Crises and Power
U.S. Foreign Policy

Quotes on Power

About the book Crisis and Leviathan

Center on Peace & Liberty “E” Quotes
On Power


Lawrence S. Eagleburger (1930-)
U.S. Secretary of State

“There is only one way to begin to deal with people like this, and that is you have to kill some of them even if they are not immediately directly involved in this thing.”

Clint Eastwood (1930-)
American Actor

“Abuse of power isn’t limited to bad guys in other nations. It happens in our own country if we’re not vigilant.”

Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
American Inventor and Entrepreneur

“There will one day spring from the brain of science a machine or force so fearful in its potentialities, so absolutely terrifying, that even man, the fighter, who will dare torture and death in order to inflict torture and death, will be appalled, and so abandon war forever.”

“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming other living beings, we are still savages.”

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
German-born American Physicist and 1921 Nobel Prize-Winner in Physics

“All of us who are concerned for peace and triumph of reason and justice must be keenly aware how small an influence reason and honest good will exert upon events in the political field.”

“Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism - how passionately I hate them!”

“The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking. . . the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.”

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.”

“First, the prominence of war in American life since 1914, amounting to a virtual Seventy-Five Years War, and with this the staggering size of the American military establishment since World War II. The Framers had relied on two broad oceans for the license to draft the most nonmilitary constitution imaginable.”

“He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, deplorable love-of-country stance, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action! It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.

“I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.”

“Nationalism is an infantile sickness. It is the measles of the human race.”

“Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom.”

“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.”

“You cannot prevent and prepare for war at the same time.”

“Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be a spirit of tolerance in the entire population.”

“Force always attracts men of low morality.”

“I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones.”

“The prestige of government has undoubtedly been lowered considerably by the prohibition law. For nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced. It is an open secret that the dangerous increase of crime in this country is closely connected with this.”

“The strength of the Constitution lies entirely in the determination of each citizen to defend it. Only if every single citizen feels duty bound to do his share in this defense are the constitutional rights secure.”

“The pioneers of a warless world are the [youth] who refuse military service.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969)
34th President of the United States and Supreme Allied Commander

“I think that people want peace so much that one of these days government had better get out of their way and let them have it.”

“Peace and justice are two sides of the same coin.”

“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.”

“. . . there is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs.”

“Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea. Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. . . we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United State corporations. This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence--economic, political, even spiritual--is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the Federal government. . . . Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.”

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

“Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.”

“Here in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionaries and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine.”

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

“The one weapon every man, soldier, sailor, or airman--should be able to use effectively is the rifle. It is always his weapon of personal safety in an emergency, and for many it is the primary weapon of offence and defense. Expertness in its use cannot be over emphasized.”

“The Japanese were ready to surender and it wasn’t necessary to hit them with that awful thing [atomic bomb]. . . . I hated to see our country be the first to use such a weapon.”

“When people speak to you about a preventive war, you tell them to go and fight it. After my experience, I have come to hate war. War settles nothing.”

“Now let us assume that we lose Indo-China. If Indo-China goes, several things happen right away. The Malayan peninsula, the last bit of land hanging down there, would scarcely be defensible--and tin and tungsten that we so greatly value from that area would cease coming . . . . All of that weakening position around there is very ominous fo the United States, because finally if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia? . . . So when the United States votes $400 million to help that war, we are not voting a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way that we can to prevent the occurrence of something that would be of the most terrible significance to the United States of America--our security, our power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indo-Chinese territory and from Southeast Asia.” [from remarks, Governors Conference, August 4, 1953, Public Papers of the Presidents, 1953, p. 540]

George Eliot [Mary Anne Evans] (1819-1880)
American Author

“The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”

E. Daniel Ellsberg (1931-)
National Security Expert and Whistleblower

“It is a tribute to the American people that our leaders perceived that they had to lie to us, it is not a tribute to us that we were so easily misled.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
American Philosopher and Poet

“The less government we have the less confided power. The antidote to this abuse of formal government is the influence of private character, the growth of the individual . . . Leave this hypocritical prating about the masses. Masses are rude, unmade, pernicious in their demands and influence. I wish not to concede anything to them, but to divide and break them up, and draw individuals out of them . . . The only progress ever known was of the individual . . . In all my lectures, I have taught one doctrine, namely, the infinitude of the private man . . . I cannot find language of sufficient energy to convey my sense of the sacredness of private integrity.”

“Every actual state is corrupt. Good men must not obey laws too well.”

“Man exists for h is own sake and not to add a laborer to the State.”

“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.”

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do.”

“When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice, I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and the purity of its heart.”

“Who so would be a man must be a nonconformist.”

Vassilis Epaminondou
Greek Social Reformer

“If you kill one person you are a murderer. If you kill ten people you are a monster. If you kill ten thousand you are a national hero.”

Epictetus (ca 55-135 A.D.)
Roman Philosopher and Teacher

“He is free who lives as he wishes to live; who is neither subject to compulsion nor to hindrance, nor to force; whose movements to action are not impeded, whose desires attain their purpose, and who does not fall into that which he would avoid.”

Erasmus [Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus] (1466-1536)
Dutch Humanist and Theologian

“War is delightful to those who have not experienced it.”

“The most disadvantageous peace is better than the most just of war.”