CHAPTER XVII
On Alliances

1. Times of war and times of peace are equally served by alliances, or agreements entered into by the rulers on both sides. As regards their subject matter, they may be divided into those which are made with a view to the mutual performance of some duty already enjoined by the natural law; and those which add something over and above the natural law, or at least give a certain precision to those duties, in case they seem indefinite.

2. To the former class belong alliances in which the agreement concerns the mere exercise of simple humanity, or abstention from injury. Here too belong those by which a mere friendship is confirmed, without the performance of anything in particular; or those by which the right of hospitality or trade is sanctioned, in so far as it is already required by the natural law.

3. In the latter class, alliances are either equal or unequal. The former of these are such as are the same for both parties, that is, when the promises of both sides are not only equal, absolutely, or in due proportion to their resources, but also on a basis of equality, so that neither party is in an inferior position as compared with the other, or subject to the other.

4. Alliances are unequal when the respective performances are unequal, or else when one party is in an inferior position. And unequal performances are promised, either by the ally of higher rank, or by the lower. The former happens when the more powerful promises assistance to the other, without any stipulation in return, or promises on a larger scale than the other. The second case occurs, if the inferior ally is bound to perform more than he receives from the other.

5. Of the requirements exacted of an inferior ally, some involve a diminution of his sovereignty; for example, if it has been agreed that the inferior ally is not to exercise a certain function of his sovereignty, except with the consent of the superior. Some requirements, however, do not diminish sovereignty, although they bring with them some temporary burden, that is, one which can be disposed of once and for all; for instance, in case one party is bound by a treaty of peace to pay the soldiers of the other, to make good the expenses of war, to pay a certain sum of money, to raze walls, give hostages, surrender ships and arms, and so forth. Even permanent burdens do not in all cases diminish sovereignty. Examples are: the requirement that one side have the same friends and enemies as the other, while the obligation is not reciprocal; or the prohibition to build walls at certain places, or to take certain voyages, and so on. Also, if one of the allies is bound to show polite deference to the majesty of the other, or to pay him a certain amount of reverence, and to acquiesce modestly in his derision.

6. Again, both equal and unequal alliances are commonly contracted for various reasons. Of the latter those which aim at some permanent combination of several states produce the closest form of alliance. But most frequent are those which concern help to be furnished in defensive or offensive warfare, or the regulation of commerce.

7. There is also a well-known division of alliances into the real and the personal. The latter are entered into with a king in reference to his own person, and expire with his death. The former are contracted not so much with reference to the king or rulers of the people as such, as in the interest of that state or kingdom; and they endure even when their authors are dead.

8. Connected with alliances are overtures, the proper term for agreements entered into by a minister of the supreme power in regard to matters of its concern, but without its instructions. The ruler is not indeed bound by these, except after he has ratified them; but if the minister has absolutely contracted, and ratification has not followed, he must see how he can satisfy those who, relying upon his word, have been deceived by agreements that are null and void.


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