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Quotations about War

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Give me the money that has been spent in war and I will clothe every man, woman, and child in an attire of which kings and queens will be proud.  I will build a schoolhouse in every valley over the whole earth.  I will crown every hillside with a place of worship consecrated to peace.  ~Charles Sumner

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.  ~Bertrand Russell

It'll be a great day when education gets all the money it wants and the Air Force has to hold a bake sale to buy bombers.  ~Author unknown, quoted in You Said a Mouthful edited by Ronald D. Fuchs

I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, "Mother, what was war?"  ~Eve Merriam

The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking... the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind.  If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.  ~Albert Einstein

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.  ~David Friedman

"There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes.  ~James Morrow

Sometimes I think it should be a rule of war that you have to see somebody up close and get to know him before you can shoot him.  ~M*A*S*H, Colonel Potter

All the arms we need are for hugging.  ~Author Unknown

A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.  ~Napoleon

If we do not end war - war will end us.  Everybody says that, millions of people believe it, and nobody does anything.  ~H.G. Wells, Things to Come (the "film story"), Part III, adapted from his 1933 novel The Shape of Things to Come, spoken by the character John Cabal (Thanks Bill!)

A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.  ~German Proverb

The world has achieved brilliance without wisdom, power without conscience.  Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants.  We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.  ~Omar Bradley

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.  This world in arms is not spending money alone.  It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.  This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.  Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower, speech, American Society of Newspaper Editors, 16 April 1953

The most persistent sound which reverberates through men's history is the beating of war drums.  ~Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up

What a cruel thing is war:  to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world.  ~Robert E. Lee, letter to his wife, 1864

Everyone's a pacifist between wars.  It's like being a vegetarian between meals.  ~Colman McCarthy

Nations have recently been led to borrow billions for war; no nation has ever borrowed largely for education.  Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization.  We must make our choice; we cannot have both.  ~Abraham Flexner

Draft beer, not people.  ~Attributed to Bob Dylan

The problem in defense is how far you can go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.  ~John F. Kennedy

In Flanders fields the poppies grow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
~John McCrae

What this planet needs is more mistletoe and less missile-talk.  ~Author Unknown

Join the Army, see the world, meet interesting people - and kill them. ~Pacifist Badge, 1978

Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.  ~Ernest Hemingway

War makes thieves and peace hangs them.  ~George Herbert

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.  ~Jeanette Rankin

You are not going to get peace with millions of armed men.  The chariot of peace cannot advance over a road littered with cannon.  ~David Lloyd George

Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.  ~Carl Sandburg

In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.  ~José Narosky

We kind o' thought Christ went agin war an' pillage.  ~James Russell Lowell

If we let people see that kind of thing, there would never again be any war.  ~Pentagon official explaining why the U.S. military censored graphic footage from the Gulf War

I have no doubt that we will be successful in harnessing the sun's energy.... If sunbeams were weapons of war, we would have had solar energy centuries ago.  ~Sir George Porter, quoted in The Observer, 26 August 1973

War would end if the dead could return.  ~Stanley Baldwin

War! that mad game the world so loves to play.  ~Jonathan Swift

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.  ~Voltaire, War

We need a new law that owners of SUVs are automatically in the military reserve.  Then they can go get their own goddamn oil.  ~Jello Biafra, quoted in The Guardian, 3 November 2007

If it's natural to kill, why do men have to go into training to learn how?  ~Joan Baez, "What Would You Do If....?"

