black figures on orange, two ancient Greek fighters with Trojan horse in background

While “peace” can refer to an inner peace as well as civil peace, war is usually about armed conflict involving physical violence between groups, states, or nations.  In a war, each party competes for power over the other or for freedom from oppressive power.  What are some of the reflections of great thinkers about war?

Goto page: 1 2 3

We cannot have peace if we are only concerned with peace. War is not an accident. It is the logical outcome of a certain way of life. If we want to attack war, we have to attack that way of life.

— A. J. Muste

I have now reigned about 50 years in victory or peace, beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation, I have diligently numbered the days of pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot. They amount to fourteen.

— Abd Er-Rahman III of Spain

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.

— Abraham Lincoln

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose — and you allow him to make war at pleasure.

— Abraham Lincoln

In war, truth is the first casualty.

— Aeschylus

One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing; that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.

— Agatha Christie

When people are laughing, they’re generally not killing each other.

— Alan Alda

When a war breaks out, people say: ‘It’s too stupid, it can’t last long.’ But though a war may be ‘too stupid,’ that doesn’t prevent its lasting.

— Albert Camus

[I]n such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, not to be on the side of the executioners.

— Albert Camus

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

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

A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy.

— Aldous Huxley

Even if we are spared destruction by war, our lives will have to change if we want to save life from self-destruction.

— Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

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

No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.

— Alexis de Tocqueville

Till the war-drum throbb`d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl`d; In the parliament of man; the Federation of the world.

— Alfred Tennyson

War will stop when we no longer praise it, or give it any attention at all. Peace will come wherever it is sincerely invited.

— Alice Walker

‘One of the main reasons that it is so easy to march men off to war,’ says Ernest Becker, is that ‘each of them feels sorry for the man next to him who will die.’

— Annie Dillard

We make war that we may live in peace.

— Aristotle

In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers.

— August Bebel

Now these questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease — the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.

— Barack Obama

Wars and elections are both too big and too small to matter in the long run. The daily work — that goes on, it adds up.

— Barbara Kingsolver

There’s a graveyard in northern France where all the dead boys from D-Day are buried. The white crosses reach from one horizon to the other. I remember looking it over and thinking it was a forest of graves. But the rows were like this, dizzying, diagonal, perfectly straight, so after all it wasn’t a forest but an orchard of graves. Nothing to do with nature, unless you count human nature.

— Barbara Kingsolver

Peace is not the absence of war; it is a virtue; a state of mind; a disposition for benevolence; confidence; and justice.

— Baruch Spinoza

I am an opponent of war and of war preparations and an opponent of universal military training and conscription; but entirely apart from that issue, I hold that segregation in any part of the body politic is an act of slavery and an act of war.

— Bayard Rustin

There never was a good war or a bad peace.

— Benjamin Franklin

For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.

— Bible, Ecclesiastes

Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?

— Blaise Pascal

I would like it if men had to partake in the same hormonal cycles to which we’re subjected monthly. Maybe that’s why men declare war — because they have a need to bleed on a regular basis.

— Brett Butler

The nuclear arms race is like two sworn enemies standing waist deep in gasoline, one with three matches, the other with five.

— Carl Sagan

Warmaking doesn’t stop warmaking. If it did, our problems would have stopped millennia ago.

— Colman McCarthy

Everyone’s a pacifist between wars. It’s like being a vegetarian between meals.

— Colman McCarthy

Wherever there was injustice, war, discrimination against women, gays and the disadvantaged, I did my best to show up and exert moral persuasion.

— Coretta Scott King

The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole and heals the rotten community, now so shattered by war and poverty and racism. I have great faith in the power of women who will dedicate themselves whole-heartedly to the task of remaking our society.

— Coretta Scott King

In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.

— Croesus

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.

— David Friedman

If we are going to stop wars on this earth, we are going to have to make war on hunger our number one priority.

— David W. Brooks

It’s our tendency to approach every problem as if it were a fight between two sides. We see it in headlines that are always using metaphors for war. It’s a general atmosphere of animosity and contention that has taken over our public discourse.

— Deborah Tannen

They have not wanted Peace at all; they have wanted to be spared war — as though the absence of war was the same as peace.

— Dorothy Thompson

I believe that the entire effort of modern society should be concentrated on the endeavor to outlaw war as a method of the solution of problems between nations.

— Douglas MacArthur

I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.

— Douglas MacArthur

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

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. The 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.

— Dwight D. Eisenhower

When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?

— Eleanor Roosevelt

We want to live at any price; so we cannot burden ourselves with feelings which, though they might be ornamental enough in peace-time, would be out of place here.

— Erich Maria Remarque

A hospital alone shows what war is.

— Erich Maria Remarque

Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.

— George Bernard Shaw

I had grown up in a humanist atmosphere, and war to me was never anything but horror, mutilation and senseless destruction, and I knew that many great and wise people felt the same way about it.

— George Grosz

I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.

— George McGovern

All war propaganda, all the screaming and the lies, and the hatred comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

— George Orwell
Goto page: 1 2 3
, ,
Related
Latest Posts from Wisdom Quotes