War Through the Ages

MOST pieces of opinion printed in these pages are submitted voluntarily by the authors. But from time to time the editors seek out opinion from experts on a particular subject. The following are notations on the subject of war garnered from books of quotations and wisdom in our library. They are distillations of thought, snapshots of insight, taken from speeches, essays, or poetry. Their only commonality is that they have remained provocative through the years.

A Tyrant ... is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.

- Socrates

In war it is not permitted to make two mistakes.

- Plutarch

Dulce bellum inexpertis. War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.

- Erasmus

Every one may begin a war at his pleasure, but cannot so finish it.

- Machiavelli

Can anything be more ridiculous than that a man should have the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of the water, and because his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have none with him?

- Pascal

In peace the sons bury their fathers and in war the fathers bury their sons.

- Francis Bacon

War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, the lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade.

- Shelley

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.

- Alexis de Tocqueville

War hath no fury like a non-combatant.

- C.E. Montague

To delight in war is a merit in the soldier, a dangerous quality in the captain, and a positive crime in the statesman.

- Santayana

It is well that war is so terrible - we would grow too fond of it.

- Robert E. Lee

There never was a time when, in my opinion, some way could not be found to prevent the drawing of the sword.

- Ulysses S. Grant

There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.

- William T. Sherman

There never was a good war or a bad peace.

- Benjamin Franklin

Generals cannot be entrusted with anything - not even with war.

- Georges Clemenceau

In war, only what is simple can succeed.

- Paul von Hindenburg

The military mind always imagines that the next war will be on the same lines as the last. That has never been the case and never will be.

- Ferdinand Foch

Sooner or later every war of trade becomes a war of blood.

- Eugene V. Debs

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

- Rebecca West

In time of war the first casualty is truth.

- Boake Carter

In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.

- Winston Churchill

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 200 limping, exhausted men come out of the line - the survivors of a regiment of a thousand that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Wars are still initiated by a certain type of professional soldier whose ambition it is to act out fantasy scenes from war movies; and they're still fought by very young people who have no more exciting life to lead.

- Joseph Heller

What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?

- Mohandas K. Gandhi

War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.

- Thomas Mann

Peace is when nobody's shooting. A `just peace' is when our side gets what it wants.

- Bill Mauldin

All wars are civil wars. All killing is fratricidal.

- Adlai E. Stevenson

I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

The oil can is mightier than the sword.

- Everett Dirksen

War is fear cloaked in courage.

- William Westmoreland

There are no warlike peoples - just warlike leaders.

- Ralph Bunche

You can't say civilization don't advance ... for in every war they kill you a new way.

You take the diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat immediately.

- Will Rogers

The possibility of war increases in direct proportion to the effectiveness of the instruments of war.

- Norman Cousins

If sunbeams were weapons of war we would have had solar energy long ago.

- Sir George Porter

A man who experiences no genuine satisfaction in life does not want peace. ... Men court war to escape meaninglessness and boredom, to be relieved of fear and frustration.

- Nels F.S. Ferre

In the future no one wins a war. It is true, there are degrees of loss, but no one wins.

- Brock Chisholm

Generals are fascinating cases of arrested development - after all, at five we all of us wanted to be generals.

- Peter Ustinov

Henceforth the adequacy of any military establishment will be tested by its ability to preserve the peace.

- Henry Kissinger

War defined:

The only proper school of the surgeon.

- Hippocrates

A time when the laws are silent.

- Cicero

That mad game the world so loves to play.

- Jonathan Swift

The needy bankrupt's last resort.

- Nicholas Rowe

An effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party.

- Henry David Thoreau

The business of barbarians.

- Napoleon I

Man - arranged for mutual slaughter.

- William Wordsworth

Like children's fights - all meaningless, pitiless, and contemptible.

- Jallaludin Rumi

The best amusement of our morning meal.

- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

That attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood.

- Abraham Lincoln

Men slaying each other like wild beasts.

- Andrew Carnegie

A blood-stained stagger to victory.

- David Lloyd George

A part of a whole, and that whole - politics.

- Nikolai Lenin

A crime. Ask the infantry and ask the dead.

- Ernest Hemingway

War is a transfer of property from nation to nation.

- Leon Samson

The great failure of man.

- Cordell Hull

War is a contagion.

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The most simple affirmation of life. Suppress war, and it would be like trying to suppress the processes of nature.

- Joseph Goebbels

War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it.

- William T. Sherman

(Something that begins) 10 years before the first shot is fired.

- K.K. Casey

The transformation of a man into a thing.

- Simone Weil

The unfolding of miscalculations.

- Barbara Tuchman

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