War is the father of all things.
- Heraclitus, 500 BC
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.
You may not be interested
in war, but war is interested in you.
- Leon Trotsky
Though the pen is mightier
than the sword, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given moment.
The written history
of the world is largely a history of warfare, because the states within
which we live came into existence largely through conquest, civil strife,
or struggles for independence.
- John Keegan, "A History of Warfare"
"War makes rattling
- Thomas Jardy
"Battles are the events
that define the way we live now. It’s the way the world is shaped, unfortunately.
So by looking at military history you’re also looking at the fundamentals
of history itself."
- Peter Snow, presenter of "20th Century Battlefields"
"War is the most extraordinary,
extreme human experience."
- Dan Snow, presenter of "20th Century Battlefields"
"We have just exited
from the bloodiest century in recorded history. Yet many people seem already
to be writing the obituary of warfare. Many academic experts seem to believe
that recent social and economic change will prevent further major
conflict. This academic view, supported by many political pundits, may
account for the fact that when asked to list areas of maximum concern,
defence is now placed near the bottom of the list by most voters.
Such feelings are, of course, almost as old as war itself. Reflecting on the difficulty of maintaining robust policies of military preparedness in conditions of apparent tranquillity, Vegetius mused in the year AD 390: 'In the midst of peace war is looked upon as too distant to merit consideration.' The influential English journalist Norman Angell offered similarly soothing words in the fateful months preceding the Great War, and these were to be repeated by others on the eve of World War II."
- William Hague, speech as Conservative Party Leader
Security is indeed
our contemporary Mecca, and our politicians, our economists, and social
prophets all look towards it, and plan their itinerary... I would not suggest
that you take Lady MacBeth as your exemplar in life, but it is worth your
while, to observe that in her opinion: "Security is mortals' chiefest enemy";
and another Elizabethan, a doughty shipmate of Sir Walter Raleigh called
Lawrence Keymis, held the same belief: "To kiss security is the plain highway
to a fearful downfall." So, then, if security is your chosenn objective,
I suggest that you approach it warily, and not without proper reconaissance;
for it may be an ambush.
- Major Eric Linklater, "The Art of Adventure"
"In sum, studies of
both the direct and indirect influence of economic factors on the causation
of war indicate that they have been much less important than political
ambitions, ideological convictions, technological change, legal claims,
irrational psychological complexes, ignorance, and unwillingness to maintain
conditions of peace in a changing world."
- Quincy Wright, "The Study Of War"
"The generation that
was to respond to the last man on Pearl Harbor's dawn had been conditioned
to the last man to believe that wars accomplish nothing. Had America been
an enormous laboratory and had we all been albino rats, no more elegant
experiment could have been devised to test the powers of social conditioning.
Perhaps its only equal has been that of the Soviet Union in its total effort
half a century long to induce the Russian farmer to put his heart into
crops raised on land not his own. Ours was as total in its way, and it
lasted for twenty-three years, and it failed in a dawn's bad hour. Yet
human gullibility is such that a generation who survived the experiment
will instruct another generation that patriotism is something we are taught."
- Robert Ardry, "The Territorial Imperative", discussing his generation's reaction to the attack
We are, I think, in
collective denial about these self-evident truths. We devote acres of newspaper
space to angry mothers who wish to berate the Prime Minister for entering
into the supposedly needless war which resulted in the death of her son;
we wring our hands over every new casualty. But there’s a reason why we
send our boys into combat and why some of them die. It’s because out there
in the big, wide nasty world, there are — and always will be — bad men
opposed to our principles and against our way of life. You can quibble
about tactics and you can quibble about strategy but the time will keep
coming where peaceful negotiation just isn’t enough. The enemy know, as
per Lenin’s dictum, that their task is to keep pushing in their bayonets
so long as they can feel mush. The day we decide our principles and way
of life are no longer worth dying for is the day the enemy has won... War
is hell, that’s a given. But it’s also the realm where human experience
is at its most heightened. Love is more precious and intense because at
any moment it could be snatched away. Death — the thing that preoccupies
and fascinates us mortals perhaps above all else — becomes more prevalent,
terrifying and random. This is why so many writers are drawn to it... In
war books, you can make anything happen because in war absolutely everything
does, from craven cowardice to the most superhuman courage, from mercy
to cruelty and wanton slaughter, from outrageous bad luck to astonishingly
flukey good luck.
