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Europe's Two Peace Missions

On both climate change and new dual-use technologies, Europe’s foundational peace project should become global. The region's devastation in two world wars has stripped it of the desire to dominate others, which makes it easier for the European Union to act as a peace broker.

WASHINGTON, DC – As we approach the end of 2021, the European Union is debating its choices and priorities in an increasingly dangerous world. Europe has succeeded since 1945 in realizing its foundational “peace project,” making war between old continental adversaries unthinkable and arguably reaching a Kantian “perpetual peace” within the territory of the Union.

Moreover, although many analysts attribute the communist collapse of 1989-91 to the Soviet Union’s inability to sustain an arms race with the United States, a deeper reason for the failure of the Soviet bloc was the success of the West European social market economy. And nowhere was this clearer than in the competition between West and East Germany.

Crucially, West Germany – and Western Europe more generally – demonstrated that it was possible to have a liberal democracy, a growing market economy, and policies that effectively redistributed income and provided comprehensive social protection. The success of Western Europe’s model of peace and the social market economy, as much as the weakness of the Soviet system, brought about communism’s ideological defeat and eventual collapse.