The Saar Conflict, 1945-1955

The Saar Conflict, 1945-1955

The Saar Conflict, 1945-1955

The Saar Conflict, 1945-1955

Excerpt

This study of the conflict between France and Germany over the Saar is only one component of a much wider undertaking, the aims of which have been set out in the Foreword.

Why choose the Saar? Why, when one is nursing the ambitious hope of making a contribution to the establishment of peace, devote time to a matter of secondary importance and not to one of those major conflicts that oppress the world today with their war potential? Since 1944 the Saar question has played only a sporadic role in international relations. It scarcely affected the Great Powers. Though it complicated Franco-German relations for some years, it never assumed a very serious character. Neither the Saarlanders, the French, nor the Germans thought at any time of recourse to arms. This being so, can one indeed talk of a "conflict" over the Saar? Was it not rather a "difference of opinion" which gave rise to "tension"? This is what some people maintain.

But war, or the risk of war, is not the only criterion of a "conflict" situation. The renunciation of violence--explicitly or not-- and the rejection of recourse to armed force do not abolish either the social contradictions or the political opposition that can persist in a so-called period of peace and create serious obstacles to collaboration between states. Certain international conflicts threaten peace by the simple fact that they prevent its consolidation and encourage an atmosphere of mistrust, tension, and uneasiness conducive to other incidents. Such conflicts have a certain breadth, that is, they affect interests and principles which, rightly or wrongly, are considered essential, or even vital, to the members of the particular national entities in question.

The selection of cases of international conflict worth studying, therefore, rests as much on an appreciation of their degree of intensity and their influence on co-operation between states as on the threat of war implicit in them. This threat, moreover, diminishes proportionally as the development of the destructive power of modern armaments raises the cost of war and tends to discourage governments from embarking on it.

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