"Militarism is a modern thing; there was no militarism in the Middle Ages; there was only war, which is much nicer."


G.K. Chesterton


"There is no manliness in war, any more....No human man dare cry the 'The Lord of Hosts!" while he drops a bomb from an aeroplane on a city of women and children. The sword of the Lord is broken in man's hand; if it is the sword, it is not the Lord's; and if it is the Lord's, it is not the sword. The mustard-gas of the Almighty-it cannot be."

J. Middleton Murry

The necessity of Pacifism



   "In debating Americanization over the past decade we have neglected to focus on the real and growing danger: the backlash against modernization itself. For Western Intellectuals, modernization is seen as largely benign and, in any case, as inevitable. So the debate here has been an intramural one, among the varieties of modernization. (Too many McDonald's and not enough French films is one of the usual complaints.) But in large parts of the world modernization is a grueling, alien process that threatens to denude cultures and disrupt settled ways of life. Around the world, as societies develop, however slowly, people leave villages full of poverty and security and go forth into the chaotic, noisy modern world of the city. Once there the experience can be so disorienting that many try to "escape from freedom," in Erik Erikson's words, to find something safe and secure, some connection to the old world. Some have handled it better than others, but all have gone through the stresses and strains."

                              Fareed Zakaria

                             How did this Happen?


"I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilized tribes."

-Winston Churchill


Technology has made war more dangerous for the civilian than for the soldier."

Keith Simpson

The Mysteries of Life and Death


"But in modern war. . .you will die like a dog for no good reason."

Ernest Hemingway


"There is no more room for illusion as to the function of modern armies. They are permanently maintained only to suppress the "enemy within."

Paul Largargue

The Right to be Lazy


"The Twentieth century did not witness a growth of morality in mankind. Exterminations, on the other hand, were carried out on an unprecedented scale, culture declined sharply, the human spirit waned. (The nineteenth century, of course, did much to prepare this outcome.) So what reason have we to expect that the twenty-first century, one bristling with first-class weaponry on all sides, will be kinder to us?"

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

The Russian Question



"The real trouble with war (modern war) is that it gives no chance to kill the right people."

Ezra Pound


"A democracy which makes or even effectively prepares for modern, scientific war must necessarily cease to be democratic. No country can be really well prepared for modern war unless it is governed by a tyrant, at the head of a highly trained and perfectly obedient bureaucracy."

Aldous Huxley

Ends & Means


:"….But today’s war is total war, a unique and unbelievable phenomenon. It is the onus and concern of all men. It subjects everyone to the same way of life, puts everyone on a level with everyone else, and threatens everyone with the same death. Under its sway men have to endure unheard of sufferings and fatigue. War is now beyond human endurance in noise, movement, enormity of means, and precision of machines; and man himself has become merely an object, an object to be killed, and prey to a permanent panic that he is unable to translate into personal action. Man is subjected by modern war to a nervous tension, a psychic pressure, and an animal submission which are beyond human power to support. But involved and committed to the machine, he does contrive to support all this, admirable that he is! In the process, however, he is stretched to the limit of his resistance, like a steel cable which may break at any moment."

Jacques Ellul

The Technological Society


"At the present day war is carried on by regular armies; the people, the peasantry, the townsfolk take no part in it and as a rule have nothing to fear from the sword of the enemy."

Vattel (1714-1767)


Book: "At large: The Strange Case of the World’s Largest Internet Invasion" by David H. Friedman & Charles C. Main


"I don’t even understand my life anymore. I don’t understand what is happening to me. This is the life we lead, in the shadows of guns, tanks, and helicopters."

Kurdish refugee


"Our modern wars make many unhappy while they last and none happy when they are over."



"….The most ominous thing about these wars (20th century) is that they were not isolated or unprecedented calamities. They were two wars in a series; and when we envisage the whole series in a synoptic view, we discover that this is not only a series but also a progression In our recent Western history war has been following in an ascending order of intensity; and to-day it is already apparent that the War of (1939-45) was not the climax of this crescendo movement."

Arnold Toynbee

War & Civilization



By Arnold Beichman ,Insight Feb 22,1993

In a state of nature, wrote Thomas Hobbes in a celebrated passage justifying the need for government, there is no possibility of civilization; there is only "continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.".

Were Hobbes writing today, he would have difficulty defending this proposition. For a body of research has been developed showing that in the 20th century at least a dozen governments produced such funereal consequences.

Professor Rudolph J. Rummel, a noted political scientist at the University of Hawaii, has been compiling statistics of mass murder and genocide (or democide) by governments in modern times against their own people. (Rummel is author of a five-volume work, Understanding Conflict and War. His most recent books are China’s ‘bloody Century and Lethal Politics.) His research has led him to the terrifying conclusion:

Twentieth Century dictatorial governments have killed more of their own people-more than three times as many-than have been killed in all 20th century civil and international wars put together. The century’s death toll from government killing reached 119,394,000 people by 1985. The overwhelming majority of the victims-115,423,000-were killed by governments in nonfree countries. (Governments in partly free countries killed 3,140,000; in free countries, 831,000)

Over the same period, the victims of international and civil wars totaled 35,654,000. In other words, says Rummel, "governments have killed more people in cold blood than in the heat of battle." And these figures are only approximations; the real number, he says, are probably higher.

Since his initial research, Rummel has updated his figures by studying what he calls the most lethal democides of the 29th century. In doing so, he says, he found that "143,166,000 men, women and children (have been) shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed or worked to death; or buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed or any other of the myriad ways these governments have inflicted death on helpless citizens or foreigners.

To repeat: These were victims of deliberate violence by governments other than victims of wars, civil or international. The seven most lethal democides were:

Soviet; 61,911,000

Chinese Communist: 38,702,000

Chinese Nationalist: 10,214,000

Nazi (including 5,291,000 Jews) 20,946,000

Japanese in WWII: 5,890,000

Yugoslav (1941-87) 2,640,000

Armenian: 1,000,000

According to Rummel, the final version of this listing of death by governments in the 20th century will include three more democides-Vietnam, Cambodia and the one committed by Pakistan in Bangladesh. No doubt he will also include the democides of Idi Amin and Milton Obote of ill-fated Uganda and the democide of Saddam Hussein against the Kurds.

These preliminary findings are reported in the newsletter of the Center for the Study of Social Conflicts, at the University of Leyden in the Netherlands. What Rummel is targeting according to the center’s bulletin, "are not acts of war but war crimes and peacetime crimes of state-killings of basically unarmed, nonresisting civilians who are arbitrarily put to death by those who wield centralized, unchecked and undisciplined power for a variety of ends, ranging from ethnic-racial purity, national unity and rapid development to utopia. Lenin, more than any other revolutionary, inspired killing by design, as when he talked about the need for "revolutionary violence against the faltering and unrestrained elements of the toiling masses themselves."

But probably the most significant of the themes that can be gleaned from Rummel’s research, says the Leyden bulletin, is that while the human rights records of democratic societies are far from perfect. " they are, relatively speaking, the greater respecters of the value of human life."

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution



"The atmospheric ugliness that surrounds our scientific war is an emanation from that evil panic which is at the heart of it. The charge of the Crusaders was a charge; it was charging towards God. The wild consolation of the brave. The charge of the modern armaments is not a charge at all. It is a rout, a retreat, a flight from the devil, who will catch the hindermost."

G.K. Chesterton



"At first it was Scarcely higher than the head of a man and it moved as gently as "mists seen over water meadows on a frosty night." Some who witnessed were transfixed by its beauty. Then gradually it swept over them, visiting slow death, excruciating invalidism, and shock panic on more than 15,000 men."

(description of the first gas attack-

at the battle of Ypres April 22,1915)

World War I American Heritage


"The poison, heated by fire, coursed through his limbs.

His blood, saturated by the burning poison,

hissed and boiled. There was no limit

to his agony as flames attacked his heart 

and the hidden pestilence melted his bones."

-Death of Hercules, Ovid, Metamorphoses


"To make wounds twice as deadly, these men dip

In viper's venom every arrow-tip."

-Ovid, on the Scythians


"It was their custom to throw javelins

steeped in noxious juices,

thus disgracing the steel with poison."

-Silus Italicus, on the Nubians


"After citing a few oft-repeated incidents of biochemical strategies in antiquity and the Middle Ages, typical histories of biological and chemical weaponry usually designate the gas warfare of World War I as the beginning point. Historians have assumed that biological and chemical weapons were "exceedingly rare" in antiquity because they were "inhibited by societal constraint" and expressly forbidden in codes of war. Indeed, the existence of age-old "taboos" against the use of poisons in war, many historians argue, can serve as the "moral backbone" for creating sustainable, effective biochemical arms treaties today.

   But as it turns out, war with poison and chemicals was not so rare in the ancient world and reactions to it were complex. An astounding panoply of toxic substances, venomous creatures, poison plants, animals and insects, deleterious environments, virulent pathogens, infectious agents, noxious gases, and combustible chemicals were marshaled to defeat foes-and panoply is an apt term here, because it is the ancient Greek word for "all weapons." Many of these bio-weapons and stratagems, some crude and others quite sophisticated, were considered fair, acceptable ruses of war, while others were reviled. The ancient tension between notions of fair combat and actual practice reveals that moral questions about biochemical weapons is not a modern phenomenon, but has existed ever since the first war arrow was dipped in poison. Ethical revulsion for poison weapons did not arise in a vacuum, but developed in reaction to real practices. Edward Neufeld, a scholar of ancient Mesopotamia, has suggested that the "deep aversion to this type of warfare" stemmed not from humanitarian philosophies, but was a moral judgment that flowed directly from "feelings evoked by experience" with egregiously cruel and brutal weapons."

Adrienne Mayor

Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs


"....According to Geoff Simons in his 1994 book, Iraq; from Sumer to Saddam,in 1920 the colonial secretary Winston Churchill proposed a "scientific expedient" to quell the "turbulent tribes" of Kurdistan. He suggested using poison gas as a preliminary measure in bombing operations against the villages. Some British authorities protested that the villagers were defenseless and had no medical knowledge of antidotes. Discounting the protestors' "squeamishness about the use of gas....against uncivilized tribes," Churchill claimed that the chemical gas-which had only recently caused such devastation and moral revulsion in the First World War-would inflict "only discomfort or illness, but not death," and would be a good way to demoralize the enemy."

Adrienne Mayor

Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World


"Created in 1973, when the ink on the treaty banning germ weapons was barely dry, this vast Soviet infrastructure had, at its peak in the late 1980s, employed more than thirty thousand people, about half of the sixty thousand Soviets engaged in biowarfare, at more than one hundred facilities throughout the Soviet Union. Secretly run by the military, with an annual budget of close to $1 billion, the biological-weapons had stockpiled plague, smallpox, anthrax, and other agents for the intercontinental ballistic missiles and bombers aimed at New York, Washington, D.C. Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and other American cities. The Concern had studied some eighty agents and prepared a dozen or more for war. Almost every Soviet ministry-from the Ministry of Agriculture to the Ministry of Health, and including even the notorious secret police-had contributed to the germ-warfare program. The United States may have had a military-industrial complex, but the Soviet Union was a military-industrial complex.

Judith Miller & Stephen Engelberg & William Broad



"Some, eviscerated, tread on their own entrails, others vomit forth their teeth, some still standing have their arms cut off and the dying roll about in the blood of stranger, the fallen bodies groan, and the proud spirits, abandoning their inert bodies, moan horribly. "

(description of the Battle of Poitiers



"Still, one can't ignore the Fact that in the past thirty-three years, there has been continuous fighting around the globe-or as one Hungarian professor computed it, 'there were no more than twenty-six days. . . .in which there was no war somewhere in the world. ' That same professor calculated that in the past three decades, some twenty-five million souls have perished in battle, a figure representing more military fatalities than were incurred in both world wars combined."

"Want to Start a War?"

by Anthony Sampson

Esquire Mg Mar 78


"What makes the Vietnam veterans so somehow spooky? We could almost describe them as being "unwholesomely mature." They have never had illusions about war. They are the first soldiers in history who knew even in childhood, from having heard and seen so many pictures of actual and restaged battles, that war is meaningless butchery of ordinary people like themselves."

