Daily quote for the foreign politics debate audience (10/11)

We proceed deciphering obscure and camouflage messages which will be likely used during the foreign policy debates…


“Since they never made peace in good faith, and since universal conquest was their object, their treaties were really only suspensions of war, and they put conditions into them that always began the ruin of the state accepting them. They made garrisons leave strongholds, or limited the number of ground troops, or had horses or elephants surrendered to them. And if the people was a sea power they forced it to burn its vessels and sometimes to live further inland.

After destroying the armies of a prince, they ruined his finances by excessive taxes or a tribute on the pretext of making him pay the expenses of the war — a new kind of tyranny that forced him to oppress his subjects and lose their love.

Sometimes they abused the subtlety of the terms of their language. They destroyed Carthage, saying that they had promised to preserve the people of the city but not the city itself. We know how the Aetolians, who had entrusted themselves to the good faith of the Romans, were deceived: the Romans claimed that the meaning of the words to entrust oneself to the good faith of an enemy entailed the loss of all sorts of things — of persons, lands, cities, temples, and even tombs.

They could even give a treaty an arbitrary interpretation. Thus, when they wanted to reduce the Rhodians, they said they had not previously given them Lycia as a present but as a friend and ally.

When one of their generals made peace to save his army as it was about to perish, the senate did not ratify the peace but profited from it and continued the war. Thus, when Jugurtha had surrounded a Roman army and, trusting to a treaty, let it go, the very troops he had spared were used against him. And when the Numantians had forced twenty thousand Romans who were about to die of hunger to sue for peace, this peace which had saved so many citizens was broken at Rome, and public faith was evaded by handing back the consul who had signed it.

Sometimes they made peace with a prince on reasonable conditions, and when he had executed them, added such unreasonable ones that he was forced to reopen the war. Thus, after making Jugurtha surrender his elephants, horses, treasures, and Roman deserters, they demanded that he surrender himself — an act which is the worst possible misfortune for a prince and can never constitute a condition of peace.”

Montesquieu, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline, 1734  (CHAPTER VI. THE CONDUCT THE ROMANS PURSUED TO SUBJUGATE ALL PEOPLES)

To be continued…

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