combat writing badge C O M B A T
the Literary Expression of Battlefield Touchstones
ISSN 1542-1546 Volume 04 Number 03 Summer ©Jul 2006

Verbal Shrapnel
a desiderative pastiche

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

We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some, the word means: for each man to do as he pleases with himself and with the product of his labor. With others, the same word means: for some men to do as they please with other men and the product of other men's labor. The fullness of time, I am convinced, will prove to the world which is the true definition of the word; and my earnest hope remains that the United States of America shall yet lead the way in the proving.
Harry Turtledove

The weakling and the coward cannot be saved by honesty alone; but without honesty, the brave and able man is merely a civic wild beast who should be hunted down by every lover of righteousness.
Theodore Roosevelt (12 May 1900)

You will win when you are ready to pronounce the oath I have taken at the start of my battle, and for those who wish to know the day of my return, I shall now repeat it to the hearing of the world: I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live my life for the sake of another man, nor ask another to live for mine.
Ayn Rand [Fountainhead (1943)]

Philosophy is not the province of primitivism, where drudgery and sustenance preoccupies each inhabitant, but is exercised in the realm of sophisticated cultures, where every civilized advancement benefits each community member, directly or indirectly, by the multiplication of options, of potential, of possibility. Each instance of self indulgence, of self absorption, of self restraint merely limits the individual, but will not retard society until the accumulated inhibitions stifle expansion by their mass. A society which is not predominantly composed of persons who are willing and able to share their freedoms will devolve into some type of cloister, of dungeon, of cantonment, that will exchange hope for fear. People who are unwilling to live for each other are, by definition, unwilling to die for each other, and so shall die alone, frightened and bewildered by the hostility of neighbors and strangers. A once great civilization will then be rent and reduced to a new dark age.

Men are eager to tread underfoot what they have once too much feared.
Titus Lucretius Carus

There is the great, silent, continuous struggle: the struggle between the State and the Individual; between the State which demands and the individual who attempts to evade such demands. Because the individual, left to himself, unless he be a saint or hero, always refuses to pay taxes, obey laws, or go to war.
Benito "Il Duce" Mussolini

Fascist ethics begin ... with the acknowledgment that it is not the individual who confers a meaning upon society, but it is, instead, the existence of a human society which determines the human character of the individual. According to Fascism, a true, a great spiritual life cannot take place unless the State has risen to a position of pre-eminence in the world of man. The curtailment of liberty thus becomes justified at once, and this need of rising the State to its rightful position.
Mario Palmieri [The Philosophy of Fascism (1936)]

Palestine means Palestine in its entirety – from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River. We cannot give up a single inch of it. Why should we recognize Israel's Right to Exist? We can found a state on any piece of the land, and this will not mean we give up on any other part of the land.
Mahmoud Al-Zahar (25 January 2006)

Altogether, national hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I said these things in an [Egyptian] parliament session dealing with the Inter-Arab Agreement on Combating Terrorism. I noticed that the report of the [Parliamentary] Committee for Defense and National Security and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry were inaccurate when [they] dealt with terrorism, since [they] dealt with it in general [terms]. I specifically wanted to explain that [the term] 'terrorism' is not a curse when given its true meaning. [When interpreted accurately,] it means opposing occupation as it exists in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq!... From my point of view, bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri and Al-Zarqawi are not terrorists in the sense accepted by some. I support all their activities, since they are a thorn in the side of the Americans and the Zionists... [On the other hand,] he who kills Muslim citizens is neither a jihad fighter nor a terrorist, but a criminal and a murderer. We must call things by their proper names!
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood)

Most of the world today not only is in denial concerning the truly appalling likely consequences of the rise of radical Islam, it often refuses to even accept unambiguous evidence of its existence.
Tony Blankley

