attack is the best form of defence

The idea of the pre-emptive strike expressed in a form approaching this appears to be American in origin; Cf. 1775 W. H. DRAYTON in R. W. Gibbes Documentary Hist. American Revolution (1855) I.174 It is a maxim, that it is better to attack than to receive one; 1799 G. WASHINGTON Writings (1940) XXXVII. 250 Make them believe, that offensive operations, often times, is the surest, if not the only..means of defence. Recent usage shows a clear British-US divergence, however, with the best defense is a good offense as the US form.

1930 C. F. GREGG Murder on Bus xxxvii. Inspector Higgins fired his revolver at the sound, deeming attack the better part of defence, whilst someone from the other side of the room had a similar notion.

1965 N. S. GRAY Apple-Stone xi. ‘Attack’, she said, ‘is the best means of defence.’ She sounded so smug that I told her the thought was not original.

1980 F. OLBRICH Desouza in Stardust iv. Attack is the best form of defence, they say, and when politicians lose their principles they play a dirty game.

2002 Times 19 June 24 Clearly, the big banks have stuck to their policy of attack being the best form of defence on this issue [of price controls].

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