St. Augustine on War seeking Peace

06 St Augustine jpg

I found this quote from St. Augustine in a collection of his Political Writings (pp. 9-11):

Everyone who has observed the conduct of men’s affairs and common human nature will agree with me in this: that just as there is no man who does not long for joy, so there is no man who does not long for peace. Even those who want war, want it really only for victory’s sake: that is, they want to attain a glorious peace by fighting. For what is victory if not the subjugation of those who resist us? And when this is done, peace follows.

It is therefore with desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle. And hence, it is obvious that peace is the end sought for war. For every man seeks peace by waging war, but no man seeks war by making peace. For even they who intentionally interrupt the peace in which they are living have no hatred of peace, but only wish tit changed into a peace that suits them better. They do not, therefore, wish to have no peace, but only one more to their mind . . .

. . . And thus all men desire to have peace with their own circle whom they wish to govern as suits themselves. For even those whom they make ar against they wish to make their own, and impose on them the laws of their own peace.

Given the great tendency towards war that we have experience in the 20th and 21st Century, what do you make of St. Augustine’s thoughts?

Source: The Political Writings, Gateway Edition, 0-89526-704-7

2 thoughts on “St. Augustine on War seeking Peace

  1. Very apt… The Pax Romana was a peace.. so long as you toed the line of the Roman empire. Rock the boat, and you get a legion up your butt…

    I would say that the same holds true in the 20th and 21st centuries. If you look around at the conflicts of our centuries… even if you go back to the 19th and 18th centuries… the wars that were fought (the American Revolution, the American Civil War, the Spanish American War, the Napoleanic wars, WWI and WWII, Korea, ‘Nam, etc)… they are all fought by people saying, “We want a peace that is towards our ideals and so we will kill you to force you into it.” The revolution was England enforcing their “peace” on the colonies and the colonists fighting back to support their peace… Civil war was North and South fighting over whose peace is the way things should be run. Spanish American and Napoleanic were about creating an empire of sorts where the impirical peace would be the norm… WWI and WWII were about nations saying, “We know best how to rule and who to rule so we will impose our peace”. Korea and ‘Nam are about the USA saying, “Communist peace is not really peace. The only peace is democratic peace”. Our wars since then.. Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., are just more of the same sort of thing that happened in Korea and ‘Nam “Our peace is the only proper peace”.

  2. My country, Sweden, is known for having had peace for 200 years, which is quite unusual in Europe. However, we are the biggest exporters of weapons per capita, and have sold guns to authoritarian regimes, countries waging war and even countries that are waging war with each other (India and Pakistan). Especially in the latter case, it is obvious that this little peaceful country really enjoy promoting war – we’re making huge profits out of it! So even if most people seek to live in peace for themselves, our corrupt humanity has given several examples of creating war for war’s and money’s sake, not necessarily for peace.

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