Enforced Disarmament: From the Napoleonic Campaigns to the Gulf War

Enforced Disarmament: From the Napoleonic Campaigns to the Gulf War

Enforced Disarmament: From the Napoleonic Campaigns to the Gulf War

Enforced Disarmament: From the Napoleonic Campaigns to the Gulf War


At every major peace conference for the past 200 years victors have disarmed their defeated enemies to try to prevent them from overturning the peace settlement. The efficacy and durability of enforced disarmament measures, and the resistance they are likely to encounter, are thus issues of central strategic and political importance. Philip Towle examines the most important peace settlements from the time of Napolean to Saddam Hussein in the first major history of this fascinating subject.


When they say, as they said before and will say again, that collectively, as a nation, they must be equal with ourselves and that 'equality' implies an equality of arms, then a man who has renounced vengeance and is undeluded by ideologies, even by his own, will know what answer to give . . . It would be an expense of spirit to hate them meanwhile, but suicide to trust them.

Charles Morgan, Reflections in a Mirror, 1946

Disarmament and arms control are firmly associated in the public mind with efforts to maintain international peace through compromise and negotiation. However, there is a much older type of disarmament, which is not the product of give and take but is imposed upon a defeated enemy. Forced disarmament is the subject of this book. It was used frequently in the ancient world as an alternative to massacre or enslavement and it is the United Nations' policy today in Iraq. It was part of every major peace settlement from the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, through the Paris negotiations in 1815 and 1919, to the postwar agreements in 1945. Democracies almost automatically have recourse to it when they are in a position to impose peace upon their enemies, yet relatively little thought has been given to its efficacy.

Can it maintain the imbalance of forces created by war and, if so, for how long? Does it simply infuriate the defeated while bringing few advantages to the victorious states? How can the vanquished evade such measures and what can the victorious states do to prevent evasion? What role does public opinion play in supporting forced disarmament by the victors and backing its evasion in the defeated state? Is there any difference between the disarmament measures imposed after a limited and after a total war? Can states be disarmed even without going to war and, if so, in what circumstances?

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