I couldn't help but say to [Mr. Gorbachev], just think how easy his task and mine might be in these meetings that we held if suddenly there was a threat to this world from another planet.  [We'd] find out once and for all that we really are all human beings here on this earth together.  ~Ronald Reagan, 1985

[John] Dalton's records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester.  It is not only the living who are killed in war.  ~Isaac Asimov

The tragedy of war is that it uses man's best to do man's worst.  ~Henry Fosdick

All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.  In my opinion, there never was a good war or a bad peace.  When will mankind be convinced and agree to settle their difficulties by arbitration?  ~Benjamin Franklin

In war, truth is the first casualty.  ~Aeschylus  (Thanks, Dan)

Men are at war with each other because each man is at war with himself.  ~Francis Meehan

Only the dead have seen the end of war.  ~Plato

No country is so wild and difficult but men will make it a theater of war.  ~Ambrose Bierce

War grows out of the desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man.  ~Napoleon Hill

We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.  ~Jeane J. Kirkpatrick

Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War.  He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind.  He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man" - with his mouth.  ~Mark Twain

Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.  ~Bertrand Russell, attributed

It doesn't require any particular bravery to stand on the floor of the Senate and urge our boys in Vietnam to fight harder, and if this war mushrooms into a major conflict and a hundred thousand young Americans are killed, it won't be U.S. Senators who die.  It will be American soldiers who are too young to qualify for the Senate.  ~George McGovern

I'm fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.  ~George McGovern

When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die.  ~Jean-Paul Sartre

The release of atomic energy has not created a new problem.  It has merely made more urgent the necessity of solving an existing one.  ~Albert Einstein, "Atomic War or Peace," Atlantic Monthly, November 1945

You cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time.  ~Albert Einstein

We kill because we are afraid of our own shadow, afraid that if we used a little common sense we'd have to admit that our glorious principles were wrong.  ~Henry Miller, The Wisdom of the Heart, 1941

The refuge of the morally, intellectually, artistically and economically bankrupt is war.  ~Martin H. Fischer

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country.  But in modern war there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying.  You will die like a dog for no good reason.  ~Ernest Hemingway

The ability and inclination to use physical strength is no indication of bravery or tenacity to life.  The greatest cowards are often the greatest bullies.  Nothing is cheaper and more common than physical bravery.  ~Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

Where is the indignation about the fact that the United States and Soviet Union have accumulated thirty thousand pounds of destructive force for every human being in the world?  ~Norman Cousins

I think war might be God's way of teaching us geography.  ~Paul Rodriguez

The era of true peace on earth will not come as long as a tremendous percentage of your taxes goes to educate men in the trades of slaughter.  ~Reginald Wright Kauffman

Are bombs the only way of setting fire to the spirit of a people?  Is the human will as inert as the past two world-wide wars would indicate?  ~Gregory Clark

The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.  ~Omar Bradley

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

We have failed to grasp the fact that mankind is becoming a single unit, and that for a unit to fight against itself is suicide.  ~Havelock Ellis

Have not I myself known five hundred living soldiers sabred into crows' meat for a piece of glazed cotton, which they call their flag; which had you sold it at any market-cross, would not have brought above three groschen?  ~Thomas Carlyle, "Sartor Resartus"

The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.  ~John F. Kennedy

War is the only game in which it doesn't pay to have the home-court advantage.  ~Dick Motta

If it were proved to me that in making war, my ideal had a chance of being realized, I would still say "no" to war.  For one does not create a human society on mounds of corpses.  ~Louis Lecoin

War is fear cloaked in courage.  ~William Westmoreland

War has a deeper and more ineffable relation to hidden grandeurs in man than has yet been deciphered.  ~Thomas de Quincey

No country can act wisely simultaneously in every part of the globe at every moment of time.  ~Henry Kissinger

Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.  ~Gandhi, Non-violence in Peace and War, 1948

I would like it if men had to partake in the same hormonal cycles to which we're subjected monthly.  Maybe that's why men declare war - because they have a need to bleed on a regular basis.  ~Brett Butler

We saw the lightning and that was the guns and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.  ~Harriet Tubman

It is easier to lead men to combat, stirring up their passions, than to restrain them and direct them toward the patient labors of peace.  ~André Gide, Journals, 13 September 1938

