a desiderative pastiche
The word experience is like a shrapnel shell, and bursts into a
George Santayana (1920, 1956)
And having gone forth, Jesus departed from the temple, and his
disciples came near to show him the buildings of the temple, and
Jesus said to them, "Do ye not see all these? verily I say to
you, There may not be left here a stone upon a stone, that shall
not be thrown down." And when he is sitting on the mount of the
Olives, the disciples came near to him by himself, saying, "Tell
us, when shall these be? and what [is] the sign of thy presence,
and of the full end of the age?" And Jesus answering said to
them, "Take heed that no one may lead you astray ...."
Matthew 24:1-4 YLT Bible
And when we decide to destroy a nation, we first send warning to
those who are given abundance in this life and still transgress,
so that the sentence is proven against them, then we annihilate
Their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in
their hands. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed
innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting
and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know
not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made
them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.
Isaiah 59:6-8 KJV Bible
Oh, the brave Music of a distant Drum!
Omar Khayyám [st 12 The
How good bad music and bad reasons sound when we are
marching into battle against an enemy.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche [aph 557 "Into Battle
Against an Enemy" (1881)]
A scrap of phrase, a wail of bugles ... all countries bleed and
die in the same way, and for the same thing.
Hence that general is skilful in attack whose opponent does not
know what to defend; and he is skilful in defense whose opponent
does not know what to attack.
Sun-Tzu [ch 6 ax 9 The Art of War
Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is
Mohandas Karamchand "Mahatma" Gandhi [Satyagraha
Leaflet No. 13 (3 May 1919)]
Whenever time permits, thought before action; but when time does
not permit, above all, ACTION! ... quick, thorough, decisive
In time of war, first commit the nation, then commit the troops.
H. Ross Perot
Strategy fixes the point where, the time when, and the numerical
force with which the battle is to be fought. By this triple
determination it has therefore a very essential influence on the
issue of the combat. If tactics has fought the battle, if the
result is over, let it be victory or defeat, Strategy makes such
use of it as can be made in accordance with the great object of
Karl von Clausewitz
Because military affairs often employ scientific methods, too
many practitioners neglect its concomitant artistry ... no
formula can counter inspiration, neither can intuition be
Perseverance is more prevailing than violence; and many things
which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves
up when taken little by little.
The few who command the many are never as formidable as the many
who command themselves and lead the few. A conscript army must be
kept strong enough to defeat its adversaries, but never strong
enough to defeat its leaders. A mob has only numbers to lend it
strength for any purpose. But an army of free men is composed of
soldiers who captain their own skills and general their own
cause. They lead by example, reinforce one another, and inspire
others to follow. Free men will rout driven conscripts and
factious mobs ... they can only be conquered by exhaustion and
paraphrase of Hellenic justification
Real soldiers, the professionals, can always recognize each
other, can sense another's presence and smell their skill.
paraphrase of Brian Haig
Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear
postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.
Sun-Tzu [ch 5 ax 17 The Art of War (ca490BC)]
[explanatory note by translator Lionel Giles: "If you wish to
feign confusion in order to lure the enemy on, you must first
have perfect discipline; if you wish to display timidity in order
to entrap the enemy, you must have extreme courage; if you wish
to parade your weakness in order to make the enemy
over-confident, you must have exceeding strength."]
Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the
Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the
fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Man is the cruelest animal.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche
Those who love to be feared fear to be loved, and they themselves
are more afraid than anyone, for whereas other men fear only
them, they fear everyone.
Saint Frances de Sales
We see, therefore, how, from the commencement, the absolute, the
mathematical as it is called, nowhere finds any sure basis in the
calculations in the Art of War; and that from the outset there is
a play of possibilities, probabilities, good and bad luck, which
spreads about with all the coarse and fine threads of its web,
and makes War of all branches of human activity the most like a
Karl von Clausewitz
As always, victory finds a hundred fathers, but defeat is an
Galeazzo Ciano [on 9 Sep 1942 in The Ciano
Victory has innumerable parents, while defeat is an orphan.
Blunders are an inescapable feature of war, because choice in
military affairs lies generally between the bad and the worse.
