Friday, 11 November 2016
Wednesday, 9 November 2016
I'd be extremely, and happily, surprised if there is not war in Western Europe in the next 5 to 10 years. The EU (previously the EC/EEC) has kept the peace in Europe for over 70 years - that is not normal. I think it is now inevitable that a stable Europe, the only Europe that all but the very oldest of us have ever know, will now fall apart post-Brexit. This is at a time when we have an aggressively nationalistic and expansionist dictatorship in Russia to the east, An emboldened Islamist dictatorship in Turkey to the South (already bordering an actual live war) and now our number one NATO ally is lead by a mentally unstable pro-Putin, isolationist to our West.
France too in particular appears only another another terrorist outrage or two, if that, from electing a Nation Front president. The images of the Muslim lady being forced to disrobe by armed policemen was truly shocking evoking as it did documentary footage of Jews being dehumanised by NAZI officials in 1930s Germany but what was maybe even worse was the relative lack of empathy and support for this poor woman from her fellow French citizens. So far we in the UK have escaped the worst of it but what will happen if suicide bombings become a regular occurrence here: How will our newspapers react? How will our right-wing politicians act? How will our fellow citizens act? There will be a call to make someone pay, to attack, to punish, to hurt.
I think many us in the West tend to take peace for granted and sometimes think people in war scorched parts of the world such as Eastern Asia in the 60's, Central Africa in the 70s, Central America in the 80's, eastern Europe in the 90's, and the Middle East now, are some how 'different' from 'us'. They aren't. Educated intelligent liberals who believe in live & let live and shun nationalism, xenophobia, religious intolerance etc. have always been the minority in any society - the rest are easily whipped up into hatred of the 'other', whoever the convenient scapegoat of the time and place happens to be when times are tough.
I feel our time is coming to a large degree for the banal reason that there is now hardly any one left alive who actually remembers first hand the true horrors of war on 'home turf', or where nationalism, scapegoating, intolerance and prejudice inevitably lead... Another important point is that unlike ww2 we now live in a world of nuclear weapons. It has been said that it is nuclear weapons that have insured our peace but maybe future historians will look back and and say 'yes they did, until they didn't'.
There is nothing inevitable, natural, or normal about a continent being at peace for such an extended, indefinite, period. Mussolini was said to have described peace as simply the pauses between wars. I think our turn is coming soon.
Peace: enjoy it while it lasts, nothing lasts for ever.
|London during the Blitz circa-1940/41|