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How military prowess drives to inhumanity

The proper strategy consists in inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy's army, and then causing the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left with nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.

  • Source : Advice given to Otto Von Bismarck, regarding the need to move away from the siege of Paris to the bombardment of Paris during the 1870-71 war.
  • Publication date : 1870
  • Topics : Unavoidable violence , Unacceptable violence , War
  • Commentary :

    Bismarck followed this advice during a few weeks starting in December 1870, and got what he wanted in the peace treaty signed in February 1871 (the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine and its mines), at least so he thought. The destruction he caused and the revenge that he fueled led to the first World War, in which Germany lost what it had taken in 1919, plus millions of lives of its citizens. This in turn contributed to fuel the 2nd World War, where again, the Germans took this territory, only to lose it, and millions of more lives with it, to the French in 1945.

    So while Sheridan and Bismarck and many others of their military stature have been positioned by History education as heroes and saviours, a longer look at History in fact reveals how useless their military actions were, and how their understanding of diplomacy was narrowed down to post-war temporary peace treaty signing, with no vision or ability to envision and formulate lasting peace agreements without resorting first to war. Today, there is no more excuse : there exists sufficient training and experience for world leaders to negotiate with words, not blood.
     

photo SHERIDAN Philip

United States Army officer, Union general in the American Civil War.