October 15, 2011

“War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.”

War is Hell.

Saying “thank you” ain’t nearly enough, I’m sure we agree, but it’s a start! Those who know war, as they say, hate war. It’s not a thing of glory, it’s a thing of mud and blood.

Service is not a thing given, in war, it’s a thing taken. Service is to be honored, but let us never forget that war is too often foisted upon those who willing to serve by old, angry cowards.

There is no glory in war. War is hell, to those who know it best. So next time your patriotism turns to nationalism and fascism, and aggression, remember these war-hating quotes as tonic:

“There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all Hell.” ~ General Sherman

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.” ~ Tim O’Brien

Amazing speech in Doctor Who by Peter Capaldi about the insanity of war [Zygon Inversion]

Go over to Reddit for a fascinating conversation—here’s the topmost comment:

My 83 year old grandmother on my family watching a war movie…

“Why do you people watch these movies…As a young girl I saw war. It is not entertaining. I watched Men, women, children, friends and family die in front of me, shot, blown up, burnt…starved. I was 13 when the war started, it ended when I was 17, I lost my teenage years and even after the war I worked in the factories while your grandfather worked in the mines. I watched my father get dragged away by Nazis, a man shot in the head for helping my sister carry a bag of coal. I was forced to scrape ice off stairs in -40c weather (Leningrad Russia) and woke up to 17 men hanging from trees behind my home, we smuggled potato skins & boiled bark to survive. You are lucky you weren’t born into a world like that. This generation is somewhat spoiled, you don’t realize what can happen…you don’t know this can become reality…I love you and never wish upon you to see real war, but if you do you will understand what I’m talking about…

Can we watch something more pleasant? … Maybe something romantic…with good music?”

I’m 17 and I love war games and movies. This really hit me hard, my Grandmother is always so innocent, yet she opened up to me like this. She told me the war stories, but this is the first time I realized how hard it hit her life and how lucky we truly are…

God forbid she saw me play a video game.

The bombing of Dresden:

It is not possible to describe! Explosion after explosion. It was beyond belief, worse than the blackest nightmare. So many people were horribly burnt and injured. It became more and more difficult to breathe …

… fire everywhere, everywhere fire, and all the time the hot wind of the firestorm threw people back into the burning houses they were trying to escape from.

~ Lothar Metzger, survivor.

Otto von Bismarck, who started (and won) 3 wars:

“Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war”

For more: “a part in World at War – Ep21 Nemesis: Germany which covers the Dresden bombings…

…This series is a landmark of British television, and deserves every bit of credit. It cost the equivalent of £11.5M to make, and has interviews with both alied and axis high command… An incredible story from start to finish, if you have the patience…”

Furthermore, War is (as expensive as) hell.

Watch this amazing video, and imagine what we could do with such money to celebrate and strengthen peace! Improve education, housing, healthcare, fund needful science, bike paths, infrastructure, help farmers, fight crime…you name it.

The Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety .The USA spends more money on its military than the next eight nations combined.with 200,000 troops stationed in over 144 countries (2015)

“I have seen war. I have seen war on land and sea. I have seen blood running from the wounded. I have seen men coughing out their gassed lungs. I have seen the dead in the mud. I have seen cities destroyed. I have seen 200 limping, exhausted men come out of line—the survivors of a regiment of 1,000 that went forward 48 hours before. I have seen children starving. I have seen the agony of mothers and wives. I hate war.”

― President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s heartrending quote on war. 

And, of course, General Sherman, re the Civil War:

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.” ~ William Tecumseh Sherman

From his address to the graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy (19 June 1879);

“I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel. It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that some day you can use the skill you have acquired here.

Suppress it! You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!”

And another speech:

“You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end. It is all folly, madness, a crime against civilization! You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing! You mistake, too, the people of the North. They are a peaceable people but an earnest people, and they will fight, too. They are not going to let this country be destroyed without a mighty effort to save it… Besides, where are your men and appliances of war to contend against them? The North can make a steam engine, locomotive, or railway car; hardly a yard of cloth or pair of shoes can you make. You are rushing into war with one of the most powerful, ingeniously mechanical, and determined people on Earth — right at your doors. You are bound to fail. Only in your spirit and determination are you prepared for war. In all else you are totally unprepared, with a bad cause to start with. At first you will make headway, but as your limited resources begin to fail, shut out from the markets of Europe as you will be, your cause will begin to wane. If your people will but stop and think, they must see in the end that you will surely fail.”

More, via Reddit, with links to the Redditors:


Rape has always been employed as a tool of war. It leaves a devastating psychological impact that lasts for generations and is often used intentionally as a strategy.

