Quotations about   military

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Man is a military animal,
Glories in gunpowder, and loves parade;
Prefers them to all things.

Philip James Bailey (1816-1902) English poet
“Festus” [Lucifer] (1839)
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Added on 20-Nov-17 | Last updated 20-Nov-17
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From the standpoint of a professional military man there is one good thing about revolutions: the opportunities for swift promotion are excellent . . . even if the pay is inclined to be irregular.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Revolt in 2100, ch. 10 (1953)
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Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 26-Aug-17
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The worst barbarity of war is that it forces men collectively to commit acts against which individually they would revolt with their whole being.

Ellen Key (1849-1926) Swedish feminist and writer
War, Peace, and the Future, ch. 6 (1916) [tr. Norberg]
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Added on 17-Jul-17 | Last updated 17-Jul-17
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We learned from Hitler at Munich that success only feeds the appetite of aggression.

Lyndon B. Johnson (1908-1973) American poltician, educator, US President (1963-69)
Press conference (28 Jul 1965)

Defending his decision to to not withdraw US troops from Vietnam.
Added on 15-Jun-17 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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We’re poor little lambs who’ve lost our way,
Baa! Baa! Baa!
We’re little black sheep who’ve gone astray,
Baa-aa-aa!
Gentlemen rankers out on a spree,
Damned from here to Eternity.
God ha’ mercy on such as we,
Baa! Yah! Bah!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“Gentlemen-Rankers,” (1892)
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Added on 12-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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Nay, number (itself) in armies, importeth not much, where the people is of weak courage; for (as Virgil saith) it never troubles the wolf how many the sheep be.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Essays or Counsels Civil and Moral, ch. 24 “Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates” (1597)
Added on 14-Jul-16 | Last updated 14-Jul-16
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We have been the cowards, lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, that’s not cowardly. Stupid maybe, but not cowardly.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Politically Incorrect (17 Sep 2001)

This controversy over this comment resulted in the series being cancelled.
Added on 6-Jul-16 | Last updated 6-Jul-16
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Americans, indeed, all free men, remember that in the final choice a soldier’s pack is not so heavy a burden as a prisoner’s chains.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Inaugural Address (20 Jan 1953)
Added on 5-Apr-16 | Last updated 5-Apr-16
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War is a grim, cruel business, a business justified only as a means of sustaining the forces of good against those of evil.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
United War Fund appeal (11 Sep 1945)
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Added on 1-Mar-16 | Last updated 1-Mar-16
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It was not the absence of intelligence which led us into trouble but our unwillingness to draw unpleasant conclusions from it.

H. A. de Weerd (1902-1979) American military historian, author [Harvey Arthur de Weerd]
“Strategic Surprise in the Korean War,” Orbis (1962)

On the US decision in 1950 to call China's bluff by advancing above the 38th parallel.
Added on 24-Feb-16 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Guildhall, London (12 Jun 1945)
Added on 23-Feb-16 | Last updated 23-Feb-16
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There is a reason you separate military and the police. One fights the enemies of the state, the other serves and protects the people. When the military becomes both, then the enemies of the state tend to become the people.

Ronald D. Moore (b. 1964) American screenwriter, television producer
Battlestar Galactica, 1×02 “Water” [Adama] (2004)
Added on 8-Dec-15 | Last updated 8-Dec-15
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Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their dead grip.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
The Guns of August, ch. 2 (1962)
Added on 21-Jul-15 | Last updated 21-Jul-15
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But finally, there is one other quality I would mention among these that I believe will fit you for difficult and important posts. This is a healthy and lively sense of humor.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Commencement Address, US Naval Academy (4 Jun 1958)
Added on 25-Jun-15 | Last updated 25-Jun-15
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I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Canadian Club, Ottawa (10 Jan 1946)
Added on 16-Mar-15 | Last updated 16-Mar-15
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The way chosen by the United States was plainly marked by a few clear precepts, which govern its conduct in world affairs.

First: No people on earth can be held, as a people, to be enemy, for all humanity shares the common hunger for peace and fellowship and justice.

Second: No nation’s security and well-being can be lastingly achieved in isolation but only in effective cooperation with fellow-nations.

Third: Any nation’s right to form of government and an economic system of its own choosing is inalienable.

Fourth: Any nation’s attempt to dictate to other nations their form of government is indefensible.