- James Delingpole, "We Shall Need Their Like Again", "The Spectator" (Oct'08)
"Some great, decisive
battles have been fought at a campaign's beginning, and in history's light
there is about them a strange morning freshness, an air of innocence and
youthful ardour... But there are other battles, even more far-reaching
in consequences, which are fought at the latter end of long campaigns,
in a wintry, grey Arthurian dusk, or in some stony pass beneath a torrid,
unsparing sun that knows no romance and no illusion. The soldiers in such
battles are trained fighters, lean and sinewy men, toughened by many hardships,
disappointments and losses... The first Battle of El Alamein was of this
- John Connell, "Auchinleck"
The youthful Americans
who went off to war 60 years ago would have thought it ridiculous to be
hailed as “the greatest”. They were unexceptional: they did no more or
less than their own parents and grandparents had done. Like young men across
the world, they accepted soldiering as an obligation of citizenship, as
men have for centuries. In 1941, it would have astonished them to be told
they would be the last generation to respect that basic social compact...
Today, across the western world, the generals dislike conscript armies.
They want light, highly trained, professional regiments. But it’s hard
not to feel that the end of the draft — the end of routine military service
— has somehow weakened the bonds of citizenship. Citizenship is about allegiance.
We benefit from our rights as citizens of the state and in return we accept
our duties as citizens of the state... Ultimately, it is as Americans or
Britons, Australians or Canadians that we resist the assault on our liberties...
We may not be asked to scramble up over a trench and across a muddy field
in Flanders, but it’s all too possible we may be called upon to demonstrate
great heroism close to home, as the firemen of New York and the passengers
of Flight 93 were. They are the Dead. They lived, felt dawn, saw sunset
glow, loved and were loved. They did not deserve their premature deaths.
But they join the untold legions who helped the Union win the Civil War,
the Americans and the British Empire win the Great War, and the Allies
the Second World War. And every single American alive today enjoys the
blessings of those victories.
- Mark Steyn, writing in the shadow of 9/11, "Face of the Tiger"
A GENTLEMAN WILL WALK
"Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."
- Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary during Crimean War
Peace is a condition in which no civilian pays any attention to military casualties which do not achieve a page one lead story - unless that civilian is a close relative of one of the casualties. But, if there ever was a time in history when "peace" meant that there was no fighting going on, I have been unable to find out about it.
- President Theodore Roosevelt
BUT NEVER RUN
Peace isn't merely the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.
War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest thing. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing he cares about more than his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
- Thomas B. Macaulay, "Milford's History of Greece", 1824.
"To carry the spirit of peace into war is a weak and cruel policy. When an extreme case calls for that remedy which is in its own nature most violent, and which, in such cases, is a remedy only because it is violent, it is idle to think of mitigating and diluting. Languid war can do nothing which negotiation or submission will do better: and to act on any other principle is, not to save blood and money, but to squander them."
- Thomas B. Macaulay: "Hallam", 1828.
It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
World War is the second worst activity of mankind, the worst being acquiescence in slavery.
- Benjamin Disraeli, 19th century British Prime Minister
Peace is not achievable
as a direct object of purposeful behaviour.
- Colin S Gray, "Another Bloody Century"
"If peace is equated
simply with the absence of war, it can become abject pacifism that turns
the world over to the most ruthless."
- Henry Kissinger
Sometimes true peace
can only be found on the other side of war.
"The only way to make
peace is to make war first."
- Heard on "Moses Jones"
We are going to have
peace even if we have to fight for it.
- Dwight D. Eisenhower (???)
"Wars may be fought
with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who
follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory."
- George Patton
"May God have mercy
upon my enemies, because I won't."
- George Patton
Christ said: Blessed
are the peace-makers, not blessed are the peace-sayers. If the world fell
into the hands of totalitarian factions, there is still the possibility
that they might fight amongst themselves. Surrender to them would not encourage
the kingdom of peace and love - and those that desire it, or with passionate
intensity permit it, know not what they do...
