Nationalism and Internationalism: Essays Inscribed to Carlton J. H. Hayes

By Edward Mead Earle | Go to book overview

SCANDINAVIA AND THE RISE OF MODERN NATIONAL CONSCIOUSNESS

JOHN H. WUORINEN


I

AMONG THE MANY common features of the first and second World Wars there is one that stands out in sharp relief. It is the widely accepted belief that the defeat of Germany and her allies would automatically and directly create an opportunity to eliminate the scourge of war as an arbiter between nations, and that once the fighting had ceased the opportunity would be speedily utilized by the victorious allies. This feeling and the optimistic view which it reflected gained almost universal credence, especially after 1918. It appears safe to say that the same feeling and view are part of the faith that has sustained much of the troubled world since 1945. The imposing structure of the United Nations rests primarily upon that faith; without it this most recent attempt at establishing a league of nations and peoples to safeguard the peace would quickly collapse.

During the years the United Nations has functioned, however, it has become increasingly obvious that in all probability the likelihood of war cannot be more successfully eliminated in the years that lie ahead than was the case after the peace settlement of 1919- 1920. In fact, aggression of the Soviet brand has for some time assumed forms and proportions that have already led to an open abandonment, by the Western States, of the United Nations as their main line of defense. The Atlantic Pact, to say nothing of the Marshall Pact, is the best single illustration of the trend of the times. The Atlantic Pact established a far-flung alliance that brings the West together in opposition to Russia and her satellites. What is more, it is a military alliance in the full sense of the term. The cynically inclined will find a good deal of satisfaction in the circumstance that this military alliance is vastly more imposing, in terms of the number of nations involved and the military potential they command, than anything that the Europe of the years before 1914 had

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