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date: 25 May 2024


  1. We make war that we may live in peace.
    Aristotle 384–322 bc Greek philosopher: Nicomachean Ethics bk. 10, 1177b 5–6 (tr. M. Ostwald); see Vegetius
  2. battle, n. A method of untying with the teeth a political knot that would not yield to the tongue.
    Ambrose Bierce 1842–c.1914 American writer: The Cynic's Word Book (1906)
  3. In war there is no second prize for the runner-up.
    Omar Bradley 1893–1981 American general: in Military Review February 1950
  4. War always finds a way.
    Bertolt Brecht 1898–1956 German dramatist: Mother Courage (1939)
  5. In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers.
    Neville Chamberlain 1869–1940 British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1937–40: speech at Kettering, 3 July 1938, in Times 4 July 1938
  6. In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill.
    Winston Churchill 1874–1965 British Conservative statesman, Prime Minister 1940–5, 1951–5: The Second World War vol. 1 (1948) epigraph, which according to Edward Marsh in A Number of People (1939), occurred to Churchill shortly after the conclusion of the First World War
  7. The sinews of war, unlimited money.
    Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero) 106–43 bc Roman orator and statesman: Fifth Philippic ch. 5
  8. Laws are silent in time of war.
    Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero) 106–43 bc Roman orator and statesman: Pro Milone ch. 11
  9. Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult. These difficulties accumulate and produce a friction which no man can imagine exactly who has not seen war.
    Karl von Clausewitz 1780–1831 Prussian soldier and military theorist: On War (1832–4) bk. 1, ch. 7, tr. J. J. Graham
  10. War is nothing but a continuation of politics with the admixture of other means.
    commonly rendered as ‘War is the continuation of politics by other means’
    Karl von Clausewitz 1780–1831 Prussian soldier and military theorist: On War (1832–4) bk. 8, ch. 6, sect. B
  11. War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men.
    Georges Clemenceau 1841–1929 French statesman, Prime Minister of France 1906–9, 1917–20: attributed to Clemenceau, but also to Briand and Talleyrand; see de Gaulle
  12. 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 labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower 1890–1969 American Republican statesman, 34th President 1953–61: speech in Washington, 16 April 1953, in Public Papers of Presidents 1953 (1960)
  13. War's tragedy is that it uses man's best to do man's worst.
    Harry Emerson Fosdick 1878–1969 American Baptist minister: On Being Fit to Live With (1946)
  14. There never was a good war, or a bad peace.
    Benjamin Franklin 1706–90 American politician, inventor, and scientist: letter to Josiah Quincy, 11 September 1783
  15. 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 or democracy?
    Mahatma Gandhi 1869–1948 Indian statesman: Non-Violence in Peace and War (1942) vol. 1, ch. 142
  16. Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
    You'd treat if met where any bar is,
    Or help to half-a-crown.
    Thomas Hardy 1840–1928 English novelist and poet: ‘The Man he Killed’ (1909)
  17. War is hell, and all that, but it has a good deal to recommend it. It wipes out all the small nuisances of peace-time.
    Ian Hay 1876–1952 Scottish novelist and dramatist: The First Hundred Thousand (1915)
  18. War is the father of all and the king of all.
    Heraclitus c.540–c.480 bc Greek philosopher: On the Universe fragment 44
  19. In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children.
    Herodotus c.485–c.425 bc Greek historian: Histories bk. 1 sect. 87
  20. During the time men live without a common power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war; and such a war as is of every man against every man.
    Thomas Hobbes 1588–1679 English philosopher: Leviathan (1651) pt. 1, ch. 13
  21. Force, and fraud, are in war the two cardinal virtues.
    Thomas Hobbes 1588–1679 English philosopher: Leviathan (1651) pt. 1, ch. 13
  22. Older men declare war. But it is youth who must fight and die.
    Herbert Hoover 1874–1964 American Republican statesman, 31st President 1929–33: speech at the Republican National Convention, Chicago, 27 June 1944, in Addresses upon the American Road (1946)
  23. Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.
    John F. Kennedy 1917–63 American Democratic statesman, 35th President 1961–3: speech to United Nations General Assembly, 25 September 1961, in New York Times 26 September 1961
  24. The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose.
    Henry Kissinger 1923–  American politician: in Foreign Affairs January 1969
  25. It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it.
    Robert E. Lee 1807–70 American Confederate general: after the battle of Fredericksburg, December 1862, attributed
  26. I have never met anyone who wasn't against war. Even Hitler and Mussolini were, according to themselves.
    David Low 1891–1963 British political cartoonist: in New York Times Magazine 10 February 1946
  27. He knew that the essence of war is violence, and that moderation in war is imbecility.
    Thomas Babington Macaulay 1800–59 English politician and historian: Essays Contributed to the Edinburgh Review (1843) vol. 1 ‘John Hampden’
  28. Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.