- Michael Novak (paraphrased)
"Pacifism in the face
of war is not only irresponsible - it is immoral. Refusing to meet force
with force in the name of peace will beget not peace, but further death
and destruction, the very violence the pacifists seek to avoid."
- David Limbaugh
"Everyone's a pacifist
between wars. It's like being a vegetarian between meals."
- C. McCarthy
I'm not sure I can take your advice. You are dealing with English Gentlemen. We are dealing with monsters.
Armaments do not, generally speaking, cause wars. This notion, the logical crux of all arguments in favor of disarmament, turns the causal relationship upside down. Actually, it is wars, or conflicts threatening war, that cause armaments, not the reverse.
Wars are caused by undefended wealth
Being powerful is like
being a lady. If you have to tell people you are - you aren't.
- Margaret Thatcher
# THE FOG OF WAR
"I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men ofunderstanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."
- John Page to Thomas Jefferson, after the signing of Declaration of Independence
The God of Battles will throw the dice that decide...
- Robert Cowley, "What If?"
A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
- George S. Patton
Every man thinks meanly
about himself for not having been a soldier.
- Dr. Johnson
The only redemptive
feature of war is the brotherhood which it forges.
- Max Hastings
When all the world
is overcharged with inhabitants, then the last remedy of all is war.
- Thomas Hobbes, "Leviathan"
War should only be
used for a policy worth its sacrifices.
- Otto Von Bismarck, in "The Fall of Eagles"
One generation that
receives a beating is often followed by another which deals it out.
- Otto Von Bismarck
In peace sons bury
their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons.
- King Croesus (550 B.C.)
John Dalton's records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war.
- Clive James, from "Postcard from Munich" in "The Observer" (1983)
One cannot play chess if one becomes aware of the pieces as living souls and of the fact that the Whites and the Blacks have more in common with each other than with the players. Suddenly one loses all interest in who will be champion.
"War is cruelty. There's
no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over...
Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and
- William T. Sherman
"It is only those who
have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded
who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell."
- William T. Sherman
Winners never talk
about glorious victories. Thats because they're the ones who see what the
battle field looks like afterwards. Its only the losers who have glorious
- Terry Pratchett, "Small Gods"
"The next worse thing
to a battle lost is a battle won."
- The Duke of Wellington, surveying the aftermath of Waterloo
Its glory is all moonshine;
even success most brilliant is over dead and mangled bodies, with the anguish
and lamentations of distant families... You cannot qualify war in harsher
terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those
who brought war into our country deserve all the curses and maledictions
a people can pour out.
- William Tecumseh Sheridan, Union General in American Civil War
We must make war as
we must, not as we would like.
- Lord Kitchener
The tragedy of war
is that it uses man's best to do man's worst.
- Harry Emerson Fosdick
Arms are instruments
of ill omen.... When one is compelled to use them, it is best to do so
without relish. There is no glory in victory, and to glorify it despite
this is to exult in the killing of men.... When great numbers of people
are killed, one should weep over them with sorrow. When victorious in war,
one should observe mourning rites.
- Lao Tzu
"Humility must always
be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in the blood of his
followers and the sacrifices of his friends."
- General Dwight D Eisenhower (1945)
"Every gun that is
made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final
sense, a theft from those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms
is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its labourers,
the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
- President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1953.
"Victory may often
rest not so much with the last man as with the last round and the last
- The Times, during the Russo-Japanese War
"A broadsheet obituarist
once pointed out to me that veteran soldiers die by rank. First to go are
the generals, admirals and air marshals, then the brigadiers, then a bit
of a gap and the colonels and wing commanders and passed-over majors, then
a steady trickle of captains and lieutenants. As they get older and rarer,
so the soldiers are mythologised and grow ever more heroic, until finally
drummer boys and under-age privates are venerated and laurelled with honours
like ancient field marshals. There is something touching about that."
