I watched the GOP debate the other night, and it became quite clear that even among the supposedly warmongering Republicans, there is a strong undercurrent of war fatigue. While Ron Paul is the only member of the pack to reject the Iraq War out of hand, there is a feeling that the era of the blank check is over — that the United States simply cannot afford endless and open-ended nation building efforts in the face of serious domestic economic problems.

What has been on my mind lately is World War I. I am of the opinion that had the United States not entered at the last minute and tipped the scales, the stalemate would have continued for a much longer period, and the various belligerents would have been forced to work things out among themselves. Perhaps no country would have “won.” That would have put a stop to that naive “War to End All Wars” crap. Likewise, no Wilsonion delusions of world peace, the unworkable League of Nations, or the even more unworkable Treaty of Versailles.

And guess what? In all probability, it would have meant no Hitler. After all, the man rose to power as a direct result of German discontent over the Treaty of Versailles, and was further enabled by the delusional wave of pacifism (and its corollary, appeasement) that was another byproduct of post-World War I thinking that so characterized the “low dishonest decade” before World War II.

The implications are deeply disturbing, for it means that six million Jews might have lived had the United States simply stayed out of the first war and let the Europeans work things out for themselves. Or not.

Whether this country learned that delusions have consequences, I don’t know, but I am doubtful. One of the most irritating aspects of human nature is the way each generation thinks that what happened before would never happen again. This time, we’re really going to have peace! War is unthinkable! This is not to say that I am for war, but I think we need to be smarter about war, and perhaps less idealistic.

Anyway, these ugly and invasive thoughts were on my mind as I read about the imminent crash of the Euro (which I think is another byproduct of delusional thinking). I worry that when the dust settles, there may be European… what’s the word? Unrest! And that old hostilities, old nationalisms, old national rivalries, may resurface with a vengeance. What if it did happen? Hell these days they don’t even have a high-bred umbrella-carrying chump like Neville Chamberlain to stall and put things off and wave his little “peace in our time” paper. All they have is political correctness, which in the face of war won’t even amount to a slightly irritating joke. Anyway, the news hardly inspires confidence:

Investors have gone on strike. The Americans are getting their money out as fast as they decently can. British banks have stopped lending to all but their safest eurozone counterparts, and even those have been denied access to dollar funding. The UK hardly has anything to boast of; it’s got its own legion of problems, many of them not so dissimilar to those of the eurozone periphery.

But almost anything is going to look preferable to a currency which might soon be assigned to the dustbin of history. All of a sudden, the pound is the European default asset of choice.

What we are witnessing is awesome stuff – the death throes of a currency. And not just any old currency either, but what when it was launched was confidently expected to take its place alongside the dollar as one of the world’s major reserve currencies. That promise today looks to be in ruins.

Contingency planning is in progress throughout Europe. From the UK Treasury on Whitehall to the architectural monstrosity of the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, everyone is desperately trying to figure out precisely how bad the consequences might be.

What they are preparing for is the biggest mass default in history. There’s no orderly way of doing this. European finance and trade is too far integrated to allow for an easy unwinding of contracts. It’s going to be anarchy.

I only hope that if war ever does eventually break out in Europe again (oh, but that is “unimaginable,” right?) that the United States has the good sense to stay the hell out this time. Those ingrates don’t like us, they have made their own bed and I think we ought to let them lie in it. Americans should not have to die again over their mistakes.

This is not a plea for isolationism, but common sense. None of the Europeans are our military enemies, and even though I could see war breaking out in Europe, none of them are likely to attack the United States. We have enough on our plate with radical Islam.