Europe's Troubled Peace: 1945 to the Present

Europe's Troubled Peace: 1945 to the Present

Europe's Troubled Peace: 1945 to the Present

Europe's Troubled Peace: 1945 to the Present

Synopsis

This revised second edition now extends to the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, covering the financial crisis and the related crisis in European integration, the impact of the "War on Terror" on Europe, and the redefinition of Europe following EU enlargement.

  • Thoroughly revised and expanded, this integrated history of Europe now covers the end of the Second World War up to the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century
  • Includes new sections on immigration and ethnicity in Europe after the Cold War, and the role of historical memory in contemporary Europe
  • A final new chapter assesses the role of Europe within the wider world of the twenty-first century, the financial crisis and the related crisis in European integration, the impact of the "War on Terror" on Europe, and the redefinition of Europe following EU enlargement
  • Covers the history of central and eastern Europe in depth, as well as that of Western Europe
  • Discusses in detail the impact of the Cold War across the continent

Excerpt

In January 1995 the French President François Mitterrand, close to the end of his second term of office and, indeed, of his own remarkable life, made an emotional valedictory address to the European Parliament. He reminded the assembled MEPs of how World War II had brought “grief, the pain of separation, the presence of death – all as a result of the mutual enmity of the peoples of Europe.” He went on to lay the blame for such suffering squarely on the nationalistic sentiments endemic in Europe at a time when “everyone saw the world from his or her own viewpoint, and… those viewpoints were generally distorting.” Mitterrand praised those who, after the war, had been able to envisage a “more radiant future… based on peace and reconciliation.” Yet he concluded by appealing to Europeans to continue the struggle to overcome their past, and warned that “nationalism means war!” A few years earlier his peroration might have seemed fanciful; yet now western Europe was witnessing, as a rather forlorn observer, precisely such a devastating war of rival nationalisms in the former Yugoslavia (1991–5). In the mid-1990s imagery of “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia, and even of starving prisoners in camps, uncomfortably connected Europe’s present with the problems of its recent past.

Mitterrand spoke for a generation that had either participated in the war or whose lives had been directly affected by it (a group that included most leading European statesmen and women well into the 1980s). By their standards, the history of Europe since 1945 could well be viewed as a triumph, not so much in terms of the remarkable growth and diffusion of prosperity, but simply in terms of the avoidance of the war, dictatorship and mass killing which had plagued the continent between 1914 and 1945. But peace is, of course, more than simply the avoidance of war, and the long peace of the decades after 1945 rested on the deliberate creation of new institutional arrangements that made war between west European states unimaginable. In the course of the 1990s these arrangements began to be extended to include central Europe as well. This does not mean that . . .

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