90 War Quotes From Writers, Politicians, and More

The following war quotes reflect various opinions on when war is warranted and what causes humans to go to war.

Many declare war as a necessary evil on the path toward peace.

The war quotes below feature opinions on war from:

  • prominent military figures
  • political leaders
  • famous people

What are the benefits of reading these war quotes?

Since the beginning of time, war has been a topic that is widely discussed among powerful, well-known figures.

The balance between war and peace has moved up and down drastically throughout history, leaving many to give their opinions on which decision is the “right” one. 

This article gathers opinions on war from all sides of the spectrum.

Hopefully, these war quotes will help you better understand the ramifications of war and how we find ourselves in the position of going to war.

Check out our most popular quote article, a list of short inspirational quotes for daily inspiration. 

Our inspirational quote category page has even more inspirational and educational quotes.

War quotes from politicians

1. “Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.” John Adams

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2. “War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil.” – George Orwell

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3. “Man becomes his most creative during war.” Clint Eastwood

War quotes from politicians

4. “I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.” Ulysses S. Grant

war quotes about peace

5. “Our modern states are preparing for war without even knowing the future enemy.” – Alfred Adler

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6. “In war, you win or lose, live, or die – and the difference is just an eyelash.” Douglas MacArthur

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7. “A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.” – George S. Patton

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8. “The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.” – Thomas Jefferson

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9. “Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.” – Benjamin Franklin

war quotes from Benjamin Franklin

10. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” Sun Tzu

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More war quotes from political figures

11. “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

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12. “There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.” Barack Obama

More war quotes from political figures

13. “The only excuse for war is that we may live in peace unharmed.” Marcus Tullius Cicero

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14. “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” – Hiram Johnson

war quotes about the first casualty when war comes is truth

15. “War is never a solution; it is an aggravation.” – Benjamin Disraeli

war quotes about was is never a solution

16. “If there is not the war, you don’t get the great general; if there is not a great occasion, you don’t get a great statesman; if Lincoln had lived in a time of peace, no one would have known his name.” Theodore Roosevelt

best war quotes

17. “There’s this romantic idea that’s built up around war. But the pragmatic view is there are tons of people of my generation who have lost their lives, lost their marriages, or lost their health as a consequence of being sent to wars which could have been avoided.” Pete Buttigieg

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War quotes from writers and philosophers

18. “War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.” Thomas Mann

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War quotes from writers

19. “What is human warfare but just this; an effort to make the laws of God and nature take sides with one party.” – Henry David Thoreau

War quotes from writers and philosophers

20. “We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, 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

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21. “Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.” Ernest Hemingway

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22. “What charitable 1 percenters can’t do is assume responsibility – America’s national responsibilities: the care of its sick and its poor, the education of its young, the repair of its failing infrastructure, the repayment of its staggering war debts.” Stephen King

war quotes form stephen King

23. “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.” John Stuart Mill

Meaningful war quotes

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

war quotes about when the ich wage war, it's the poor who die

25. “It is not only the living who are killed in war.” – Issac Asimov

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26. “The first and most imperative necessity in war is money, for money means everything else – men, guns, ammunition.” – Ida Tarbell

war quotes about men, guns, ammunition

27. “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

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28. “War: a massacre of people who don’t know each other for the profit of people who know each other but don’t massacre each other.” – Paul Valery

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29. “War is a series of catastrophes which result in victory.” – Albert Pike

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30. “We are all tourists in history, and irony is what we win in wars.” – Anatole Broyard

War quotes on society

31. “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. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” – Sun Tzu

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War quotes on society

32. “We must concentrate not merely on the negative expulsion of war but the positive affirmation of peace.” Martin Luther King Jr. 

33. “It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.” Albert Einstein

34. “There is nothing that war has ever achieved that we could not better achieve without it.” – Havelock Ellis

35. “If they are going to have war, they ought to take the old men and leave the young to propagate the race.” – Jeannette Rankin

36. “The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.” Otto von Bismarck

37. “In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons.” Herodotus

38. “If it’s natural to kill, how come men have to go into training to learn how?” – Joan Baez

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

40. “The State thrives on war – unless, of course, it is defeated and crushed – expands on it, glories in it.” – Murray Rothbard

41. “I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

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42. “A war is a horrible thing, but it’s also a unifier of countries.” – Clint Eastwood

43. “War is the greatest plague that can afflict humanity, it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge is preferable to it.” – Martin Luther

