Favorite Quotes On War, Politics, and Society:

William Tecumseh Sherman
(To a friend – on hearing of South Carolina’s secession from the United States)
“You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth—right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.”

“Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other.”

“I think I understand what military fame is; to be killed on the field of battle and have your name misspelled in the newspapers.”

Otto von Bismark
“All treaties between great states cease to be binding when they come in conflict with the struggle for existence.”

“Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.”

“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”

“There is a Providence that protects idiots, drunkards, children and the United States of America.”

“When a man says he approves of something in principle, it means he hasn’t the slightest intention of carrying it out in practice.”

“The Americans are a very lucky people. They’re bordered to the north and south by weak neighbors, and to the east and west by fish.”

Julius Caesar
(Of the Helvetti people, who had slaughtered a Roman army under Cassius years before)

“They might boast of their glorious victory and of having for so long escaped retribution for their crimes: yet both those facts led to one conclusion; when the immortal gods mean to punish guilty man, they often grant him all the more prosperity, all the longer impunity, simply that he may suffer the more when his good fortune is reversed.”

“A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.”

“Death is nothing, but to live defeated and inglorious is to die daily.”

“An army marches on it’s stomach.”

“History is a set of lies agreed upon.”

“Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

“The best way to keep one’s word is not to give it.”

“The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.”

“To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.”

“When soldiers have been baptized in the fire of a battle-field, they have all one rank in my eyes.”

“You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.”

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

“A tear dries quickly when it is shed for the troubles of others. ”

“An unjust peace is better than a just war.”

“Fear is not a lasting teacher of duty.”

“It is foolish to tear one’s hair in grief, as though sorrow would be made less by baldness.”

“Let us not listen to those who think we ought to be angry with our enemies, and who believe this to be great and manly. Nothing is so praiseworthy, nothing so clearly shows a great and noble soul, as clemency and readiness to forgive.”

“No one has the right to be sorry for himself for a misfortune that strikes everyone.”

“The only excuse for war is that we may live in peace unharmed.”

“The wise are instructed by reason, average minds by experience, the stupid by necessity and the brute by instinct.”

“There is nothing so absurd that some philosopher has not already said it.”

“Those wars are unjust which are undertaken without provocation. For only a war waged for revenge or defense can be just.”

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”

“A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

“For good or for ill, air mastery is today the supreme expression of military power and fleets and armies, however vital and important, must accept a subordinate rank.”

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”

“If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”

“If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.”

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

“Nothing can be more abhorrent to democracy than to imprison a person or keep him in prison because he is unpopular. This is really the test of civilization.”

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

“The British nation is unique in this respect. They are the only people who like to be told how bad things are, who like to be told the worst.”

“When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.”

“A lie gets half way around the world before the truth has a chance to get it’s pants on.”

Abraham Lincoln
“A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.”

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”

“I can make more generals, but horses cost money.”

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Adolf Hitler
“I use emotion for the many and reserve reason for the few.”

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”

“Struggle is the father of all things. It is not by the principles of humanity that man lives or is able to preserve himself above the animal world, but solely by means of the most brutal struggle.”

“The leader of genius must have the ability to make different opponents appear as if they belonged to one category.”

Niccolo Machiavelli
“There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.”

“For among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible; which is one of those disgraceful things which a prince must guard against.”

“Hence it comes about that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed.”

“It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.”

“Severities should be dealt out all at once, so that their suddenness may give less offense; benefits ought to be handed ought drop by drop, so that they may be relished the more.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower
“Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.”

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

“Only strength can cooperate. Weakness can only beg.”

“The most terrible job in warfare is to be a second lieutenant leading a platoon when you are on the battlefield.”

“You don’t lead by hitting people over the head – that’s assault, not leadership.”

“A public man must never forget that he loses his usefulness when he as an individual, rather than his policy, becomes the issue.”

“I gave ’em a sword. And they stuck it in, and they twisted it with relish. And I guess if I had been in their position, I’d have done the same thing.”

Henry A. Wallace
“If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.”

possibly Albert Einstein
“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

possibly Omar Bradley
“Amateurs talk strategy. Professionals talk logistics.”

Mohandas Gandhi
“Morality is contraband in war.”

Will Rodgers
“You can’t say civilizations don’t advance… in every war they kill you in a new way.”

Theodore Roosevelt
“Germany has reduced savagery to a science, and this great war for the victorious peace of justice must go on until the German cancer is cut clean out of the world body.”

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

“We’re in a war dammit! We’re going to have to offend somebody.”

Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha.”

Silvio Berlusconi
“If I, taking care of everyone’s interests, also take care of my own, you can’t talk about a conflict of interest.”

Sun Tzu
“In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.”

Joe Lieberman
“Community means engaging constructively with like-minded nations to build strong, sustaining institutions and alliances – and bringing emerging powers into this community so future conflict becomes less likely.”

Thomas Paine
“War involves in its progress such a train of unforeseen circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end; it has but one thing certain, and that is to increase taxes.”

Martin Luther King Jr
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”

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

Rene Cassin
“When France resolved, along with England, to lend assistance in the legitimate defense of Poland, the realization burst on us that a conflict of awesome proportions was inevitable.”

Ernest Hemingway
“The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.”

