Si vis pacem, para bellum
Si vis pacem, para bellum is a Latin adage translated as, "If you want peace, prepare for war". The adage was adapted from a statement found in Book 3 of Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus's tract De Re Militari (4th or 5th century), although the idea it conveys is also present in earlier works, such as Plato's Nomoi (Laws).
Whatever the source, the adage has become a living vocabulary item itself, used in the production of different ideas in a number of languages. The actual words of Vegetius are not even recognized by a large number of writers, who attribute the saying directly to him.
Si vis bellum para pacem
- Everyone knows the adage... Had Bonaparte been a Latin scholar he would probably have reversed it and said, Si vis bellum para pacem.
Meaning that if you are planning a war, you should put other nations off guard by cultivating peace. Conversely, another interpretation could be that preparing for peace may lead another party to wage war on you.
Si vis pacem para pactum
The idea of ensuring peace by deterring warlike powers through armaments took an ominous turn in the 20th century with the increased militarism of Nazi Germany and other Axis Powers. Suggesting that perhaps merely being prepared for war is not enough and that it is necessary to wage war in order to deter war. The National Arbitration and Peace Congress of 1907, presided over by Andrew Carnegie, had addressed this issue years earlier:
- These vast armaments on land and water are being defended as a means, not to wage war, but to prevent war.... there is a safer way ... it requires only the consent and the good-will of the governments. Today they say .... If you want peace, prepare for war. This Congress says in behalf of the people: Si vis pacem, para pactum, if you want peace, agree to keep the peace.
Si vis pacem fac bellum
"If you want peace, make war". The solution does not cover the case of the nation that does not desire peace. Imperial Germany went to war in 1914 and was castigated by Richard Grelling, a German-Jewish pacifist, in J'Accuse (1915). In 1918 Grelling wrote again, this time as an ex-patriate in Switzerland. Citing the "The world must be safe for democracy." speech of Woodrow Wilson before Congress on April 2, 1917, Grelling says:
- when all other means fail, ... the liberation of the world from military domination can in the extreme case only take place by battle. ... in place of si vis pacem para bellum a similarly sounding principle ... may become a necessity: Si vis pacem, fac bellum.
Si vis pacem para pacem
The great wars of the 19th and 20th centuries were opposed by the philosophy of pacifism, which in the 19th century was associated with early socialism, even though the socialism of the 20th often lacked pacifistic tendencies, preaching violent revolution instead. The pacifism that opposed the world wars traced a lineage to Barthélemy Prosper Enfantin, an early French socialist and one of the founders of Saint-Simonianism. As early as April 2, 1841, he had said in a letter to General Saint-Cyr Nugues:
- Le fameux dicton ... me semble beaucoup moins vrai, pour le XIXe siècle, que Si vis pacem, para pacem.
- The famous dictum ... to me seems much less true, for the 19th century, than Si vis pacem, para pacem.
with reference to Algeria. By way of elucidation Enfantin goes on to say that war could have been avoided if a proper study of Algeria had been made.
The main clause of the adage was used as a motto by German arms maker Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken (DWM), and is the source of the term Parabellum as applied to firearms and ammunition (especially the 9mm Parabellum cartridge). The term is an opposed parallel to the English use of "peacemaker" to mean the Colt Single Action Army handgun.
Various military organizations use or used this phrase as a motto:
- MSSG-31 (now known as CLB-31), part of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force, based out of Okinawa, Japan.
- The United States Naval Academy class of 1996
- The Royal Navy
- The Norwegian Military Academy
- The RAF Spadeadam
- The 96th Communication Squadron, based at Eglin AFB
- The 1/414th Infantry Regiment, based at Fort Sill
- The 302nd Security Forces Squadron, Peterson AFB, Colorado
- The 24th Marine Regiment
- The Lohatla Army Battle School, South Africa
- The 155th Air Refueling Wing Nebraska Air National Guard Logistics Readiness Squadron, Nebraska
- The Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) Chicago (consists of University of Illinois at Chicago and Illinois Institute of Technology).
- The 4th Company, 1-12th Mech. Bde, Szczecin - Poland
- The Weaponry Fund of the Republic of Lithuania Under the Ministry of the Interior of the Republic of Lithuania
- The C.d.R. (Club del RisiKo, Taurianova, Italy)
- The Electronic Attack Squadron 139, NAS Whidbey Island, Washington
Other uses include:
- The design for several T-shirts of WWE wrestler Triple H
- The title of a 1971 pamphlet by The Angry Brigade
- A line by Marvel Comics character Frank Castle in the 2004 film, The Punisher, played by Thomas Jane, and in the 1994 comic book The Punisher: Year One.
- A lyric (literally "to secure peace is to prepare for war") in the 1991 Metallica song, "Don't Tread on Me".
- "If You Want Peace... Prepare For War" is the title of a Children of Bodom song from their 2006 album, Are You Dead Yet?
- Vegetius: epitome of military science - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-03-13. Vegetius has: Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum.
- Plato, Laws, 1.628c9–e1.
- Martin Ostwald, Language and History in Ancient Greek Culture (2009), p. 87.
- De Bourrienne, p. 418.
- Bertholdt, p. 333
- Grelling, p. 208.
- de Saint-Simon, Enfantin, p. 34.
- Arnold, David W. (2011) . "The German P08 Luger". Classic Handguns of the 20th Century. Gun Digest Books. p. 18. ISBN 9781440226403. OCLC 774392892. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- Kimmerle, Erin H.; Baraybar, Jose Pablo (2008). Skeletal Trauma: Identification of Injuries Resulting from Human Rights Abuse and Armed Conflict. CRC Press. p. 396. ISBN 9781420009118. OCLC 850253284. Retrieved 2013-06-27.
- "Lietuvos Respublikos ginklų fondas". Lgf.lt. Retrieved 2011-03-13.
- Bartholdt, Richard (1907). "The Interparliamentary Plan". In Ely, Robert Erskine. Proceedings of the National Arbitration and Peace Congress New York, April 14th to 17th, 1907. New York: The National Arbitration and Peace Congress.. Downloadable Google Books.
- De Bourrienne, Louis Antoine Fauvelet (1895). Phipps, R.W., ed. Memoirs of Napoleon Bonaparte: New and Revised Edition: with Numerous Illustrations: Vol I. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
- Duff, Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant (1899). Notes from a Diary, Kept Chiefly in Southern India, 1881-1886: Vol. II. London: J. Murray. p. 28.
- Grelling, Richard (1918). The Crime. Gray, Sir Alexander (trans.). New York: George H. Doran Company. ISBN 0-665-84477-8.
- Claude-Henri de Saint-Simon, Barthélémy Prosper Enfantin (1873). Œuvres d'Enfantin: Quatorzième Volume; Membres du Conseil Institué par Enfantin pour l'Exécution de ses Dernières Volontés. Paris: E. Dentu, Éditeur.