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Regarding my question: so you agree with me on the primary significance of treaties in how likely a a proto-world-war was during the 1648-1919 period?

a smaller conflict which were pretty much continuous throughout the period, unlike now

Again, 1878 to 1912 was a pretty long time without direct conflict in Europe.

As for why the balance of powers situation was gone after WWI, methinks you ignore factors other than military reliance on US hegemony. The European Coal and Steel Union had direct significance by eliminating the surplus steel-producing capabilities which would have enabled the armament race seen in the peaceful decades prior to WWI, and created a political culture (and institutions for altercation between leaders) which eliminated the balance-of-powers system's supceptibility for diplomatic escalation. (And both of these were stated goals of the architects of the system.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 04:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I agree on the significance of treaties.  The question for the European Coal and Steel Union is whether it could ever have come to pass if not for the dominance of the US in Western Europe. I don't see how it would have.
by santiago on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 08:42:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 08:46:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because something like the Morgenthau Plan was much more likely, until the Americans decided they needed the Marshall Plan.

guaranteed to evoke a violent reaction from police is to challenge their right to "define the situation." --- David Graeber citing Marc Cooper
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 08:50:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both the Morgenthau Plan and the Marshall Plan would have been expressions of US dominance, that's not a way to make a distinction. As for the hypothetical of the viability of an ECSU under the Morgenthau Plan: methinks the latter would have eliminated steel-making over-capacities, too, so an ECSU would likely have become obsolete. The Marshall Plan however worked towards re-viving those over-capacities.

In actual history, I think US hegemonic influence had less to do with the ECSU and a lot more to do with the failure of the second part of Monnet's plan, the defense comunity.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 09:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because without US dominance and the political and military re-organization of Europe against Russia instead of against each other, Europe would never have achieved the political unity required to come up with and ECSU, or eventually and EU. Power is the process of gaining cooperation in a group project instead of individual ones, and US has exercised that kind of power in Europe since WWII, and that's what allowed pan-European institutions to develop.  If the US were to recede from European military consideration, the EU would very quickly dissolve and countries would be killing each other again, like they have been for more than thousand of years before WWII.  
by santiago on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 01:42:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
without US dominance and the political and military re-organization of Europe against Russia instead of against each other, Europe would never have achieved the political unity required to come up with and ECSU

There is a logical error in your argument: the ECSU was the political and military re-organization of Europe away from each other. Furthermore, West Germany wasn't in NATO until 1955, while France wasn't a happy camper for long. (BTW, I found that de Gaulle was an initial opponent of the ECSU because he wasn't convinced of the government's argument that it will reduce US dependence.)

I can agree that NATO and the later re-armament of Germany were a military re-organization of Europe against the USSR, but that's a counter-force aganst the ECSU (increase, not decrease of military capacity). You would have a better argument if you claimed that US military presence fostered the demilitarisation of allies, but this doesn't apply to the late forties-early fifties.

For an example of US allies with a history of bilateral conflict who boost military capacity in absence of political rapprochemkent, see Greece/Cyprus and Turkey, who fought each other even under the US umbrella. No, it's not the US who keeps us from killing each other (and if we'll start again then I suspect it will be entirely our fault, whatever the level and nature of US presence at the time).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 02:17:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is also Argentina and Britain as examples of fighting among US military allies, or, more recently even, Peru and Ecuador in 1995. It's not that such fighting is impossible, but just much less and with much fewer causalities. Crime also exists within the United States, and a Civil War has even occurred. The point, however, is that military strategies for contesting power make much less sense in a hegemonic system than they do in a balance of power system, so it occurs less frequently.
by santiago on Wed May 2nd, 2012 at 04:04:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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