce victory, civilians too became targeted for annihilation. It took more than a century, two world wars and the invention of the ultimate weapon, the atomic bomb, before the impact of this change started to become fully realized: war had become 'total war'. Warfare in the twentieth century is now an industry. It is bureaucratized, to the extent that its main decisions are being taken anonymously and committed to paper by people far removed from the actual killing zones.

HYLKE TROMP, "On the Nature of War and the Nature of Militarism"

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War never takes a wicked man by chance, the good man always.

SOPHOCLES, Philoctetes

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War is the great scavenger of thought. It is the sovereign disinfectant, and its red stream of blood is the Condy's Fluid that cleans out the stagnant pools and clotted channels of the intellect.... We have awakened from an opium-dream of comfort, of ease, of that miserable poltroonery of "the sheltered life." Our wish for indulgence of every sort, our laxity of manners, our wretched sensitiveness to personal inconvenience, these are suddenly lifted before us in their true guise as the spectres of national decay; and we have risen from the lethargy of our dilettantism to lay them, before it is too late, by the flashing of the unsheathed sword.

EDMUND GOSSE, "War and Literature", Inter Arma

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