War Quotes

Learn from Others
War Quotes & Some Peace Quotes too

A-B

“War’s a brain-spattering, windpipe-splitting art” Lord Byron (1788-1824), English Romanticist poet and soldier.

“Why should we hear about body bags, and deaths…I mean, it’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?” Barbara Bush (1925-), daughter of the McCall Corporation and matriarch of the Bush oil family. Mrs. Bush spoke these words on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” March 18, 2003.

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak; and that it is doing God’s service…” John Adams (1735-1826), second US President and Federalist who signed into law four acts designed to crack down on the Jeffersonian political opposition and political immigrants.

“Every man thinks god is on his side” Jean Anouilh (1910-1987), French dramatist.

“The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people” Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), US Supreme Court Justice and Zionist leader.

“Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice” Lord Acton (1834-1902), English historian, a Catholic who denounced the dogma of Papal Infallibility (writing “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”), he supported the American South as a fan of the principle of State’s Rights.

“My theory is, strong people don’t need strong leaders” Ella Baker (1903-1986), leading American Civil Rights and human rights activist.

“History is replete with examples of empires mounting impressive military campaigns on the cusp of their impending economic collapse” Eric Alterman (1960-), liberal journalist.

“It is always easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them” Alfred Adler (1870-1937), Austrian-Jewish psychoanalyst who focused on the role of social equality.

“Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than about peace, more about killing than we know about living” General Omar N. Bradley (1893-1981), who came from a working class background, was famous for his status-blind courteousness and gentleness, and his improvement of the Veteran’s Administration health care system and making education benefits accessible to veterans.

“If you live long enough, you’ll see that every victory turns into a defeat” Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), French existentialist and feminist philosopher-author.

C

“It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners” Albert Camus (1913-1960), French philosopher-author, member of the French Resistance in WWII.

“My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military” General Smedley Butler (USMC, Ret.).

“War is the tool of small-minded scoundrels who worship the death of others on the altar of their greed” John Cory, decorated Vietnam veteran and American writer.

“Our enemies…never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we” George W. Bush, POTUS (2000-2008), son of political oil family.

“During war, the laws are silent” Quintus Tullius Cicero (102 BC-43BC), a Roman military leader known for his impulsive cruelty and honesty.

“Wars frequently begin ten years before the first shot is fired” Major K. K. V. Casey (-1938), Olympic rifleman and Director of Military Sales at DuPont.

“The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media”
William Colby (1920-1996), quoted by Dave McGowan in his book Derailing Democracy. Although as a CIA operative he supported anti-Communist parties in Europe and attempted to quell Communist insurgency in Vietnam, because Colby cooperated with Congress as CIA Director (1973-1975), President Ford and Henry Kissinger quickly replaced him with political oilman G.H.W. Bush.

“To some degree it matters who’s in office, but it matters more how much pressure they’re under from the public” Noam Chomsky (1928-), American linguist and intellectual, member of the International Workers of the World (IWW).

“We cloak ourselves in cold indifference to the unnecessary suffering of others–even when we cause it” James Carroll (1950-) author and punk musician.

“It takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man; it only takes twenty seconds of war to destroy him” King Baudouin I of Belgium (1930-1993), who reigned over a country riven by ethnic (Flemings and Walloons) and linguistic differences.

“I guess every generation is doomed to fight its war…suffer the loss of the same old illusions, and learn the same old lessons on its own” Phillip Caputo (1941-), Vietnam veteran and American journalist.

“War is eternity jammed into frantic minutes that will fill a lifetime with dreams and nightmares” John Cory, decorated Vietnam veteran and American writer.

D-F

“At least we’re getting the kind of experience we need for the next war” Allen Dulles (1893-1969), corporate lawyer and CIA Director (1953-1961) during the Vietnam War.

“Wars are not paid for in wartime. The bill comes later” Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), American Utilitarian and liberal Enlightenment polymath.

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex” Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969), General of the US Army in WWII and a popular two-time US President (1953-61). As the first Republican POTUS in decades, Eisenhower added references to God in the US Pledge of Allegiance and the currency motto, launched the US Interstate Highway System, and proclaimed the Eisenhower Doctrine, which committed the US to attacking “communists” in the Middle East.

“We are always moving forward with high mission, a destiny imposed by the Diety to regenerate our victims while incidentally capturing their markets, to civilise savage and senile and paranoid peoples while blundering accidentally into their oil wells” John T. Flynn (1882-1964), American libertarian, anti-militarist journalist.

“The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust [our own] government statements” Senator James W. Fulbright (1905-1995), multilateralist, opponent of Joe McCarthy and right-wing radicalism, and an early target of Zionists, he wrote The Arrogance of Power (1966).

“Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing” Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969).

“Peace cannot be kept by force. It can only be achieved by understanding” Albert Einstein (1879-1955), German-Jewish physics genius and socialist.

“Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war” Albert Einstein (1879-1955).

G-I

“A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves” German proverb.

