The other day -to tell the truth a couple of weeks but had not had time – I listened to the radio in a taxi (in a hurry as always to get to a part) and I heard Jocelyn-Holt to talk about the recent controversy with respect to the books stolen from the Library of Peru with a couple of journalists.
But it is not this that speaks to this post. Part of the discussion, the journalist posed about the behavior of the chilean troops to take Lima and made a comment based on how he had been the capture of Berlin (*)– that good, the shots of cities had always been affairs barbarians, full of cruelty towards civilians, and thus were the wars.
And in that moment I thought that we had come so far in the way of the barbarism that the memory of one of the most clear of the western civilization, in my humble opinion one of his best contributions, had disappeared. The idea of a limited war, where civilians are not, and that follows their regulations (such as that the prisoners not be killed) seems, at the end of the TWENTIETH century, only seem like a utopia, something that simply could never exist.
And yet, broadly speaking, if it existed. The wars of the EIGHTEENTH and NINETEENTH century in general were effectively wars limited, with not too many risks for civilians, and where in a good part of the civilized standards of war were followed. In the battle of Waterloo -fought after decades of wars more total that had experienced Europe in a long time – the peasants of the area gathered to watch the battle on a nearby hill (it is what tells us Keegan in The Face of Battle). Where the most damage you were thinking about was, well, the wheat harvest had been tread by a few tens of thousands of soldiers and hundreds of guns. In other words, the forgotten war limited was a practice, by the way the only practice that enabled europeans to pass from war to war in the EIGHTEENTH century without destroying its civilization. The russians took Berlin in the 7 years war. An experience nothing similar to that of 1945.
In a period in which, sometimes, gives us by dárnoslas very progressive and for the betterment of the outrages traditional, it would not hurt to remember that when it comes to conducting the war, probably the most contemporary nations would be less civilized, to say any thing, the Prussia of Frederick the Great.
( * ) How can I make the comment that Berlin: The Fall of Beevor is absolutely spectacular as a book? Well, no matter, what I do like: Berlin: The Fall of Beevor is absolutely spectacular as a book