combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 01 Number 03 Summer ©Jul 2003

Verbal Shrapnel
a desiderative pastiche

The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a thousand meanings.
George Santayana (1920, 1956)

I never saw an instance of one of two disputants convincing the other by argument.
Thomas Jefferson [1 Jun 1798 letter to John Taylor]

The first inclination of the uncertain is to accept that which seems easy.
Richard Henry Lee (1775)

There can be a true grandeur in any degree of submissiveness, because it springs from loyalty to the laws and to an oath, and not from baseness of soul.
Simone Weil

He was afraid he sounded too nostalgic. How could you long for horror? He was nostalgic for the way some men behaved facing horror, but that was impossible to explain at a restaurant table, or anywhere for that matter.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, [The Nautical Chart (2001)]

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things ....
John Stuart Mill

War is a dreadful thing, and unjust war is a crime against humanity.
Theodore Roosevelt

Although war is evil, it is occasionally the lesser of two evils.
McGeorge Bundy

It really seems to be the lesser evil. It sounds like a horrible thing, but I would rather have his [Saddam Hussein] people suffer in an invasion than seeing some kind of biological weapon or even nuclear go off in the middle of London six months from now.
Donald Rumsfeld

The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
Deuteronomy 32:25 Bible

The price of doing nothing exceeds the price of taking action, if we have to. We'll do everything we can to minimize the loss of life. The price of the attacks on America, the cost of the attacks on America on September the 11th were enormous. They were significant.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?
Patrick Henry

How much is freedom worth? How valuable is liberty? How much does patriotism cost? What would you pay for your homeland? What price can be placed on your family? How costly are essential defenses? How expensive is blood? How valuable is life?

The things that will destroy America are prosperity-at-any-price, peace-at-any-price, safety-first instead of duty-first, the love of soft living, and the get-rich-quick theory of life.
Theodore Roosevelt

Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.
Robert Goodloe Harper [Congressional dinner toast for John Marshall (18 June 1798); often attributed to Charles C. Pinckney, who purportedly said "Not a penny! Not a penny!" or possibly "No, no, not a six-pence." during the 1797 XYZ Affair.]

Those who set out to serve both God and Mammon soon discover that there isn't a God.
Logan Pearsall Smith

Cash-payment never was, or could except for a few years be, the union-bond of man to man. Cash never yet paid one man fully his deserts to another; nor could it, nor can it, now or henceforth to the end of the world.
Thomas Carlyle

Dollars! All their cares, hopes, joys, affections, virtues, and associations seemed to be melted down into dollars. Whatever the chance contributions that fell into the slow cauldron of their talk, they made the gruel thick and slab with dollars. Men were weighed by their dollars, measures were gauged by their dollars; life was auctioneered, appraised, put up, and knocked down for its dollars. The next respectable thing to dollars was any venture having their attainment for its end. The more of that worthless ballast, honour and fair-dealing, which any man cast overboard from the ship of his Good Nature and Good Intent, the more ample stowage-room he had for dollars. Make commerce one huge lie and mighty theft. Deface the banner of the nation for an idle rag; pollute it star by star; and cut out stripe by stripe as from the arm of a degraded soldier. Do anything for dollars! What is a flag to them!
Charles Dickens

That doctrine [of "peace at any price"] has done more mischief than any I can well recall that have been afloat in this country. It has occasioned more wars than any of the most ruthless conquerors. It has disturbed and nearly destroyed that political equilibrium so necessary to the liberties and the welfare of the world.
Benjamin Disraeli

In the battle between corporate capitalism and utopian communism, the dominant force is not labor but innovation, the prevailing weapons are not votes but dollars, the implacable defenses are not laws but achievements. Might may not be right, but there can be no argument with success.

Let us have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
Abraham Lincoln

The hour is late. I will not go on. I only ask you to consider that waging war is a simple act. It requires no great intelligence, no great abilities other than assembling a means of killing your enemy. It appalls me. Can we not make one more effort? There is time enough for chaos; can we not attempt reason?
John Dickinson [address to Continental Congress (July 1775)]

Our common security is challenged by regional conflicts — ethnic and religious strife that is ancient, but not inevitable. In the Middle East, there can be no peace for either side without freedom for both sides.
George Walker Bush [UN Gen Assembly (12 Sep 2002)]

If the world fails to confront the threat posed by the Iraqi regime, refusing to use force, even as a last resort, free nations would assume immense and unacceptable risks. The attacks of September the 11th, 2001 showed what the enemies of America did with four airplanes. We will not wait to see what terrorists or terrorist states could do with weapons of mass destruction. We are determined to confront threats wherever they arise. I will not leave the American people at the mercy of the Iraqi dictator and his weapons.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years and we've done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.
Colin Powell [response to query by George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury at Jan 2003 presentation to World Economic Forum in Switzerland] [nb: an apocryphal quote on "empire building" allegedly from a Feb 2003 MTV interview, in which Powell purportedly said: `Far from being the Great Satan, I would say that we are the Great Protector ... the only land we ever asked for was enough land to bury our dead. And that is the kind of nation we are.' or `The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.', is another e-hoax]

Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

By the end of the war, German and Japanese leaders began the loser's lament: "We were beaten by more materiel; not good soldiers nor the highest quality weapons". But the war's outcome proved that Allied weapons were "good enough"; and men, not robots, made them work in battle.
Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett [A War to Be Won: Fighting the Second World War 2000]

Nobody likes war. The only thing I can do is assure the loved ones of those who wear our uniform that if we have to go to war, if war is upon us because Saddam Hussein has made that choice, we will have the best equipment available for our troops, the best plan available for victory, and we will respect innocent life in Iraq. The risk of doing nothing, the risk of hoping that Saddam Hussein changes his mind and becomes a gentle soul, the risk that somehow — that inaction will make the world safer, is a risk I'm not willing to take for the American people.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

These are not the actions of a regime that is disarming. These are the actions of a regime engaged in a willful charade. These are the actions of a regime that systematically and deliberately is defying the world. If the Iraqi regime were disarming, we would know it, because we would see it. Iraq's weapons would be presented to inspectors, and the world would witness their destruction. Instead, with the world demanding disarmament, and more than 200,000 troops positioned near his country, Saddam Hussein's response is to produce a few weapons for show, while he hides the rest and builds even more. Inspection teams do not need more time, or more personnel. All they need is what they have never received — the full cooperation of the Iraqi regime. Token gestures are not acceptable. The only acceptable outcome is the one already defined by a unanimous vote of the Security Council — total disarmament.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people; they've suffered too long in silent captivity. Liberty for the Iraqi people is a great moral cause, and a great strategic goal. The people of Iraq deserve it; the security of all nations requires it. Free societies do not intimidate through cruelty and conquest, and open societies do not threaten the world with mass murder.
George Walker Bush [UN Gen Assembly (12 Sep 2002)]

Unfortunately there are innocent casualties in every war, it's inevitable. It's a horrible thing, but war is a horrible thing.
Donald Rumsfeld

Military power was [formerly] used to end a regime by breaking a nation. Today, we have the greater power to free a nation by breaking a dangerous and aggressive regime. With new tactics and precision weapons, we can achieve military objectives without directing violence against civilians. No device of man can remove the tragedy from war; yet it is a great moral advance when the guilty have far more to fear from war than the innocent.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

None knows better than the military leaders themselves the dangers of war, consequently they are usually the last to advocate it.
Wesley K. Clark

The character of our military through history — the daring of Normandy, the fierce courage of Iwo Jima, the decency and idealism that turned enemies into allies — is fully present in this generation. When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength and kindness and goodwill. When I look at the members of the United States military, I see the best of our country, and I'm honored to be your Commander-in-Chief.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

Those we lost were last seen on duty. Their final act on this Earth was to fight a great evil and bring liberty to others. All of you — all in this generation of our military — have taken up the highest calling of history. You're defending your country, and protecting the innocent from harm.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

My political enemies I can freely forgive; but as for who abused me when I was serving my country in the field, and those who attacked me for serving my country ... Doctor, that is a different case.
Andrew Jackson [letter to Rev. Dr. John Todd Edgar]

You people need to get out of Hollywood once in a while and get out into the real world. You'd be surprised at the hostility you would find out here. Stop in at a truck stop and tell an overworked, long-distance truck driver that you don't think Saddam Hussein is doing anything wrong. Tell a farmer with a couple of sons in the military that you think the United States has no right to defend itself. ... You people are some of the most disgusting examples of a waste of protoplasm I've ever had the displeasure to hear about. ... You scoff at our military who's[sic] boots you're not even worthy to shine. They go to battle and risk their lives so ingrates like you can live in luxury. ... God Bless America!
Charlie Daniels [Open Letter to Hollywood]

Honestly, the real trouble is ... a gang which unfortunately survives — made up mostly of those who were isolationists before December seventh and who are actuated today by various motives in their effort to instill disunity in the country .... The best comment I have heard was by Elmer Davis ... "Some people want the United States to win so long as England loses. Some people want the United States to win so long as Russia loses. Some people want the United States to win so long as Roosevelt loses."
Franklin D. Roosevelt [16 Mar 1942 letter to Russell Leffingwell]

In charity to all mankind, bearing no malice or ill-will to any human being, and even compassionating those who hold in bondage their fellow-men, not knowing what they do.
John Quincy Adams [30 July 1838 letter to A. Bronson]

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Abraham Lincoln [Second Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1865)]

I say unto you, "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you."
Matthew 5:44 (Sermon on the Mount) Bible

Love thine enemies.
Matthew 5:44 (Sermon on the Mount) Bible

Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
attributed to John Fitzgerald Kennedy [also ascribed to Robert Francis Kennedy]

Forgive your enemies, but first get even.
Lester Cole, Nathaniel Curtis, and Frank Lloyd [comment in film, Blood on the Sun, referring to U.S. response to WWII Japanese aggression (1945)]

Forgive your enemies, after they've been hanged.