    Niccolò Machiavelli 1469–1527 Italian political philosopher and Florentine statesman: History of Florence (1521–4)
  29. There are not fifty ways of fighting, there's only one, and that's to win. Neither revolution nor war consists in doing what one pleases.
    André Malraux 1901–76 French novelist, essayist, and art critic: L'Espoir (1937)
  30. Strategy is a system of expedients; it is more than a mere scholarly discipline.
    Helmuth von Moltke 1800–91 Prussian military commander: D. J. Hughes (ed.) Moltke on the Art of War (1993) ch. 3
  31. War is a necessary part of God's arrangement of the world…Without war the world would deteriorate into materialism.
    Helmuth von Moltke 1800–91 Prussian military commander: letter to Dr J. K. Bluntschli, 11 December 1880
  32. Rule 1, on page 1 of the book of war, is: ‘Do not march on Moscow’…[Rule 2] is: ‘Do not go fighting with your land armies in China.’
    Lord Montgomery of Alamein 1887–1976 British field marshal: speech, House of Lords, 30 May 1962
  33. In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.
    Napoleon I 1769–1821 French monarch, emperor 1804–15: ‘Observations sur les affaires d'Espagne, Saint-Cloud, 27 août 1808’
  34. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.
    George Orwell 1903–50 English novelist: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) pt. 1, ch. 1
  35. The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.
    George Orwell 1903–50 English novelist: in Polemic May 1946 ‘Second Thoughts on James Burnham’
  36. My subject is War, and the pity of War.
    The Poetry is in the pity.
    Wilfred Owen 1893–1918 English poet: Preface (written 1918) in Poems (1963)
  37. History is littered with the wars which everybody knew would never happen.
    Enoch Powell 1912–98 British Conservative politician: speech to the Conservative Party Conference, 19 October 1967
  38. 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 line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 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 1882–1945 American Democratic statesman, 32nd President 1933–45: speech at Chautauqua, NY, 14 August 1936
  39. Little girl…Sometime they'll give a war and nobody will come.
    Carl Sandburg 1878–1967 American poet: The People, Yes (1936); see McGuire and Captain, Ginsberg
  40. There is many a boy here to-day who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell.
    William Tecumseh Sherman 1820–91 American Union general: speech at Columbus, Ohio, 11 August 1880, in Lloyd Lewis Sherman, Fighting Prophet (1932)
  41. 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.
    Tom Stoppard 1937–  British dramatist: Travesties (1975)
  42. Waste of Blood, and waste of Tears,
    Waste of youth's most precious years,
    Waste of ways the saints have trod,
    Waste of Glory, waste of God,
    G. A. Studdert Kennedy 1883–1929 British poet: More Rough Rhymes of a Padre by ‘Woodbine Willie’ (1919) ‘Waste’
  43. Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be defeated.
    Sun Tzu fl. c.400–320 bc Chinese general and military theorist: The Art of War ch. 3
  44. To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
    Sun Tzu fl. c.400–320 bc Chinese general and military theorist: The Art of War ch. 3
  45. Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their dead grip and Germans, no less than other peoples, prepare for the last war.
    Barbara W. Tuchman 1912–89 American writer: August 1914 (1962)
  46. God is on the side not of the heavy battalions, but of the best shots.
    Voltaire 1694–1778 French writer and philosopher: ‘The Piccini Notebooks’ (c.1735–50) in T. Besterman (ed.) Voltaire's Notebooks (2nd ed., 1968) vol. 2; see Bussy-Rabutin
  47. Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.
    Duke of Wellington 1769–1852 British soldier and statesman: in Diary of Frances, Lady Shelley 1787–1817 (ed. R. Edgcumbe, 1912) vol. 1
  48. All the business of war, and indeed all the business of life, is to endeavour to find out what you don't know by what you do; that's what I called ‘guessing what was at the other side of the hill’.
    Duke of Wellington 1769–1852 British soldier and statesman: in The Croker Papers (1885) vol. 3 ch. 28
  49. Once lead this people into war and they will forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance.
    Woodrow Wilson 1856–1924 American Democratic statesman, 28th President 1913–21: John Dos Passos Mr Wilson's War (1917) pt. 3, ch. 12
  50. One to destroy, is murder by the law;
    And gibbets keep the lifted hand in awe;
    To murder thousands, takes a specious name,
    ‘War's glorious art’, and gives immortal fame.
    Edward Young 1683–1765 English poet and dramatist: The Love of Fame (1725–8) Satire 7, l. 55; see Porteus, Rostand