Good God, y'all!
What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!
— Edwin Starr, "War"
You're dying in war, but you even can't live in peace.
You were all that we had, your mommy and me,
When you marched head erect, you were proud as could be;
But it killed your poor ma and it's slowly killing me,
Since you were blown to kingdom come on the shores of Gallipoli.
— "The Shores of Gallipoli"
Over the deep and the deadly sweep
The fire and the bursting shell
While the very air is a mad despair
The throes of a living hell
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.note
— Wilfred Owen, Dulce Et Decorum Est
Rivers flow with blood
There's nowhere left to hide
It's hard to comprehend
There's anyone left alive
Sick of all the killing
And the reek of death
Will God tell me
What religion is to man
The sun, how it shines on the green fields of France There's a warm summer breeze, makes the red poppies dance The trenches have vanished, long under the plow, There's no gas, no barbed wire, there's no guns firing now. But here in this graveyard, it's still no-man's-land The countless white crosses in mute witness stand To Man's blind indifference to his fellow man, To a whole generation that were butchered and damned!
— Eric Bogle, "No Man's Land" (often known as "Green Fields of France" or "Willie McBride")
How well I remember that terrible day, When our blood stained the sand and the water, And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay, We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter. Johnny Turk, he was ready, he'd primed himself well, He rained us with bullets, and showered us with shell, And in five minutes flat, he blew us to hell, Nearly blew us right back to Australia. And the band played 'Waltzing Matilda', As we all stopped to bury the slain, We buried ours, and the Turks buried theirs, Then it started all over again.
— Eric Bogle, "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda"
Wi' yer drums 'n' guns, and guns 'n' drums, the enemy nearly slew ye Oh, darlin', dear, ye look so queer, Johnny, I hardly knew ye
— Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye, traditional Irish folk song
The war is a taste of hellfire
The war is the downfall of man
The war is the trade of the liar
The war again and again
As the train pulled in the station and the families gathered 'round
You could hear the first car echo with a loud triumphant sound
But the last car it was silent, they listened close but they couldn't hear
It was laden down with coffins, that didn't speak and couldn't cheer
Tell their wives that 'they fought bravely' as they lay them in their graves...
They were crying when their sons left
All young men must go
He's come so far to find the truth
He's never going home
A score and seven soldiers, bloody, hacked and lame, Returning to the village from their warriors' game, Once more the drums are beating in the village square, They tell of those who'll never be returning there... The captain is dead and all the banners are bloody and torn, Only these return, there'll be no more to come, The pipes are keening for the soldiers dead and gone, Behind them, mothers follow sadly weeping-oh.
— Andy Irvine, Blood and Gold
Where to begin? Let's start with the end
This black and white photo don't capture the skin
When metal is churned. And bodies are burned
— "The War Was In Color" by Carbon Leaf
I have eaten your bread and salt.
I have drunk your water and wine.
The deaths ye died I have watched beside,
And the lives ye led were mine.
Was there aught that I did not share
In vigil or toil or ease, —
One joy or woe that I did not know,
Dear hearts across the seas?
I have written the tale of our life
For a sheltered people's mirth,
In jesting guise — but ye are wise,
And ye know what the jest is worth.
And when he gets to heaven
to St. Peter he will tell:
"One more marine reporting, sir!
I've served my time in hell!"
— The Soldier's Poem
A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.
You know who's going to inherit the Earth? Arms dealers.
Because everyone else is too busy killing each other. That's the secret to survival: Never go to war. Especially with yourself.
O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it — for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.
So did all those kids die thinking of democracy and freedom and liberty and honor and the safety of the home and the stars and stripes forever? You're goddamn right they didn't. They died crying in their minds like little babies. They forgot the thing they were fighting for the things they were dying for. They thought about things a man can understand. They died yearning for the face of a friend. They died whimpering for the voice of a mother a father a wife a child They died with their hearts sick for one more look at the place where they were born please god just one more look. They died moaning and sighing for life. They knew what was important They knew that life was everything and they died with screams and sobs. They died with only one thought in their minds and that was I want to live I want to live I want to live.
—Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun
War never changes.
Since the dawn of humankind, when our ancestors first discovered the killing power of rock and bone, blood has been spilled in the name of everything, from God, to justice, to simple psychotic rage.
In the year 2077, after millenia of armed conflict, the destructive nature of man could sustain itself no longer. The world was plunged into an abyss of nuclear fire and radiation.
But it was not, as some had predicted, the end of the world. Instead, the apocalypse was simply the prologue to another bloody chapter of human history. For man had succeeded in destroying the world...
War never changes.
Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.