- AA Gill, "We shall not see their like again", "The Times"
There was musketry,
popping away in distant skirmishes but sounding like rending calico as
infantry slugged it out in line. Cannonballs thrummed overhead, and shells
and mortar bombs whistled and groaned. As infantrymen advanced with bayonets
fixed and their arms at their shoulders there was a good deal of metalwork
for canister and metalwork to hit, and the clatter of lead on steel mingled
with the dull thud of projectiles which hit human flesh. Hand to hand fighting
at Waterloo reminded a British sergeant of a thousand coppersmiths at work.
Add the shrieks of the wounded, drumming hooves, shouted orders and the
constant sound of drum and bugle and occasional snatches of music from
bands and Highland pipes, and the full horror of battle asserts itself.
- Richard Holmes, on the sounds of Waterloo, "Redcoat"
War hath no fury like
a non combatant.
- Charles Edward Montague
In such a state of
licentiousness as must render it formidable to every one but the enemy.
- General Ralph Abercrombie assesses the British army in Ireland in 1797
"I found Your Majesty's
Army divided into three parts. The part which is above ground is composed
of pillagers and marauders; the second part is underground; and the third
is in hospital. Should I retire with the first or wait until I join one
of the others?"
- the Comte de Clermont to Louis XV of France, on taking command (1758)
"People say that we
women lead a safe life at home, while men have to go to war. What fools
they are! I would much rather fight in the phalanx three time than give
to a child only once."
- Medea, in "Medea" by Euripides (431 B.C.)
A fanatic's willingness
to kill or be killed in the service of a cause cannot prove the rightness
of that cause.
- Poul Anderson, "Cold Victory"
The difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is whether or not you support their cause.
- Wall Street Journal stylebook
Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.
- US State Department definition of Terrorism
"The battle which is now about to begin will be one of the decisive battles of history; it will be the turning point of the war. The eyes of the whole world will be on us, watching which way the battle will swing. We can give them the answer at once: it will swing our way."
One might almost say,
to adapt von Clausewitz, that modern warfare is PR by other means. And
war-winning strategies mean that modern armies most stop treating their
communications operations as secondary assignments or (as still too often
happens) dumping grounds for officers who have failed at everything else
— but as missions absolutely essential to success.
- David Frum, "National Review"
British fighter pilots
during the Battle of Britain were twice as likely to be killed as bomber
crews, but the latter were far more frightened. This had nothing to do
with courage or lack of it: the level of fear was determined by the nature
of the work. Bomber pilots were under orders to hold their course regardless
of the dangers; fighter pilots were free to manoeuvre and, more important,
could vent their fear as aggression, attacking their attackers. One man
who served in both capacities reported that when he was flying bombers
he couldn’t sleep, and would be drenched in sweat every time he climbed
into the plane, but that as a fighter pilot he loved "the sport... Once
you’ve shot down two or three the effect is terrific".
- Lucy Hughes Hallet reviews "Fear" by Joanna Bourke for "The Times"
The most reliable guarantee
of some kind of 'justice' in war – where that means commanders and troops
abstaining from such excesses as the wholesale slaughter of civilians –
has always been the realisation that your opponent could employ the same
tactic against you. Fear of retaliation was why even the Nazis did not
use chemical weapons against the Allies: they used them only against the
Jews, then a subject people who could not retaliate. It is also why the
only time a nuclear bomb has been used, it was against an enemy that did
not possess one.
- Alasdair Palmer, reviewing "The Just War Tradition", "The Telegraph"
Throughout the history
of modern warfare it is difficult to imagine a more wretched existence
than the lot of the common Russian infantryman. From the Napoleonic wars
to the Second World War, Russian commanders have taken the view that their
soldiers are little better than cannon fodder whose survival is the least
of their concerns as they seek to defend Mother Russia. Even heroic Russian
military engagements, such as the magnificent resistance of Stalingrad
in the 1940s, managed to achieve success only through the almost wilful
sacrifice of the lives of tens of thousands of conscripts. And those who
were lucky enough to be taken prisoner by the Nazis found themselves before
a firing squad or exiled to certain death at a Siberian slave camp the
moment they were repatriated. It should come as no surprise, then, that
the plight of young Russian conscripts sent to fight in Chechnya is little
better than that of their wretched forebears... The Russian military's
fundamental lack of understanding of the challenge it faced was graphically
illustrated by the Defence Ministry's announcement that it would 'capture
Grozny with two regiments in two hours'. By the end of the month the Russian
army was suffering huge losses; on New Year's Eve the 131st Maikop brigade
was almost completely wiped out; during January 5,000 Russian officers
and soldiers were killed in the Battle of Grozny.