It is a fair and just sentence. It is a righteous sentence. Let me explain this to you. We are not afraid of you or any of your terrorist co-conspirators, Mister Reid. We are Americans. We have been through the fire before. There is all too much war talk here and I say that to everyone with the utmost respect. Here in this court, we deal with individuals as individuals and care for individuals as individuals. As human beings, we reach out for justice. You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier, gives you far too much stature. Whether it is the officers of government who do it or your attorney who does it, or if you think you are a soldier. You are not – you are a terrorist. And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not meet with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice. So war talk is way out of line in this court. You are a big fellow. But you are not that big. You are no warrior. I've known warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal that is guilty of multiple attempted murders. In a very real sense, State Trooper Santiago had it right when you first were taken off that plane and into custody and you wondered where the press and where the TV crews were, and he said: "You're no big deal." You are no big deal. What your able counsel and what the equally able United States attorneys have grappled with and what I have, as honestly as I know how, tried to grapple with, is why you did something so horrific. What was it that led you here to this courtroom today? I have listened respectfully to what you have to say. And I ask you to search your heart and ask yourself what sort of unfathomable hate led you to do what you are guilty, and admit you are guilty, of doing. And I have an answer for you. It may not satisfy you, but as I search this entire record, it comes as close to understanding as I know. It seems to me you hate the one thing that to us is most precious. You hate our freedom. Our individual freedom. Our individual freedom to live as we choose, to come and go as we choose, to believe or not believe as we individually choose. Here, in this society, the very wind carries freedom. It carries it everywhere from sea to shining sea. It is because we prize individual freedom so much that you are here in this beautiful courtroom. So that everyone can see, truly see, that justice is administered fairly, individually, and discretely. It is for freedom's sake that your lawyers are striving so vigorously on your behalf and have filed appeals, will go on in their representation of you before other judges. We Americans are all about freedom. Because we all know that the way we treat you, Mister Reid, is the measure of our own liberties. Make no mistake though. It is yet true that we will bare any burden; pay any price, to preserve our freedoms. Look around this courtroom. Mark it well. The world is not going to long remember what you or I say here. Day after tomorrow, it will be forgotten, but this, however, will long endure. Here in this courtroom and courtrooms all across America, the American people will gather to see that justice, individual justice, justice, not war, individual justice is in fact being done. The very President of the United States through his officers will have to come into courtrooms and lay out evidence on which specific matters can be judged and juries of citizens will gather to sit and judge that evidence democratically, to mold and shape and refine our sense of justice. See that flag, Mister Reid? That's the flag of the United States of America. That flag will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag stands for freedom. And it always will.
William Young [District Court judge ruling (30 Jan 2003) re: United States v Richard C. Reid, the Islamic terrorist who was intercepted while attempting to activate a "shoe bomb" on an airline, and who proclaims himself to be a soldier at war with America]

I am rather tired of hearing about our rights and privileges as American citizens. The time is come ... when we ought to hear about the duties and responsibilities of our citizenship.
Thomas Sowell

Representing a profound attitude of fairness between man and man, and more particularly between the individual and government, Due Process is compounded of history, reason, the past course of decisions, and stout confidence in the strength of the democratic faith which we profess.
Felix Frankfurter [obiter dictum Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v McGrath (1951)]

I love my country too much to be a nationalist.
Albert Camus

I came to America because of the great, great freedom which I heard existed in this country. I made a mistake in selecting America as a land of freedom, a mistake I cannot repair in the balance of my lifetime.
Albert Einstein (1947)

Civilization is a movement and not a condition, a voyage and not a harbor.
Arnold Joseph Toynbee (Oct 1958)

In the future, I will answer anyone who attacks me for my views, especially since all the organizations, without exception – judicial and other, in Egypt and abroad – are [nothing but] 'market stalls' full of spies that receive bribes from the Americans. In the future I will tell them that America and Israel are the only violent [parties], and that they are responsible for the wave of killing and violence that is sweeping over the world!
Ragab Hilal Hamida (Egyptian Member of Parliament from the Muslim Brotherhood)

I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.
Albert Einstein

War means fighting and fighting means killing.
Nathan Bedford Forrest ("Wizard of the Saddle")

Israel has occupied what they claim is their historic homeland, but we too have a long history of occupation by Romans and Persians, of dislocation by Crusaders and British, and we are still here, after they have all gone, fighting for what belongs to us, for what has always belonged to us.
paraphrase of Mahmoud Al-Zahar

To many people the past seems inevitable and the future impossible. History is seen to have arisen not from unpredictable flows of genius and heroism, but more or less inevitably, from preordained patterns of natural resources and population.
George Gilder

History is like the planks of a shipwreck ... because more is missing than is present, we must guess at its form and function.
paraphrase of Roger Bacon

The past is a bullet streaking into the future to kill civilization as we know it, while the present is a struggle over the target. We will never know how the point of impact was affected

If we open a quarrel between the past and the present, we shall find that we have lost the future.
Winston L.S. Churchill

The degeneracy of the times has always been a favorite theme, but one which is liable to mislead, and ever must be so, for the imperfections, weaknesses and follies of the present are not only seen, but are felt, whereas the imperfections, weaknesses and follies of the past are not only unfelt, but are mostly unseen, because the mists of oblivion hide all but the more conspicuous objects and events from our view. While, therefore, different periods of history may be compared, it is very difficult to compare the present with any other time.
John Peter Altgeld

