Societies often first exalt their leaders and wise people. Contrarily, they later seem to completely forget their words:
“Pyrrhus, when his friends congratulated to him his victory over the Romans under Fabricius, but with great slaughter of his own side, said to them, "Yes; but if we have such another victory, we are undone."
- Francis Bacon
“There never was a good war or a bad peace.”
- Benjamin Franklin
"A free government with an uncontrolled power of military conscription is the most ridiculous and abominable contradiction and nonsense that ever entered into the heads of men."
—Daniel Webster, Speech in the House of Representatives, January 14, 1814
“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. If today, he should choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada, to prevent the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may say to him, 'I see no probability of the British invading us' but he will say to you, 'Be silent; I see it, if you don't.'"
- - US President Abraham Lincoln
"Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country. It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently serves the country. It is unpatriotic not to oppose him to the exact extent that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the country."
- US President Theodore Roosevelt
"Once lead this people into war and they'll forget there ever was such a thing as tolerance. To fight you must be brutal and ruthless and the spirit of ruthlessness will enter into the very fiber of our national life, infecting Congress, the courts, the policeman on the beat, the man in the street." —US President Woodrow Wilson , 1917
“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”
- Jeanette Rankin, First woman elected to Congress (R-MT, 1918)
"I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service in the country's most agile military force, the Marines. I served in all ranks from second lieutenant to major general. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
—Maj. Gen. Smedley Butler (former Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps) Common Sense, November 1935
"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificually induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear."
—US General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951
“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 not clothed.”
- US President Dwight D. Eisenhower
“The military don't start wars. Politicians start wars.”
- US General William Westmoreland
“History teaches that war begins when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.”
- US President Ronald Reagan
"FREEDOM FIGHTER, n. A State Department term referring to a mercenary attempting to install an authoritarian regime friendly to U.S. business interests”
- US President Ronald Reagan. (For those with short memories or too young to remember, this is what Reagan’s administration called Osama Bin Ladin and the Afghan Taliban in the 1980’s while providing them aid to the tune of $3 billion.)
“Violence is the first refuge of the incompetent”
- Issac Asimov (Perhaps forecasting GWB?)
“One can not doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.”
- William F. Buckley in National Review, 2/24/06