Battles, in these ages, are transacted by mechanism; with the slightest possible development of human individuality or spontaneity; men now even die, and kill one another, in an artificial manner.  ~Thomas Carlyle, The French Revolution, vol 1, book VII, chapter 4

The military don't start wars.  Politicians start wars.  ~William Westmoreland

I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.  ~Ulysses S. Grant

We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower

In the name of peace
They waged the wars
Ain't they got no shame
~Nikki Giovanni

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.  ~Author Unknown

What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.  ~Aldous Huxley

Man has no right to kill his brother.  It is no excuse that he does so in uniform:  he only adds the infamy of servitude to the crime of murder.  ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, "A Declaration of Rights"

Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private individuals.  ~Joseph Heller, Catch-22, 1955

To kill a man is not to defend a doctrine, but to kill a man.  ~Michael Servetus

A day will come when a cannon will be exhibited in museums, just as instruments of torture are now, and the people will be astonished that such a thing could have been.  ~Victor Hugo

Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.  ~Otto Von Bismark

The draft is white people sending black people to fight yellow people to protect the country they stole from red people.  ~Gerome Gragni and James Rado, 1967

War hath no fury like a noncombatant.  ~Charles Edward Montague, Disenchantment

What a country calls its vital... interests are not things that help its people live, but things that help it make war.  Petroleum is a more likely cause of international conflict than wheat.  ~Simone Weil, Ecrits historiques et politiques, 1960

War is never a solution; it is an aggravation.  ~Benjamin Disraeli

The stench of the trail of Ego in our History.  It is ego - ego, the fountain cry, origin, sole source of war.  ~George Meredith, Beauchamp's Career

Dress it as we may, feather it, daub it with gold, huzza it, and sing swaggering songs about it, what is war, nine times out of ten, but murder in uniform?  ~Douglas Jerrold

If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons.  ~Pope John Paul II

Law never made men a whit more just; and by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice.  A common and natural result of an undue respect for law is that you may see a file of soldiers, colonel, captain, corporal, privates, powder-monkeys, and all marching in admirable order over hill and dale to the wars, against their wills, ay, against their common sense and consciences, which makes it very steep marching indeed, and produces a palpitation of the heart.  They have no doubt that it is a damnable business in which they are concerned; they are all peaceably inclined.  Now, what are they?  Men at all? or small movable forts and magazines, at the service of some unscrupulous man in power?  The mass of men serve the State thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.... In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well.  ~Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

Older men declare war.  But it is the youth that must fight and die.  ~Herbert Hoover

A day of battle is a day of harvest for the devil.  ~William Hooke

There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.  ~Havelock Ellis

All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers.  ~François Fénelon

War should belong to the tragic past, to history:  it should find no place on humanity's agenda for the future.  ~Pope John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla)

Men were made for war.  Without it they wandered greyly about, getting under the feet of the women, who were trying to organize the really important things of life.  ~Alice Thomas Ellis

Will... the threat of common extermination continue?... Must children receive the arms race from us as a necessary inheritance?  ~Pope John Paul II, speech at the UN, 1979

War is nothing less than a temporary repeal of the principles of virtue.  It is a system out of which almost all the virtues are excluded, and in which nearly all the vices are included.  ~Robert Hall

Traditional nationalism cannot survive the fissioning of the atom.  One world or none.  ~Stuart Chase

Wars usually have the effect of speeding up the process of history.  ~Pieter Geyl, Debates With Historians

Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?  ~Holly Near

The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service.  ~Albert Einstein

O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it.  ~Mark Twain, "The War Prayer"

The death of one man is a tragedy.  The death of millions is a statistic.  ~Joe Stalin, comment to Churchill at Potsdam, 1945

Men like war: they do not hold much sway over birth, so they make up for it with death.  Unlike women, men menstruate by shedding other people's blood.  ~Lucy Ellman

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.  The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.  The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.  ~John Stewart Mill

The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them long for it.  ~Louis Simpson

