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This page is for quotations related to the armed forces and military matters.


  • The British army has fought for the establishment of our nation, and on all these occasions it is known that the discipline which exists in that army has not destroyed its spirit. It is, thank God, what it was, still; and they will meet again with the same spirit when called on on a future occasion, and I hope and trust, whether men mean it or not, no man will be able to render a British soldier other than he is, one of the most respectable.
    • Best, J., King v. Burdett (1820), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 55; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 15.
  • All Societies that maintain armies maintain the belief that some things are more valuable than life itself. Just What is so valued varies.
  • A Serjeant is a soldier with a halbert, and a drummer is a soldier with a drum.
    • Denison, J., Lloyd v. Wooddall (1748), 1 Black. 30; reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 15.
  • In the various states of society, armies are recruited from very different motives. Barbarians are urged by the love of war; the citizens of a free republic may be prompted by a principle of duty; the subjects, or at least the nobles, of a monarchy, are animated by a sentiment of honor; but the timid and luxurious inhabitants of a declining empire must be allured into the service by the hopes of profit, or compelled by the dread of punishment.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. debt remains, as it has been since 1790, a war debt; the United States continues to spend more on its military than do all other nations on earth put together, and military expenditures are not only the basis of the government's industrial policy; they also take up such a huge proportion of the budget that by many estimations, were it not for them, the United States would not run a deficit at all.
  • The U.S. military, unlike any other, maintains a doctrine of global power projection: that it should have the ability, through roughly 800 overseas military bases, to intervene with deadly force absolutely anywhere on the planet. In a way, though, land forces are secondary; at least since World War II, the key to U.S. military doctrine has always been a reliance on air power. The United States has fought no war in which it did not control the skies, and it has relied on aerial bombardment far more systematically than any other military-in its recent occupation of Iraq, for instance, even going so far as to bomb residential neighborhoods of cities ostensibly under its own control. The essence of U.S. military predominance in the world is, ultimately, the fact that it can, at will, drop bombs, with only a few hours' notice, at absolutely any point on the surface of the planet. No other government has ever had anything remotely like this sort of capability. In fact, a case could well be made that it is this very power that holds the entire world monetary system, organized around the dollar, together.
  • Jehovah of armies has sworn: “Just as I have intended, so it will occur, and just as I have decided, that is what will come true.”
  • "dumb stupid animals to be used" an opinion attributed to Kissinger by Haig in reference to military men and foreign policy.
  • In the United States… a handful of corporations centralize decisions and responsibilities that are relevant for military and political as well as economic developments of global significance. For nowadays the military and the political cannot be separated from economic considerations of power. We now live not in an economic order or a political order, but in a political economy that is closely linked with military institutions and decisions. This is obvious in the repeated “oil crisis” in the Middle East, or in the relevance of Southeast Asia and African resources for the Western powers…
  • What the main drift of the twentieth century has revealed is that the economy has become concentrated and incorporated in the great hierarchies, the military has become enlarged and decisive to the shape of the entire economic structure; and moreover the economic and the military have become structurally and deeply interrelated, as the economy has become a seemingly permanent war economy; and military men and policies have increasingly penetrated the corporate economy.
  • For the corporation executives, the military metaphysic often coincides with their interest in a stable and planned flow of profit; it enables them to have their risk underwritten by public money; it enables them reasonably to expect that they can exploit for private profit now and later, the risky research developments paid for by public money. It is, in brief, a mask of the subsidized capitalism from which they extract profit and upon which their power is based.
  • Everyone acknowledges that people come to the evidence with different preconceptions. But we can't go into these problems assuming that the civilian bias, which tends toward arms control, and the view that everyone is rational, is necessarily more appropriate than the military bias. That needs to be argued, not just assumed.
  • Every time the Secretary of Defense tries to get a hand on his many intelligence programs, we hear warnings about the dire consequences to liberty. When you look behind those warnings, what you really see is the CIA trying to preserve its perks.
  • The military mind tends to be conservative, realistic and historical. The civilian mind tends to be liberal, idealistic and Utopian. Journalists, obviously, are civilians, and they tend to distrust, and to suspect, the military’s motives.
  • Terrible as an army with banners.
    • Song of Solomon, VI. 4 and 10.

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