War isn't Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell, and of the two, war is a lot worse. Father Mulcahy
: How do you figure, Hawkeye? Hawkeye
: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell? Father Mulcahy
: Sinners, I believe. Hawkeye
: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders
in Hell. War is chock full of them: little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for some of the brass
, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.
When I was eighteen, I, uh... I went to Vietnam. I wasn’t drafted, Mulder. I enlisted in the Marine Corps the day of my eighteenth birthday. I did it on a blind faith. I did it because I believed it was the right thing to do. I don’t know, maybe I still do. Three weeks into my tour, a ten-year-old North Vietnamese boy walked into camp covered with grenades and I, uh... I blew his head off from a distance of ten yards. I lost my faith. Not in my country or in myself, but in everything. There was just no point to anything anymore.
I warn you, the school is armed. Baines:
All your little tin soldiers. But tell me, sir, will they thank you? Mr. Rocastle:
I don't understand. Baines:
What do you know of "History," sir? What do you know of next year
?! Mr. Rocastle:
You're not making sense, Baines... Baines:
1914, sir. Because the Family has traveled far and wide looking for "Mister Smith", and oh, the things we have seen. War is coming. In foreign fields, war of the whole wide world, with all your boys falling down in the mud. Do you think they will thank the man who taught them it was glorious?
Kill the enemy....Dress it up however you want, that's what war is about. If there's glory in there somewhere, I must have missed it.
You must remember that I have at my internal demand every expertise known to our history. This is the fund of energy I draw upon when I address the mentality of war. If you have not heard the moaning cries of the wounded and dying, you do not know about war. I have heard those cries in such numbers that they haunt me. I have cried out myself in the aftermath of battle. I have suffered wounds from fist and club and rock, from shell-studded limb and bronze sword, from the mace and the cannon, from arrows and lasguns and the silent working of slow poisons… and more I will not recount! I have seen and felt them all. To those who dare ask why I behave as I do, I say: With my memories, I can do nothing else. I am not a coward. And once… I was human.
This is a war without victory.
Great warrior? Hah! Wars not make one great!
"Give me a projection on Marine casualties." "1,000 to 2,500, sir." "Total?" "No, sir. Per week."
"Well, Fitzroy. You...
(shudders) You got a little cunning in ya—if nothing else. Dropped a couple grizzly traps 'round the lines up here. Idea was to bleed one of your couriers till he gave you up. 'Cept, of course... you're using kids now. Now I got this...tiny Injun boy, eyeballing me. Had to take his leg off. Damn thing's just...lying here between us. I sure wish he'd cry or something."
"In a recent battle Player X completely destroyed Player Y's ship. The moment Player Y tried to flee he was vaporized by Player X's shots. War Is Hell.
Up at the front you're alive or you're dead, and that's all! You can't fool anybody about that very long. Up there we know we're lost and done for whether we're dead or alive. Three years we've had of it... four years. Every day a year and every night a century. Our bodies are earth and our thoughts are clay, and we sleep and eat with death.
There was a little girl. Maybe, eight years old? I dunno. She'd lost both her legs. Just kept staring at them. Little stumps, cauterized by fire somehow. A little girl, all alone, looking at where her legs were, not understanding anything. Just . . . staring. Blank little eyes. Staring.
We forge futures out of pain and grief, Commander. The computers and the communications officers and the EV As
and the displays only serve to isolate us so we can be inhuman. We're monsters, son. Cold, mechanical, rational monsters, and the only way we win is by being colder, more mechanical, and more rational than the next monster moving his little pieces on the screen. That's how war has been fought since Stalin rolled into the Allies a century ago. You point, you click, and they die. It's how it works.
Captain's report February 4th, 2531. Five years, five long years. That's how long it took us to get Harvest back..At first it was going well. Then setback after setback..Loss after loss...Made what was going to be a quick and decisive win..Into five years of Hell...Of course that's all Harvest is today..It's hell down there..But it's ours again.
Since the war started, they were the first to lose their lives. But you were there too, commanding in the midst of fighting. Peasants that were cheerfully delivering milk until yesterday, return all banged up today. Every day. Until the war ends, it will continue day in and day out. Can you really handle that?
In the battlefield, there is no place for hope. What lies there is only cold despair and a sin called victory, built on the pain of the defeated. All those people who met there have wholeheartedly admitted the evil and foolishness of this act called "war." As long as people don't repent and don't regard it as the most evil taboo, then hell would endlessly reappear in the world.
Now arms, however beautiful, are instruments of evil omen, hateful, it may be said, to all creatures
. Therefore they who have the Tao do not like to employ them.