Compare that to the estimated 4,000 coalition battlefield fatalities in Iraq in the four years since Saddam's overthrow and you get some idea of the scale of Russia's military catastrophe.
- Con Coughlin, reviewing "One Soldier's War in Chechnya", "The Telegraph"
Here dead we lie
Because we did not choose
To live and shame the land
From which we sprung.
Life, to be sure,
Is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is,
And we were young.
- A. E. Housman, "Here Dead We Lie" (written after World War 1)
Those whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme
- John Adams, after an American defeat in the Revolutionary War
Observe your enemies for they first find out your faults.
- Vauban, legendary French military architect
Know you enemy, and know yourself, and you need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles.
The purpose of war is peace, in peace prepare for war, in war prepare for peace.
He who wishes to fight must first count the cost.
When one is strong, appear weak, when one is weak, appear strong.
He shall triumph who knows when to fight - and when not to fight.
He shall triumph who can handle inferior & superior forces.
It takes many types of soldiers to win a battle.
To draw an enemy away from an entrenched position, strike at a place that he shall have to relieve.
The Supreme Art Of War is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
The object of war is a better state of peace, even if only from your point of view. Hence it is essential to conduct war with constant regard to the peace you desire.
In war, one does not win ; another loses by giving in.
Sometimes in war, it is necessary to limit one's objectives and not eliminate other essential national actors ( ie countries ) so that one may ally with them in future.
- Dr Alan Turing (fictional version), "Cryptonomicon" by Neal Stephenson
"It is impossible, or at least highly dangerous, to attempt to tell a lie until you know what the truth is."
- Peter Fleming, British Intelligence Officer in WW2
The political object is the goal, war is the means of reaching it, and the means can never be considered in isolation from their purposes
- Adage on the British Army
The proper means of
increasing the love we bear our native country is to reside some time in
a foreign one.
- William Shenstone
I have lived in many
countries, and talked in several languages: and found something to esteem
in every country I have visited. But I have never seen any nation the equal
of my own.
- Frank Richards
Ten thousand officers
and men named Smith died in the First World War. One thousand four hundred
Campbells died, six thousand Joneses, and one thousand Murphys. Smith,
Campbell, Jones and Murphy: the names of the United Kingdom, whose presence
in regiments from all four countries speaks of the ebb and flow of peoples
within these islands, of a common sacrifice, and a shared agony that burned
in so many million hearts down the decades.
- Kevin Myers, "The Daily Telegraph"
Patriotism means unqualified
and unwavering love for the nation, which implies not uncritical eagerness
to serve, not support for unjust claims, but frank assessment of its vices
and sins, and penitence for them.
- Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "From Under the Rubble"
Just as love for one
individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's
country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous
- Eric Fromm
"Certainly it is no
shame to a man that he should be as nice about his country as his sweetheart,
yet it would not be wise to hold everyone an enemy who could not see her
with our own enchanted eyes."
- James Russell Lowell
"Patriotism alone is
- Edith Cavell
A nation has a soul,
a spiritual principle. One is in the past, the other in the present. One
is the possession of a rich legacy of memories; the other is the desire
to live together and to value the common heritage.
- Ernest Renan
The noblest fate that
a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home
and the war's desolation.
- Robert A. Heinlein, "Starship Troopers"
Love your country,
but never trust its government.
- Robert A. Heinlein
In wartime, the degree
of patriotism is directly proportional to distance from the front.
- Phillip Caputo
Patriotism is your
conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because
you were born in it.
- George Bernard Shaw
Our true nationality
- HG Wells
The great American
writer Herman Melville says somewhere in "The White Whale" that a man ought
to be "a patriot to heaven," and I believe it is a good thing, this ambition
to be cosmopolitan, this idea to be citizens not of a small parcel of the
world that changes according to the currents of politics, according to
the wars, to what occurs, but to feel that the whole world is our country.
— Jorge Luis Borges
Patriots always talk
of dying for their country, and never of killing for their country.
