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my approval of it. In the first place, I fully appreciate the philanthropic effort to soften the evils which result from war. Perpetual peace is a dream, and it is not even a beautiful dream. War is an element in the order of the world ordained by God. In it the noblest virtues of mankind are developed ; courage and abnegation of self, faithfulness to duty, and the spirit of sacrifice; the soldier gives his life. Without war the world would stagnate, and lose itself in materialism.
“I agree entirely with the proposition contained in the introduction that a gradual softening of manner ought to be reflected also in the mode of making war. But I go further, and think the softening of manners can alone bring about this result, which cannot be attained by a codification of the law of
Every law presupposes an authority to superintend and direct its execution, and international conventions are supported by no such authority. What neutral States would ever take up arms for the sole reason that two Powers being at war the laws of war' had been violated by one or both of the belligerents ? For offences of that sort there is no earthly judge. Success can come only from the religious, moral education of individuals, and from the feeling of honour and sense of justice of commanders who enforce the law and conform to it, so far as the exceptional circumstances of war permit. This being so, it is necessary to recognise also that increased humanity in the mode of making war has in reality followed upon the gradual softening of manners. Only compare the horrors of the Thirty Years' War with the struggles of modern times. A great step has been made in our own day by the establishment of compulsory military service, which introduces the educated classes into armies. The brutal and violent element is, of course, still there, but it is no longer alone, as once it was. Again, Governments have two powerful means of preventing the worst kind of excesses-strict discipline maintained in time of peace, so that the soldier has become habituated to it, and care on the part of the department which provides for the subsistence of troops in the field. If that care fails, discipline can only be imperfectly maintained. It is
impossible for the soldier who endures sufferings, hardships, fatigues, who meets danger to take only in proportion to the resources of the country.' He must take whatever is needful for his existence. We cannot ask him for what is superhuman.
"The greatest kindness in war is to bring it to a speedy conclusion. It should be allowable with that view to employ all methods save those which are absolutely objectionable. I can by no means profess agreement with the Declaration of St. Petersburg when it asserts that the weakening of the military forces of the enemy' is the only lawful procedure in War. No, you must attack all the resources of the enemy's Government-its finances, its railways, its stores, and even its prestige. Thusenergetically, and yet with a moderation previously unknown, was the late war against France conducted. The issue of the campaign was decided in two months, and the fighting did not become embittered till a revolutionary Government, unfortunately for the country, prolonged the war for four more months.
“I am glad to see that the “Manual," in clear and precise articles, pays more attention to the necessities of war than has been paid by previous attempts. But for Governments to recognise these rules will not be enough to insure that they shall be observed. It has long been a universally recognised custom of warfare that a flag of truce must not be fired on, and yet we have seen that rule violated on several occasions during the late
Never will an article learnt by rote persuade soldiers to see a regular enemy (Sections 2–4) in the unorganised population which takes up arms spontaneously' and puts them in danger of their life at every moment of day and night. Certain requirements of the Manual might be impossible of realisationfor instance the identification of the slain after a great battle. Other requirements would be open to criticism did not the intercalation of such words as if circumstances permit,' if possible,' if it can be done,' if necessary,' give them an elasticity, but for which the bonds they impose must be broken by inexorable reality. I am of opinion that in war, where everything must be individual, the only Articles which will prove
efficacious those which are addressed specifically to commanders. Such are the rules of the Manual relating to the wounded, the sick, the surgeons, and medical appliances. The general recognition of the principles, and of those also which relate to prisoners, would mark a distinct step of progress toward the goal pursued with so honourable a persistency by the Institut de Droit International.
“ COUNT VON Moltke.”
To this letter Dr. Bluntschli replied :
“ Christmas, 1880. “I am very grateful for your Excellency's detailed and kind statement of opinion as to the Manual of the Laws of War. This statement invites serious reflections. I see in it a testimony of the highest value, of historical importance; and I shall communicate it forthwith to the members of the Institût de Droit International.