The superior man ordinarily considers the left hand the most honourable place, but in time of war the right hand. Those sharp weapons are instruments of evil omen, and not the instruments of the superior man;—he uses them only on the compulsion of necessity. Calm and repose are what he prizes; victory (by force of arms) is to him undesirable. To consider this desirable would be to delight in the slaughter of men; and he who delights in the slaughter of men cannot get his will in the kingdom.
On occasions of festivity to be on the left hand is the prized position; on occasions of mourning, the right hand. The second in command of the army has his place on the left; the general commanding in chief has his on the right;—his place, that is, is assigned to him as in the rites of mourning. He who has killed multitudes of men should weep for them with the bitterest grief
; and the victor in battle has his place (rightly) according to those rites.
It was war, you dumb kid. Everybody I liked got killed, and most of the folks I'd just as soon have shot made it out with medals on their chests. It wasn't fair and it sure as hell wasn't any fun.
Only the dead have seen the end of war.
— George Santayana, Soliloquy #25, "Tipperary" note
has gone too far. Killing is wrong. And bad. There should be a new, stronger word for killing, like "badwrong", or "badong". Yes, killing is badong. From this point forward, I shall stand for the opposite of killing...gnodab.
War is not heroic. War is not exhilarating.
It is dark. It is dreadful. It is a thing of sorrow and gloom.
That is why people fear war. That is why people choose to avoid it.
If they want new boots or a warmer cloak or maybe a rusted iron halfhelm, they need to take them from a corpse, and before long they are stealing from the living too, from the smallfolk whose lands they’re fighting in, men very like the men they used to be. They slaughter their sheep and steal their chickens, and from there it’s just a short step to carrying off their daughters too. And one day they look around and realize all their friends and kin are gone, that they are fighting beside strangers beneath a banner that they hardly recognize. They don’t know where they are or how to get back home and the lord they’re fighting for does not know their names, yet here he comes, shouting for them to form up, to make a line with their spears and scythes and sharpened hoes, to stand their ground. And the knights come down on them, faceless men clad all in steel, and the iron thunder of their charge seems to fill the world...
And the man breaks.
He turns and runs, or crawls off afterward over the corpses of the slain, or steals away in the black of night, and he finds someplace to hide. All thought of home is gone by then, and kings and lords and gods mean less to him than a haunch of spoiled meat that will let him live another day, or a skin of bad wine that might drown his fear for a few hours. The broken man lives from day to day, from meal to meal, more beast than man. Lady Brienne is not wrong. In times like these, the traveler must beware of broken men
, and fear them... but he should pity them as well.
Listen, you folks at home... Today we won a piece of Sov-Cities' dirt. So what? Three good men died for it—that's what matters. Sometimes war is necessary—but don't ever let creeps like this one tell you it's fun.
War is pointless. War is evil. WAR IS HELL!
Five years ago, I lost 30,000 men in the blink of an eye, and the world just fucking watched. Tomorrow there will be no shortage of volunteers, no shortage of patriots. I know you understand.
I have marched in many a battle host, but I have also planted seeds and reaped the harvest with my own hands. And I have learned there is greater honor in a field well plowed than in a field steeped in blood.
is what looks like when you've actually fought in battle. It's not glorious, it's not beautiful...it's not even heroic! It's merely doing what's right! And doing it again and again, even if someday you look like this.
"Oh that is typical. They're always firing shells at us. I hate this." "It's horrible here—really horrible." "I know it is." "It's muddy and smelly and just really dangerous. I hate the way everyone gets killed."
War is an atrocity committed in the name of survival. A lesson I wish I had never learned.
: He shot him in the head
, Perceptor! In the head
! This isn't what being a Wrecker's about... saving lives, yes. Dramatic rescues, yes. And having adventures! What's wrong with just having adventures?
? Back there
? With the laughing
and the gun
and all the... all the viscera
? That was not
part of the deal. Topspin
: What's with
you? First the blackouts, now this! How's you even land
this gig, Ironfist? Pyro, Guzzle, Rotorstorm - we voted
them in. Not you... we were just told
you were coming along! You're a hanger-on! A tourist! This isn't role-play
. People die
in stupid, pointless ways. Deal
This great evil. Where does it come from? How'd it steal into the world? What seed, what root did it grow from? Who's doin' this? Who's killin' us? Robbing us of life and light. Mockin' us with the sight of what we might've known. Does our ruin benefit the earth? Does it help the grass to grow, the sun to shine? Is this darkness in you, too? Have you passed through this night?
I've never seen so many men wasted so badly.
Why a wet team? Gen. Fitzwallace:
...Excuse me, sir? Bartlet:
Why the CIA
West Team? We're not near water. Fitzwalllace:
No, sir, it's called ... (ahem)
They call it a wet team because it's bloody. Bartlet:
(I had to ask.)
