Robert A. HeinleinRobert A. Heinlein, (1907-1988) American writer

Robert A. Heinlein Quote

“Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms.”

Robert A. HeinleinRobert A. Heinlein
~ Robert A. Heinlein

Ratings and Comments

helorat, Milton

Heinlein was a great thinker and writer, and these words are as true as they come!

Joe, North Caldwell, NJ

Actually, these words represent poor research. With very few exceptions (WW2, Vietnam), naked force has never provided a lasting solution to any problem in modern times. The losing side might retreat temporarily, but within a generation hostilities start up all over again. By and large, lasting resolution of major issues comes from reason, not from force.

Doug, Lecanto
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Doug, Lecanto Joe, North Caldwell, NJ 12/8/22

actually you are 100 percent wrong.  He also didn't say lasting solution so take your straw man argument and stow it. 

Eric Engstrom, Wichita, KS

This from Johnny Rodriguez Social Studies teacher in the book "Starship Trooper". Call me a simpleton, but when I read it at the tender age of 16 it made so much sense that I joined the US Army and am retiring next year after 31 years. The only question is, how much force do you apply? Ask the Taliban in Afghanistan or the Baathists in Iraq. The larger issues are settled by larger amounts of force.

Mike, Norwalk

The quote speaks to the nature of man. With all the dialog and voting in America, how much more is the government our representative servant than our omnipotent slave master? Joe from NJ is almost right (hmmm, maybe) Those who would oppress were kicked out after they lost the War of Independence but, they came back. Showing the truthfulness of the quote, (since reason hasn't worked) naked force is realistically the only thing that will bring back freedom and liberty.

E Archer, NYC

This is but another reason that the citizenry be armed and ready. Of course we need to know what it is we are defending, too, not just to follow orders.

warren, olathe

Absolute truth. War is almost always caused or worsened by pacifists in high places. When two free countries disagree, communications and diplomacy is possible but when on one side of the dispute sits a tyrant only force will be understood. History has shown that diplomacy when dealing with a tyrant only will be preserved by him as weakness and only encourage him to take more of what he wants. Any agreement you make will not be honored by him and only make him stronger.

Joe, North Caldwell, NJ

Yep, force has certainly worked miracles in Afghanistan and Iraq, hasn't it? Not to mention the Middle East. And the Sudan -- all of Africa, actually. And South America. And the Pacific Rim. And Russia. And eastern Europe. And Cyprus. And Cuba... Read your history, folks. Violence always seems like the expedient solution in theory, but in the real world it seldom provides a lasting solution, unless you're dealing with a maniac, and sometimes not even then.

Mike, Norwalk

Welcome Mike from Norwalk, wow, I guess there are 2 Mikes from Norwalk. I give this five stars because it agrees with the first Mike about the nature of man (force being the default) but, right off the top of my head, a small bald guy in India and a long haired individual in Jerusalem comes to mind.

Editor, Liberty Quotes

Mike, you ARE both Mikes. ;-) I apologize, this quote was posted just a couple months ago, too, when you rated it the first time. Cheers!

Ken, Allyn, WA

A dead enemy is not your enemy anymore.

Mike, Norwalk

Editor, I've been accused of that before ;-) I thought I wanted to be just like that Mike because he sounded so smart. Two brains are always better than one;-)

frank, annapolis

well said

warren, olathe ks

Yes it has worked miracles in Afghanistan and Iraq. Get your history right as well as current events.

John Brown, Pacifica, CA
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John Brown, Pacifica, CA warren, olathe ks 11/11/20

You misunderstand what the goals were in Afghanistan and Iraq.

It wasn't about 9/11, or "WMD."  Get a clue.

The quote stands.  It is your understanding of geopolitics that is deficient.

