7, 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
- President Franklin D. Roosevelt, December 8th 1941.
"I fear that all we
have is done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."
- Admiral Ishiro Yammamoto, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
"Never, never, never
believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on
that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter.
The Statesman who yields to war fever must realise that once the signal
is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable
and uncontrollable events. Antiquated War Offices, weak, incompetent or
arrogant Commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant
Fortune, ugly surprises, awful miscalculations all take their seat at the
Council Board on the morrow of a declaration of war. Always remember, however
sure you are that you can easily win, that there would not be a war if
the other man did not think he also had a chance."
- Winston Churchill, "My Early Life"
We shall not flag nor
fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas
and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength
in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall
fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills...
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that,
if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men
will say, "This was their finest hour."
- Winston Churchill, June 1940.
"The lamps are going
out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."
- Sir Edward Grey, August 3, 1914.
"Last week was the
worst week in the history of New York City, it was also the finest week
in the history of New York City."
- Mayor Rudy Guiliani, New York's answer to Winston Churchill
"Last Tuesday, the
entire world crossed a terrible threshold. We departed from the realm of
ordered events into the realm of chaos, where the laws of predictable consequence
no longer apply. This is a very rare event globally, so rare indeed that
the 20th century provides only two clear examples of it. August 1914 is
one, September 1939 the other.
No course existed then, and nor does one exist now. To question US policy is to aid the terrorists; but any meaningful revenge by the US might have the same result. We are back to that place of chaos, twice visited in the last century, where consequence runs free of human control, where wisdom seems to be of no avail, and evil seems master of all."
- Kevin Myers, "Into The Unknown", The Daily Telegraph. _
"In the end, it is
the vast global success of the American imperium - its all pervasiveness
- that, like its Roman predecessor, renders it so vulnerable. Can it really
hope to be everywhere at once? Can it really prop up Israel, contain Iraq,
appease Iran, intimidate Libya, bomb the Taliban back into the Stone Age
(admittedly, by the look of them, not too great a distance), police the
Balkans, deter the Chinese from invading Taiwan, build a space shield to
ward off rogue Russian missiles, meet its obligations to South Korea, keep
India and Pakistan from brawling with atomic bombs, cut off the drug traffic
from Latin America, create fortress-like borders to prevent a repeat of
Tuesday's horrors - can it do all this, and at the same time ward off recession
and remain the motor of the world economy? As Enoch Powell used to say:
one has only to pose the question to know the answer."
- Robert Harris, "Shades of Rome", The Daily Telegraph. _
"The world forgot the
truth that tyranny can be resisted only by the threat of arms; and forgetting
it, was forced to relive its horror tenfold within a generation."
- Kevin Myers, "The Daily Telegraph", on the aftermath of WW1
when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember
a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity
without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious
foe. That, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of
the enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary."
- Lee Harris, "Civilization and its Enemies"
"In both the Labour
and Liberal Democrat parties, there is a left-wing fringe which reminds
one of the prewar pacifists who advocated fighting Hitler, but voted against
every measure of rearmament in the House of Commons. Charles Kennedy tells
his party conference that he will not give President Bush "a blank cheque".
That seems both presumptuous and feeble, to the point of self-parody.
The whole world now perceives the threat for what it is. That is the difference between the assassin who stalks his victim when he is asleep, and the assassin who has to face an enemy full awake and on guard.
The pattern of English history is one of defensive wars, started with inadequate preparation and reluctance, usually involving initial defeats, but seen through to eventual victory. Characteristically, the eventual victory comes because our enemies make worse mistakes than we do. It has sometimes even been the same mistake: both Napoleon and Hitler invaded Russia."
- William Rees-Mogg, "Remember the Lesson of Pearl Harbor", The Times.
"War - to all intents
and purposes - has come to America. The roles of the English-speaking peoples
have been reversed. In the end, though, we are all in it together.
Last time, there were millions of different wars. The second world war brought death and bereavement to many in Britain, as it did elsewhere, but it also brought glamour and preferment, change and excitement to many who in peacetime had been in dead-end jobs. The man in the street had more money in real terms than he had in the bleak 1930s, while the health of the nation improved dramatically. There was no drug epidemic. There were no football hooligans or lager louts. Neither alcohol nor tobacco were the public enemies they have since become; they were scarce, that was all.