Kurt Vonnegut

(from a speech delivered in St. John

the Divine Cathedral)



" The most ominous thing about these wars (2oth century) is that they were not isolated or unprecedented calamities. They were two wars in a series; and when we envisage the whole series in a synoptic view, we discover that this is not only a series but also a progression. In our recent Western history war has been following in an ascending order of intensity; and to-day it is already apparent that the War of (1939-4) was not the climax of this crescendo movement."

Arnold Toynbee

War and Civilization


Look for a moment at the horrors humanity imposes on itself nowadays. Yet people are prone to imagine that time means progress and that everything is getting better and better as time passes. And as a rule people take the obvious contradictions as 'exceptional'. That is to say, people are always inclined to think that what are really the usual and ever- present circumstances of life, in a bad sense, are exceptional. You agree with me perhaps that people usually regard war as exceptional yet you must admit that if you pick up any book of history you will find that it deals with war in the main, with war, intrigue, people seeking power, and so on. Actually, unless we have the strength of mind to see what ordinary life on this planet is like, we will remain in imagination, or il-


Dr. Maurice Nicoll

Nicoll' s Commentaries


"The object of modern war, is not to defeat or even to destroy armies in the field. The object of modern war is so to demoralize the civil population as to break the nation's will to war and put an end to war-resistance.. ..There is no end to modern war except the utter collapse of modern civilization...Either civilization must put an end to war or war will put an end to civilization."


a letter written to the

Manchester Guardian

" April 29, 1937




"An accurate description of the final month of North Vietnam's final campaign would require a book in itself. I am not even sure if what occurred could be called a campaign; a migration, rather. The north Vietnamese Army simply rolled over the countryside, driving on Saigon. Except for a brief, hopeless stand made by a single division at the provincial capital of Xuan Loc, the ARVN offered no significant resistance. The South Vietnamese Army broke into pieces. It dissolved. There were terrible scenes of panicked soldiers beating and trampling civilians as they fled from the advancing enemy. Late in the month, the atmosphere of disintegration became palpable. Not just an army, but an entire country was crumbling, collapsing before our eyes. The roads were jammed with refugees and routed soldiers. Some of the columns were twenty miles long, winding out of the hills and rubber plantations towards the flat marshlands around Saigon. They stretched along the roads for as far as we could see, processions that seem to have no beginning and no end. They shambled in the rain and heat: barefoot civilians; soldiers whose boots were rotting on their feet, some still carrying their weapons and determined only to escape; lost children crying for their parents, parents for their children; wounded men covered with dried blood and filthy battle dressings, some walking, some lying in heaps in the back of ambulances; trucks, buses, herds of water buffalo, and oxcarts creaking on wooden wheels. They were packed densely and stretched down to roads , solid, moving masses that rolled over barricades and flowed past the hulks of burned-out tanks, past the corpses and pieces of corpses rotting in the fields at the roadsides. And from behind those retreating columns came the sound of bombs and shellfire, the guttural rumbaing of the beast, war, devouring its victims."

Phillip Caputo

A Rumor of War

Holt Rinehart Winston



" Looking back now on the Vietnam war, I feel nothing but sorrow for my own naiveté in believing that the Communists were revolutionaries worthy of support. In fact, they betrayed the Vietnamese People and deceived progressives throughout the world. The responsibility for the tragedies that have engulfed my compatriots is mind. And now I can only bear witness to this truth so that all former supporters of the Vietcong may share their responsibility with me."


Doan Van Toai

A Lament for Vietnam

N.Y. Times Mag Mar 29,1981



"Young men have gone to war three times in less than twenty years.Each war called for near total exertions, each war was fought in the firm belief that it would bring peace within reach, or at least a little closer. None has, on the contrary, year after year, war after war, the basic situation remains static. There are some Israelis, still in their early forties (as there must also be Egyptians) , who have three times in their lives fought over the same arid, desolate, God-forsaken wadi in the desert that controls a strategic point along the old Egyptian-Israeli frontier. They have gone from war to war; it has always been the same, dismal, bloody wadi, only a few miles long, yellowish-brown, under a thick dust- cloud in the scorching heat of the desert sun. They took it, they left it: they took it again and left it again. They took it once more: nothing changed.