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills]

Now it is known by experience, that the losses in physical forces in the course of a battle seldom present a great difference between victor and vanquished respectively, often none at all, sometimes even one bearing an inverse relation to the result, and that the most decisive losses on the side of the vanquished only commence with the retreat, that is, those which the conqueror does not share with him.
Karl von Clausewitz

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; Lest the Lord see it and be displeased, and turn away His anger from him.
Proverbs 24:17-18 RSV Bible

Don't cheer, men; the poor devils are dying.
John Woodward Philip [3 July 1898 battle of Santiago]

The war is over — the rebels are our countrymen again.
Ulysses S. Grant [silencing cheers at surrender on 9 April 1865 in Appomattox]

See you in Hell, brother.
common valediction between Civil War combatants

Both [North and South] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged.
Abraham Lincoln [second inaugural address (1865)]

One God, one people, two dreams.
anonymous summation of Civil War dispute

Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.
Lord Brougham [29 Jan 1828 speech to the House of Commons]

Fanatics are picturesque, mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reasons.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1888)

Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim.
George Santayana

I have often thought that if a rational Fascist dictatorship were to exist, then it would choose the American system.
Noam Chomsky

If fascism came to America, it would be on a program of Americanism.
Huey P. Long

I'm not a pacifist. I understand why the Vietnamese are fighting ... against a White Man's racist aggression. We know what U.S. imperialism has done to our country so we know what lies in store for any third world country that could have the misfortune of falling into the hands of a country such as the United States and becoming a colony.
Jane Fonda (1972)

We'll help that [Iraqi] nation to build a just government, after decades of brutal dictatorship. The form and leadership of that government is for the Iraqi people to choose. Anything they choose will be better than the misery and torture and murder they have known under Saddam Hussein.
George Walker Bush [6 Mar 2003 nat'l press conference]

Loss of freedom seldom happens overnight. Oppression doesn't stand on the doorstep with toothbrush moustache and swastika armband — it creeps up insidiously ... step by step, and all of a sudden the unfortunate citizen realises that it is gone.
Baron Lane, Lord Chief Justice of England (3 Feb 1990)

The Taliban [illegitimate, unelected terrorists] are responsible for civilian casualties too, even when American munitions cause the damage. The Taliban use Afghan civilians as human shields when they hide in mosques and residential areas. When the Taliban report instances of civilian casualties, they indict themselves.
Donald Rumsfeld

No people was ever held in subjection long except through their own consent.
Robert A. Heinlein

Decades of lies and intimidation could not make the Iraqi people love their oppressors or desire their own enslavement. Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices; and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear.
George Walker Bush [1 May 2003 speech from USS Abraham Lincoln]

It was downright therapeutic for action to take your mind off your problems. And for atavistic impulses from days when a person had to choose between death and survival to claim their place in the game of life. Maybe that's why the world was the way it was today, he reflected. Men had stopped fighting because it was frowned on, and that was making everyone crazy.
Arturo Pérez-Reverte, [The Nautical Chart (2001)]

Non-Combatant: A dead Quaker.
Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

First we kill all the subversives; then, their collaborators; later, those who sympathize with them; afterward, those who remain indifferent; and finally, the undecided.
Iberico Saint Jean [Argentinian soldier politician (May 1985)]

Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.
Simone Weil

By strength shall no man prevail.
I Samuel 2:9 Bible

Wisdom is better than strength.
Ecclesiastes 9:16 Bible

Wisdom is better than weapons of war.
Ecclesiastes 9:18 Bible

In much wisdom is much grief.
Ecclesiastes 1:18 Bible

My experience of men has neither disposed me to think worse of them nor indisposed me to serve them; nor, in spite of failures which I lament, of errors which I now see and acknowledge, or of the present aspect of affairs, do I despair of the future. The truth is this: The march of Providence is so slow and our desires so impatient; the work of progress so immense and our means of aiding it so feeble; the life of humanity is so long, that of the individual so brief, that we often see only the ebb of the advancing wave and are thus discouraged. It is history that teaches us to hope.
Robert E. Lee, General CSA [in a letter to Charles Marshall, Lieutenant Colonel CSA, grandson of US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall]

compiled by Ed Staff

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C O M B A T, the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones