Quills and cutlasses

Editorial note: If you have not yet read our mission statement above, please do so in order that you can put our blogs in context. 

 

 

10 January 2002

 

 

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

 

Not, we think, written by a military chap.

 

How mighty are the pens today in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Congo-Kinshasa, Somalia or China, to name but a few of the world’s trouble spots?

 

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”  Wishful thinking by pen-pushers?

 

It sounds good but rings false.

 

The truth, perhaps, is the reverse:

 

“The sword is mightier than the pen”.

 

However, since this may be taken as given by most intelligent folk, it has not, unlike its inverse, acquired the patina of a literary paradox.

 

We might not be happy that the military chap is right, but that is irrelevant.

 

The military chap might even go further:

 

“The sword is mightier than the pen and two swords are better than one.”

 

Who is to say that he is wrong?

 

Or, to put it a different way, paraphrasing a question Joe Stalin put to Churchill,  when the Georgian was asked to promote Catholicism in Russia: “How many panzer divisions has the Pope?”

 

Or then again down on the farm: “Fine words butter no parsnips.”

 

Bleedin’ obvious, innit?

 

 

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This entry was posted in China, Congo (DR), Iraq, Military, Pakistan, Syria, UN. Bookmark the permalink.

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