chapter  2
28 Pages

War and Choice

We cannot eliminate wars. For more than three centuries, since the Peace of Westphalia put an end to the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, states have sought to construct security systems to contain the threats against them. In 1713-14 the Treaty of Utrecht to settle the War of the Spanish Succession, in 1814-15 the Congress of Vienna to dispose of Napoleon’s empire, in 1878 the Congress of Berlin to redraw the map of the Balkans in the wake of the Russo-Turkish War, and in 1919 the Treaty of Versailles to reduce Germany and its overseas possessions - all sought to establish a new security order from the moments of sanity and realism following mortal combat. After a false start with the League of Nations, the victors of the Second World War finally saw the need for all-embracing civil institutions to guarantee the peace through prosperity rather than geo-political precautions. The fact that the United Nations (UN) and the 1944 Bretton Woods insti­ tutions — the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund - had soon, in 1949, to be joined by a classic military alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), was a sad but possibly final throw-back to an old-fashioned military response.