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The long peace

For centuries we have been shaped by war. But, as Nato turns 50, peace is now the natural order in the developed world. Its effect is already evident in the trend away from secrecy and centralisation in government, the lower status of politics and the higher status of women. What else will peace do to us?

By Robert Cooper   April 1999

The story of the human race is war,” wrote Winston Churchill. “Except for brief and precarious interludes there has never been peace in the world; and long before history began murderous strife was universal and unending.” When Churchill wrote, this was a realistic perspective and had been for centuries. In the 17th century there were only seven calendar years without a major war between European states. The 18th century began with the wars of Louis XIV and ended with those of Napoleon (with Frederick the Great’s in between). In the 19th and the 20th centuries, wars became less frequent but…

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