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120 Most Thought-provoking Quotes About War You Must Read

120 War Quotes

“In making tactical dispositions, the highest pitch you can attain is to conceal them.” – Sun Tzu

“The clever combatant looks to the effect of combined energy, and does not require too much from individuals.” – Sun Tzu

“They’re overfed, overpaid, overdressed… and over here.”

“The First World War was a horror of gas, industrialized slaughter fear and appalling human suffering.” – Nick Harkaway

“Religion isn’t the cause of wars, it’s the excuse.” – Jasper Fforde

“We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country—its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.” – Sun Tzu

“These men are worth your tears. You are not worth their merriment.” – Wilfred Owen

“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.” – Sun Tzu

“To take a long and circuitous route, after enticing the enemy out of the way, and though starting after him, to contrive to reach the goal before him, shows knowledge of the artifice of deviation.” – Sun Tzu

“What enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.” – Sun Tzu

“In raiding and plundering be like fire, in immovability like a mountain.” – Sun Tzu

“How can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?” – Howard Zinn

“In war, practice dissimulation, and you will succeed.” – Sun Tzu

“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.” – Sun Tzu

“A bad peace is worse than war.” – Tacitus

“There is only one way to win a war which has begun: To stop it immediately; that is the way!” – Mehmet Murat ildan

“God created war so that Americans would learn geography.” – Mark Twain

“If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.” – General George Patton

“That’s impossible! The Americans only know how to make razor blades.” – Göring

“Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.” – Sun Tzu

“Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.” – Sun Tzu

“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein

“Maneuvering with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous.” – Sun Tzu

“O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands.” – Sun Tzu

“Men make war to get attention. All killing is an expression of self-hate.” – Alice Walker

“Have we raised the threshold of horror so high that nothing short of a nuclear strike qualifies as a ‘real’ war? Are we to spend the rest of our lives in this state of high alert with guns pointed at each other’s heads and fingers trembling on the trigger?” – Arundhati Roy

“It doesn’t make a damned bit of difference who wins the war to someone who’s dead.” – Joseph Heller

“This is a war to end all wars.” – Woodrow Wilson

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” – George Santayana

“I’ve had my fill of Hitler. These conferences called by a ringing of a bell are not to my liking; the bell is rung when people call their servants. And besides, what kind of conferences are these? For five hours I am forced to listen to a monologue which is quite fruitless and boring.” – Benito Mussolini—to his son-in-law, June 10, 1941

“Place your army in deadly peril, and it will survive; plunge it into desperate straits, and it will come off in safety.” – Sun Tzu

“However the world pretends to divide itself, there are only two divisions in the world today – human beings and Germans.” – Rudyard Kipling

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt, March 4, 1933—Inaugural address

“Anger may in time change to gladness; vexation may be succeeded by content. But a kingdom that has once been destroyed can never come again into being; nor can the dead ever be brought back to life.” – Sun Tzu

“It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” – Robert E. Lee

“Move not unless you see an advantage; use not your troops unless there is something to be gained; fight not unless the position is critical.” – Sun Tzu

“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.” – Howard Zinn

“If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.” – Sun Tzu

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” – George S. McGovern

“Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.” – Sun Tzu

“Water shapes its course according to the nature of the ground over which it flows; the soldier works out his victory in relation to the foe whom he is facing.” – Sun Tzu

“There is a savage beast in every man, and when you hand that man a sword or spear and send him forth to war, the beast stirs.” – George R.R. Martin

“The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.” – Sun Tzu

“Nice chap, no General.” – Field Marshal Lord Montgomery on Dwight D. Eisenhower

“He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain.” – Sun Tzu

“No ruler should put troops into the field merely to gratify his own spleen; no general should fight a battle simply out of pique.” – Sun Tzu

“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.” – Sun Tzu

“We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

“At first, then, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy gives you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a running hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.” – Sun Tzu

“Simulated disorder postulates perfect discipline; simulated fear postulates courage; simulated weakness postulates strength.” – Sun Tzu

“Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.” – Sun Tzu

“The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.” – Sun Tzu

“When the rich wage war it’s the poor who die.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted.” – Sun Tzu

“We could do with some of those razor blades, Herr Reichsmarshall.” – Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

“When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct; when there are no fixed duties assigned to officers and men, and the ranks are formed in a slovenly haphazard manner, the result is utter disorganization.” – Sun Tzu

“The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

“This film cost $31 million. With that kind of money I could have invaded some country.” – Clint Eastwood

“I wish those people who talk about going on with this war whatever it costs could see the soldiers suffering from mustard gas poisoning. Great mustard-coloured blisters, blind eyes, all sticky and stuck together, always fighting for breath, with voices a mere whisper, saying that their throats are closing and they know they will choke.” – Nurse Vera Brittain

“The experienced soldier, once in motion, is never bewildered; once he has broken camp, he is never at a loss.” – Sun Tzu

