As Vladimir Putin roles over Ukraine with ice in his veins, nothing in his heart, and a dark soul of a former KGB killer, here are some quotations about war that I collected over the years that speak to the moral and real-life consequences of war.
In a democracy, people will hold different views on policy (some more moral than others), but what we have been hearing from Trump, Pompeo, Carlson, Hannity, Ingraham, and extreme right-wing alternative reality-makers in the Trump Republican Party is not only a reflection of Putin himself but a distortion of everything our better American angels call upon us to think, do, and be.
Today, tomorrow, and the next day are the beginnings of a great tragedy for the people of Ukraine and for the Russian soldiers ordered to do Putin’s bidding. No one will win in this war. Everyone will suffer the consequences of Putin’s lust for power and corruption of the human spirit.
I am not a pacifist. There are two legitimate reasons, in my view, for a country ever to go to war. The first is in self-defense from a direct attack, and the second is to stop a genocidal action against a group of people. Russia’s actions this week are clearly neither.
I applaud President Biden and the leaders of NATO and the European Union for unifying their response to this calumny, and I pray that the tough sanctions already put in place and those that are yet to come will deter and then stop this insanity before too many Ukrainians are killed and maimed.
The consequences of war — “He that is the author of a war lets loose the whole contagion of hell and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.” -Thomas Paine, philosopher and writer (1737-1809)
Hatred of war — “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity… 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.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower, U.S. General and 34th President of the United States(1890-1969)
Victory in war is an illusion — “No battle is ever won, he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.” -William Faulkner, novelist (1897-1962)
Who are the warriors — “Once and for all / the idea of glorious victories / won by the glorious army / must be wiped out / Neither side is glorious / On either side / they’re just frightened men / messing their pants / and they all want the same thing / Not to lie under the earth / but to walk upon it / without crutches.” -Peter Weiss writer, artist, and filmmaker (1916-1982)
War is hell — “It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.” -William Tecumseh Sherman, Union General – American Civil War (1820-1891)
War and leadership — “Any leader who does not hesitate before sending young men and woman to war, doesn’t deserve to be a leader.” -Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel (1898-1978)
A short decisive war is illusion — “The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.” -Robert Lynd, writer (1879-1949)
War and truth — “The first casualty of war is truth.” -Original author unknown
War and youth — “I hate with a murderous hatred those men who, having lived their youth, would send into war other youth, not lived, unfulfilled, to fight and die for them; the pride and cowardice of those old men, making their wars that boys must die.” -Mary Roberts Rinehart, novelist (1876-1958)
“Youth is the first victim of war – the first fruit of peace. It takes 20 years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only 20 seconds of war to destroy him.” -Boudewijn I, King of Belgium (1934-1993)
Great wars — “A great war leaves the country with three armies – an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.” -German proverb