60 Great quotes on war

Sep 7, 2011
6 min read

These are a few quotes on war that I feel express great wisdom that we would do well to understand and practice. Pay attention to #42 and #43.

  1. If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.” – James Madison
  2. The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.” – James Madison
  3. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. ” – James Madison
  4. “Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.” – James Madison
  5. The executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.” – James Madison
  6. It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.” – James Madison
  7. “The spirit of this country is totally adverse to a large military force.” – Thomas Jefferson
  8. “Governments constantly choose between telling lies and fighting wars, with the end result always being the same. One will always lead to the other.” – Thomas Jefferson
  9. “Peace and friendship with all mankind is our wisest policy, and I wish we may be permitted to pursue it.” – Thomas Jefferson
  10. If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American, it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.” -Thomas Jefferson
  11. Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.” – Thomas Jefferson
  12. “War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.” – Thomas Jefferson
  13. “Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.” – Thomas Jefferson
  14. “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” – Thomas Jefferson
  15. “Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty.” – George Washington
  16. The constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.” – George Washington
  17. “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.” – George Washington
  18. It is our true policy to steer clear of entangling alliances with any portion of the foreign world.” – George Washington
  19. “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force…Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.” – George Washington
  20. “My first wish is to see this plague of mankind, war, banished from the earth.” – George Washington
  21. “All wars are follies, very expensive and very mischievous ones.” – Benjamin Franklin
  22. “There never was a good war or a bad peace.” – Benjamin Franklin
  23. Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” – Benjamin Franklin
  24. “Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.” – John Adams
  25. “Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views beyond the comprehension of the weak…” – John Adams
  26. The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor.” – Ronald Reagan
  27. “History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.” – Ronald Reagan
  28. Peace is not absence of conflict, it is the ability to handle conflict by peaceful means.” – Ronald Reagan
  29. “…no mother would ever willingly sacrifice her sons for territorial gain, for economic advantage, for ideology.” – Ronald Reagan
  30. “People do not make wars; governments do.” – Ronald Reagan
  31. “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  32. “How far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without?” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
  33. We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
  34. Preventive war was an invention of Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
  35. “When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  36. “There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
  37. “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  38. “Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower
  39. “I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower
  40. Statism needs war; a free country does not. Statism survives by looting; a free country survives by producing.” – Ayn Rand
  41. All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.” -Alexis de Tocqueville
  42. If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road.” – George W. Bush, (before becoming president and doing exactly what he promised not to.)
  43. “Free nations are peaceful nations. Free nations don’t attack each other. Free nations don’t develop weapons of mass destruction.” – George W. Bush (I wish he had governed according to the principles in this quotation.)
  44. War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” – George Orwell
  45. “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable.” – George Orwell
  46. “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” – George Orwell
  47. “What is absurd and monstrous about war is that men who have no personal quarrel should be trained to murder one another in cold blood.” – Aldous Huxley
  48. A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
  49. “A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over…is saying no good son should warn his mother of a cliff until she has fallen.” – G.K. Chesterton
  50. “War is the greatest plague that can affect humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.” – Martin Luther
  51. “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” – The Mahatma Gandhi
  52. “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 the holy name of liberty and democracy?” – The Mahatma Gandhi
  53. “Liberty and democracy become unholy when their hands are dyed red with innocent blood.” – The Mahatma Gandhi
  54. “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.” – The Mahatma Gandhi
  55. “All forms of violence, especially war, are totally unacceptable as means to settle disputes between and among nations, groups and persons.” -The Dalai Lama
  56. “The best defense is no offense.” – Dr. Ivan Eland
  57. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  58. “The bombs in Vietnam explode at home; they destroy the hopes and possibilities for a decent America.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  59. “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is my own government.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  60. “‘Emergencies’ have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have been eroded.” – F.A. Hayek
Source: http://breakthematrix.com/war/100-great-anti-war-quotes/


  1. What would have happened if the US had not have stepped in during the second world war? The UK was barely holding on. Half of europe had collapsed under the yolk of a very evil man. How do you view the old testament massacre of the people in the promised land?

    • On one level I have a couple of theories but I have a lot more studying to do. On another level, I have ideas that would be controversial to some that I would need to put forth more time to consider. The First Presidency at the time was adamant about not getting involved in that war. Were they wrong or right? It’s difficult for me to say.

      On yet another level, I find the greatest perspective in examining the principles of war illustrated in the Book of Mormon.

      Teancum assassinated Amalickiah which probably brought relief to some but he technically violated God’s rules regarding offensive engagement of the enemy. Was it important that Amalickiah was stopped? Yes. But disobedience to God’s commandments may have had other repercussions that actually extended the war and increased the loss of life.

      As for the Old Testament massacres, I personally find them horrifying. I can only speak to correct principles.

      We assume that involving ourselves in the conflict was the right thing and we might even believe it in consideration of the outcome. But we will probably never know what would have happened had we followed the principles. Opinions will surely differ in these regards and I am open to other interpretations.

      The quotes provided align with principles I believe in. I am just one man with no authority to tell people how to believe. This blog is my attempt to share what I understand about the world. Feel free to reject anything you do not believe.

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