“What do I care for the lives of a million men?”
There is a surprising number of French who find the whole Napoleon Legend distasteful. I know many revere and laud him for his civil code and his legacy to Paris architecture.
But…. he also laid waste to neighbouring countries of France, pillaging those he invaded (over 500,000 died in Russia alone whilst many of his troops fought barefoot in the snow) and re-established slavery.
After the French Revolution of 1798,the new law: levee en masse in 1793, introduced the French system of conscription and succeeded in putting vast numbers of citizens in the army. Suddenly, instead of tens of thousands there was hundreds of thousands of men conscripted but ill-suited to aggressive wars of conquest.
During most of the Napoleonic wars, French generals could afford to fight battles with massive losses, because there were more conscripts to replace the casualties.
Bloody wars on mass were made so much easier as there were always more men to expend
Unlike bin Laden, Napoleon had no ambition to murder for the sake of murder. But, although Napoleon could be compassionate towards his wounded soldiers, the suffering of humans was irrelevant to him as seen by his quote above to Austrian count Metternich in 1813
As Thomas Jefferson wrote, if Napoleon:
“we should consider the millions of human lives which he had destroyed, the desolations of countries…and all the numberless train of his other enormities; the man, I say, who could consider all these as no crimes must have been a moral monster, against whom every hand should have been lifted to slay him”
Next time you marvel at the Arc de Triomphe at the top of the Champs Elysees bear in mind it is his monument to a monumental loss of lives which only succeeded in rendering France a smaller country than before he started!