Suppose, dear reader, that you are a young new recruit to the US Army, destined for a foreign battlefield, where the fighting is known to be fierce, where death and severe injury rates are expected to be at least moderately high, and where those taken prisoner are not always treated in accordance with Geneva Conventions. Which of the following two speeches (I provide balanced extracts of each, purged in one case of a considerable amount of profanity) is the more likely to motivate you to give your last full measure, which is the more likely to raise your trust in the leadership that is on display?:
1. “Men, this stuff that some sources sling around about America wanting out of this war, not wanting to fight, is a crock of… Americans love to fight traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. You are here today for three reasons. First, because you are here to defend your homes and your loved ones. Second, you are here for your own self-respect, because you would not want to be anywhere else. Third, you are here because you are real men and all real men like to fight….
There are four hundred neatly marked graves somewhere in Sicily. All because one man went to sleep on the job. But they are German graves, because we caught the…asleep before they did. ..
My men don’t surrender. I don’t want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he has been hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight back….
Each man must not think only of himself, but also of his buddy fighting beside him. We don’t want yellow cowards in this army. They should be killed off like rats. If not, they will go home and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the …cowards and we will have a nation of brave men….
We want to get the …over there. The quicker we clean up this …mess, the quicker we can take a little jaunt against the … Japs and clean out their nest too. Before the …Marines get all the credit….
Sure we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the … who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging …of … a … Hitler. Just like I’d shoot a snake. …
When a man’s lying in a shell hole, if he stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The … with that idea. The … with taking it. My men don’t dig foxholes. I don’t want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don’t give the enemy time to dig one either. …
I don’t want to get any messages saying, ‘I am holding my position.’ We are not holding a … thing. Let the Germans do that. We are advancing constantly and we are not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy’s … Our basic plan of operation is to advance and to keep on advancing regardless of whether we have to go over, under, or through the enemy. …The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties….
You may be thankful that twenty years from now, when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won’t have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well your Granddaddy shoveled … in Louisiana.’ No Sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, ‘Son, your granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and a …of .. a …- … named Georgie Patton!’
The Famous Patton Speech to the US Third Army, Somewhere in Southern England, early June 1944. Lieutenant-General George S. Patton Jr. (Old Blood and Guts) had been entrusted by General Eisenhower to lead the US Third Army as part of Operation Overlord to open up a Western Front assault on Germany’s Third Reich.
2. “Still we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.
Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a ‘just war’ emerged suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense, if the force used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified. I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – ‘Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.’ As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of nonviolence. I know there is nothing weak – nothing passive – nothing naive – in the creed and lives of Ghandi and King…
So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.”
President Barack Obama’s Speech when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Denmark on December 10, 2009 . President Obama is Commander-in-Chief of the United States Military Forces, World-Wide.