From toys to poetry, from song to all types of entertainment humans seem obsessed with war. The first recorded war, inscribed in stone, took place in Mesopotamia between Sumer and Elam c. 2700 BCE. Some believe it is an unavoidable part of the human condition. Some come to appreciate that it is a necessary evil. Let’s look at some notable quotes about why war over the years.
The Art of War
The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.Sun Tzu 544 BC-496 BC.
Veni, vidi, vici. (I came, I saw, I conquered.)Julius Caesar,100 BC–44 BC.
Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum. (If you want peace, prepare for war.)Epitoma Rei Militaris, Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus, 4th century.
Of Kingdoms and Estates
No body can be healthful without exercise, neither natural body nor politic, and certainly, to a kingdom or estate, a just and honourable war is the true exercise.Francis Bacon, 1561–1626.
You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.Napoleon Bonaparte,1769–1821.
U.S. Civil War 1861-1865
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.John Stuart Mill 1806–1873.
It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.Robert E. Lee,1807–1870.
World War I 1914-1918
The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.G. K. Chesterton, 1874–1936.
World War II 1939-1945
We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.Sir Winston Churchill British Prime Minister (1940–45, 1951–55) 1874–1965.
Yesterday, December seventh, 1941, a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan. We will gain the inevitable triumph, so help us God.Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the U.S.A., 1882–1945.
Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.George S. Patton, 1885–1945.
The Atomic Bomb
Sixteen hours ago an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese Army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of T.N.T. It had more than two thousand times the blast power of the British “Grand Slam” which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.
The Japanese began the war from the air at Pearl Harbor. They have been repaid many fold. And the end is not yet. With this bomb we have now added a new and revolutionary increase in destruction to supplement the growing power of our armed forces. In their present form, these bombs are now in production and even more powerful forms are in development.
It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the U.S.A., 1890–1969.
Spanish War 1943
War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil.George Orwell, 1903–J1950.
You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don’t ever count on having both at once.Robert A. Heinlein, 1907–1988
War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the U.S.A. 1924—.
You have to make sure you know why you are going to war and then use decisive force to end it as soon as possible.Colin Powell, 1937—.
Your Thoughts about War
Humankind has an obsession with war. There are thousands of quotes about why war. But is it necessary? Is it part of our human condition? Or have we been conditioned to believe it is? Do you believe in a defensive war? Or do you pray that the bombs that fell on Hiroshima and Nagasaki never happens again? Perhaps, you believe “we shall have to begin with the children” as Mahatma Gandhi does. Watch for the full quote in next Monday’s post Quotes About Peace.