Useful Quotations on International Relations

Pithy Prose for Politicians, Preachers, Professors, Pundits, and Public Speakers.

“This accession of territory affirms (Louisiana Purchase) forever the power of the United States, and I have given England a maritime rival that sooner or later will lay low her pride.” Napoleon Bonaparte

“We do not covet anything from any nation except their respect.” Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman, writer. Broadcast, 21 Oct. 1940, to the French people.

“For leaders unable to choose among their alternatives, circumspection becomes an alibi for inaction.” Henry Kissinger

“The bargaining position of a country depends on the options it is perceived to have.” Henry Kissinger

“The public does not in the long run respect leaders who mirror its own insecurities or see only the symptoms of crises rather than the long term trends. The role of the leader is to assume the burden of acting on the basis of a confidence in his own assessment of the direction of events and how they can be influenced. Failing that, crises will multiply, which is another way of saying that a leader has lost control over events.” Henry Kissinger

“Facing down a nonexistent threat is an easy way to enhance a nation’s standing.” Henry Kissinger

“Humiliating a great country without weakening it is always a dangerous game.” Henry Kissinger

“Heads of government are notoriously vulnerable to arguments that question their courage.” Henry Kissinger

“The bargaining position of the victor always diminishes with time. Whatever is not exacted during the shock of defeat becomes increasingly difficult to attain later.” Henry Kissinger

“In the field of world policy I would dedicate this nation to the policy of the good neighbor.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), U.S. Democratic politician, president. First inaugural address, 4 March 1933.

“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, 2 Sept. 1901, Minnesota State Fair, quoting a favorite adage and referring to military preparation and the Monroe Doctrine.

“When great nations fear to expand, shrink from expansion, it is because their greatness is coming to an end. Are we, still in the prime of our lusty youth, still at the beginning of our glorious manhood, to sit down among the outworn people, to take our place with the weak and the craven? A thousand times no!”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, Sept. 1899, Akron, Ohio, justifying the war against Spain.

“The man who loves other countries as much as his own stands on a level with the man who loves other women as much as he loves his own wife.”

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), U.S. Republican (later Progressive) politician, president. Speech, 6 Sept. 1918, New York City, on the anniversary of the first Battle of the Marne.

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