Attacks between the Israeli Army and Hamas militias are increasingly intense and the entire area appears to be on the verge of exploding. There are dead and wounded, and the violence already circulates through the blood of each one of the Palestinians and Israelis as if it were a discharge of electric current. It is no longer just a matter of the military (so to speak), it is the civilians themselves who are shaken by fury and hatred and by the urge to liquidate the other. What is about to precipitate is what has been called a total war, that war that feeds on political radicalization, that little by little is soaking up the entire social body and that only leads to the design of completely destroying the enemy.
A few days ago, the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoleon Bonaparte was celebrated and the deeds of that overwhelming personality who embarked on the task of taking the achievements of the French Revolution to the rest of Europe, and even beyond, were once again remembered. That event drastically changed the world as it was until then, the Old Regime fell, values such as freedom, equality and fraternity were imposed, a new Civil Code profoundly modified societies, establishing the foundations of the current rule of law, and nothing happened. the same in the relationships and customs of the people. Historian David A. Bell discussed some time ago in The first total war another of the radical transformations that took place then. In an effort to achieve perpetual peace, the revolutionaries set themselves the challenge of destroying those who might threaten their conquests. The discussion began in the Assembly of Representatives and, later on, Robespierre clearly marked the way forward, pointing out that there was no need to have any mercy with “those who wage war on a people to stop the progress of freedom and annihilate rights of man ”. The war ceased to be a matter that faced different armies led by a handful of aristocrats to incarnate in the people, in the nation. With Napoleon, Bell writes, “France was embarking on a crusade for universal freedom,” the Corsican “knew exactly how to instill in his soldiers this sense of his own moral superiority.”
What this crusade was to mean had already been made clear before when the peasants of La Vendée rebelled. “Enemies of the revolution, whether they were Vandans, aristocrats, Austrians, or Englishmen, were considered an existential evil,” Bell writes. “They were all inhuman monsters. They were barbarians condemned by the supreme court of history for not accepting the blessings of revolutionary civilization ”. So the defenders of it proceeded viciously. “La Vendée no longer exists, republican citizens,” General Westermann informed the Public Health Committee. “Executing the orders that you have given me, I have crushed the children under the hooves of the horses and I have slaughtered the women who, these at least, will give birth to no more bandits. I have no prisoner to reproach myself. I have exterminated them all ”.
Total war has been the pattern for many conflicts that occurred after the Napoleonic era. The violence unleashed by Hamas and Israel points to those excesses that occur when it is the peoples themselves who are convinced that they are on the right side of history.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.