We have already remarked that there are two grave dangers that always result from the division of the nations into two hostile alliances: the creation of tension, which immensely increases the difficulty of maintaining the peace, and the danger that any dispute between two members of the opposing alliances is almost bound to involve all the rest, thus magnifying a local quarrel into a world war. The reason why so much of the interest in world affairs since 1945 has centred upon Germany is largely the fact that the division of that country makes it the main focus-point of both these dangers under the present balance-of-power system. Germany is the unsettled element in Europe, a tremendously valuable prize which it has been the main objective of both power blocs to obtain. Post-war European affairs have consisted largely of a struggle for Germany. Thus in the first place, Germany has been the main source of world tension. Secondly, since the division of Germany is obviously impermanent and so bitterly resented by both East and West Germans, it is the most unstable element in the European situation. A rash act on either side could lead very quickly to a struggle between the two German states, which would involve the rest of the world almost automatically in a major war.
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