Arms and warfare quotes, ideas, quotations, thoughts and short reflections on the tragedy of wars, arms, weapons, military warfare, soldiers and the cruelty of our race.
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”
War should be made a crime, and those who instigate it should be punished as criminals.
Charles Evans Hughes
The way to win an atomic war is to make certain it never starts.
Omar Bradley Speech to Boston Chamber of Commerce, 1948
War is not its own end, except in some catastrophic slide into absolute damnation. It’s peace that’s wanted. Some better peace than the one you started with.
Lois McMaster Bujold “The Vor Game”, 1990
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”
The effects of human wickedness are written on the page of history in characters of blood: but the impression soon fades away; so more blood must be shed to renew it.
Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare
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
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
There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.
How wonderful it would be if the human race, like some animal species, practiced mass suicide in a finally serious and convincing way, not as it has done up to now playing with wars.
Carl William Brown
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.
The aim of military training is not just to prepare men for battle, but to make them long for it.
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
The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service.
Organized slaughter, we realize, does not settle a dispute; it merely silences an argument.
James Frederick Green
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.
The unarmed man is not just defenseless – he is also contemptible.
War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
War is much too serious a matter to be entrusted to the military.
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
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
War is not nice.
If you wish to be brothers, drop your weapons.
Pope John Paul II
The object of war is not to die for your country, but to make the other bastard die for his.
All the arms we need are for hugging.
One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.
Agatha Christie Autobiography
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
One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once ‘The Unnecessary War’.
Sir Winston Churchill Second World War (1948)
War is a series of catastrophes that results in a victory.
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
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
You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.
Either war is obsolete or men are.
R. Buckminster Fuller New Yorker, Jan. 8, 1966
Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate our allies.
W. L. George
The idea of all-out nuclear war is unsettling.
The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving.
Ulysses S. Grant
The outcome of the war is in our hands; the outcome of words is in the council.
Homer The Iliad
The destructive forces of humanity are directly proportional to the scientific, technological, sociological, economic, political and military capabilities of its imbecility.
Carl William Brown
It is well that war is so terrible, or we should get too fond of it.
Robert E. Lee
The quickest way to end a war is to lose it.
You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.
Take the diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat in a week.
You can’t say that civilization won’t advance, however, for in every war they kill you in a new way.
Sometime they’ll give a war and nobody will come.
The only winner in the War of 1812 was Tchaikovsky
Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.
Weapons are like money; no one knows the meaning of enough.
If this phrase of the ‘balance of power’ is to be always an argument for war, the pretext for war will never be wanting, and peace can never be secure.
Next week Reagan will probably announce that American scientists have discovered that the entire U.S. agricultural surplus can be compacted into a giant tomato one thousand miles across, which will be suspended above the Kremlin from a cluster of U.S. satellites flying in geosynchronous orbit. At the first sign of trouble the satellites will drop the tomato on the Kremlin, drowning the fractious Muscovites in ketchup.
When a war breaks out, everyone hopes it will end soon, the only ones who want it to continue as long as possible are those who died first.
Carl William Brown
At the rate science proceeds, rockets and missiles will one day seem like buffalo — slow, endangered grazers in the black pasture of outer space.
The ability to get to the verge without getting into the war is the necessary art. If you try to run away from it, if you are scared to go to the brink, you are lost.
John Foster Dulles
Guns will make us powerful; butter will only make us fat.
We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
John F. Kennedy
I would die for my country, but I could never let my country die for me.
The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision.
The emotional security and political stability in this country entitle us to be a nuclear power.
Sir Ronald Mason
So in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — the temptation blithely to declare yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong, good and evil.
Let him who desires peace prepare for war.
In past times during the various battles mostly soldiers died, nowadays progress has meant that in times of war mostly civilians die.
Carl William Brown
How happy is the sailor’s life, from coast to coast to roam; in every port he finds a wife, in every land a home.
Admiral. That part of a warship which does the talking while the figurehead does the thinking.
Valor, glory, firmness, skill, generosity, steadiness in battle and ability to rule — these constitute the duty of a soldier. They flow from his own nature.
The Royal Navy of England hath ever been its greatest defense and ornament; it is its ancient and natural strength; the floating bulwark of the island.
Sir William Blackstone
If I should die, think only this of me: that there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England.
In the weakness of one kind of authority, and in the fluctuation of all, the officers of an army will remain for some time mutinous and full of faction, until some popular general, who understands the art of conciliating the soldiery, and who possesses the true spirit of command, shall draw the eyes of all men upon himself. Armies will obey him on his personal account. There is no other way of securing military obedience in this state of things.