Ken, Long Island

"By and large, lasting resolution of major issues comes from reason, not from force." Explain that to Carthage and the American Indians please. The statement is true. Iraq and Afghanistan are excellent examples because full naked force is NOT being used. If it were, in all its horrific capacity, the problem would be solved. Our society at this time does not have the stomach to settle the matter as has historically been done. That does not mean it will not gain that resolve at some time in the future. I do not advocate, merely point out the obvious.

Joe, North Caldwell, NJ

Explain it to the Indians? They didn't seem to think that stealing their land was a reasonable solution. Can you blame them? And Carthage? Are you comparing us to the Roman Empire? I always love that neocon retort that the only reason violence isn't working is that we're not being violent *enough.* You want obvious? Isn't it obvious that escalation doesn't work in a guerrilla war? (A lesson we obviously didn't learn from Vietnam.) You want more obvious? How about the famous aphorism from Sun Tzu, whose reputation as a military strategist, I submit, is quite a bit more distinguished than any of ours, or Heinlein's: "There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare." Which will bring you back to your solution of "full naked force", I'm sure. Which would precipitate another World War, just as it did when Germany tried "full naked force" -- except this time with nukes, and the end of the world. Nobody thinks these things through.

Joe, North Caldwell, NJ

I would *love* to hear an enumeration of the "miracles" our violence has wrought in Afghanistan and Iraq -- please spell those out for us, will you? In Afghanistan we have revived the booming heroin trade, and the Taliban is now making a comeback. And Osama, of course, is still at large with no prospect of finding him. In Iraq, where would one even begin? Perhaps with today's (11/7/07) news that 2007 has become the deadliest year for U.S. troops with 852 killed. And no end in sight there either. Miracles indeed.

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Anonymous    4/4/09

What is enough force well Enough that you need no more and aneybody who watchis the news you know what you deserve to know

Joe, Norfolk

To those citing Iraq and Afghanistan; if it weren't for people like you, we'd have won literally overnight. Nuclear extermination would permanently resolve the conflict, and any who objected would remain silent lest they receive the same treatment. Violence only stops being a solution when you become unwilling to wage total war and instead do everything in half measure in order to silence guilt for an act which warrants none to begin with.

Anonymous, Rustburg Va.

Do not make a mistake here. This Quote is a REALISTIC one not a moral one. Noone, not even the author,said the issues were settled right or morally. Just that they were settled.

Jonathan, Albany, Oregon

I reviewed all postings before writing to not be too repetitive. Those who are saying the quote does not ring true when citing wars the US has "lost" or is currently "not winning" are arguably misreading the quote in a couple of ways. First, the quote does not say that violence is the only factor or way to "win" a war. Second, the quote is that it "settles more issues" and perhaps the settling of the issue is not victory, e.g. WWII, but defeat, VietNam. That also depends on the side you're on, doesn't it. Couldn't the communists argue that they, in part, won VietNam through violence? Also, the "losses" you are citing do not consider that the US did not use most devastating violence available, e.g. nuclear weapons. Perhaps those "losses" would be "wins" if the US had used *more* violence such as nuclear weapons. And that goes to my last point about the person who posted the other quote of RAH about "prolonged" war not solving problems. If *more* violence had been used as I suggested above, i.e. nuclear weapons, and it had been used early on, perhaps then the wars the US has "lost" would not have been losses and not have been "prolonged." That quote you cite about "prolonged" war is not necessarily contrary to the main quote we're discussing on this page. I am not advocating a particular view, just suggesting less black-and-white and non-mutually exclusive ways to think about this. I do like the quote though.

