The tidier Europe that emerged, blinking, into the second half of the twentieth century had fewer loose ends. Thanks to war, occupation, boundary adjustments, expulsions, and genocide, almost everybody now lived in their own country, among their own people. . . . The stability of postwar Europe rested upon the accomplishments of Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Between them, and assisted by wartime collaborators, the dictators blasted flat the demographic heath upon which the foundations of a new and less complicated continent were then laid.Obviously that's not the only theory out there to explain Europe's postwar success, and since nationalism—what counts as one's "own people," as Judt puts it—tends to be as much an artificial construct as anything else, it's not as if "war, occupation, boundary adjustments, expulsions, and genocide" are necessary for peace and prosperity. Still, gruesome to think about, not least with an eye towards modern-day Iraq. On another note, this part—Menand's words, not Judt's—seems pretty unconvincing:
Western Europe became a place of social planning, nationalized economies, and strong states not because democratic socialism was in the Continental genes but because there were no reserves of private capital and few viable non-governmental institutions around to put the world back together again. The "European model," Judt says, was mostly an accident. There was no great political vision; necessity and pragmatism ruled the day. As Armstrong wrote, you cannot eat ideology.That doesn't seem right. Even long prior to the war Europe had a much more expansive welfare state than the United States—see Table 2.2 of this paper; the difference in social spending across the two continents wasn't much greater in 1960 than it was in 1937.