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Reflection Essay: "Peace and War: A Theory of International Relations"

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This assignment explores in detail question 2 regarding how Aron has used various examples to affirm his theory of international relations. From chapter I to chapter IV of Part 1 of the book Peace and War: A theory of International Relations, Aron has employed different examples from the First World War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the Cold War as well as the Algerian War for Independence. However, this work specifically focuses on the Cold War. The theory of international relations highlights that nations need one another to reduce the possibility of wars.

Aron observes that immediately after the Second World War, between 1946 and 1947, the Soviet Union threat rose following the Iron Curtain. The Soviet Army remained on a war footing following the actions of the Western powers that united to create a common defense strategy. As a consequence, the issue of German rearmament came to the frontline and France was greatly antagonized. The Marshall Plan of 1947 was initiated so that the Wealth of European nations could be restored as a way of upsetting internal efforts led by the communist government to undermine democratic governments in Italy and France. All these facts point to the need of a proper consideration to international relations’ strategies.

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In addition, Aron emphasized that it is the Pact of Brussels of 1948 that enabled Great-Britain, France as well as the Benelux countries to agree on a common defense. The pact was complemented in 1949 by the Washington Treaty and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) where the United States of America was to provide military protection to Europe. The aim of the agreement was basically dissuasive because it was to assure the Soviet Union of the US intervention in case any of the Western allies of the US was invaded. In fact, after the Korean War in 1950, it was imminent that invasion would occur.

In his theory, Aron analyzed the mechanisms that were leading to the wars and supported a strong and immediate military build-up insead of economic rebirth. He noted that Germany’s participation in continental defense was imminent despite France being reluctant. This led to a controversy between France and the US, which received the support of the United Kingdom up to 1954 when the Paris Agreements were signed. However, it is noteworthy from Aron’s arguments that in regard to Germany, he had always sharply opposed French official position. After the departure of de Gaulle, the French government also followed his legacy and was against restoration of Germany’s unity notwithstanding pressure from the US and UK (Gaulle 70).

The French government was reluctant because it wanted to be assured of security guarantee of Germany’s aggressive comeback. It was particularly keen on matters pertaining economic control of the Ruhr region as well as ensuring that Sarre and Rhine regions were not under German’s political control (Aron 41). Nevertheless, Aron argued that from as back as in 1945, the French government had had an outdated and negative view on the German issue though it had gone quiet in the context of the outcome of the Second World War. The issue was no longer the threat that the Germans posed; instead, it was due to the fear that a reunified country was likely to join the camp of the Soviet Union (Aron 116). In that way, there was a possibility of decisive strategic imbalance occurring in Europe. Therefore, the presence of the United States military in Europe was critical in averting such a development.

The approach by the French seems to have been shared secretly by other European diplomats who supported the formation of a Western Unified German State in 1948 (Aron 58). However, the Soviet Union bombing that happened in 1949 and the Korean War triggered the rearmament program. France found the war so touchy that it could not easily accept it. Then, Aron believed that it was only military effort that could help in such a situation. Apparently, he had supported German rearmament because it was critical for the country that was almost joining the Western block. Similarly, hhe supported the rearmament because the continent of Europe needed to bear its defense burden if it was to avoid the tangential strategy of the UK and US. That simply means indirectly ensuring Europe’s defense against Soviet Union’s invasion.

Aron believed that the safeguard would best be guaranteed through nuclear bombing instead of applying direct defense on land. However, Aron was skeptical for a long time about matters regarding a European defense. He was sure that an alliance between France and Germany was critical for unity of Western Europe in resisting Soviet supremacy. According to Aron, the problem was how to form a European military from scratch. He seems not to have believed in patriotism of Europeans. In addition, Aron did not like the proposal by the French because he believed it was purely inspired by distrust instead of trust or true spirit of seeking of understanding with Germany. However, when Aron later backed the European Defense Community (EDC) initiative, he may have done that because there was no other strategy of promoting military strength of Europe. Aron may have also feared the dangerous Atlantic Alliance that was likely to be formed due to American political pressure. Consequently, he opposed the pro-Gaulle propagandists who were against the EDC even though he had supported Gaulle’s Party. He observed that some politicians claimed to be nationalists or anti-American and thus believed in the new course of the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin. Atomic weapons had deterred invasion and reduced the risk of war.

Conclusion

This paper has highlighted how international relations changed after the Second World War. It appears that countries were trying to safeguard their interests, especially France, Germany, the Soviet Union and the United States. Though Aron never supported the stance of France initially, he later supported Gaulle’s beliefs. He acknowledged that atomic weapons were critical in deterring invasion thus reducing the possibility of wars. 

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