The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.  ~George Patton

The expendability factor has increased by being transferred from the specialised, scarce and expensively trained military personnel to the amorphous civilian population.  American strategists have calculated the proportion of civilians killed in this century's major wars.  In the First World War 5 per cent of those killed were civilians, in the Second World War 48 per cent, while in a Third World War 90-95 per cent would be civilians.  ~Colin Ward, Anarchy in Action

You can't say civilization don't advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.  ~Will Rogers, New York Times, 23 December 1929

Organized slaughter, we realize, does not settle a dispute; it merely silences an argument.  ~James Frederick Green

I recoil with horror at the ferociousness of man.  Will nations never devise a more rational umpire of differences than force?  Are there no means of coercing injustice more gratifying to our nature than a waste of the blood of thousands and of the labor of millions of our fellow creatures?  ~Thomas Jefferson

War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.  ~Charles Evans Hughes

War is a game which were their subjects wise, kings would not play at.  ~William Cowper

Borders are scratched across the hearts of men
By strangers with a calm, judicial pen,
And when the borders bleed we watch with dread
The lines of ink across the map turn red.
~Marya Mannes, Subverse: Rhymes for Our Times, 1959

War is not an adventure.  It is a disease.  It is like typhus.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

They should pick a dry year to fight the war.  Better yet, civilize the moronic races and have no wars at all.  ~Clair J. Clark, letter to wife, March 1944

I don't know whether war is an interlude during peace, or peace an interlude during war.  ~Georges Clemenceau

As long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of exalted characters.  ~Edward Gibbon

There's a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried.  The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other.  I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves.  But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn't a forest but an orchard of graves.  Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature.  ~Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

War!  When I but think of this word, I feel bewildered, as though they were speaking to me of sorcery, of the Inquisition, of a distant, finished, abominable, monstrous, unnatural thing.  When they speak to us of cannibals, we smile proudly, as we proclaim our superiority to these savages.  Who are the real savages?  Those who struggle in order to eat those whom they vanquish, or those who struggle merely to kill?  ~Guy de Maupassant, Sur l'Eau

The bomb that fell on Hiroshima fell on America too.  It fell on no city, no munition plants, no docks.  It erased no church, vaporized no public buildings, reduced no man to his atomic elements.  But it fell, it fell.  ~Hermann Hagedorn, "The Bomb That Fell on America"

I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates, for the undying hatreds it arouses, for the dictatorships it puts in the place of democracies, and for the starvation that stalks after it.  I hate war, and never again will I sanction or support another.  ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

It seems like such a terrible shame that innocent civilians have to get hurt in wars, otherwise combat would be such a wonderfully healthy way to rid the human race of unneeded trash.  ~Fred Woodworth

In an incredible perversion of justice, former soldiers who sprayed festeringly poisonous chemicals on Vietnam, and now find today that they themselves have been damaged by them, appeal to the people for sympathy and charity.  The effects of the defoliant "Agent Orange" are discussed at length, but not one single newspaper article or hearing that we are aware of has even mentioned the effects of the people who still live in those regions of Vietnam.  It's as outlandish as if Nazis who gassed Jews were now to come forward and whine that the poisons they utilized had finally made them sick.  The staggering monstrousness goes unlaughed at and even unnoticed, as in a Kafka novel.  ~Fred Woodworth, The Match, No. 79

A visitor from Mars could easily pick out the civilized nations.  They have the best implements of war.  ~Herbert V. Prochnow

Studies by Medical Corps psychiatrists of combat fatigue cases... found that fear of killing, rather than fear of being killed, was the most common cause of battle failure, and that fear of failure ran a strong second.  ~S.L.A. Marshall

You're an old-timer if you can remember when setting the world on fire was a figure of speech.  ~Franklin P. Jones, referring to the atomic bomb

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Last modified 2008 Nov 28 Fri 13:35 PST

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