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Unread 11-01-2009, 06:36 AM
 
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Default What Was Napoleon's Reason For Invading Russia

I've never been 100% sure about why Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. At that time he controlled all of Europe (except Great Britain) and Alexander I posed no threat to go on the offense to attack Napoleon (correct?) and even if he had conquered Russia what would he have done with the territory and so any thoughts about why he assembled 600,000 troops to invade it.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 08:07 AM
 
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My first thought would be because after all the other conquests he made, he could not leave Russia to become more powerful.. and also he liked to get as much land as he could
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Unread 11-01-2009, 09:42 AM
 
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Because he could. Because he'd invaded every other European country other than England and he was a guy who loved a challenge. Because they represented a potential threat to him. Because he needed have his army engaged somewhere and he didn't have the naval forces necessary to invade England. Because he genuinely believed he and his army were invincible.

All of the above.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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The invasion was designed for a two fold purpose. Napoleon's Continental System was in place, designed to reduce Britain to military impotency via economic degradation. Russian had been at a state of declared, but inactive, war with Great Britain, a reaction to the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. During this time the Russians cooperated with Napoleon's ban on trade with Great Britain. However, early in 1812, a treaty was signed ending the hostilities between Russia and England, and Russia instantly shifted to a policy of non cooperation with the Continental System.

They also began to make noise about reasserting their past control of Poland, that sorry political football of a nation which until that time, was serving as Napoleon's buffer between his holdings and and the Russian empire.

So, to prevent a Russian invasion of Poland, and to force the Russians back into the Continental System, Napoleon invaded.
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Unread 11-01-2009, 11:53 AM
 
Location: down south
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6 FOOT 3 View Post
I've never been 100% sure about why Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812. At that time he controlled all of Europe (except Great Britain) and Alexander I posed no threat to go on the offense to attack Napoleon (correct?) and even if he had conquered Russia what would he have done with the territory and so any thoughts about why he assembled 600,000 troops to invade it.
The immediate cause of invasion of Russia was Russia's increasing unwillingness to remain in the continental system, the pan-European blockade against Britain. Several wars against other smaller European countries by France and French allies were the direct result of refusal to comply with the continental system. Portugal was invaded by France mainly because Portugal refused to join the continental system. Sweden was invaded by Russia for similar reason (Russia was France's main ally against Britain for very long period of time). As with any economic embargo, it's economically damaging to its enforcers as much as its targets, and as relation between Britain and Russia got improved, Russia eventually grew tired of embargo against Britain and decided to reopen trade with the UK in 1812, which was one of the main cause of Napoleon's decision to invade Russia. More broadly speaking, in an era marked by its emphasis on imperial conquest, however, it's just a matter of time before two neighbor great powers bump heads with each other, as shown by fights between France and Britain, France and Russia, France and Germany, Germany and Russia, and numerous battles among great powers in and outside Europe, both before and after Napoleonic wars. Nonetheless, the main goals of Napoleon were to compel Russia to remain in the continental system, and to keep Russia from invading Poland.

Russia was too big to swallow for anybody, despite his infamous galaxy-size ego, I highly doubt Napoleon didn't know that. But like many leaders who marched into hopeless wars before and after him, he didn't consider the possibility that what if his enemy refused to comply no matter how much damage they sustain themselves? The US got involved in Vietnam based on the domino theory, it eventually found out that it's become the roadblock to Vietnamese aspiration for independence and the war ostensibly fought against Communism became war of independence for the Vietnamese. Soviet Union invaded Afghanistain to prop up its puppet ally with no real intention of occupying the country, but soon after, the red army found itself the target of the wrath of 1 billion Muslims and a jihad. The US invaded Afghanistain ostensibly to get Bin Laden and revenge for 911, yet 8 years later, it became a tool of its Afghan ally, a rallying call for Taliban and the fundamental distablizing factor in Pakistain.