44. “If we desire to avoid insult, we must be able to repel it; if we desire to secure peace, one of the most powerful instruments of our rising prosperity, it must be known, that we are at all times ready for War.” – George Washington

War quotes from military service members

45. “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” – Barack Obama

46. “Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war that we know about peace, more about killing that we know about living.” – Omar N. Bradley

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

48. “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.” – John F. Kennedy

49. “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.” William Tecumseh Sherman

50. “Every soldier thinks something of the moral aspects of what he is doing. But all war is immoral and if you let that bother you, you’re not a good soldier.” – Curtis LeMay

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

52. 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

53. “If I have learned anything in this long life of mine, it is this: in love we find out who we want to be; in war we find out who we are.” – Kristin Hannah

World War quotes

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

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

56. “War is always an adventure to those who’ve never seen it.” – Anthony Ryan

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

58. “Politics is war without blood, while war is politics with blood.” – Mao Tse-tung

59. “In war, the strong make slaves of the weak, and in peace, the rich make slaves of the poor.” – Oscar Wilde

60. “It is easier to start a war than to end it.” – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

War quotes about its effects

61. One of the main effects of war, after all, is that people are discouraged from being characters.” – Kurt Vonnegut

62. “There never was a good war, or a bad peace.” – Benjamin Franklin

63. “War is a severe doctor, but it sometimes heals grievances.” – Edward Counsel

64. One certain effect of war is to diminish freedom of expression.” – Howard Zinn

65. “War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means.” – Carl Von Clausewitz

66. “I was eighteen, this was back in ’46, so we also had these very frightening images of soldiers in the streets of Paris. So the effect of war, plus my shyness, plus my lack of education – I was afraid of men, really. It changes later, but it took me a certain time to adjust.” – Agnes Varda

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67. “Listen up – there’s no war that will end all wars.” – Haruki Murakami

68. “History more often records the brilliant successes and spectacular defeats of contending forces than the effect of war on the common people.” – Mildred Cable

69. Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the gun down.” – Malcolm X

70. “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”― Plato

Thought-provoking war quotes

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

72. “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.” – George Washington

73. “War is a defeat for humanity.” – Pope John Paul II

74. “The surest way to prevent war is not to fear it.” – John Randolph

75. “But when will our leaders learn – war is not the answer.”  – Helen Thomas

76. “I can not believe that war is the best solution. No one won the last war, and no one will win the next war.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

77. “The tragedy of war is that it uses man’s best to do man’s worst.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick

78. “In war there is no prize for runner-up.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

79. “War’s not black and white; it’s gray. If you don’t fight in the gray area, you’re going to lose.” – Marcus Luttrell

80. “Strike against war, for without you no battles can be fought!” – Helen Keller

War Quotes To Bring Peace Amongst Us All

81. “This is the nature of war: it turns us into enemies. People who have never met kill each other out of fear.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

82. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” ― Nelson Mandela

83. “The future can be anything we want it to be, provided we have the faith and that we realize that peace, no less than war, required “blood and sweat and tears.” ― Charles Kettering

84. “As long as there are sovereign nations possessing great power, war is inevitable.” ― Albert Einstein

85. “War settles nothing.” ― Dwight Eisenhower

86. “More than an end to war, we want an end to the beginnings of all wars.” ― Franklin Roosevelt

87. “The greatest crime since World War II has been U.S. foreign policy.” ― Ramsey Clark

88. “Peace is not only better than war, but infinitely more arduous.” ― George Bernard Shaw

89. “For whoever conquers a free Town, and does not demolish it, commits a great Error, and may expect to be ruin ‘d himself.” ― Niccolo Machiavelli

90. “Until we end our own inner war, war will never end.” ― Raven Mardirosian

Are you close to a veteran or active duty member of the military? 

As we look at opinions on war throughout history, it’s important to remember and thank the many brave, incredible women and men that have risked their lives to protect our country.

There are reasons many of us can live normal, happy lives.

If you know of a veteran or an active duty military member, reach out to them and tell them how much they mean to you. 

A simple letter, phone call, or text message can make their day and remind them of their bravery. 

Is there a quote above that you agree with?

Do you have any other war quotes and sayings to add?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

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  1. william Ryan

    March 24, 2020 at 5:12 AM

    that violence solves nothing is a popular misconception. No social injustice has been rectified nor any social advance secured without violence.

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