Amos Elon

The Israelis


   "Modern efforts to find "nonlethal" ways of pacifying or disorienting a foe began during World War II, with a bizarre initiative by the OSS (the forerunner of the CIA), whose agents attempted to find a way of chemically pacifying Adolph Hitler. One plan-apparently never carried out-was to surreptitiously inject his vegetables with female hormones. In 1965-67, during experiments with LSD-like agents, the Pentagon secretly tested a hallucinogen that was being developed as a chemical weapon, on U.S. citizens in Hawaii. And in 2002, it was reported that the Pentagon's Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate and the U.S. Department of Justice were developing what they call "calmatives or chemical peacemakers. " These "counter-personnel" weapons in the form of sedatives or mind-altering agents could be placed in water supplies or sprayed as aerosol mists, or packed into rubber bullets. The idea is to use the weapons indiscriminately on large populations, such as dissidents, refugees, or "hostile mobs." U.S. troops would then sort through the mass of incapacitated people to identify enemies."

Adrienne Mayor

Greek Fire, Poison Arrows & Scorpion Bombs: Biological and Chemical Warfare in the Ancient World


" "FOR INDOCHINA, ENDLESS WARS (New York Times Sunday April 30, 1978)




"The sinews of war have become whispers in the ether."





"It is no longer actual war itself which the world in our day has most to dread. This is not our greatest curse. It is the ever-present danger of war which Hangs over the world like a pall."


Andrew Carnegie


"How human nature can become increasingly brutalized by war, if all considerations that distinguish human beings from beasts are thrown to the winds, is clear From the fact that, in World war I out of 9,000,000 killed only five percent were civilians. In World War II, the number of civilians killed was 48 percent out of a total death toll 1 of 52,000,000. The Korean conflict claimed 84 percent civilians out of a total 9,200,000 deaths. Since the atrocities went unchecked a stage has been reached where the stark prospect of almost a total destruction of the civilian population of a country, or of all the countries involved in a nuclear conflict, has come dangerously near. It means, in plain words, that more than the armies, which are trained for war, it is the civilian population that will pay for the bellicosity, ambitions or the mistakes of their leaders,"


Gopi Krishna

The Shape of Events to Come




"Global war has become a Frankenstein to destroy both sides. No longer is it a weapon of adventure-the short cut to international power, If you lose, you ace annihilated. If you win, you stand only to lose. No longer does it possess even the chance of the winner of a duel, It contains now only the germs of double suicide."

General Douglas MacArthur


"A mathematical calculation of Rwanda’s national suicide makes the speed of any other recorded catastrophe or single act of war pale by comparison. No system of genocide ever devised has been more efficient: The daily kill rate was five times that of the Nazi death camps….The daily death rate averaged well more than 11,500 for two months, with surges as high as 45,000. During this peak, one murder was committed every two seconds of every minute, of every hour, for days; an affliction befitting the Apocalypse. Transfixed and aghast, the rest of the world watched, fiddled, then hid its eyes and did nothing….

Phillip Gourevitch

We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families….(1998)


   "The standard cookbook for virus engineering is  a four-volume series in ring binders with bright red covers, entitled Current Protocols in Molecular Biology, published by John Wiley and Sons. Nanhai Chen took me to a shelf in the lab, pulled down volume three of Current Protocols, and opened it to section 4, protocol 16.15, which describes exactly how to put a gene into a poxvirus. If anyone puts the Il-4 gene into smallpox, they may well do it be the book. "This cannot be classified, " Chen said, running his finger over the recipe. "No one ever thought this could be used for making a weapon. The only difficult part of it is getting the smallpox. If somebody has smallpox, all the rest of the information for engineering it is public."

Richard Preston

The Demon in the Freezer

Book: "The Killing Factory" by John Parker

Book: "The Dictionary of Modern War" by E.N. Lutwak & S.L. Koehl

Book: "Blood Brothers: Hiram and Hudson Maxim-Pioneers of Modern Warfare" by Iain McCallum

Book: "Men, Machines, and Modern Times" by Elting E. Morison

Book: "Impact: The History of Germany's V-weapons in World War II" by B. King & T.J. Kutta

Book: "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry" by Peter Singer

Book: "From the Front: The Story of War" by Michael S. Sweeney


© 2001



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