Warfare Quotes


All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Deception    Strategy    Tactics    War    Warfare

It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.

In conclusion, the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast.

De Principatibus / Il Principe

Niccolò Machiavelli

De Principatibus / Il Principe

The skillful tactician may be likened to the shuai-jan. Now the shuai-jan is a snake that is found in the Ch'ang mountains. Strike at its head, and you will be attacked by its tail; strike at its tail, and you will be attacked by its head; strike at its middle, and you will be attacked by head and tail both.

In a world gushing blood day and night, you never stop mopping up pain.

The enemies of your enemies are not always your friends, but they can still be useful.

Enemies    Noremorse    War    Warfare

What passing bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifle's rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers, nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill demented choirs of wailing shells,
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes,
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall,
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each, slow dusk a drawing down of blinds.

The War Poems

Wilfred Owen

The War Poems

As long as a person is involved with warfare, trying to defend or attack, then his action is not sacred; it is mundane, dualistic, a battlefield situation.

Attacking    Defending    Duality    Fallacy    Fighting    Sacred    War    Warfare

I sometimes try to imagine what would have happened if we’d known the bonobo first and the chimpanzee only later—or not at all. The discussion about human evolution might not revolve as much around violence, warfare and male dominance, but rather around sexuality, empathy, caring and cooperation. What a different intellectual landscape we would occupy!

He could not believe that any of them might actually hit somebody. If one did, what a nowhere way to go: killed by accident; slain not as an individual but by sheer statistical probability, by the calculated chance of searching fire, even as he himself might be at any moment. Mathematics! Mathematics! Algebra! Geometry! When 1st and 3d Squads came diving and tumbling back over the tiny crest, Bell was content to throw himself prone, press his cheek to the earth, shut his eyes, and lie there. God, oh, God! Why am I
here
? Why am I
here
? After a moment's thought, he decided he better change it to: why are
we
here. That way, no agency of retribution could exact payment from him for being selfish.

Algebra    Bell    Death    Fear    Geometry    Machine guns    Mathematics    Payment    Probability    Retribution    Selfishness    Statistics    Warfare

He wins his battles by making no mistakes.
Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.

He who fights with guns and knives is a coward! For how easy is it to kill with the single pull of a trigger? And how does human flesh stand to a sharpened metal? Even an idiot can kill with a gun and a knife! A man needs no courage at all to stand behind these things that make him feel invincible and bigger than he ever will be! I don't say that no one should fight! Because battles must be fought, and wars will always be won! But let those who fight, fight with bare hands! The measure of true strength! With his hands and feet and nothing but! The country with truly strong men is able to have soldiers that need not a knife, that need no guns! And if you can soar even higher than that; fight with your pens! Let us all write! And see the substance of the man through his philosophies and through his beliefs! And let one philosophy outdo another! Let one belief outlast another! And let this be how we determine the outcome of a war!

All Welsh knew was that he was scared shitless, and at the same time was afflicted with a choking gorge of anger that any social coercion existed in the world which could force him to be here.

Fight ever on: this earthly stuff
If used God’s way will be enough.
Face to the firing line o friend
Fight out life’s battle to the end.
One soldier, when the fight was red,
Threw down his broken sword and fled.
Another snatched it, won the day,
With what his comrade flung away.

Lovers and warriors are not bound by the rules of fair play.

Chivalry    Fair play    Love    Lovers    Restrictions    Romance    Rules    War    Warfare    Warriors

Nonviolent action on behalf of justice is no automatic forumla with promise of success: but neither is war. After all, at least half of the people who go to war for some cause deemed worthy of it are defeated.

As bronze may be much beautified by lying in the dark damp soil, so men who fade in dust of warfare fade fairer, and sorrow blooms their soul.

My squad is my family, my gun is my provider, and protector, and my rule is to kill or be killed.

A man without equals is a dangerous man indeed. He must exercise the most difficult of attributes, restraint.

(Evil people) do not believe in forgiveness. Their transgressions are either punished or not punished. That is the only result that matters.

...how impossible it
is to really make a choice, when the best choice of all is an option you
couldn’t even imagine.

When I went into the Army, I made up my mind that I was putting myself at the Army's disposal. I believe in the war. That doesn't mean I believe in the Army. I don't believe in any army. You don't expect justice out of an army, if you're a sensible, grown-up human being, you only expect victory. And if it comes to that, our Army is probably the most just one that ever existed. . . . I expected the Army to be corrupt, inefficient, cruel, wasteful, and it turned out to be all those things, just like all armies, only much less so than I thought before I got into it. It is much less corrupt, for example, than the German Army. Good for us. The victory we win will not be as good as it might be, if it were a different kind of army, but it will be the best kind of victory we can expect in this day and age, and I'm thankful for it.

Army    Warfare    Wwii

At the sight of the Neckar slopes wreathed with flowering cherry trees, I had a strong sense of having come home. What a beautiful country it was, and eminently worth our blood and our lives. Never before had I felt its charm so clearly. I had good and serious thoughts, and for the first time I sensed that this war was more than just a great adventure.
p. 33

In Stahlgewittern

Ernst Jünger

In Stahlgewittern

No less a bold and pugnacious figure than Winston Churchill broke down and was unable to finish his remarks at the sendoff of the British Expeditionary Force into the maelstrom of World War I in Europe.

The Guns of August

Barbara Tuchman

The Guns of August

Mechanized warfare still left room for human qualities to play an important part in the issue. ‘Automatic warfare’ cancels them out, except in a passive form. Archidamus is at last being justified. Courage, skill and patriotism become shrinking assets. The most virile nation might not be able to withstand another, inferior to it in all natural qualities, if the latter had some decisively superior technical appliance.
(...)The advent of ‘automatic warfare’ should make plain the absurdity of warfare as a means of deciding nations’ claims to superiority. It blows away romantic vapourings about the heroic virtues of war, utilized by aggressive and ambitious leaders to generate a military spirit among their people. They can no longer claim that war is any test of a people’s fitness, or even of its national strength. Science has undermined the foundations of nationalism, at the very time when the spirit of nationalism is most rampant.

