International conflict throughout twentieth-century Europe can be divided into three parts. The first phase began with the Balkan Wars in 1912, extended through to the end of World War I, and lasted until 1921 in Europe. The Paris peace settlement proved to be fragile, and after a brief respite of only 18 years World War II exploded in Europe. As soon as a new generation grew to the age of maturity, the conflict restarted. Although the second phase was the shortest in duration, it cost the most lives and did the most damage by far. The third conflict, the Cold War, segued neatly with the end of World War II, given the lack of an effective peace settlement. Although the Cold War was the longest lasting of the conflicts and potentially the most deadly, it was in fact the least damaging in terms of human lives and material losses.
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