For many decades after World War II, the European order rested on the belief that shared institutions, common markets, and other forms of integration would ensure peace on the continent. But now that Russia has unilaterally shattered that vision, the European Union will have to rethink its modus operandi.
BERLIN – Though we still don’t know when – and, more importantly, how – Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression in Ukraine will end, it is already clear that the conflict will dramatically transform the European Union.
The EU was Western Europe’s answer to the explosive violence of the two world wars, which were themselves the products of industrialization and nationalism from the nineteenth century onward. These historical processes led to the complete destruction of the traditional European order. After World War II, the European continent came to be dominated by two non-European powers: the United States and the Soviet Union. Because these two powers’ material and ideological interests were impossible to reconcile, a decades-long nuclear-arms race and Cold War ensued.
Immediately after WWII, Western Europe’s economy was in tatters and it was militarily defenseless against a Soviet invasion. Without the US Marshall Plan and America’s guarantee of military protection, Western Europe would hardly have been able to survive.
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