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt; if you know Heaven and know Earth, you may make your victory complete.” – Sun Tzu

“The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.” – Sun Tzu

“If equally matched, we can offer battle; if slightly inferior in numbers, we can avoid the enemy; if quite unequal in every way, we can flee from him.” – Sun Tzu

“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.” – John Steinbeck

“I like the American soldier individually but do not like the nation as a whole. America entered the war for what money she could get out of it.” – Frau Frieda Fischer of Lohndorf

“Knowing the place and the time of the coming battle, we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to fight.” – Sun Tzu

“It is only one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war that can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.” – Sun Tzu

“Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

“One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once ‘The Unnecessary War’.” – Winston S. Churchill

“If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.” – Sun Tzu

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” – Voltaire

“You must learn to end the wars in your world by ending them in your minds.” – Barbara Marciniak

“Your name is unknown. Your deed is immortal.” – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Moscow)

“Numerical weakness comes from having to prepare against possible attacks; numerical strength, from compelling our adversary to make these preparations against us.” – Sun Tzu

“War is merely the continuation of politics by other means.” – Carl von Clausewitz

“How much energy they put into harming each other. How little into saving.” – Suzanne Collins

“The cries of the wounded had much diminished now, and as we staggered down the road, the reason was only too apparent, for the water was right over the tops of the shell-holes.” – Captain Edwin Vaughan

“The folly of war is that it can have no natural end except in the extinction an entire people.” – Joyce Carol Oates

“The general who is skilled in defense hides in the most secret recesses of the earth; he who is skilled in attack flashes forth from the topmost heights of heaven.” – Sun Tzu

“Two armies that fight each other is like one large army that commits suicide.” – Henri Barbusse

“You don’t spread democracy with a barrel of a gun.” – Helen Thomas

“Walk in the path defined by rule, and accommodate yourself to the enemy until you can fight a decisive battle.” – Sun Tzu

“No soldier ever really survives a war.” – Audie Murphy

“I would rather make love than war, but only because condoms kill millions of lives more enjoyably.” – Jarod Kintz

“How is it possible to have a civil war?” – George Carlin

“The object of waging a war is always to be in a better position in which to wage another war.” – George Orwell

“He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.” – Sun Tzu, The Art of War

“The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple ere the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations beforehand.” – Sun Tzu

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.” – Sun Tzu

“I’d start a war just to illustrate the value of peace.” – Jarod Kintz

“Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.” – Sun Tzu

“All warfare is based on deception.” – Sun Tzu

“You can be sure of succeeding in your attacks if you only attack places which are undefended.” – Sun Tzu

“War is what happens when language fails.” – Margaret Atwood

“The control of a large force is the same principle as the control of a few men: it is merely a question of dividing up their numbers.” – Sun Tzu

“Loose lips might sink ships.” – Wartime propaganda slogan

“The military don’t start wars. Politicians start wars.” – William C. Westmoreland

“War does not determine who is right – only who is left.” – Bertrand Russell

“What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.” – Sun Tzu

“We’re telling lies; we know we’re telling lies; we don’t tell the public the truth, that we’re losing more officers than the Germans, and that it’s impossible to get through on the Western Front.” – Lord Rothermere

“A leader leads by example not by force.” – Sun Tzu

“They won the war but lost the peace.” – Jonathan Maberry

“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die.” – Herbert Hoover

“Frankly, our ancestors don’t seem much to brag about. I mean, look at the state they left us in, with the wars, the broken planet. Clearly, they didn’t care about what would happen to the people who came after them.” – Suzanne Collins

“The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success.” – Sun Tzu

“Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of the trigger.” – Sun Tzu

“Defend Paris to the last, destroy all bridges over the Seine and devastate the city.” – Adolf Hitler—August, 1944

“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

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.” – Sun Tzu

“What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or in the holy name of liberty or democracy?” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Success in warfare is gained by carefully accommodating ourselves to the enemy’s purpose.” – Sun Tzu

“Let your rapidity be that of the wind, your compactness that of the forest.” – Sun Tzu

“Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.” – Sun Tzu

“The art of war is of vital importance to the State. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin.” – Sun Tzu

“War grows out of desire of the individual to gain advantage at the expense of his fellow man.” – Napoleon Hill

“No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s.” – Thomas L. Friedman

“If we don’t end war, war will end us.” – H.G. Wells

“All men can see the tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.” – Sun Tzu

“We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.” – Sun Tzu

“Well, politics is war, and in war, truth is the first casualty.” – Jeff Greenfield

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The enemy win their battles from the air! They knock out my panzers with American armor-piercing shells.” – Field Marshall Erwin Rommel

“If fighting is sure to result in victory, then you must fight, even though the ruler forbid it; if fighting will not result in victory, then you must not fight even at the ruler’s bidding.” – Sun Tzu

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.” – Winston Churchill

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, Mother, what was war?” – Eve Merriam

Originally published October 6, 2021, updated October 6, 2021

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