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Europe started two world wars, but can play most important role in preventing third one

By Bharat Dogra 

Europe started the first two world wars and played a key role in them, even though the extensive distress caused by them spilled over, directly and indirectly, to the greater part of the world. Now Europe can more than make up for this by playing perhaps the most important role in preventing the third one.
This is not to say that at present Europe is already playing this role, or is well on the road for this. Far from this. However the potential clearly exists, and it is for the forces of peace in Europe to realize this potential.
In fact during the recent past in 2022-23 Europe has come as close as ever before to again becoming the starting point or the central point of another world war as high risks of the Ukraine conflict escalating into a wider war involving Russia and the USA/NATO directly on two sides were widely discussed. Fortunately this did not happen but the danger has not entirely gone away yet. Other flash-points for the third world war starting may be in the USA-China struggle for dominance with perhaps Taiwan being used as a proxy. The middle-east with its numerous tension points may also become a flash-point for a wider conflict one day.
Unlike the first two world wars which were prolonged affairs, the third world war may end very soon after starting if weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons are used, but within these few days such massive destruction may be caused as to dwarf the destruction caused by previous wars and in fact the basic life nurturing conditions of life may be endangered or threatened badly.
Hence clearly the biggest priority of the world just now is to avoid all possibilities of another world war or a nuclear weapons war involving the biggest military powers.
Actually no sensible persons or leader wants such a destructive war if other options of achieving dominance or other strategic objectives are available. However when the biggest priority is to ensure dominance or related strategic objectives, then such conditions may be created that lead to such a destructive war without anyone really wanting this.
Given the highest priority of avoiding another world war and a nuclear war, it is evidently very important to consider all possibilities for this and to examine which forces or countries or leaders can play the most important role in this.
One important consideration in this context is whether Europe will merely play the role of following the US foreign and strategic policy or whether it will try to play such an independent and assertive role as is likely to take the world towards peace.
In recent times Europe has merely followed the role envisaged for it as a follower or junior partner by the increasingly aggressive policy-makers in the USA. Senior leaders of Europe like the French President have themselves compared this to a vassal-like role. This has brought Europe in 2022-23 closer to the possibilities of another world war as a result of the possibility of the Ukraine conflict becoming a wider conflict, with Europe again being at the center of it. Of course no one in Europe wants this, but this may under conditions be the ultimate result of playing a vassal like role to a very aggressive super-power.
So it is both in the interests of Europe and world peace that Europe and its leaders should instead play a more independent and assertive role by striving to unitedly, gently but persistently trying to take USA away from a very aggressive policy towards a policy of peace.
Here the special position of Europe is that due to historical and cultural factors Europe is best in a position to influence the USA policy makers for moving towards peace. This can be said in the context of leader-level contacts and relations but this can be said even more in the context if relations and contacts at the level of people.
Keeping in view the growing hostility towards several needlessly aggressive aspects if US policies, if Europe does not support such aspects the tendency of the USA to go ahead with such policies may be much weaker.
Hence Europe must show much greater determination in standing up for peace, and explore all possibilities of also nudging, moving and pushing the USA policy makers toward peace. 
In addition the peace movements and activists of Europe should become more united among themselves for making greater impact, and in addition must establish wider unity and commonality with peace movements and activists in the USA with the aim of strengthening the possibilities of world peace in general and avoiding the possibilities of a third word war in particular.
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The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include "Planet in Peril", "Protecting Earth for Children" and "A Day in 2071"

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