Allan Massie [pt 3 ch 11 A Question of
The oplan is always perfect in the briefing session, and the op
order is always clear in the headquarters, because the system is
designed to protect itself. There is no such thing as "freedom of
movement" in the chain-of-command. Any operational element that
has been given a license for tactical initiative has not been
granted permission to innovate or interpret, and is not
independent or autonomous, but rather has been issued a blueprint
paraphrase of Jeff Rovin
Unfortunately, our species has demonstrated a striking lack of
caution in the past. It is hard to imagine that we will behave
differently in the future. We think we know what we are doing. We
have always thought so. We never seem to acknowledge that we have
been wrong in the past, and so might be wrong in the future.
Instead, each generation writes off earlier errors as the result
of bad thinking by less able minds, and then
confidently embarks on fresh errors of its own.
War is an act of belief on the past of a people in their
conception of the meaning of human life. The way in which people
make war is influenced by this conception.
History is about what actually happened; not about what didn't
happen. Speculating on what might have happened is not history,
it is fiction.
paraphrase of Stephen E. Ambrose
Today we know that World War II began not in 1939 or 1941 but in
the 1920's and 1930's when those who should have known better
persuaded themselves that they were not their brother's keeper.
Hubert H. Humphrey
There is always a chance that he who sets himself up as his
brother's keeper will end up by being his jailkeeper.
This [Spanish Civil War] is not a war. It's a comic opera
punctuated by an occasional death.
attributed to George Cox by George Orwell [Eric Arthur
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Alfred Tennyson [The Charge of the Light
For every state, war is always incessant and lifelong against
every other state, for what most men call peace,
this is really only a name. In truth, all states, by their very
nature, are always engaged in an informal war against all other
Neither side ever wins a war. The best that can happen is that
some good comes out of the bad, that in some small way the rights
of the innocent survive, that in some unknown manner civilization
will learn from its mistakes, so another historical debacle may
paraphrase of Clay Fisher [Henley W. Allen]
"Direct action ... that's your style. You're an old relic. You
ought to be displayed under glass in a museum. Manipulating the
law is better than manipulating a gun ... safer, more
If you can't be a good example, you'll just have to be a horrible
Jennifer Crusie Smith
It's a little ironic that we're advancing civilization by
eliminating all hostility and resistance to it ... something like
a lawman taming a town by threatening to kill everything until
peace is the only thing left! We are the
essential men, the necessary evil, who make the
development of civilization possible, but then there is no room
for us in that new society, no place left for us. We are
unwelcome in the very thing we enabled. Having worked ourselves
out of a job, there is nothing else for us to do ... nowhere else
for us to go. From once being important and essential, we have
now become worthless and unwanted.
paraphrase of Elmer Kelton (1956)
There will always be men who need killing, and there must be good
men to do this necessary killing as well as possible, but when
once started, how will they know when to stop?
paraphrase of Loren D. Estleman
All great and honorable actions are accompanied with great
William Bradford [History of Plymouth
It is the object only of war that makes it honorable.
Thomas Paine [#V The American Crisis (21
Every kind of service necessary to the public good becomes
honorable by being necessary.
Nathan Hale [10 Sep 1776 letter to William
Who, then, is the servant, faithful and wise, whom his lord did
set over his household, to give them the nourishment in season?
Happy that servant, whom his lord, having come, shall find doing
so; verily I say to you, that over all his substance he will set
him. And, if that evil servant may say in his heart, "My Lord
doth delay to come", and may begin to beat the fellow-servants,
and to eat and to drink with the drunken, the lord of that
servant will arrive in a day when he doth not expect, and in an
hour of which he doth not know, and will cut him off, and his
portion with the hypocrites will appoint; there shall be the
weeping and the gnashing of the teeth.
Matthew 24:45-51 YLT Bible
You have done all I asked and more than could be reasonably
expected, but your country is at stake, your wives, your homes
and all you hold dear. You have worn yourselves out with fatigues
and hardships, but we know not how to spare you. If you will
consent to stay only [a little longer], you will render that
service to the cause of liberty and to your country which you
probably never can do under any other circumstance.
I wish to be useful, and every kind of service necessary to the
public good becomes honorable by being necessary. If the
exigencies of my country demand a peculiar service, its claim to
perform that service are imperious.
Men are often false to their country and their honor, false to
duty and even to their interest, but multitudes of men are never
long false or deaf to their passions.
Fisher Ames [8 Feb 1800 speech]
When your decisions, the best no less than the mistakes, result
in the deaths of good people, then you weigh the risks against
the potential for dishonor or disgrace, so that you may be worthy
of the uniform you wear.
Honor is impossible in a defeated country.