And fifth: A nation’s hope of lasting peace cannot be firmly based upon any race in armaments but rather upon just relations and honest understanding with all other nations.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
“The Chance for Peace,” speech to American Society of Newspaper Editors, Washington (16 Apr 1953)

Also known as the "Cross of Iron" speech.
Added on 5-Feb-15 | Last updated 23-Jun-18
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It appears we have appointed our worst generals to command forces, and our most gifted and brilliant to edit newspapers! In fact, I discovered by reading newspapers that these editor/geniuses plainly saw all my strategic defects from the start, yet failed to inform me until it was too late. Accordingly, I’m readily willing to yield my command to these obviously superior intellects, and I’ll, in turn, do my best for the cause by writing editorials — after the fact.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
(Attributed)

Variant: "We made a great mistake in the beginning of our struggle, and I fear, in spite of all we can do, it will prove to be a fatal mistake. We appointed all our worst generals to command our armies, and all our best generals to edit the newspapers."

Generally cited as an 1863 statement, there are a number of variants (dating to the 1870s) and no actual writing by Lee has been found. More information here.

Added on 30-Sep-14 | Last updated 30-Sep-14
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I was too weak to defend, so I attacked.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
(Attributed)

On his strategy at the Battle of Chancellorsville (1863).
Added on 25-Sep-14 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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A strategist should think in terms of paralyzing, not of killing. Even on the lower plane of warfare, a man killed is merely one man less, whereas a man unnerved is a highly infectious carrier of fear, capable of spreading an epidemic of panic. … The sword drops from a paralyzed hand.

B. H. Liddell Hart (1895-1970) English soldier, military historian (Basil Henry Liddell Hart)
Strategy, ch. 15 (1954)
Added on 4-Sep-14 | Last updated 4-Sep-14
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I git thar fustest with the mostest.

Nathan Bedford Forrest (1821-1877) American / Confederate military leader
(Attributed)

Sometimes "corrected" as "I get there firstest with the mostest men," first found in print in a New York Tribune article about Civil War generals. The New York Times (28 May 1918) speculatively corrected this to "Ma'am, I get thar first with the most men."Elsewhere given as "I always make a rule to get there first with the most men."
Added on 28-Aug-14 | Last updated 28-Aug-14
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Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs our strength matters just as much.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
Added on 12-May-14 | Last updated 12-May-14
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I don’t consider myself dovish and I certainly don’t consider myself hawkish. Maybe I would describe myself as owlish — that is, wise enough to understand that you want to do everything possible to avoid war.

Norman Schwarzkopf (b. 1934) American military leader
In New York Times (28 Jan 1991)
Added on 30-Apr-14 | Last updated 30-Apr-14
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The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Strength to Love, 7.3 (1963)
Added on 25-Apr-14 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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If you want to know when a war might be coming, you just watch the U.S. and see when it starts cutting down on its defenses. It’s the surest barometer in the world.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
(Attributed)

Quoted in Bryan B. Sterling, ed., The Best of Will Rogers (1990).
Added on 10-Jan-14 | Last updated 10-Jan-14
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Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (10 Apr 1778)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 22-Nov-13 | Last updated 22-Nov-13
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At the present day, civilized opinion is a curious mental mixture. The military instincts and ideals are as strong as ever, but they are confronted by reflective criticisms which sorely curb their ancient freedom. Innumerable writers are showing up the bestial side of military service. Pure loot and mastery seem no longer morally allowable motives, and pretexts must be found for attributing them solely to the enemy.

William James (1842-1910) American psychologist and philosopher
“The Moral Equivalent of War” (1906)
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Added on 7-Nov-12 | Last updated 11-Aug-14
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A nation that continues year after year to spend more on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Beyond Vietnam,” speech, Clergy and Laity Concerned, Riverside Church, New York City (4 Apr 1967)
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Reprinted (or the phrase repeated) in Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community? (1967) and The Trumpet of Conscience (1968). See also this.
Added on 27-Jul-12 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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Nations love dangers, and when there are none to be found create them to fill the want.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [tr. Collins (1928)]
Added on 27-Feb-12 | Last updated 13-May-16
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The discussion, for the most part, was able and organized, although, like all meetings of this kind, certain statements were made as accepted truisms, which I, at least, thought were of questionable validity. One member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for example, argued that we could use nuclear weapons, on basis that our adversaries would use theirs against us in an attack. I thought, as I listened, of the many times I had heard the military take positions which, if wrong, had the advantage that no one would be around at the end to know.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, ch. 5 (1969)
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Originally printed in "Thirteen Days: The Story about How the World Almost Ended," McCall's (Nov 1968)
Added on 12-Jun-09 | Last updated 19-Jul-14
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But the Nature of the War is now alter’d,
`tis the longest Purse
Conquers the longest Sword.

Daniel Defoe (1660?-1731) English journalist and novelist
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 13-Aug-15
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There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness. If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known that we are at all times ready for war.

George Washington (1732-1799) American military leader, Founding Father, US President (1789-1797)
Fifth Annual Message, Philadelphia (3 Dec 1793)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Aug-14
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You don’t need to be “straight” to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.

Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) American politician
Washington Post, opinion piece (Jun 1993)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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