Non-belligerent

Non-belligerent

[non-buh-lij-er-uhnt]
A non-belligerent is a person who, or a state or other organization that does not fight in a given conflict. The term is often used to describe a country that does not take part militarily in a war. A non-belligerent state differs conceptually from a neutral one in that it may be actively supporting one side or the other in the war, though without actually fighting in it. A classic example of this is the United States in World War II before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Lend-lease Act of 1941 saw the United States provide the United Kingdom "all possible assistance short of war" in the words of Winston Churchill, but they remained a non-belligerent state in the war until the end of that year. This also describes Sweden's stance during the Winter War, the Soviet assault on Finland in 1939. A more recent example is the position of The Netherlands during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This was described by politicians as political support, but no military support.

Non-belligerent may also be used of a person not involved in combat or aggression, especially in a situation where combat or aggression is likely. Thus in a situation of civil unrest, civilians may be divided in belligerents (those actually fighting or intending to fight) and non-belligerents (bystanders).

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