Reading Lao Tzu on the day Tony Blair gave evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, this passage seemed apposite:
Weapons are instruments of bad omen,
not instruments of the noble.
He uses them only when he cannot help it.
Quietness and peace are his highest values.
He gains victory but he does not rejoice in it.
Whosoever would rejoice in it
would, in fact, rejoice in the murder of men.
Whosoever would rejoice in the murder of men
cannot achieve his goal in the world.
In fortunate circumstances one considers the left the place of honour.
In unfortunate circumstances one considers the right the place of honour.
The vice-commander stands to the left,
the supreme commander to the right.
This means: he takes his place
according to rules for memorial services.
Killing men in great numbers
one must bewail with tears of compassion.
Whosoever has been victorious in battle
shall linger as if attending a memorial service.
Extract from the Richard Wilhelm edition of the Tao Te Ching, Arkana Books, 1985