Wars and Reminiscences of Wars

William Gladstone, on the (First) Opium war:

I am not competent to judge how long this war may last, nor how protracted may be its operations but this I can say, that a war more unjust in origin, a war more calculated in its progress to cover the country with disgrace, I do not know and have not read of.

~as quoted in John Morley, The Life of William Ewart Gladstone (1911), 226.

Ulysees S. Grant, on the Mexican War:

… one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger nation against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.

~Ulysses S. Grant, Personal memoirs of U. S. Grant (1895), I:32

The irony (unsurprising reality?) here is that plenty of commentators in the U.S. decried the Opium war — in precisely Gladstone’s terms — but many of those same voices were raised just a few years later to call for Mexican territory and blood.

It occurs to me that unjust wars are all alike, yet still each unjust in its own way (cf. Tolstoy, families).

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