World News: Thus lived the Pax Europea

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Faced with its first conflict in nearly 80 years, Europe must prepare for future micro-conflicts in the region that can mobilize past international alliances with the big three: the United States, China, and Russia.

The invasion of Ukraine upset the continental geopolitical balance that had been based since 1945 on the postulate of a Pax Europea. Since 1945, the idea prevailed in Europe that no major crisis would break the lasting peace desired by the actors who had animated the Second World War.


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Certainly, events such as the construction of the Berlin Wall (1961), the Budapest crisis (1956) or the invasion of Czechoslovakia (1968) frightened the planet that trembled in front of Soviet tanks. But these crises never escalated. Many froze European geopolitics for decades, but none managed to seriously alter the peaceful consensus that governed East-West relations.

There are several reasons for this. First, nuclear deterrence was one of the major elements of this Pax Europea. The fear of nuclear weapons has stunned generations of Europeans who preferred to possess them but did not use them. This balance of terror, which was based on the risk that one of the powers holding the bomb would use it at its expense, has long served as a diplomatic pillar.

The second element is the will for the peoples of Europe to build, at least in the West, a geographically dense and continental political ensemble that is now called the European Union. Let us move on to the criticisms that fall on the European institutions, but the European Union is a peaceful, secure and globally respected whole in the world.


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Vocation and Hot Spots

However, the war in Ukraine seems to have reshuffled the cards of this order now upset by the ambitions of a man Vladimir Putin anxious, for reasons of his own, to return to his country Russia, the aura and the power it enjoyed in the past, here in the nineteenth century.

At the same time, nations have emerged, the fruit of the break-up of the Soviet Union, eager today to join Western Europe, not from a geographical point of view but from an economic and cultural point of view. The process initiated in 2004 by the entry of new countries into the European Union was probably destined to continue but was interrupted by the invasion of Ukraine. By creating a conflict zone at the heart of Europe, Russia, a recognized nuclear power, has totally destabilized the foundations of a geographical area built for nearly 80 years around the notion of peace.


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Does this mean that this era is over? It seems that yes because if the Ukrainian conflict, which is destined to last, will eventually stop, it is to be feared that others will emerge in the years to come. There is no shortage of hot spots. Turkey, Georgia, Kurdistan,... These are all sources of conflict on the periphery of Europe, but which are by the countries involved, fully linked to Europe, to the European Union and its peaceful principles or to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).

Haven of Peace

If historians are still too cautious to admit it, and their position is understandable, it appears that the Ukrainian crisis has marked a turning point in the apprehension of future international, geopolitical, and geostrategic relations. Europe is no longer the haven of peace that it used to be, as evidenced by the willingness of Sweden and Finland, bastions of neutrality for decades, to join the ranks of NATO to protect themselves from Russia.


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The question that is now agitating the European nations is no longer even of an energetic nature because the role, destined to be replaced, will only be a time in terms of essential concerns. The issue is above all security to the point that the chancelleries will all, if it is not already the case, enter phases of active negotiations to find cooperation agreements as soon as possible.

Effective defensive. From a land generally pacified from the Atlantic to the Urals, Europe threatens to become a space of micro-conflicts, extremely violent and destructive, which will not ignite the planet, but which will solicit international alliances articulated around the United States, China, and Russia. And for those who doubt it, it now seems certain that the world has definitively shifted to enter an era of new conflicts based on the weight and influence of alliances rather than on the relevance of the principles or pretexts put forward to conquer this or that territory.

 

Bio: Olivier Longhi has extensive experience in European history. A seasoned journalist with fifteen years of experience, he is currently professor of history and geography in the Toulouse region of France. He has held a variety of publishing positions, including Head of Agency and Chief of Publishing. A journalist, recognized blogger, editor, and editorial project manager, he has trained and managed editorial teams, worked as a journalist for various local radio stations, a press and publishing consultant, and a communications consultant.

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