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In the absence of war

Not the typical theme to see on Plan B website, but the current situation in Europe, and to a greater extent in the Western world, forces even us to write a short article of the most destructive force of growth and prosperity our history keeps recording that only a handful of people in every generation seem to comprehend; war.

War is sweet to those who have no experience of it, but the experienced man trembles exceedingly at heart on its approach. [Gr: γλυκύ δ᾽ἀπείρῳ πόλεμος. Πεπειραμένων δέ τις ταρβεῖ προσιόντα νιν καρδία περισσῶς]


The absence of war* brings prosperity and wealth to nations not engaged in the destructive and resource consuming activities of war. In the absence of war, though some European countries have become arrogant and think they can do better than others, or even worse they think that other members are only a burden that is pulling them down and impede their advancement; they have forgotten why the union came into existence in the first place.

Europe is a region where after millennia of warfare and two world wars, its nation-states decided to move away from armed conflict and create a union based on mutual understanding and commercial benefits. Thus, after a long process of treaties, international agreements and plenty of compromises the European Union (EU) came into existence. From the six founding members of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands forming the European Coal and Steel Community to the EU of 28 members it has been a long walk, and as Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland pointed out in 2012 the EU has transformed Europe "from a continent of wars to a continent of peace". Gustav Stresemann could not have explained it any better when he argued in his 1927 Nobel Prize lecture** that "...and inasmuch as economics has an effect on politics, this drawing together, even though it might be questionable from the standpoint of economics, does constitute progress toward international understanding and peace."

And they lived happily ever after, at least for a certain period of time. But all things come to an end, and today the Union is in a crisis, which is as much a political as an economic one. The economic problems of the Euro as a currency of the majority of the states of the EU has shaken the foundation of the union to the point of some are now questioning the utility of the Union itself. What Stresemann was pointing out then stands as a pharos of the dangers and risks tormenting the EU today. The common currency has been badly designed for such a broad use among members of diverse cultures, and even if it was originally fit enough for the founding members it is not designed to fit all. That is true and demands further and deeper examination, but the point is what did the founding fathers of the union see that prompted them to advance the creation of this union “even though it might be questionable from the standpoint of economics”. As I see it, it was little else than the presence of war in the history of their nations and throughout most of their lives. It would be wise to consider how better off a country is without war inside its borders, and how many economic crises would one be willing to go through to avoid going to war with a neighbouring nation-state. If you don't know, feel free to ask your grandparents.

What does not benefit the hive, is no benefit to the bee.

Marcus Aurelius


Yugoslavian Army General Headquarters building in Belgrade

*The absence of war is actually the title of a 1993 theatre play by writer David Hare. The theme of the play is about British politics and the Labour party in particular.
** Read the full lecture here: http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_pri...
+The picture shows the Yugoslavian Army General Headquarters building in Belgrade damaged during NATO bombing, which to this moment has not been restored in order to remind people in Serbia of the destruction that war brings.
++The header image is from Max Roser (2016) – ‘War and Peace’. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: https://ourworldindata.org/war-and-peace/ [Online Resource]

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