I'd go further and say that at home it was a strangely carefree time. People were given jobs to do and had no choice but to get on with them. There was simply no time to brood about the awfulness of one's own life and nobody to worry much about it.
Because life might be so very short, it was very sweet. "These are not dark days," Winston Churchill told the boys at Harrow school in 1941, "these are great days." For those young Harrovians and their greatest old boy, this was probably the truth. But one thing you do need when the sirens wail and the lights go dark is someone to find exactly the right words to see you through it. Nobody had the gift of finding those words quite as Winston did, though Franklin D Roosevelt came close."
- Godfrey Smith, "The Times of London"
At the dawn of a new
century, a newly elected United States president was forced to confront
a grave threat to the nation — an escalating series of unprovoked attacks
on Americans by Muslim terrorists. Worse still, these Islamic partisans
operated under the protection and sponsorship of rogue Arab states ruled
by ruthless and cunning dictators. Sluggish in recognizing the full nature
of the threat, America entered the war well after the enemy’s call to arms.
Poorly planned and feebly executed, the American effort proceeded badly
and at great expense — resulting in a hastily negotiated peace and an equally
hasty declaration of victory. As timely and familiar as these events may
seem, they occurred more than two centuries ago. The president was Thomas
Jefferson, and the terrorists were the Barbary pirates. Unfortunately,
many of the easy lessons to be plucked from this experience have yet to
be fully learned.
- Joshua E. London, "Lessons from America’s first war against Islamic terror", "National Review"
"To condemn equally
might which backs right and might which overthrows right is to render positive
service to wrong-doers ... To denounce the nation that wages war in self-defense,
or from a generous desire to relieve the oppressed, in the same terms in
which we denounce war waged in a spirit of greed or wanton folly stands
on a par with denouncing equally a murderer and the policeman who, at peril
of his life and by force of arms, arrests the murderer. In each case the
denunciation denotes not loftiness of soul but weakness both of mind and
- Theodore Roosevelt, "America and the World War"
"We will act multilaterally
where possible, unilaterally when necessary."
- George Bush Snr.
"We are not going to
tolerate these attacks from outlaw states run by the strangest collection
of misfits, Looney Tunes and squalid criminals since the advent of the
- Ronald Reagan, 1985.
"There is almost always
a crisis in the division between doves who seek evidence for delay, wrapping
their hesitation in the mantle of 'diplomacy', and the hawks who want pre-emptive
action. Generally, the advocates of passivity seem to have the stronger
case in the beginning of a crisis because the risks of action are evident,
while those of passivity are deferred or conjectural."
- Henry Kissinger, US Secretary of State, 1973.
"There is no safety
for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men."
- Edmund Burke
We are in a war of
a peculiar nature. It is not with an ordinary community, which is hostile
or friendly as passion or as interest may veer about: not with a state
which makes war through wantonness, and abandons it through lassitude.
We are at war with a system, which by its essence, is inimical to all other
governments, and which makes peace or war, as peace and war may best contribute
to their subversion. It is with an armed doctrine that we are at war. It
has, by its essence, a faction of opinion, and of interest, and of enthusiasm,
in every country.
- Edmund Burke, "Letters on Regicide Peace" (1796)
"However, if the loftiness
of spirit that reveals itself amid danger and toil [i.e. courage] is empty
of justice, if it fights not for the common safety but for its own advantages,
it is a vice. It is not merely unvirtuous; it is rather a savagery which
repels all civilized feeling. Therefore the Stoics define courage well
when they call it the virtue which fights on behalf of fairness. For that
reason no one has won praise who has pursued the glory of courage by treachery
and cunning; for nothing can be honorable from which justice is absent."
- Cicero, "On Duties"
"Today there are once
more saints and villains. Instead of the uniform grayness of the rainy
day, we have the black storm cloud and brilliant lightning flash. Outlines
stand out with exaggerated sharpness. Shakespeare's characters walk among
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "Ethik", 1940.
Barbarism has, and
can have, no place in a civilized world. It is our duty toward the people
living in barbarism to see that they are freed from their chains, and we
can free them only by destroying barbarism itself. The missionary, the
merchant, and the soldier may each have to play a part in this destruction,
and in the consequent uplifting of the people. Exactly as it is the duty
of a civilized power scrupulously to respect the rights of all weaker civilized
powers and gladly to help those who are struggling toward civilization,
so it is its duty to put down savagery and barbarism. As in such a work
human instruments must be used, and as human instruments are imperfect,
this means that at times there will be injustice; that at times merchant
or soldier, or even missionary, may do wrong. Let us instantly condemn
and rectify such wrong when it occurs, and if possible punish the wrongdoer.