“For the present I do not think that I can better prove my gratitude to your Excellency than by sketching the reasons which have guided our members, and so indicating the nature of the different views which prevail upon the subject. It is needless to say that the same facts present themselves in a different light and give a different impression as they are looked at from the military or the legal point of view. The difference is diminished, but not removed, when an illustrious general from his elevated position takes also into consideration the great moral and political duties of States, and when, on the other hand, the representatives of the science of international law set themselves to bring legal principles into relation with military necessities. For the man of arms the interest of the safety and success of the army will always take precedence of that of the inoffensive population, while the jurist, convinced that law is the safeguard of all, and especially of the weak against the strong, will ever feel it a duty to secure for private individuals in districts occupied by an enemy the indispensable protection of law. There may be members of the Institût who
do not give up the hope that some day, thanks to the progress of civilisation, humanity will succeed in substituting an organised international justice for the wars which now-a-days take place between sovereign States. But the body of the Institât, as a whole, well knows that that hope has no chance of being realised in our time, and limits its action in this matter to two principal objects the attainment of which is possible :
“1. To open and facilitate the settlement of trifling disputes between nations by judicial methods, war being unquestionably a method out of all proportion in such cases.
“ 2. To aid in elucidating and strengthening legal order even in time of war.
“I acknowledge unreservedly that the customs of warfare have improved since the establishment of standing armies, a circumstance which has rendered possible a stricter discipline, and has necessitated a greater care for the provisionment of troops. I also acknowledge unreservedly that the chief credit for this improvement is due to military commanders. Brutal and barbarous pillage was prohibited by generals before jurists were convinced of its illegality. If in our own day a law recognised by the civilised world forbids, in a general way, the soldier to make booty in warfare on land, we have here a great advance in civilisation, and the jurists have had their share in bringing it about. Since compulsory service has turned standing armies into national armies, war also has become national. Laws of war are consequently more than ever important and necessary, since, in the differences of culture and opinion which prevail between individuals and classes, law is almost the only moral power the force of which is acknowledged by all, and which binds all together under common rules. This pleasing and cheering circumstance is one which constantly meets us in the Institât de Droit International. We see a general legal persuasion ever in process of more and more distinct formation uniting all civilised peoples. Men of nations readily disunited and opposed-Germans and French, English and Russians, Spaniards and Dutchmen, Italians and Austrians-are, as a rule, all of one mind as to the principles of International Law.
This is what makes it possible to proclaim an international law of war, approved by the legal conscience of all civilised peoples ; and when a principle is thus generally accepted it exerts an authority over minds and manners which curbs sensual appetites and triumphs over barbarism. We are well aware of the imperfect means of causing its decrees to be respected and carried out which are at the disposal of the law of nations. We know also that war, which moves nations so deeply, rouses to exceptional activity the good qualities as well as the evil instincts of human nature. It is for this very reason that the jurist is impelled to present the legal principles, of the need for which he is convinced, in a clear and precise form, to the feeling of justice of the masses, and to the legal conscience of those who guide them. He is persuaded that his declaration will find a hearing in the conscience of those whom it principally concerns and a powerful echo in the public opinion of all countries.
“ The duty of seeing that International Law is obeyed and of punishing violations of it belongs, in the first instance, to States each within the limits of its own supremacy. The administration of the law of war ought, therefore, to be intrusted primarily to the State which wields the public power in the place where an offence is committed. No State will lightly, and without unpleasantness and danger, expose itself to a just charge of having neglected its international duties; it will not do so even when it knows that it runs no risk of war on the part of neutral States. Every State, even the most powerful, will gain sensibly in honour with God and man if it is found to be faithful and sincere in respect and obedience to the law of nations. Should we be deceiving ourselves if we admitted that a belief in the law of nations, as in a sacred and necessary authority, ought to facilitate the enforcement of discipline in the Army and help to prevent many faults and many harmful excesses ? I, for my part, am convinced that the error, which has been handed down to us from antiquity, according to which all law is suspended during war and everything is allowable against the enemy nation—that this abominable error can but increase the