What makes a regiment of soldiers a more noble object of view than the same mass of mob? Their arms, their dresses, their banners, and the art and artificial symmetry of their position and movements.
There is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.
Soldiers have many faults, but they have one redeeming merit; they are never worshippers of force. Soldiers more than any other men are taught severely and systematically that might is not right. The fact is obvious. The might is in the hundred men who obey. The right (or what is held to be right) is in the one man who commands them.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Don’t talk to me about naval tradition. It’s nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash.
War is too important a matter to be left to the military.
The nation which forgets its defenders will be itself forgotten.
I had rather have a plain, russet-coated captain that knows what he fights for and loves what he knows than that which you call a Gentleman and is nothing else.
Come on, you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?
Stupidity and aggression, selfishness and greed lead to war, but people don’t seem to worry too much, at least until the grenades fall on their feet.
Carl William Brown
I must have the gentleman to haul and draw with the mariner, and the mariner with the gentleman. I would know him, that would refuse to set his hand to a rope, but I know there is not any such here.
Sir Francis Drake
Drinking is the soldier’s pleasure.
The most advanced nations are always those who navigate the most.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
The wonder is always new that any sane man can be a sailor.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Rogues, would you live forever?
(Frederick II) Frederick The Great
We are as near to heaven by sea as by land.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert
Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.
Conscription may have been good for the country, but it damn near killed the army.
Sir Richard Hull
No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned. A man in a jail has more room, better food and commonly better company.
Now, you mummy’s darlings, get a rift on them boots. Definitely shine em, my little curly-headed lambs, for in our mob, war or no war, you die with clean boots on.
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.
Rather than a peace made possible by a people of slaves, a war fought by free people is certainly better.
Carl William Brown
Children play soldier. That makes sense. But why do soldiers play children?
There were gentlemen and there were seamen in the navy of Charles the Second. But the seamen were not gentlemen; and the gentlemen were not seamen.
Thomas B. Macaulay
An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy.
Do you know what a soldier is, young man? He’s the chap who makes it possible for civilized folk to despise war.
No profession or occupation is more pleasing than the military; a profession or exercise both noble in execution (for the strongest, most generous and proudest of all virtues is true valor) and noble in its cause. No utility either more just or universal than the protection of the repose or defense of the greatness of one’s country. The company and daily conversation of so many noble, young and active men cannot but be well pleasing to you.
Michel Eyquem De Montaigne
The army is the true nobility of our country.
The military mind is indeed a menace. Old-fashioned futurity that sees only men fighting and dying in smoke and fire; hears nothing more civilized than a cannonade; scents nothing but the stink of battle-wounds and blood.
There is something about going to sea. A little bit of discipline, self-discipline and humility are required.
An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.
‘Tis the soldier’s life to have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be never so vile. This day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in England now abed shall think themselves accursed they were not here, and hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks that fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
History shows that there are no invincible armies.
In a world dominated by stupidity, ignorance is strength and war is peace, as Orwell also said.
Carl William Brown
There are few men more superstitious than soldiers. They are, after all, the men who live closest to death.
Mary W. Stewart
If our soldiers are not overburdened with money, it is not because they have a distaste for riches; if their lives are not unduly long, it is not because they are disinclined to longevity.
Visit the Navy-Yard, and behold a marine, such a man as an American government can make, or such as it can make a man with its black arts – a mere shadow and reminiscence of humanity, a man laid out alive and standing, and already, as one may say, buried under arms with funeral accompaniments.
Henry David Thoreau
That’s what an army is – a mob; they don’t fight with courage that’s born in them, but with courage that’s borrowed from their mass, and from their officers.
In this country it’s a good thing to kill an admiral now and then to encourage the others.
Francois-Marie Arouet de Voltaire
The feeling about a soldier is, when all is said and done, he wasn’t really going to do very much with his life anyway. The example usually is: “he wasn’t going to compose Beethoven’s Fifth.”
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
When we assumed the Soldier, we did not lay aside the Citizen.
I don’t know what effect these men will have upon the enemy, but, by God, they terrify me.
Arthur (Duke of Wellington) Wellesley
We have in the service the scum of the earth as common soldiers.
Arthur (Duke of Wellington) Wellesley
O the joy of the strong-brawn’d fighter, towering in the arena in perfect condition, conscious of power, thirsting to meet his opponent.
Making the world safe for hypocrisy.
Standing armies can never consist of resolute robust men; they may be well-disciplined machines, but they will seldom contain men under the influence of strong passions, or with very vigorous faculties.
Those that I fight I do not hate, those that I guard I do not love.
William Butler Yeats
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