Writing about 'America's love affair with war', Simon Jenkins cites an opinion of James Sheehan's to the effect that Europeans 'have tested war to destruction as a way of settling the world's ills and reject it'. Jenkins doesn't endorse this in so many words but it seems to be the drift of his thinking. If you want more of the same at much greater length, you can go to an essay by Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books, in which he says 'we [in the US - NG] have forgotten the meaning of war'. This is in the context of asking what we've learned, and also not learned, from the 20th century; and Judt expands on some aspects of that forgotten meaning - like that war is 'a catastrophe in its own right' and it brings 'other horrors in its wake', and that war 'leads to atrocity'. All of which is true.
Why does the presentation of Europe's 20th-century experience of war in both pieces strike me as just a little one-sided nonetheless? Because it only leaves out an enormous fact right slap bang in the middle of that century. Is what we should have learned from this that 'Europe' and the world, faced with the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, invasion of Poland and one or two other places, should have renounced war rather than 'testing it to destruction'? Or that, knowing its meaning from earlier wars - of which there had been a few, including the one between 1914 and 1918 - it should have left the waging of war to those still intent on it, Hitler for example, and got on with something else? Later in the very same article about war's meaning, Judt remembers that 'Nazism was a threat to our very existence'. But that, unfortunately, is also part of the meaning of war: that sometimes it is necessary to go to war. You either accept this or you deny it. If you accept it, then the question isn't whether war is good for people. (It obviously isn't. But there are other not-good things, and some of them are worse.) If you deny it, then say clearly that Nazi Germany should not have been militarily opposed.
Argue about when wars are necessary and when they aren't, when they are justified and when they aren't, and whether a particular war should be fought or not. But to pontificate about the meaning of war being bad, as if you really hate it and are therefore with the angels - unlike the rest of us - is a feeble ruse. War has been tested to destruction? Yes, I also wish. Unfortunately, if others decide to wage it against you, it does put you in something of a quandary.