Angela Merkel has warned against the peace in Europe of the last few decades disintegrating. She is right. Peace is a fragile thing, a fragile concept. Europe has been at war with itself for thousands of years. World War2 wasn’t even the latest war. In war there has been war in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, East Germany. Up until 1990, the Red Army occupied about half of Europe. Portugal has been involved in wars in Africa, Mozambique, Angola, Guinea Bissau. Britain has had overseas wars in Malaya, Malaysia as it now is, the Falklands, the Middle East, etc.
Wars frequently break out, often over almost nothing. The best example of this is World War 1. People’s emotions have frequently been stirred up into a frenzy against foreigners. There is nothing populations like more than the blast of war, the glory of subjugating another nation. unless that population happens to be Buddhist.
Angela Merkel is German, the leader of most warlike of the 20th century European nations but she herself wasn’t even alive during World War2. She was born in 1954. Modern Germany isn’t a threat to anyone. It is not likely to become so after experiencing the defeat that Germany did suffer during World War2. But there are always atavistic rumblings in the underworld of the collective unconscious in most of the European countries, most frequently manifested at football matches.
Not many people foresaw the current economic meltdown. Some did but to most of us it was a nasty surprise. There are likely to be other nasty surprises in the next few years; food shortages, environmental disasters. A lot of accepted suppositions are likely to be shattered. We must be careful that the peace we seem to be taking for granted is not one of them.