The lack of economic interdependence and the institutional void of the prewar years contributed to the forsaking of incentives of peaceful cooperation among states. Protectionism doomed global trade while powerlessness wrecked the League of Nations. A second image perspective suggests that the Great Depression and the subsequent social unrest instigated nationalist movements that paved the way for aggressive fascist regimes across Europe. Nonetheless, these arguments were not sufficient causes for the spark of the war, for the nationalist movements endorsed domestic reforms. On the other hand, the failure of institutions demonstrated that collective security stood not among the great powers’ vital interests – for instance, the League lost credibility after its inaction during crises in Manchuria and Ethiopia. In this way, the end of cooperation meant not the outbreak of war, but rather the first step of an escalating conflict.
In view of the restoration of the anarchic system, the European unbalanced multipolarity intensified, for the Treaty of Vienna failed at changing significantly the power distribution of the pre-World War I stage. A first image argument could be made that certain leaders contributed to the further destabilization of the international system. For instance, Hitler was an unpredictable amalgamation of Kaiser Wilhelm’s hegemonic ambitions and Bismarck’s Machiavellian statesmanship. According to Mearshimer, “he not only played his adversaries off against each other, but he [convinced] them that Nazi Germany had benign intentions” (Mearshimer 2001, 216). Nonetheless, his concern for German security and consolidation as a powerful nation within the international system was no different from those of hi...
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...long peace. Following World War II, the Cold War presented another instance of conflict, yet it never escalated to the levels of intensity of either world war. Even though several conflicts spurted around the globe, these were minor in comparison to the means employed in total war. Has warfare finally become a taboo to humanity, a topic resented even when considered a viable option? Have international institutions and trade, as well as a universal creed of democracy, kept states from exterminating one another? Or, has the alternative of nuclear lethality driven us to draw a thin line between our private interests and extinction? Philosopher George Santayana claims that “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” But those who are not prepared for history repeating itself, might as well end up being part of it, hunted by those with sleight of hand.
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