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it” Adolph Hitler (1889-1945), WWI veteran, who engineered the rise of fascist power in Germany, imperialism, and genocides upon a foundation of scapegoating communists and Jews, suspending habeas corpus, combining legislative and executive power, and expanding debt and the military.

“But after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it’s always a
simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. This is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are
being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and for exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country” Hermann Goering (1893-1946), Hitler’s Reich Marshall, at the Nuremberg Trials after World War II.

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play” Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda (1933-1945), Germany.

“One reason the United States finds itself at the edge of a foreign policy disaster is its underinformed citizenry, a key weakness in democracy” Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke, America Alone: The Neoconservatives and the Global Order (2004). Halper was a decorated Republican official; he now is an academic in Britain.

“Those who stand for nothing fall for anything” Alexander Hamilton (175X-1807), elitist, Federalist, liberal American political economist, first US Secretary of the Treasury.

“Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood” Mahatma Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), lawyer, human rights and civil rights organizer, and political and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement, he pioneered Satyagraha, resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience.

“Killing a man in defense of an idea is not defending an idea; it is killing a man” Jean-Luc Godard (1930-), French New Wave filmmaker.

“Every politician in the world is all for revolution, reason, and disarmament–but only in enemy countries, not in his own” Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) German-Swiss Nobel Laureate author who explored the quest-for-enlightenment theme.

“Peace has its victories no less than war, but it doesn’t have as many monuments to unveil” Kin Hubbard (1868-1930), American cartoonist.

“The coward threatens when he is safe” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German writer and polymath.

J-L

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did” C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), Irish Christian writer.

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), American reverend, activist, and civil rights leader, for which he won a Nobel Peace Prize. King’s efforts were focused on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War when he was assassinated.

“Those who do not move, do not notice their chains” Rosa Luxemburg (187X-1919), German Jewish Marxist theorist and revolutionary. Luxemburg was tortured and killed by right-wing militias and the monarchist army.

“We have guided missiles and misguided men” Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1969).

“What a cruel thing is war…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 (1807-1870), slaver, engineer, and soldier, he led the Confederate Army in the American Civil War.

“The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government” Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).

“I hate it when they say, ‘He gave his life for his country.’ They don’t die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them” Admiral Gene R. LaRocque (1918-), WWII veteran, disillusioned by Vietnam War, LaRocque started the Center for Defense Information opposing excessive military spending, nuclear war, and militarism.

“Mankind deserves sacrifice – but not of mankind” Stanislaw Jerzy Lec (1909-1966), Polish-Jewish aristocrat, concentration camp escapee, and author.

“Violence is an admission that one’s ideas and goals cannot prevail on their own merits” Edward M. Kennedy (1932-), Democrat Senator from Massachusetts.

“What political leaders decide, intelligence services tend to seek to justify” Henry Kissinger (1923-), Diplomacy: 303. Kissinger played a dominant role in US foreign policy between 1969 and 1977, when the US courted China and Pakistan in order to pressure the USSR, and supported many murderous right-wing military coups and dictatorships in South America, Africa and East Asia as well. Today Kissinger is involved in many corporations, including the media and a military contractor, and enjoys a Georgetown University appointment.

“The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force” Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), third POTUS, Enlightenment political philosopher, polymath.

“It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it” Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968).

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie: deliberate, continued, and dishonest; but the myth: persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic” John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), 35th POTUS, son of anticommunist political business family, WWII veteran, responsible for Bay of Pigs, Vietnam War.

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace” John Lennon (1940-1980), rock star, enemy of Nixon Administration.

M-O

“To wage war, you need first of all money; second, you need money, and third, you also need money” Raimondo Montecuccoli (160X-1680), Italian professional general.

“I went into the Army believing that if you want peace you must prepare for war. I now believe that if you prepare thoroughly for war you will get it” Sir John Frederick Maurice (1841-1912), English soldier.
“Our country is now geared to an arms economy bred in an artificually induced psychosis of war hysteria and an incessant propaganda of fear” General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), prosecuted the US war against the Filipinos, occupied Veracruz during the Mexican Revolution, and led the US army in WWI, WWII, Korean War.

“Dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify” Gerard K. O’Neill (1927-1992) American physicist.

“It’s quite fun to fight ’em, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up front with you, I like brawling” General James Mattis (birth unknown, living), USMC, 2005. Mattis has lead the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is portrayed by Harrison Ford in one of the war movies featuring Mattis.

“War is wretched beyond description, and only a fool or a fraud could sentimentalize its cruel reality” Arizona Senator John McCain (1936-), shot down while bombing in Vietnam, captured and tortured between 1967 and 1973.

“Misery, mutilation, destruction, terror, starvation and death characterize the process of war and form a principal part of the product” Lewis Mumford (1895-1990), Technics and Civilization (1934).

“We have all taken risks in the making of war. Isn’t it time that we should take risks to secure peace?” Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937), British Labour Prime Minister.

