German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen gestures as she waits to pose for a family photo during a NATO defense ministers meeting at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels June 3, 2014. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir
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After more than a decade focused on combating Islamist militancy, Western military planners are once again contemplating potential war between major powers -- and how to prevent one happening by accident.The threat to U.S. allies in the Pacific from a stronger China has also focused military minds on how to contain the risks there, and ensure any localised conflict does not spill over into global war.Washington might not be prepared to act militarily in Ukraine but an attack on a NATO state such as one of the Baltics or a formal Asian ally like Japan, the Philippines or Australia would commit it irrevocably to war.One hundred years after the start of World War One, books on the period have become increasingly popular in Washington, Whitehall and NATO headquarters in Brussels, current and former officials say, and not purely for their historical interest.Contacts with China have also deteriorated in the last month, particularly since Washington indicted five Chinese officials for cyber espionage, a charge Beijing denies.
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