Traditions of War: Occupation, Resistance, and the Law

By Karma Nabulsi | Go to book overview

Yet the development of these notions--nationalism in particular--was said to have a fatal effect on the project of the laws of war. Many writers believed nationalism destabilized the professional method of waging war (soldier to soldier) and turned it instead into an atrocious 'war between peoples':

Henceforth, besides States, there will be nations; in each state, the army will be nothing but the essence of nation in arms; outside the state, members of the same nation will know how to understand each other, to arm themselves and to unite. The consequence will be that wars will take place between peoples, and they will be terrible, implacable, and cruel conflicts.147

However, this prophecy rested on a misconception. In many cases, wars of occupation and invasion were not strictly between two enemy peoples, but generally between a professional army and a population it sought to subdue. As one nineteenth-century military commentator, General Thiébault, wryly noted, in the 'war between peoples', it was the troops that had to take care:

in peoples' wars, troops must be seen in as few places as possible, given that the mere sight of a single soldier of the invading army causes a hundred men from the invaded country to rise; and, accordingly, troops must be deployed only to suppress.148


CONCLUSION

This chapter has surveyed the three-cornered relationship among civilian populations, official representatives of their state, and occupying armies in nineteenth-century Europe. It has shown that these relationships were complex, and thus not easily reducible to simple formulae. However, six broad sets of conclusions stand out.

First, the phenomenon of occupation itself was far more fluid and dynamic than simple legal and political classifications would allow. Occupation was not always the benign and clinical experience projected

____________________
and relationship between the Russian Decembrists and the Greek resistance see Les Relations gréco-russes pendant la domination turque et la Guerre d'Indépendance grecque (Thessalonica: Institute for Balkan Studies, 1981), especially I. Dostian 'L'Attitude de la société russe face au mouvement de libération national grec', 63-86 and Papantoniou, L'Indépendance grecque; Beauvois, Pologne: l'insurrection de 1830-1831: sa réception en Europe: actes du colloque; and L. Migliorini, "'L'Héroïsme militaire dans l'Italie après Napoléon'", in Viallaneix and Ehrard La Bataille, l'armée, la gloire 1745-1871.
147
Mougenot, Des pratiques de la guerre continentale, 184.
148
Mémoires, 460.

-63-

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