Powerful Quotes About Why War

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.

green toy soldier represents war

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.
ancient chinese warrior statues why war-is it part of the human condition?

Ancient Wars

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.
roman chariot and soldier

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.

Waterloo 1815 

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

cannon aimed at ocean defends the coast, why war--sometimes it's for defense

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

Bristish soldiers in trench during WWI

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

Image of the bomber the Enola Gay which dropped the Atomic bomb on Hiroshima
Public domain

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.


image of Greek armed forces doing their duty one of the reasons why war

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.

Do You Have the War Gene?

In the United States, July is summer and Independence Day—a day born of a war. Was the war necessary? U.S. history classes say it was. But is war inevitable? Is it part of human nature or is it genetic? If it’s genetic, does everyone have it? Do you have the war gene?

US Army soldier on duty. Does he have the war gene?

Humans have the capacity for aggression, for violence. But why? Is it inborn? Then, why would any of us want or seek peace? Is there a peace gene, too? If war isn’t genetic, when did war become a thing to do?

The First War

“The first war in recorded history took place in Mesopotamia in 2700 BCE between Sumer and Elam.” (https://www.ancient.eu/war/) But it was not the first war. There are pictographs of armies at war dated to about 3500 BCE. Archeologists have found evidence of war in cemeteries and evidence of conflict and multiple violent deaths dating as early as 12,000 B.C. War definitely existed far back in human history.

War Defined

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, war is “a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations.” So if it’s between states and nations, does that mean it couldn’t be genetic? 

The Warrior Gene

There isn’t a simple answer. The so-called “warrior gene,” monoamine oxidase A (MAOA), has been studied as a possible cause of violence. MAOA was identified in 1993 in a large Dutch family that was notorious for violence. Media picked up the story. Soon, MAOA acquired the nickname the “warrior gene.” The studies were terribly flawed, not conclusive, and hardly complete. There’s been very little study of this gene’s presence or absence in women. 

Behavioral or Genetic

Aggression is not a single trait, or an easily described behavioral system. It is not a thing that has evolved as a package, but rather it is a suite of behaviors that has a dynamic and complicated range of expression.

Psychology Today

You see, there are two camps that study violence. Both declare they study violence to seek peace. One camp believes that violence in humans is innate, part of our genes. The other camp believes that the humans capacity for violence is linked to societal and cultural pressures, and abuses sustained in childhood.

Both sides have legitimate claims. Historically, 70 societies never had societal violence. Person-on-person violence, yes, but no sign of a fighting between two large societal groups. It looks like war started after humankind began relying on agriculture. When they claimed a piece of land as theirs and relied on it to feed them, it became something that must be defended. It also became something someone else may have wanted for themselves.

Could it be that these new agricultural societies experienced a genetic change. Did a war gene appear? That would be difficult to determine until we know more about what genetic make up is a precursor to war. 

Is it in the Gray Cells?

In a recent study, the brains of violent criminals were scanned. They scanned criminals who committed murder, those who did other violent crimes, and those who did “nonviolent” crimes. The scans showed that the gray matter  of a murderer is significantly different than that of a criminal who committed other acts of violence.  

The study of the murderers isn’t a study of war, but it’s interesting to consider when one attempts to explain why humankind goes to war. If there is a war gene, does it need to be triggered by the societal and cultural influences?  


If the societal and cultural influences are solely responsible for wars, are we creating inevitability by waging wars? We know children survivors of war have emotional scars. Do those scars trigger the war gene?

Is the war gene what makes some people heroes? But, there are people who are not warriors and still do heroic things. Do they have a different genetic makeup?

If mankind has a war gene, does that mean war is inevitable? Must we return to hunter-gatherer societies to have a lasting peace? If there is no war gene, what if it’s our belief that war is inevitable that makes war inevitable?

What if we could create soldiers with the war gene? Should we? Or, should we attempt to eradicate the war gene from the human race?

This “chicken or the egg” question may mean that both sides are partly correct. What do you think? Is war inevitable? Do you know someone you suspect has the war gene? Do you have the war gene? 

Remembering American Women in Military Service

It’s Memorial Day. It’s a day set aside to remember those who died in active military service to our country. Today we remember and honor the men who served and died. Those men deserve remembrances, but some of us forget that there were many women who served and died. This Memorial Day is also a time to be remembering American women in military service who died for our country.

Women in military service is not a new concept. Some women hid their gender to fight alongside their brothers. Other women chose to serve as nurses or support personnel. Today, women can choose to serve in combat situations and in all branches of U.S. Military Service.

So let’s remember the women who died for our country in addition to the men. And let’s not honor only those who died in recent service, but remember from the first war in our fledgling nation to the most recent war. Lest you forget one of them, 


        The Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

        War of 1812 (1812-1815)

        Mexican – American War (1846-1848)

        American Civil War (1861–1865)

        Spanish-American War (1898)

        World War I (1914-1918)

        World War II (1939-1945)

        Korean War (1950-1953)

        VIETNAM WAR (1959-1975)   

        GULF WAR (1990-1991)


Sadly this list does not include military actions that were not formally declared a war.

        a UN peacekeeping mission in Somalia beginning in 1992.

        In Haiti September 1994 – March 1995)

        In Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 90’s

       And in the War on Terrorism (2001–present)–Afghanistan, The Philippines, Iraq, Syria, and Libya

This is not a complete list of the military actions where men and women have died in service to our country. The length and breadth of the list are sobering.

Remembering American Women in Military Service
WASP pilot Betty Wall survived WWII, public domain photo courtesy of Wikimedia

Remembering American Women in Military Service

Some have made it their mission to honor American women in military service. The Women In Military Service for America Memorial has been open since 1995. Another sobering list is the list of women who lost their lives in active service here

So on this Memorial Day reflect on those this nation has lost while they served our country. And remember that women in military service died too. Don’t allow yourselves to forget that, even today, American men and women fight in armed conflicts across the world. Remember even when it’s not Memorial Day.