Weekend

Weekend Words: General

“War is too important to be left to the generals.”

Benjamin West, “The Death of General Wolfe” (1770), oil on canvas, 152.6 x 214.5 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (image via Web Gallery of Art)

In the middle of American Heroes Week, Donald J. Trump took a break from cyber-shaming his Attorney General into resigning and issued a ban on transgendered people from the military, a decision he made, as he tweeted, “After consultation with my Generals and military experts.”

And two days later he replaced the hapless Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff with John F. Kelly, the Secretary of Homeland Security and a retired four-star Marine general.

See below for who else refers to military leadership as “my generals.”

War is too important to be left to the generals.

—Georges Clémenceau

Dead battles, like dead generals, hold the military mind in their grip.

—Barbara Tuchman, August 1914

I didn’t fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that’s not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail.

—Harry S. Truman

What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.

—Samuel Johnson

You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.

—Marie Curie

Again, men in general desire the good, and not merely what their fathers had.

—Aristotle

If I were to command a general to turn into a seagull, and if the general did not obey, that would not be the general’s fault. It would be mine.

—Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

My generals should be like bull terriers on chains, and they should want war, war, war […] But what happens now? I want to go ahead with my aggressive politics and the generals try to stop me.

—Adolf Hitler

Weigh Hannibal — how many pounds will you find in that Great General?

—Juvenal, Satires

Russia has two generals in whom she can confide — General January and February.

—Czar Nicholas I

We must judge of a form of government by its general tendency, not by happy accidents.

—Thomas Babington Macaulay

Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people, by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations.

—James Madison

As a general rule, nobody has money who ought to have it.

—Benjamin Disraeli

The most annoying trait of Right-Wing Outlaws in general is a lazy incuriosity about the real world. They know their lines, they’re sure who the good guys and the bad guys are. Therefore they view the passing world as a kind of animated “Bartlett’s Quotations” — that is, as handy source material with which to illustrate, rather than challenge, preconceived views.

—James Fallows

At the age of four with paper hats and wooden swords, we’re all generals. Only some of us never grow out of it.

—James Ussher, Romanoff and Juliet

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