Wolfheim, Rockford

You people are reading too much into it. It's correct though that we should have won in Iraq and Afghanistan already, but haven't because of whiny little hippies trying to be our conscience. Heinlein wrote the book this quote came from BEFORE Vietnam, BEFORE the Gulf. BEFORE 9/11 and all current events. The man died before the Gulf War even took place. As for the fellow arguing that you can't use more force against Guerrillas... Protip: We did. It's called Carpet bombing and Napalm jackass. Guerrilla tunnels and caves aren't very effective shelter if you bomb them into collapsing and burn the surface off so even if the enemy escapes bombardment and collapse, they have to face flame. Likewise, North Vietnamese cities couldn't have produced much War Material if only we'd bombed them even harder than we did during Operation Linebacker. Really all it comes down to is this: Fight to win. No morals. Use Excessive Force. If Civilians are in the way, it's their problem for not leaving. If they give even a tiny bit of bread to an enemy, they're just as guilty as the people you're fighting. No regrets. No Mercy. Your side comes first. Let whatever deity your foes believe in sort them out when you're done.

Kris, Jamestown

Do you guys realize that you are debating the quote of a fictional character in a sci-fi novel about men at war with giant, sentient bugs?

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Anonymous    10/16/10

We are restraining ourselves in afghanistan. Non-restraint combat would be engaging and controlling all persons. The foes we call terrorists are nothing more than criminals, civilians, vigilantes. They hide as Civies and claim innocence and then open fire when convenient. Honestly I blame liberals.

Anon, 4chan

Joe from North Caldwell: You just went full retard nigga.

wilson, unicoi, tn

I am sorry but true “naked force” is all that mankind understands. There is no such thing as 'limited war' and as soon as we understand this the sooner war will end.

Josh, Earth

True words. Reminds of another quote, Those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither. I personally feel that those who are unwilling to fight for what they believe in should have no say on what is wrong or right. As for current events, there is no War in Afghanistan or Iraq. It's politics. Let us Soldiers do our jobs and we would have been out of there before Bush's re-election ever came about.

Me, to
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Me, to    8/29/12

Drop the bomb exterminate them all..

Joe, Illinois

It solves everything temporarily. Maybe the problem comes back, but then you solve it with force again. Thus, violence HAS BEEN USED to "settled more issues in history than has any other factor." 100% true indisputable fact. He's not saying it's the best way or the right way, just that it has been used more than anything to settle differences.

E Archer, NYC

The only thing protecting the Declaration of Independence is the force of the American people -- and of course their willingness to give it all they have got.

The wars in the Middle East are simply business. Winning is spending trillions of dollars, not bringing freedom and prosperity to those war-torn countries. End the war, end the business.

Multiple trade routes have been claimed by the West in the Middle East -- oil and opium being the 2 biggest. These wars are for making money, not for helping the people. Also, reducing the populations in this region is a globalist 'to do' item.

It should be no surprise that after 25 years of bombing these people, all that is left are religious fanatics who credit Allah with their survival. Christian Americans would do no less.

jim k, Austin

WW2 is a good example. It took extreme force to defeat Germany and Japan.

Ronw13, Oregon

We step into the oldest of rooms,When life and death meet. Let your cause be right. To know what is right is to walk upright, but just a part, "there is not a righteous man that doeth good and sinneth not" it is, a reflection and study of a long time. A challenge is set forth, ladies and gentlemen. I think of those that sleep, Waiting. Nature ingrains truth, Our Creator endures with much long suffering. What can one do, to set a stage. I think about our liberty and that innocent blood. I'm told the blood cries out till justified. Which by all account was done upon our alter of Liberty and Freedom in the Eyes of our Creator. The warrior and the pious man must walk together in " harmony", Let us not glory in the blood spilt. so i'm told by The "Word ". Let your reflections be long. we the people (patriots for that which good is) cherish a wholesome peaceable life.
" My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war." David was a mighty man upon whom the arm was established, Moses was a humble proper man that numbers well. Peter put up his sword in the garden, but it's been drawn ever sense and Paul has it ! No wonder America Was Ask, by nations warned of, to police the world.
No knee jerk reactions required. Boots on the ground. Great thing about David's life, during the battle he was shown the heavens. Psalm 18 and 19. Semper FI

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

Violence has never been the correct path. WWI lead to WWII. WWII supporters have long been searching for the trigger of WWIII, but the peaceful leader has prevented this for generations.


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