Niccol di Bernardo Machiavelli
In spite of the moral and political confusion, in spite of the
horror and shame of war, we knew that by our own lights that we
had done something good. And we clung to that belief even when
the war and its warriors were out of fashion.
William Broyles Jr
Bravery never goes out of fashion.
Men fight wars the way they must ... not the way they want ...
and having made their choice, but not their preferred one, the
results are never pleasing. Their personal desires, like their
private hopes, are put away for a better, for a finer, for a
The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected
Anything worthwhile will be challenging, and will also be desired
by others, who will threaten your possession. As long as you let
your enemy define you, you will continue to be on the defensive
... you can never proceed while sheltering, you can never achieve
while shielding, and you can never progress while preserving. You
must struggle to survive, and you must risk defeat in order to
win mastery over your opponents. Victory is not for the
Chi Hsing Tzu trained fighting cocks for King Hsuan. He was
training a fine bird, and the king kept asking if the bird was
ready for combat. "Not yet", said the trainer. "He is vain and
confident of his own strength. He is ready to pick a fight with
every other bird. He is full of fire." After ten days the trainer
answered again. "Not yet. He starts at shadows, and flares at the
crow of another bird." Ten days later the king asked again. "Not
yet. He still glowers fiercely, and swells his ruffled feathers
with rage." After another ten days the trainer responded. "He is
nearly ready now. When another bird calls, he doesn't flinch
— his eyes don't even flicker. From a distance, his stance
resembles a statue carved from wood. He has mastered his power.
When faced by him, other cocks will turn and run."
Train hard; fight easy.
Field Marshal Suvorov
The more troops sweat in training, the less they'll bleed in
Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme
excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's
resistance without fighting.
Sun-Tzu [ch 3 ax 2 The Art of War
The bitter and sweet come from the outside, the hard from within,
from one's own efforts.
Albert Einstein [Out of My Later Years
If things get bad at the rear, go to the front ... things are
always better up at the front.
William Tecumseh Sherman
Honor always seems to lead to violence, and that's because
violence is where honorable behavior is most important. When
things are easy, the requirements of honor are meaningless. But
when things are hard and times are tough, when sacrifice and
discipline will affect the final outcome, then honor is more than
necessary ... it's essential to the preservation of common
paraphrase of Robert B. Parker
Every contest has its rituals and rules, so when the restraints
on action are fewest, one's adherence to them is greatest ...
such that the least order promotes the highest standards, the
finest skill, and the best performance. It is not unlike courage
or honor in war, regardless of victory.
Thai kick-boxing aficionado
A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a
boxer who never goes into the ring.
A soldier who trains all the time for a battle he never fights is
like a politician who talks all the time about averting disaster.
The untruthful soldier trifles with the lives of his countrymen,
and with the safety and honor of his country.
The right things to do are those that keep our violence in
abeyance; the wrong things are those that bring it to the fore.
Robert J. Sawyer [Calculating God
The wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with
the wrong enemy.
Omar N. Bradley [15 May 1951 Korean conflict
expansion speech to U.S. Senate committees on Armed Services and
The order for this attack, which I could not favor under better
auspices, would have been revoked had I felt that I had that
James "Pete" Longstreet [re: Pickett's Charge at the
1863 battle of Gettysburg]
We must cut our way out as we cut our way in.
Ulysses S. Grant [re: when surrounded at Belmont
Missouri on 7 Nov 1861]
Fortune favors the bold.
Terence (Publius Terentius Afer) ["Fortes fortuna
adiuvat."; also cited as: Fortune favors the bold but abandons
All good fortune is a gift of the gods, and ... you don't win the
favor of the ancient gods by being good, but by being bold.
As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and
drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be
no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep.
Job 14:11-12 Bible
"You have to think about whether it is worth risking your neck
for someone who will turn around and shoot at you. We didn't come
here to fight a war. We came here to help."
SPC Cliff Ferguson [527th Engineer Battalion during
relief after hurricane Katrina]
Democratic government has innate capacity to protect its people
against disasters once considered inevitable, to solve problems
once considered unsolvable... We refused to leave the problems of
our common welfare to be solved by the winds of chance and the
hurricanes of disaster.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
"I never thought that, as a National Guardsman, I would be shot
at by other Americans, and I never thought I'd have to carry a
rifle when on a hurricane relief mission. This is a disgrace."
SPC Philip Baccus [527th Engineer Battalion during
relief after hurricane Katrina]
compiled by Ed Staff