The political history of Europe since Bismarck’s unification of Germany in 1871 has been the struggle of the European nations to contain the military, political and economic might of Germany. Germany has fought three wars in two centuries, the Franco-Prussian in 1870, and the First and Second World Wars to prevent what its leaders perceived as the dangers inherent in its central strategic position between France on the West and Russia on the East. The desperate desire of the continent's leaders to avoid a repeat of the disasters of the first half of the 20th has dictated the purpose and structure of every major European international system since 1945.

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