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But what about France and Britain?  (rhetorical question again?)

But that's the unanswered counter-factual here: Is inter-European conflict really diminished? Or does it just appear so because of the protective umbrella that America has been providing? What really happens if that umbrella goes away and, say for example, an anti-Islamic gay fascist party gains power in the Netherlands and starts causing institutional crises for the EU by unilaterally imposing some very "un-European" but popular laws that end up getting, say, German nationals of Turkish descent kidnapped and killed with the implicit support of Dutch authorities.  (Or substitute whatever other crisis of national, modernist ambiguity here, such as what happened in the Balkans recently.) Under NATO, such a situation wouldn't likely come to use of cross military operations.  But without NATO, can we really be so sure anymore?  The main reason that California has not gone to war with Arizona over its outrageous immigration policies is that neither state has its own army anymore. (The national guard isn't really a state militia anymore.) That's still not the case in Europe.

by santiago on Wed Sep 15th, 2010 at 05:27:49 PM EST
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santiago:
Is inter-European conflict really diminished? Or does it just appear so because of the protective umbrella that America has been providing? What really happens if that umbrella goes away and, say for example, an anti-Islamic gay fascist party gains power in the Netherlands and starts causing institutional crises for the EU

Ah - so you do have a sense of humour. :)

Not that the US doesn't have enough anti-Islamic gay fascists of its own to worry about.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Sep 15th, 2010 at 11:00:49 PM EST
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Oh, there's more than enough of that to worry about in the US.  But when it happens in the US, it's an American problem, not a European one, and it has nothing to do with the issue of empires.  When it happens in Europe, however, the dynamics may be a bit different, perhaps  because of the greater intensity of national and ethnic rivalries.  There's got to be a reason, after all, that Europe has such a militant history, and it seems a bit odd that such militancy has diminished so much in the last 60 years under the aegis of a foreign empire, doesn't it?
by santiago on Wed Sep 15th, 2010 at 11:21:27 PM EST
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Uhm, Europe doesn't have a much more militant history than the US. The US just had a handy indigenous population to exercise their militaristic tendencies on, and the good sense to mostly refrain from exercising their militaristic tendencies on anybody who had a sporting chance of fighting back.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 03:20:38 AM EST
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Opportunity for conflict, provided in the form of many smaller, linguistically diverse, and armed nations, provides for greater militancy, even if Americans are as militant or even more so, than Europeans.
by santiago on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:29:13 AM EST
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The fundamental reason California can't go to war with Arizona is that Southern California would die of thirst if they tried. Similarly, the question you should be asking yourself is whether any two European countries would be able to secure their supplies of food, fresh water, deep water ports, fossil fuels, metal and electricity while simultaneously securing access for their troops to actually fight a war with each other.

Even if you do find such a pair, you will have to conjure up a scenario where war between those countries seemed to be profitable to the people running the propaganda machine of at least one of them. So the second question you should be asking yourself is why it should be more profitable for the war profiteers to make war in Europe than in Africa? After all, colonial wars offer all the nice things about wars (large military procurement with few questions asked about cost and quality, the possibility for leveraging jingoistic fervour into electoral advantage, promotions and decorations for the generals, and so on), without the drawbacks of fighting someone who has a sporting chance of shooting back (namely, the risk that the war profiteers' own factories might get blown up, that their political career might end because their parliament ceases to exist, or that they might find themselves personally on the business end of an artillery shell trajectory).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 03:39:07 AM EST
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The potential for profit is only one of the bases for which wars occur.  There are many others.  If profit were the sole basis, WWI never would have occurred.
by santiago on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:32:20 AM EST
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The first world war only did occur when the supply of unclaimed colonies to have colonial wars in was exhausted. The warmongers of today have a much neater setup, in that our colonies are never really conquered or pacified, yielding an unlimited supply of rouge states to wage war in. Besides, Europe today is not Europe of 1914. Europe today is a bloc, Europe of 1914 was a set of different blocs that happened to be headquartered on the same subcontinent.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 10:40:23 AM EST
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But WWI was only the penultimate in a series of inter-European spasms of military conflict, which tended to occur every couple of decades going all the way back to the Middle Ages. Before WWI were the Franco-Prussian and Austro-Prussian wars, and before that the Napoleonic Wars, and before that the Seven Years War, and before that the War of the Austrian Succession, and before that ...

All of these wars were "world wars" in the sense of being multinational conflicts, which Henry Kissinger famously theorized as being anti-hegemonic wars about restoring the balance of power among European empires agreed to in principle at the Treaty of Westphalia, when the dual concepts of the nation-state and international law were born.

And these all happened while colonization was going full steam.  In fact, one could say that colonization merely provided the  economic means for being able to afford the ever more expensive royal luxury of being able to wage war on your European cousins.

by santiago on Thu Sep 16th, 2010 at 11:09:30 AM EST
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