Another two inches? Shrapnel zings by; slices my throat. I'll bleed out like a pig in the sand; nobody'll give a shit. I mean my parents? They'll care, but they don't count, man. Who else? I don't even have a son.
Here is better than home, eh, sir? I mean at home if you kill someone they arrest you, here they'll give you a gun and show you what to do, sir. I mean, I killed fifteen of those buggers. Now at home they'd hang me, here they'll give me a fucking medal, sir.
I think Peeta was onto something about us destroying one another and letting some decent species take over. Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children's lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control. Coin thought the parachutes would expedite the war.
But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, no one benefits in a world where these things happen.
We were in this bar in Saigon and this kid comes up, this kid carrying a shoe-shine box. And he says "Shine, please, shine!" I said no. He kept askin', yeah, and Joey said "Yeah." And I went to get a couple of beers, and the box was wired, and he opened up the box, fucking blew his body all over the place. And he's laying there, he's fucking screaming. There's pieces of him all over me, just...like this, and I'm tryin' to pull him off, you know, my friend that's all over me! I've got blood and everything and I'm tryin' to hold him together! I'm puttin'... the guy's fuckin' insides keep coming out! And nobody would help! Nobody would help! He's saying, sayin' "I wanna go home! I wanna go home!" He keeps calling my name! "I wanna go home, Johnny! I wanna drive my Chevy!" I said "With what? I can't find your fuckin' legs! I can't find your legs!" I can't get it out of my head. A dream of seven years. Everyday I have this. And sometimes I wake up and I don't know where I am. I don't talk to anybody. Sometimes a day - a week. I can't put it out of my mind.
I think now, looking back, we did not fight the enemy, we fought ourselves, and the enemy was in us. The war is over for me now, but it will always be there, the rest of my days. As I'm sure Elias will be, fighting with Barnes for what Rhah called "possesion of my soul." There are times since, I've felt like a child, born of those two fathers. But be that as it may, those of us, who did make it have an obligation to build again. To teach to others what we know, and to try with what's left of our lives to find a goodness and a meaning to this life.
War is not a joke. Find someone else to bother!
You want to know what it's like to kill a man? Well it's goddamn awful, that's what it is. The only thing worse is getting a medal of valour for killing some poor kid that wanted to 'just give up, that's all.' Yeah, some scared little gook just like you. I shot him right in the face with that rifle you were holding in there a while ago. There's not a day goes by that I don't think about it. You don't want that on your soul. But I got blood on my hands.
There's no mercy in war. People live and people die—that's all there is to it.
Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war.
Nothing but a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won.
Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.
— William Tecumseh Sherman
It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we would grow too fond of it.
— General Robert E. Lee
In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.
— Jose Narosky
War does not determine who is right — only who is left.
Since my youth I have wielded arms for the fatherland and grew grey therin; I have seen death in his most terrible form and still see him before my eyes daily; I have seen hovels smoke and their inhabitants leave naked and bare, and I could not help. Such are the doings and ragings of men in their passionate state. But the better man yearns to leave that wild press, and I bless the hour when I can remove myself with good, true brothers to those higher regions where a clear, bright light shines upon us. Holy therefore is freemasonry to me, to her I shall adhere unto death, and every brother shall be dear and worthy to my heart.
— General Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, speech delivered at the lodge in Bautzen, 18 September 1813
We read of killing one hundred thousand men in a day. We read about it and we rejoiced in it — if it was the other fellows who were killed. We were fed on flesh and drank blood. Even down to the prattling babe. I need not tell you how many upright, honorable young boys have come into this court charged with murder, some saved and some sent to their death, boys who fought in this war and learned to place a cheap value on human life. You know it and I know it. These boys were brought up in it. The tales of death were in their homes, their playgrounds, their schools; they were in the newspapers that they read; it was a part of the common frenzy — what was a life? It was nothing. It was the least sacred thing in existence and these boys were trained to this cruelty.
They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting to die for one's country. But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason.
He did write one novel after the war; it was not published. He told an interviewer that he would rather be a good interviewer than a bad novelist. This was meant to be the ultimate put-down. But I thought it was not quite up to our old savage standards
. Like several of our contemporaries who saw heavy combat in the infantry, Bingham came back with—how to describe it? A broken ego? For him, some sense of self was lost for good
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 senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land—young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes
There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam
, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will some day curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution places on us.
— George McGovern
I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.
I've seen many men die right in front of me - so many in fact that I've become almost hardened to it. Having seen the worst that human beings can do to each other, the results of torture, mutilation and seeing someone blown to pieces by a bomb, you develop a kind of shell. But you had to. You had to. Otherwise we would never have won.
You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.
— Bumper sticker