Here’s an example

The attacks were led by General Tikka Khan, who was the architect of Operation Searchlight and was given the name the “butcher of Bengal” by the Bengalis for his actions. Khan said—when reminded on 27 March 1971 that he was in charge of a majority province—”I will reduce this majority to a minority”.[30][31] Bina D’Costa believes an anecdote used by Khan is significant, in that it provides proof of the mass rapes being a deliberate strategy. In Jessore, while speaking with a group of journalists Khan was reported to have said, “Pehle inko Mussalman karo” (First, make them Muslim). D’Costa argues that this shows that in the highest echelons of the armed forces the Bengalis were perceived as being disloyal Muslims and unpatriotic Pakistanis.[32]

The perpetrators conducted nighttime raids, assaulting women in their villages,[33] often in front of their families, as part of the terror campaign.[34]  Victims aged 8 to 75 were also kidnapped and held in special camps where they were repeatedly assaulted. Many of those held in the camps were murdered or committed suicide,[35][36] with some taking their own lives by using their hair to hang themselves, the soldiers responded to these suicides by cutting the women’s hair off.[32] Time magazine reported on 563 girls who had been kidnapped and held by the military; all of them were between three and five months pregnant when the military began to release them.[37] Some women were forcibly used as prostitutes.[38] While the Pakistani government estimated the number of rapes in the hundreds,[39] other estimates range between 200,000[40] and 400,000.[41] The Pakistani government had tried to censor reports coming out of the region, but media reports on the atrocities did reach the public worldwide, and gave rise to widespread international public support for the liberation movement.[42]

In what has been described by Jenneke Arens as a deliberate attempt to destroy an ethnic group, many of those assaulted were raped, murdered and then bayoneted in the genitalia.[43] Adam Jones, a political scientist, has said that one of the reasons for the mass rapes was to undermine Bengali society through the “dishonoring” of Bengali women and that some women were raped until they died or were killed following repeated attacks.[44] The Pakistani army also raped Bengali males. The men, when passing through a checkpoint, would be ordered to prove they were circumcised, and this is where the rapes usually happened.[45] The International Commission of Jurists concluded that the atrocities carried out by the Pakistan armed forces “were part of a deliberate policy by a disciplined force”.[46] The writer Mulk Raj Anand said of the Pakistani army actions, “The rapes were so systematic and pervasive that they had to be conscious Army policy, “planned by the West Pakistanis in a deliberate effort to create a new race” or to dilute Bengali nationalism”.[47] Amita Malik, reporting from Bangladesh following the Pakistan armed forces surrender, wrote that one West Pakistani soldier said: “We are going. But we are leaving our Seed behind”.[48]

Don’t forget the rape of Nanking.

During this period, soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army murdered Chinese civilians and disarmed combatants numbering an estimated 40,000 to over 300,000,[7][8] and perpetrated widespread rape and looting.

Don’t worry it gets worse.

The International Military Tribunal for the Far East estimated that, in an addition to children and the elderly, 20,000 women were raped.[47] A large portion of these rapes were systematized in a process in which soldiers would go from door to door, searching for girls, with many women being captured and gang raped.[48] The women were often killed immediately after being raped, often through explicit mutilation[49] or by penetrating vaginas with bayonets, long sticks of bamboo, or other objects. Young children were not exempt from these atrocities and were cut open to allow Japanese soldiers to rape them.[50]

On 19 December 1937, the Reverend James M. McCallum wrote in his diary:

I know not where to end. Never I have heard or read such brutality. Rape! Rape! Rape! We estimate at least 1,000 cases a night and many by day. In case of resistance or anything that seems like disapproval, there is a bayonet stab or a bullet … People are hysterical … Women are being carried off every morning, afternoon and evening. The whole Japanese army seems to be free to go and come as it pleases, and to do whatever it pleases.[51]

On March 7, 1938, Robert O. Wilson, a surgeon at the American-administered University Hospital in the Safety Zone, wrote in a letter to his family, “a conservative estimate of people slaughtered in cold blood is somewhere about 100,000, including of course thousands of soldiers that had thrown down their arms”.[52]

Here are two excerpts from his letters of 15 and 18 December 1937 to his family:

The slaughter of civilians is appalling. I could go on for pages telling of cases of rape and brutality almost beyond belief. Two bayoneted corpses are the only survivors of seven street cleaners who were sitting in their headquarters when Japanese soldiers came in without warning or reason and killed five of their number and wounded the two that found their way to the hospital.

Let me recount some instances occurring in the last two days. Last night the house of one of the Chinese staff members of the university was broken into and two of the women, his relatives, were raped. Two girls, about 16, were raped to death in one of the refugee camps. In the University Middle School where there are 8,000 people the Japs came in ten times last night, over the wall, stole food, clothing, and raped until they were satisfied. They bayoneted one little boy of eight who [had] five bayonet wounds including one that penetrated his stomach, a portion of omentum was outside the abdomen. I think he will live.[53]

The Tattoo Comic is pretty much seared in my mind. The whole Comfort Women system was pretty horrific.

A few final quotes: 

“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” ~ George S. Patton

“War is a racket” ~ Major General Smedler D. Butler

“Politicians hide themselves away.
They only started the war.
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor, yeah.” ~ Ozwald Osborne, “War Pigs”

*The Elephant Academy Early Admissions discount has since ended since this video was shared, but if you have questions about the Academy or about our Write your Heart Out course, please email the Academy team. We love to chat! [email protected]


War is glorious for the coward, sitting at home ranting at his TV.

War is trauma & death for the enlisted, who pay the price of hateful politicians.

But war is hell: fear & grief for the innocent; the teacher, the mother, the father, the child, the waitress & the elderly.

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