“They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.”

Douglas MacArthur
“In war, you win or lose, live or die – and the difference is just an eyelash.”

Pope John Paul 2
“Humanity should question itself, once more, about the absurd and always unfair phenomenon of war, on whose stage of death and pain only remain standing the negotiating table that could and should have prevented it.”

Ron Paul
“Cliches about supporting the troops are designed to distract from failed policies, policies promoted by powerful special interests that benefit from war, anything to steer the discussion away from the real reasons the war in Iraq will not end anytime soon.”

“In time it will become clear to everyone that support for the policies of pre-emptive war and interventionist nation-building will have much greater significance than the removal of Saddam Hussein itself.”

Ronald Reagan
“Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.”

George Orwell
“War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.”

Porter Goss
“The Iraq conflict, while not a cause of extremism, has become a cause for extremists.”

Albert Camus
“The myth of unlimited production brings war in its train as inevitably as clouds announce a storm.”

Wangari Maathai
“In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace.”

Robert E. Lee
“It is well that war is so terrible. We should grow too fond of it.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“War is not an adventure. It is a disease. It is like typhus.”

Max de Pree
“The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning? Serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Manage conflict?”

Amos Oz
“And in this respect, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been a tragedy, a clash between one very powerful, very convincing, very painful claim over this land and another no less powerful, no less convincing claim.”

“Two children of same cruel parent look at one another and see in each other the image of the cruel parent or the image of their past oppressor. This is very much the case between Jew and Arab: It’s a conflict between two victims.”

Herbert Hoover
“When we are sick, we want an uncommon doctor; when we have a construction job to do, we want an uncommon engineer, and when we are at war, we want an uncommon general. It is only when we get into politics that we are satisfied with the common man.”

Lyndon B. Johnson
“I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling rejected by the American people. I’m tired of waking up in the middle of the night worrying about the war.”

Daniel Barenboim
“Jewish intellectuals contributed a great deal to insure that Europe became a continent of humanism, and it is with these humanist ideals that Europe must now intervene in the Middle East conflict.”

Alain de Botton
“The Arab-Israeli conflict is also in many ways a conflict about status: it’s a war between two peoples who feel deeply humiliated by the other, who want the other to respect them. Battles over status can be even more intractable than those over land or water or oil.”

Gilbert K. Chesterton
“A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over… is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen.”

Maria Montessori
“Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.”

Bertolt Brecht
“What they could do with ’round here is a good war. What else can you expect with peace running wild all over the place? You know what the trouble with peace is? No organization.”

Bjorn Ulvaeus
“The UN declaration on human rights must always be first in line before religion or other cultural habits, in case of any conflict between them.”

Jimmy Carter
“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.”

“We cannot be both the world’s leading champion of peace and the world’s leading supplier of the weapons of war.”

Hilaire Belloc
“All men have an instinct for conflict: at least, all healthy men.”

H.G. Wells
“Once the command of the air is obtained by one of the contending armies, the war becomes a conflict between a seeing host and one that is blind.”

A. B. Yehosha
“One of the dreams of Zionism was to be a bridge. Instead, we are creating exclusion between the East and the West instead of creating bridges; we are contributing to the conflict between East and West by our stupid desire to have more.”

Robert Toombs
“The door of conciliation and compromise is finally closed by our adversaries, and it remains only to us to meet the conflict with the dignity and firmness of men worthy of freedom.”

Martin Buber
“There are three principles in a man’s being and life, the principle of thought, the principle of speech, and the principle of action. The origin of all conflict between me and my fellow-men is that I do not say what I mean and I don’t do what I say.”

Paulo Freire
“Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”

Alfred Lord Tennyson
“Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and die.”

Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg (in reference to their willingness to enter WW1 due to an alliance with Belgium)

“The Britons will go to war for a mere scrap of paper?”

Fredrick The Great

“Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl.”

Cato The Elder

“After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.”

“This corn is well grown and Carthage must be destroyed.”

“Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise.”

George Friedman

“The tragedy of the human condition is that the thing that makes us most human – community – originates in the inhumanity of war.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“”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 and democracy?”

“An eye for an eye makes the world go blind.”

“There are many causes that I am prepared to die for, but no cause I am prepared to kill for.”

Denis Diderot

“Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”


“I am more afraid of our mistakes, than our enemies’ designs.”

Thomas Edison

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

Benjamin Franklin

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

Muhammad Ali

“A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

Leon Trotsky

“You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

George III

“A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me.”

Oliver Cromwell

“Do not trust the cheering, for those persons would shout as much if you or I were going to be hanged.”

Henry Kissinger

“90% of politicians give the other 10% a bad name.”


“The ideal government is Democracy sprinkled with assassination.”

Che Guevara

“I am not christ or a philanthropist, old lady, I am all the contrary of a christ…”

John Oliver

“Democracy is like a tambourine, not everyone can be trusted with it.”

Thomas Schelling

“The most spectacular event of the past half century, did not occur. We have enjoyed sixty years without nuclear weapons exploded in anger.”

Carl Von Clausewitz

“The worst enemy of a good plan, is the dream of a perfect plan.”

Walter Cronkite

“Whatever the cost of a library, it is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation.”

H.L. Mencken

“On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”