That's what you get,' he said, nodding towards a group of the men engaged in some close-order military drill, 'when you give people Bibles and guns. You should give 'em either one or the other, but not both. It just messes up their brains.

Religion    War    Warfare    Zealotry

War is politics for everyone but the warrior.

In battle, topography is fate.

The great wars of the present age are the effects of the study of history.

You've been telling us about how to secure peace, but come on, now, General—just among us Rotarians and Rotary Anns—'fess up! With your great experience, don't you honest, cross-your-heart, think that perhaps—just maybe—when a country has gone money-mad, like all our labor unions and workmen, with their propaganda to hoist income taxes, so that the thrifty and industrious have to pay for the shiftless ne'er-do-weels, then maybe, to save their lazy souls and get some iron into them, a war might be a good thing? Come on, now, tell your real middle name, Mong General!

It Can't Happen Here

Sinclair Lewis

It Can't Happen Here

Horror would not annoy a soldier any more than the sight of a hammer annoys a carpenter. It is sentimental to pretend that horror is not the tool of the soldier, just as the hammer is the tool of the carpenter. We live off death and the threat of death and we must take it calmly and use it well.... Eventually I came to enjoy killing, as a pianist enjoys the Czerny which keeps his fingers limber for the Beethoven.

In 1870, came the victory of the short-service troops of Prussia over the long-service troops of France, where conscription had but recently been reintroduced in a partial form and as a supplementary measure. That obvious contrast carried more weight into the world than all the other factors which tilted the scales against France. As a result, universal peace-time conscription was adopted by almost all countries as the basis of their military system. This ensured that wars would grow bigger in scale, longer in duration, and worse in effects. While conscription appeared democratic, it provided autocrats, hereditary or revolutionary, with more effective and comprehensive means of imposing their will, both in peace and war. Once the rulp of compulsory service in arms was established for the young men of a nation, it was an obvious and easy transition to the servitude of the whole population. Totalitarian tyranny is the twin of total warfare—which might aptly be termed a reversion to tribal warfare on a larger scale.

The next worse thing to a battle lost is a battle won.

This revolutionary idea of Western citizenship—replete with ever more rights and responsibilities—would provide superb manpower for growing legions and a legal framework that would guarantee that the men who fought felt that they themselves in a formal and contractual sense had ratified the conditions of their own battle service. The ancient Western world would soon come to define itself by culture rather than by race, skin color, or language. That idea alone would eventually bring enormous advantages to its armies on the battlefield. (p. 122)

War, they say, is the answer of those who have no arguments left.

Answers    Arguments    Diplomacy    War    Warfare

If the tradition which claims that war may be justified does not also admit that it could be unjustified, the affirmation is not morally serious. A Christian who prepares the case for a justified war without being equally prepared for hte negative case has not soberly weighted the prima facie presumption that any violence is wrong until the case for an exception has been made.

Those of strong character and training are chosen by fate. They cannot help but rise to the forefront when their nations are troubled.

The world cannot continue to wage war like physical giants and to seek peace like intellectual pygmies.

Retreat is brave when you steal a great prize from your enemy's hands.

This time it is not a simple, understandable war, within the same culture. This time it is an assault of the animal world upon the house of the human being. I don’t know what you saw in Africa and Italy, but I know what I saw in Russia and Poland. We made a cemetery a thousand miles long and a thousand miles wide. Men, women, children, Poles, Russians, Jews, it made no difference. It could not be compared to any human action. It could be compared to a weasel in a henhouse. It was as though we felt that if we left anything alive in the East, it would one day bear witness against us and condemn us. And, now, we have made the final mistake. We are losing the war

Modern warfare wasn't supposed to have this much blood in it. The weapons were supposed to cook everyone neatly, like eggs in their shells. (Mark Vorkosigan's first experience with warfare, on seeing Miles Vorkosigan splattered before him)

Violence    War    Warfare

Why all this death?
You might as easily ask ‘Why all this life?’.

As a revolutionary people, we Americans won a probable victory over the best and biggest army in the world because we learned to fight from the Indians. You can do a lot of damage with a Kentucky rifle from behind a tree. You don't put on a peaked hat and a red coat and white leggings and crossed white bandoleers with a big silver buckle in the center of the X and march uphill into a line of Howitzers loaded with chain and chopped horseshoes.

Understanding the OODA loop enables a commander to compress time - that is, the time between observing a situation and taking an action. A commander can use the temporal discrepancy (a form of fast transient) to select the least-expected action rather than what is predicted to be the most effective action. The enemy can also figure out what might be the most effective. To take the least-expected action disorients the enemy. It causes him to pause, wonder, to question.

This is how I see humanity. When enemies come to your country, destroy the countryside and your village, kill your countrymen, your comrades and the defenseless wounded, you have to kill them and defend your compatriots; that is true humanity.

War yet shall be, but warriors are now operatives; war's made less grand than peace.

freedom is what your born with in America, joining the military is how you pay back uncle sam for giving you that freedom

O maior remédio utilizado contra os desígnios do inimigo é fazeres voluntariamente aquilo que ele planeja que tu faças à força, porque fazendo-o de forma voluntária, tu o fazes com ordem e para vantagem tua e desvantagem dele; se o fizesses à força, seria então a tua ruína.

...the world was trying to change its old face and show its underbelly of earth and roots.

King Abgarus asked, If I may, general, what weapon do you prefer?
Crassus took no more than a moment to answer. Overwhelming odds.

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