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Beyond the Battlefield: Questing for Prolonged Peace

By Katrina Bolger & Isabelle Barnden

The Essence of Peace

Is peace more than the absence of war? In essence, yes. Peace is an ambiguous concept that possesses many definitions, yet all of them remain grounded in the central concepts of flourishment, cooperation, collaboration, and justice. However, history proves that peace and justice are inseparable as without justice, conflict is inevitable. The Dalai Lama outlines the importance of inner peace where, “Only through compassion and inner peace, can one spread tranquillity through the world.” Each of us is encouraged to be compassionate with ourselves, through mediation and prayers of thanks. Small actions and individuals matter, as any action incentivises change. We are responsible for peace. 

War Throughout Time

Through time we have seen a continuous cycle of war and violence that almost seems inescapable. 

French Revolution  

  • The French Revolution was a period of political and societal change in France that began with the Estates General of 1789, and ended with the coup of 18 Brumaire in November 1799 and the formation of the French Consulate.

  • It occurred because France was on the brink of bankruptcy due to its involvement in the American Revolution and King Louis XVI's extravagant spending. This led to a people's revolt against the inequalities of French society, the corruption of royal officials, and despair owing to widespread economic hardship.


  • World War I or the First World War was a global conflict between two coalitions: the Allies and the Central Powers. Fighting took place throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, the Pacific, and parts of Asia from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. 

  • The assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand on 28 June 1914 set off a chain of events that led to war in early August 1914. The assassination was traced to a Serbian extremist group that wanted to increase Serbian power in the Balkans by breaking up the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


  • World War II or the Second World War was a global conflict between two major alliances: the Allies and the Axis powers that occurred from 1 September 1939 to 2 September 1945.

  • Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland in September 1939 drove Great Britain and France to declare war on Germany, marking the beginning of World War II.

Cold War

  • The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the United States the Soviet Union, and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc. It started in 1947, two years after the end of World War II, and lasted until 1991, with the fall of the Soviet Union.

  • The Cold War developed as differences in the shape of the post-war world created suspicion and distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union. 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine  

  • On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine in an escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that started in 2014. The invasion became the largest attack on a European country since World War II.

  • Putin espoused irredentist views challenging Ukraine's right to exist, and falsely claimed that Ukraine was governed by neo-Nazis persecuting the Russian minority. He said his goal was to "demilitarise and denazify" Ukraine.

Has There Ever Been an Extended Period of Peace? 

Following the end of WWII up until the present, there have been very few major conflicts, therefore known as the period of ‘Long Peace.’ There have been proxy wars, yes; but ‘Major’ wars, no. Is this period of relative calm, truly unusual in history – and indicative that peacekeeping endeavours are effective? Or is it a cyclical peace, destined to be broken?

The world wars, whilst horrific, were not as destructive as other conflicts when compared with the world’s population at the time. World War II ranks just ninth in major conflicts with World War I not even in the top 10. As humans have evolved and seen the invention of commerce, trade means that transactions where both parties agree are more attractive than theft and war where only one side wins. “Violence has been in decline for long stretches of time, and today may be the most peaceful era in our species’ history,” Pinker said. This is corroborated by interpersonal violence declining and the incidence of rape decreasing by 80% since the 1970s. 

As humanity evolves, we increasingly recognise the benefits of fostering mutual peace.


Is There Hope for World Peace to be Achieved? 

If we look at the patterns of why war has been a consistent part of our history it can be understood that it usually occurs for reasons such as fighting for freedom, their views, beliefs, or for power. In our society power imbalances are still prevalent and government authorities, particularly in countries led by dictatorships, still pursue greater power. Although this does not necessarily mean that because of these factors wars will be ongoing throughout time, it does raise the possibility for there to always be tension between different countries and different classes between the people of particular regions. Due to this, achieving world peace is almost a fantasy, as until we remove all suppression and barriers between all individuals there will always be communities of people who are willing to fight. Many desire more power or want to fight back against the authorities and individuals who suppress them. 



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