“Military justice is to justice what military music is to music” Groucho Marx (1890-1977), American comedian.

“The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature” James Madison (1751-1836), fourth POTUS (1809-1817), author of the Federalist Papers and father of the pluralist interpretation of American politics, slaver, Madison temporarily parted with the Federalists, and then after his War of 1812 supported expanded federal government powers.

“In the eyes of empire builders men are not men but instruments” Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), overthrew the French Republic, crowned himself emporer, and turned the French army against all of Europe, until he went for Russia, where his army was wrecked.

P-R

“This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector” Plato (42X-34X BC), elitist classical Greek philosopher from Athens, pupil of Socrates.

“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors” Plato (42X-34X BC).

“There will be no peace…The de facto role of the US armed forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing” Ralph Peters (1952-) “Constant Conflict”, US Army Lieutenant Colonel (retired 1998), writer, supporter of War on Iraq.

“Make wars unprofitable and you make them impossible” A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979), American Civil Rights leader and labor organizer.

“War does not determine who is right, only who is left” Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British liberal philosopher, logician and pacifist.

“I learned nothing from war. War is not an activity for human beings; war is for criminals—rape, robbery and murder” Roman Podobedov (1920-2003), Russian anti-tank gunner, artist.

“Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war” Donald Rumsfeld (1932-), US businessman and political leader, founder of neocon Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Secretary of Defense during Ford (1975-1977) and Bush (2001-2006) administrations, strategic advisor to Saddam Hussein (1983-1984), and an architect of breaking the Geneva Convention.

“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way” Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd POTUS (1933-1945), created the New Deal.

“Putting aside all the fancy words and academic doubletalk, the basic reason for having a military is to do two jobs –to kill people and to destroy” General Thomas S. Power (1905-), WWII veteran and a proponent of nuking Cuba, he also complained to the 1962 Senate Defense Committee, “Restraint? Why are you so concerned with saving their lives? The whole idea is to kill the bastards. At the end of the war if there are two Americans and one Russian left alive, we win.”

“I want to scare the hell out of the rest of the world” General Colin Powell (1937-), widely-respected, retired US Army General and Secretary of State (2000-2004), whitewashed MaiLai Massacre (Vietnam, 1968) and Jenin Massacre (West Bank, 2002), lied to UN (2003) to generate support for War on Iraq, Afghanistan.

“You cannot be on one hand dedicated to peace and on the other dedicated to violence. Those two things are irreconcilable” Condoleeza Rice, trying to convince Russia, the EU, and the UN to stop aid to the new Hamas Palestinian government, 1/30/06. Rice (1954-) is US Secretary of State.

“The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments” Michael Parenti (1933-), American political scientist and historian.

“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers” Thomas Pynchon (1937-), American writer.

S-T

“Criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government” Robert Taft (1889-1953), conservative Senator from the prominent political Taft family of Ohio, he led the successful Senate effort to decimate American labor.

“During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism” Howard Thurman (1899-1981), American theologian and Civil Rights leader.

“Anyone who has proclaimed violence his method inexorably must choose lying as his principle” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), dissident-author who received a Nobel in Literature for his writings on his experience in the Soviet prison system.

“The statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is being attacked, and every man will be glad of these conscience-soothing falsities” Mark Twain (1835-1910), American author.

“To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace,” attributed to the Celtic Chief Calgacus (circa AD 83) by Roman historian Tacitus, in Agricola (98 BC).

“The worst crimes were dared by a few, willed by more, and tolerated by all” Tacitus (56-117 BC), senator and historian of the Roman Empire.

“We first fought…in the name of religion, then Communism, and now in the name of drugs and terrorism. Our excuses for global domination always change” Serj Tankian (1967-), American musician and activist.

“The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.” George Santayana (1863-1952) conservative Spanish-American writer.

“We believed ourselves indestructible… watching only the madmen outside our frontiers, and we remained defenseless against our own madmen” Jacobo Timerman (1923-1999), Argentine journalist tortured by dictator Jorge Rafael Videla’s military.

U-Z

“The great error of nearly all studies of war… has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics” Simone Weil (1909-1943) French intellectual, syndicalist, pacifist, and mystic.

“Only the winners decide what were war crimes” Gary Wills (1934-), conservative American writer.

“Peace hath higher tests of manhood than battle ever knew” John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), Quaker (slavery) abolitionist and poet.

“Vietnam was the first war ever fought without censorship. Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind” William Westmoreland (1914-2005), American General who commanded military operations in the war against the Vietnamese.

“Whether or not patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, national security can be the last refuge of the tyrant” Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe (1938-), British Law Lord.

“Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich” Sir Peter Ustinov (1921-2004), English actor and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

“A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it” Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), gay British writer, ethicist, wit, and aesthete.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” Voltaire (1694-1778), French Enlightenment writer-philosopher.

“Historically, the most terrible things–war, genocide and slavery–have resulted from obedience, not disobedience” Howard Zinn (1922-), American historian.

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