The article traces the historical ebbs and flows in international attitudes towards aggressive territorial conquest from its implicit legal acceptance prior to the League of Nations, to its contested nature during the interwar period, through to its demise during the Cold War, and finally to its current resurgence. During the interwar period, military occupation’s nature was deeply contested between universalists such as the Holocaust-Surviving Rabbi Dr. Georg Cohn, who saw opposition from vile “Machtrecht” jurists such as Carl Schmitt. To him – military occupation was a legitimate surrogate to the old-school’s idea of forceful conquest now demised. Largely abandoned during the Cold war, it has recently resurged as seen in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its forceful annexation of Crimea, thus exhuming Schmitt’s long-buried ideas. The longue durée optic of forceful territorial acquisition, elaborated along this article helps contextualise these current events, against their century-old historical-intellectual backdrop.
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