Friedrich Gentz's thoughts on Napoleon and the dangers of one state trying to rule the world

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Published in 1802 

" It is a characteristic property of all great disorders in the  political system, that they do as much injury to the states apparently  benefited by the destruction of the balance, as to the immediate losers,  by the disproportion introduced.

It is the true and permanent interest  of every nation, without exception, to preserve a due proportion between  its own strength and that of its neighbours; and to maintain a just  distribution of power among all the members of the federative system.  The advantages of a dangerous ascendancy are always deceitful; for the  public welfare of a nation cannot be secure without the satisfaction of  its neighbours, and the confidence of the world.

An enlightened policy  requires a due attention to these important requisites of peace, on the  part of the greatest, as well as the smallest states. Were France to  distinguish her true interests, were the voice of reason to prevail  above the dictates of ambition and avarice, her statesmen would easily  be convinced that what now is called, by a shameful abuse of words, the  federative system of Europe, is nothing but a compound of inordinate  power on the one hand, and impotence on the other; in which no real  independence, no stability or security, and no permanent peace can  exist; and which is consequently incompatible with the general  welfare."—

Of the nature of alliances with France, Mr. Gentz speaks in the  following explicit manner, p. 273.—“The author of the Etat de la France,  has dignified the alliances of the French republic with Spain, Holland,  and Genoa, by calling them the first foundation of a future federal  edifice. He quotes them as honourable and irresistible proofs of the  generosity and disinterestedness of the republic, as assurances of the  uprightness of her principles, and as the productions of an almost  wonderful political wisdom, &c. Such were the alliances (though the  terms were certainly move favourable), of Sicily, Greece, Asia Minor,  Egypt, &c. with the Romans!

If the future alliances of France are to  be formed on these models; if the present condition of Switzerland and  Holland, Italy and Spain, awaits all those to be hereafter leagued with  the French government, it may well be asked, whether the friendship and  protection of that power are less fatal than her declared enmity. 

If  these relations, formed and maintained by force of arms, are to be the  basis of a new federal system, and a future law of nations, Europe must  ardently wish that the superstructure, to be "raised upon such a  foundation", may never be completed, &c. Thus have her alliances  been hitherto formed; and thus will it be with all succeeding ones.

Such  must, and will continue to be the system of politics, when the  ascendancy of one nation has destroyed the security of all; when,  deprived of every federative safeguard, the weak are reduced to utter  helplessness, and the law of nations is supplanted by the law of force." 

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