- Bertrand Russell (attributed)
To be attached to the
subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the
first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections. It is the first
link in the series by which we proceed toward a love to our country and
to mankind. The interest of that portion of social arrangement is a trust
in the hands of all those who compose it; and as none but bad men would
justify it in abuse, none but traitors would barter it away for their own
- Edmund Burke, "Reflections on the French Revolution"
Nationalism is not
to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague
a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw
a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas
are involved. By 'patriotism' I mean devotion to a particular place and
a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world
but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive,
both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable
from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is
to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation
or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.
- George Orwell, "Notes on Nationalism" (1945)
A nation can survive
its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within.
An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his
banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely,
his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls
of government itself.
- Cicero, Roman Orator
Anyone who clings to the historically untrue - and thoroughly immoral - doctrine 'that violence never settles anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedom.
- Stephen Ambrose
Sixty years ago, most of the landmass of the Eurasian continent and its attendant islands was in thrall to totalitarian dictatorships. Freedom had retreated to the Anglophone societies of Britain, its Empire and Commonwealth, and its former colony the United States. In the history of the world, there has never been such a titanic contest to the death between two sets of values: the free, common-law societies of the English-speaking peoples against an entire continent of various dictatorships with their hundreds of millions of regimented slaves... The Normandy landings were the first day in a Eurasian war that was to last 45 years, and would ultimately peel back totalitarianism from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Initially the foe was Nazism; its kindred creed, Communism, soon followed, to be confronted by economic might and military deterrence, until victory was won in 1989. Both triumphs were achievable only by the colossal sacrifices in men and riches of the US.
- Kevin Myers, "The Longest Day" in "The Telegraph"
I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
All great civilisations, in their early stages, are based on success in war.
- Professor Bell, "Murder Rooms"
Violence is sometimes a duty.
- Conan Doyle, "Murder Rooms"
Courage is not being unafraid, it's being afraid and going on regardless.
"War is repugnant to
the people of the United States; yet it is war that has made their nation
and it is through their power to wage war that they dominate the world.
Americans are proficient at war in the same way that they are proficient
at work. It is a task, sometimes a duty. Americans have worked at war since
the seventeenth century, to protect themselves from the Indians, to win
their independence from George III, to make themselves one country, to
win the whole of the their continent, to extinguish autocracy and dictatorship
in the world outside.
It is not their favoured form of work. Left to themselves, Americans build, cultivate, bridge, dam, canalise, invent, teach, manufacture, think, write, lock themselves in struggle with the eternal challenges that man has chosen to confront, and with an intensity not known elsewhere on the globe. Bidden to make war their work, Americans shoulder the burden with intimidating purpose.
There is, I have said, an American mystery, the nature of which I only begin to perceive. If I were obliged to define it, I would say it is the ethos - masculine, pervasive, unrelenting - of work as an end in itself. War is a form of work, and America makes war, however reluctantly, however unwillingly, in a particularly workmanlike way. I do not love war; but I love America."
– Sir John Keegan, "Warpaths"
"Democracy, and its
twin of market capitalism, alone can instantaneously create lethal armies
out of civilians, equip them with horrific engines of war, imbue them with
a near-messianic zeal within a set time and place to exterminate what they
understand as evil, have them follow to their deaths the most ruthless
of men, and then melt anonymously back into the culture that produced them.
It is democracies, which in the right circumstances, can be imbued with
the soul of battle, and thus turn the horror of killing to a higher purpose
of saving lives and freeing the enslaved...
What, then, is the soul of battle? A rare thing indeed that arises only when free men march unabashedly toward the heartland of their enemy in hopes of saving the doomed, when their vast armies are aimed at salvation and liberation, not conquest and enslavement.
When a free and consensual society feels its existence threatened, when it has been attacked, when its citizenry at last understands an enemy at odds with the very morality of its culture, when a genius at war leads the army with freedom to do what he wishes, when it is to march to a set place in a set time, then free men can muster, they can fight back well, and they can make war brutally and lethally beyond the wildest nightmares of the brutal military culture they seek to destroy.