Great powers almost inevitably get infected with great power hubris. They almost eventually always get to believe mere push from them would be sufficient to "deal with" their opponents and finish the "limited goal" they set out for themselves. But hubris means that they never consider the possbility that what if your push weren't powerful enough to force your opponents to the ground or more likely after they were hit to the ground, they got up and fought you again, again and again? The same "unexpected resistence", unexpected only if you refuse to read history, which all of the leaders of great powers stop reading sometimes in their life time, happened to Russia, to Soviet Union, to Nazi Germany, to the US and is happening to the US again right now.
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Unread 11-02-2009, 10:24 AM
 
Location: Central Illinois -
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Didnt Napoleon learn anything from his attempted conquest of Egypt 15 years prior? From all accounts the invasion of Egypt and the guerrilla war that followed it was a complete and utter failure. If anyone has more direct knowledge of this conflict please post it as I'd love to know more about this. I was skimming through an examination of this conflict and it was known for its brutality. Russia has never been successfully controlled by an invading force, at least by another nation-state of a foreign military force, at least since Napoleon and likely well before that time. It's vastness and different ethnic backgrounds of Siberia/Mongolia had recently presented Stalin with an inexhaustible and well skilled cold weather fighter against the Nazi's, in centuries past it would be these Far Eastern clans and tribes that would rule Russia. The Mongol Empire was the worlds largest



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Unread 11-09-2009, 08:20 AM
 
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O.k. so i now know it had to do with him wanting to keep Russia in the Continental System and so for the sake of discussion ......... what if Napoleon had beaten Russia in the war and so would he have installed a puppet as head of state/government or possibly let Alexander I remain Emperor but with Bonaparte pulling his strings?
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Unread 11-09-2009, 12:50 PM
 
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I don't know - did he have any brothers left at this point?
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Unread 11-09-2009, 06:48 PM
 
Location: St. Augustine
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The Germans controlled alot of Russian territory after the Bolsheviks pulled out of the Great War and the Bolsheviks greatly feared the Germans would grab more. That's possibly the closest the Russians have come to being conquered since the Poles were in Moscow in the 1600s.
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Unread 11-09-2009, 07:31 PM
 
Location: down south
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 6 FOOT 3 View Post
O.k. so i now know it had to do with him wanting to keep Russia in the Continental System and so for the sake of discussion ......... what if Napoleon had beaten Russia in the war and so would he have installed a puppet as head of state/government or possibly let Alexander I remain Emperor but with Bonaparte pulling his strings?
Well, there'd always be another piece of spoils he'd like to have his hands on. Most successful conquerers, failed conquerers, conquerers wannabes didn't start out as conquerers, their appetite were fed by the series of successes, as a result of their talent, or simple dumb luck, they encountered in their career. If Napoleon could really conquer Russia, he'd set his sight on middle east, india or even China, until he overreached himself and France so much that the empire collapsed, the way most ancient and modern empires collapsed. But that probably wouldn't happen even if he won the war against Russia as he never really "conquered" anybody really important. He defeated most of its opponents and under the threat of brute force, forced them to obey his orders. But he didn't conquer them as these countries, Austria and Prussia were two biggest examples, still controlled their own source of wealth and military strength and they hated him to his gut, that's why despite repeated defeats, Britain could still organize one after another "coalition" to fight France. He was not much more than a big bully as he could neither make the countries he defeated become truly loyal to him nor could he forcibly eliminate ability of countries he defeated to rise up and fight him again. His authority was built on the threat of exerting another crushing defeat on his opponents, he didn't eliminate his opponents as independent entities without their own ability to raise and feed an army, nor did he build up enough common bond common interests with other countries that they could fight with him when he was strong and when he was weak. He essentially cowed everybody into silence and obedience but the second he showed his weakness, these countries would rise up and fight him again. It happened to Austria, it happened to Prussia and if he won against Russia, it'd happen to Russia, which meant that Russia would crawl under his feet for a few years, until some opportunities present itself to convince Russia to fight France again.
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