Quills and cutlasses

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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?




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

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