In revenge for the unprovoked but feeble attack at Pearl Harbor on their country, American farmers, college students, welders, and mechanics of a year past were now prepared - and quite able - to ignite the entire island of Japan...
Japanese military leaders could scarcely grasp that in a matter of months colossal runways had appeared out of nowhere in the Pacific to launch horrendous novel bombers more deadly than any aircraft in history, commanded by a general as fanatical as themselves, and manned by teenagers and men in their early twenties more eager to kill even than Japan's own feared veterans....
Democracies, of course, can change military policy precipitously and without reason. We know that they can sometimes curtail needed military action out of the terror of human and material losses. Assemblies tend to find scapegoats for defeats and deify the lucky rather than reward the talented. In times of peace and prosperity they relax their guard with often disastrous subsequent consequences - all that is the well-chronicled military liability that arises from a volatile democratic culture. But the great military strength of such open and free societies is less well known: the dramatic manner in which we can mobilize people in a tremendous retaliatory crusade for a just cause to be led by men whom we otherwise do not appreciate - an asset greater even than the excellence of our technology or the sheer superabundance of our military equipment."
- Victor Davis Hanson, "The Soul of Battle"
"In the nineteenth
and twentieth centuries you have these great nation states hurling their
young men at one another. The victory was really going to rest on who could
do the best job of bringing up their kids to become efficient and effective
soldiers. That's pretty grandiose, I guess, but I do think that, and thank
God it's been the armies of democracy that have emerged from this as the
- Stephen E Ambrose
"Even unwilling conscripts,
having suffered the terrible torments of two world wars, have not infrequently
looked back on them as the happiest years of their lives, because they
found in war what they had searched for in vain in the monotony of their
ordinary existence. When they put their lives at risk, they discovered
how much they valued life, in its simplest form, much more than the vanities
which accumulate around it. When they confronted an enemy they realised
how precious a friend was. In the trenches and in moments of danger, comradeship
could sometimes achieve the intensity of love, a sense of belonging, a
comforting certainty that they would do anything to help those who faced
the same perils as themselves, who would do the same for them, oblivious
of all risks. Pride in joint achivements, eliminating selfishness and the
jealousies of status, was sustained by a determination not to be unworthy
of the life-and-death trust that each placed in his colleague. They had
no choice but to transcend themselves, to reveal qualities they never suspected
they had, to be more heroic, loyal, proud — even egalitarian — than they
had ever thought possible, to concentrate the mind so that no other worries
troubled them but mere survival, not just for themselves but for those
who had suddenly become brothers and who not long ago had been strangers.
That at any rate was how some remembered war when its horrors ceased to
be present, and they consoled themselves for their sacrifices that they
had found a higher meaning in life, defending their nation or their principles.
The brave felt bound together like a nobility."
- Theodore Zeldin, "An Intimate History of Humanity"
In the past few years,
I have asked many officers, of varying ranks, whether they would like to
see the revival of a draft. Almost all of them have said they would not.
Two captains that I asked recently gave succinct renditions of the most
typical replies: "I'd rather be fighting with soldiers who want to be there,"
and "With a draft, there'd be too much riff-raff." The latter response
might surprise those, like Michael Moore and Rep. Charles Rangel, who claim
the all-volunteer force draws mainly on poor, uneducated minorities. The
stereotype was true in the first decade or so of the all-volunteer force,
in the wake of Vietnam. But, according to official data, members of the
armed forces today are better-educated than civilians in their age group;
they score higher on aptitude tests; African-Americans are only slightly
overrepresented in the enlisted ranks, and Hispanics are underrepresented.
- Fred Kaplan, "Slate Magazine" (Aug'07)
It was the end of the Earth year 2260, and the war had paused, suddenly and unexpectedly. All around us, it was as if the universe were holding its breath . . . waiting. All of life can be broken down into moments of transition or moments of revelation. This had the feeling of both.
G'Quon wrote, There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities -- it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender.
The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future, or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.
The Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) were conquered and united into one kingdom. To insure his rule, the king confiscated and banned possession of weapons by people other than his troops. A second ban on weapons was instituted by Japanese conquerors approximately 200 years later. These two incidents are generally credited as the cause for the intense development of the emptyhanded fighting techniques...
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