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69 observations on war
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Published Tuesday, September 16, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Sep 16 2014

A democracy needs an opposition, especially in time of war, precisely to keep the government honest, and to point to whatever errors (or possible errors) it finds in the government's actions.
-Eugene Volokh

A famous Frenchman once said, War has become far too important to entrust to the generals. Today, business, I think, should be saying: Politics have become far too important to entrust to the politicians.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

A peace which depends upon fear is nothing but a suppressed war.
-Henry van Dyke

After each war there is a little less democracy to save.
-Brooks Atkinson

Against war it may be said that it makes the victor stupid and the vanquished revengeful.
-Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.
-Alexis de Tocqueville

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose-and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
-Abraham Lincoln

And so we went. Young men always go. Always there is another war. Always there are reasons. In the past these were straightforward: lust, booty, excitement, empire, a way to escape the family yurt, sheer joyous combativeness, the king was bored. Not much has changed.
-Fred Reed

At all times, day by day, we have to continue fighting for freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom from want- for these are things that must be gained in peace as well as in war.
-Eleanor Roosevelt

Because we want the peace with half a heart and half a life and will, the war, of course, continues, because the waging of war, by its nature, is total- but the waging of peace, by our own cowardice, is partial.
-Daniel Berrigan

Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of the constitution as a working machine.
-Gore Vidal

Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.
-Donald Rumsfeld

Even a fool could see that one didn't need a war, nuclear or otherwise, to destroy oneself; the rising cost of weaponry could do that quite nicely.
-Stanislaw Lem

Every thinking person fears nuclear war and every technological nation plans for it. Everyone knows it's madness, and every country has an excuse.
-Carl Sagan

Everyone, when there's war in the air, learns to live in a new element: falsehood.
-Jean Giraudoux

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

Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.
-John Adams

He who is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.
-Thomas Paine

I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it.
-Jack Handey

I feel that if any songs are going to come out of World War III, we'd better start writing them now.
-Tom Lehrer

I find war detestable but those who praise it without participating in it even more so.
-Romain Rolland

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
-John Adams

If nations had any sense, they would begin a war by sending their oldest men to the trenches. They would not risk the lives of their young men except in the last extremity.
-George Bernard Shaw

If we don't end war, war will end us.
-H.G. Wells

If we would just take the profit out of war, there wouldn't be any.
-Woody Guthrie

In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
-Leo Tolstoy

In any war, the first casualty is common sense, and the second is free and open discussion.
-James Reston

In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers.
-August Bebel

National security includes schools for our children as well as silos for our missiles. It includes the health of our families as much as the size of our bombs, the safety of our streets, and the condition of our cities, and not just the engines of war. If we some day choke on the pollution of our own air, there will be little consolation in leaving behind a dying continent ringed with steel.
-George McGovern

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.
-Alexis de Tocqueville

Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.
-Herbert Hoover

Only in America would you have a war, get it over with and have all the heroes either be generals or politicians.
-H. Ross Perot

Religious war? Now you're just killing people in an argument over who has the better imaginary friend.
-Richard Jeni

Short of changing human nature, therefore, the only way to achieve a practical, livable peace in a world of competing nations is to take the profit out of war.
-Richard M. Nixon

Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography.
-Paul Rodriguez

Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich.
-Peter Ustinov

Terrorism is what we call the violence of the weak, and we condemn it; war is what we call the violence of the strong, and we glorify it.
-Sydney J. Harris

The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.
-Robert Lynd

The cause of war is preparation for war.
-W.E.B. DuBois

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now- with somebody- and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives. (9/12/2001)
-Hunter S. Thompson

There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult- to begin a war and to end it.
-Alexis de Tocqueville

There can be no lasting peace where hatred exists. Hatreds will continue to arise as long as the causes of war are not rooted out and exposed.
-Henry Ford

There is one rule that works in every calamity. Be it pestilence, war, or famine, the rich get richer and poor get poorer. The poor even help arrange it.
-Will Rogers

There is something inherently wrong, something out of accord with the ideals of representative democracy, when one portion of our citizenship turns its activities to private gain amid defensive war while another is fighting, sacrificing, or dying for national preservation.
-Warren G. Harding

There never was a good war or a bad peace.
-Benjamin Franklin

There will never be a nuclear war. There's too much real estate involved.
-Frank Zappa

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for ones 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

Today the real test of power is not capacity to make war but capacity to prevent it.
-Anne O'Hare McCormick

Today we know that World War II began not in 1939 or 1941 but in the 1920's and 1930's when those who should have known better persuaded themselves that they were not their brother's keeper.
-Hubert H. Humphrey

Usually when a lot of men get together, it's called war.
-Mel Brooks

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

War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen and unsupposed circumstances... that no human wisdom can calculate the end.
-Thomas Paine

War is a great asshole magnet.
-P.J. O'Rourke

War is capitalism with the gloves off and many who go to war know it but they go to war because they don't want to be a hero. It takes courage to sit down and be counted.
-Tom Stoppard

War is evil, but sometimes man has to play with the devil to get rid of him.
-Roy Forquer

War is just one more big government program.
-Joseph Sobran

War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn to live together in peace by killing each other's children.
-Jimmy Carter

War seldom enters but where wealth allures.
-John Dryden

War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands.
-H.L. Mencken

We declared war on terror- it's not even a noun, so, good luck. After we defeat it, I'm sure we'll take on that bastard ennui.
-Jon Stewart

What 'the fog of war' means is: war is so complex it's beyond the ability of the human mind to comprehend all the variables. Our judgment, our understanding, are not adequate. And we kill people unnecessarily.
-Robert S. McNamara

What disqualifies war from being a true game is probably what also disqualifies the stock market and business- the rules are not fully known nor accepted by all the players.
-Marshall McLuhan

What do nations care about the cost of war, if by spending a few hundred millions in steel and gunpowder they can gain a thousand millions in diamonds and cocoa?
-W.E.B. DuBois

When the rich make war it's the poor that die.
-Jean-Paul Sartre

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
-Plato

While we spend much of our time and a great deal of our treasure in preparing for war, we see no comparable effort to establish a lasting peace.
-Walter Cronkite

Why would we go to war on women? They don't have any oil.
-Stephen Colbert

You cannot negotiate peace with people whose power is entirely dependent on the will to wage war.
-Andrew Sullivan

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(September 16 is the birthday of Laurence J. Peter.)


Categories: Quotes on a topic, War


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