War plagues thousands of countries across the world, takes millions of lives, and sends many into panic worldwide. Many choose to declare war as a necessary evil on the path towards peace. The war quotes below feature opinions on war from prominent figures throughout history.
How has war affected your daily life?
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 the timeline of history, leaving many to give their opinions on which decision is the “right” one.
In this article, we have gathered opinions on war from politicians, writers, philosophers, and more.
War quotes from politicians
1. “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
2. “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
3. “I have never advocated war except as a means of peace.” – Ulysses S. Grant
4. “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
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of gun violence quotes that illustrate both sides of this social issue.
5. “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
6. “If they are going to have war, they ought to take the old men and leave the young to propagate the race.” – Jeannette Rankin
7. “Wars are not paid for in wartime, the bill comes later.” – Benjamin Franklin
8. “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
More war quotes from political figures
9. “The most successful war seldom pays for its losses.” – Thomas Jefferson
10. “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
11. “Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war.” – John Adams
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
13. “The only excuse for war is that we may live in peace unharmed.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
14. “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” – Hiram Johnson
15. “War is never a solution; it is an aggravation.” – Benjamin Disraeli
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
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
War quotes from writers and philosophers
18. “War is only a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.” – Thomas Mann
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
20. “War is evil, but it is often the lesser evil.” – George Orwell
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
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
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
24. “When the rich wage war, it’s the poor who die.” – Jean-Paul Sartre
25. “It is not only the living who are killed in war.” – Issac Asimov
26. “The first and most imperative necessity in war is money, for money means everything else – men, guns, ammunition.” – Ida Tarbell
27. “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” – Sun Tzu
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of Sun Tzu quotes from the iconic warrior and philospher.
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
29. “War is a series of catastrophes which result in victory.” – Albert Pike
30. “We are all tourists in history, and irony is what we win in wars.” – Anatole Broyard
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
You might also like these powerful Genghis Khan quotes to bring out the warrior in you.
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. “Man becomes his most creative during war.” – Clint Eastwood
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.
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. “Our modern states are preparing for war without even knowing the future enemy.” – Alfred Adler
War quotes from military service members
45. “In war, you win or lose, live or die – and the difference is just an eyelash.” – Douglas MacArthur
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. “A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood.” – George S. Patton
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
More war quotes and sayings
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
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 the reasons why many of us can live normal, happy lives. If you know of a veteran or an active duty member of the military, reach out to them and let them know how much they mean to you.
Just 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.
February 14, 2020 7:00 AM EST