I'd like to let you in on a little secret: there's no such thing as history. History is the name given to events in order to mark them for our forgetfulness. Nothing is really past us, in the same way that nothing is really with us. It all changes between blinks of the eye – no two moments the same. Those ignorant of history are not doomed to repeat it – that would be a staggering achievement – they are simply doomed to ignorance of everything else.
T. Jefferson Parker (1991)

History never looks like history when you are living through it. It always looks confusing and messy, and it always feels uncomfortable.
John W. Gardner

Don't fix it if it ain't broke!
modern maxim

If it ain't broke, then it ought to be! ... we don't need perfection, we need jobs!
riposte to modern maxim

The Army does not solve its problems, it overwhelms them!
unknown supply officer in WWII north African campaign

Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.
Ronald Wilson Reagan (11 Dec 1972)

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can't get and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
Henry Louis Mencken

Government is not reason, it is force; like fire, it's a dangerous servant of a fearful master.
George Washington

In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet and say to us, Make us your slaves, but feed us.
Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky

I have little interest in streamlining government or in making it more efficient, for I mean to reduce its size. I do not undertake to promote welfare, for I propose to extend freedom. My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution or that have failed their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden. I will not attempt to discover whether legislation is "needed" before I have first determined whether it is constitutionally permissible. And if I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' interests, I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can.
Barry Goldwater

An attacking army is more dangerous but a retreating army is more destructive.
military maxim

Winners conquer, losers destroy.
military maxim

What vast additions to the conveniences and comforts of living might mankind have acquired, if the money spent in wars had been employed in works of public utility; what an extension of agriculture even to the tops of our mountains; what rivers rendered navigable, or joined by canals; what bridges, acqueducts, new roads, and other public works, edifices, and improvements ... might not have been obtained by spending those millions in doing good, which in the last war have been spent in doing mischief.
Benjamin Franklin [27 July 1783 letter to Sir Joseph Banks]

If everyone thought that someone else, instead of them, should get killed in war, then fighting would have to cease ... but with all these cowards quaking in cellars and deserters hiding in attics, there would be nobody to work the fields and run the factories, so the children would starve, the women would be enslaved, and the bullies would take over everything! ... just so some frightened little boys don't have to get hurt. Once the war is over they won't be able to fight, so they may as well die now!

Anything worth living for is worth dying for. And anything worth dying for is certainly worth living for.
Joseph Heller [Catch-22 (1961)]

War is like love, it always finds a way.
Bertolt Brecht [Mother Courage and Her Children]

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
Dwight David Eisenhower

Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought! Strike against manufacturing shrapnel and gas bombs and all other tools of murder! Strike against preparedness that means death and misery to millions of human beings! Be not dumb, obedient slaves in an army of destruction! Be heroes in an army of construction!
Helen Keller

The doctrine that might makes right has covered the earth with misery. While it crushes the weak, it also destroys the strong. Every deceit, every cruelty, every wrong, reaches back sooner or later and crushes its author. Justice is moral health, bringing happiness, wrong is moral disease, bringing mortal death.
John Peter Altgeld

How little, after all, do we shape our actions by reason when once the senses feel their strength ... and how hideously ugly does the truth appear when our senses have forced us to nurse a lie.
Rex Stout (1914)

Not long ago, art and civilization took a horribly wrong and mistaken turn. My proof of this is not merely the contrast between this and other ages of art but the unparalleled devastation of this century — by war, by mass bondage, by the neglect of what is humane. In arrogating to ourselves powers that we did not have or that we could not handle, we have been the cause of untold suffering and destruction. Though it cannot be undone, it can be left behind.
Mark Helprin

Perhaps I know why it is man alone who laughs: He alone suffers so deeply that he had to invent laughter.
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
Gaius Julius Caesar

Patriotism is the first refuge and last virtue of the vicious.
paraphrase of Oscar Wilde [Fingal O'Flahertie Wills]

There is no necessary connection between the desire to lead and the ability to lead, and even less to the ability to lead somewhere that will be to the advantage of the led. Leadership is more likely to be assumed by the aggressive than by the able, and those who scramble to the top are more often motivated by their own inner torments than by any demand for their guidance.
Berger Evans [The Spook of Spooks and other Nonsense (1954)]

Why of course the people don't want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for [their] lack of patriotism and [for] exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country.
Hermann Wilhelm Goering

compiled by Ed Staff

Table of

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