But shame, thrice shame to us, if we are so foolish as to make such occasional
wrongdoing an excuse for failing to perform a great and righteous task.
- Theodore Roosevelt (1901)
Speech given by President John F Kennedy to thenAmerican Newspaper Publishers Association, on April 27, 1961:
The very word "secrecy"
is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently
and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths, and to secret
proceedings... Yet I do ask every publisher, every editor, and every newsman
in the nation to reexamine his own standards, and to recognize the nature
of our country’s peril. In time of war, the government and the press have
customarily joined in an effort, based largely on self-discipline, to prevent
unauthorized disclosures to the enemy.
Today no war has been declared — and however fierce the struggle may be, it may never be declared in the traditional fashion. Our way of life is under attack. Those who make themselves our enemy are advancing around the globe. The survival of our friends is in danger. And yet no war has been declared, no borders have been crossed by marching troops, no missiles have been fired.
If the press is awaiting a declaration of war before it imposes the self-discipline of combat conditions, then I can only say that no war ever posed a greater threat to our security. If you are awaiting a finding of “clear and present danger,” then I can only say that the danger has never been more clear and its presence has never been more imminent.
(This war...) requires a change in outlook, a change in tactics, a change in missions — by the government, by the people, by every businessman or labor leader, and by every newspaper. For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence — on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day.
For the facts of the matter are that this nation’s foes have openly boasted of acquiring through our newspapers information they would otherwise hire agents to acquire through theft, bribery, or espionage; that details of this nation’s covert preparations to counter the enemy’s covert operations have been available to every newspaper reader, friend and foe alike; that the size, the strength, the location, and the nature of our forces and weapons, and our plans and strategy for their use, have all been pinpointed in the press and other news media to a degree sufficient to satisfy any foreign power; and that, in at least one case, the publication of details concerning a secret mechanism whereby satellites were followed required its alteration at the expense of considerable time and money.
The newspapers which printed these stories were loyal, patriotic, responsible, and well-meaning. Had we been engaged in open warfare, they undoubtedly would not have published such items. But in the absence of open warfare, they recognized only the tests of journalism and not the tests of national security. And my question tonight is whether additional tests should not now be adopted.
On many earlier occasions,
I have said — and your newspapers have constantly said — that these are
times that appeal to every citizen’s sense of sacrifice and self-discipline.
They call out to every citizen to weigh his rights and comforts against
his obligations to the common good. I cannot now believe that those citizens
who serve in the newspaper business consider themselves exempt from that
I am asking the members of the newspaper profession and the industry in this country to reexamine their own responsibilities, to consider the degree and the nature of the present danger, and to heed the duty of self-restraint which that danger imposes upon us all. Every newspaper now asks itself, with respect to every story: “Is it news?” All I suggest is that you add the question: “Is it in the interest of the national security?”
"In Flanders fields
the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel
with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."
- John McCrae
"There is sobbing of
the strong, and a pall upon the land;
But the People in their weeping bare the iron hand;
Beware the People weeping when they bare the iron hand."
- Herman Melville, "The Martyr," upon the death of Abraham Lincoln.
"The dove descending
breaks the air
With flame of incandescent terror
Of which the tongues declare
The one discharge from sin and error
Our only hope, or else despair
Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre -
To be redeemed from fire by fire."
- T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding", 1941.
"I sit in one of the
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade."
- WH Auden, "September 1 1939"
Though mild clear weather
Smile again on the shire of your esteem
And its colors come back, the storm has changed you:
You will not forget, ever,
The darkness blotting out hope, the gale
Prophesying your downfall.
You must live with
Way back, beyond, outside of you are others,
In moonless absences you never heard of,
Who have certainly heard of you,
Beings of unknown number and gender:
And they do not like you.
What have you done
Nothing? Nothing is not an answer;
You will come to believe - how can you help it? -
That you did, you did do something;
You will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh,
You will long for their friendship.
There will be no peace.
Fight back, then, with such courage as you have
And every unchivalrous dodge you know of,
Clear in your conscience on this:
Their cause, if they had one, is nothing to them now;
They hate for hate's sake.
- "There Will Be No Peace", WH Auden, 1956.
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