Some places with serious conflicts and potentials for the outbreak of war in the recent past include:
1. Stanislav Yevgrafovich Petrov is a retired lieutenant colonel of the Soviet Air Defence Forces. On September 26, 1983, he was the duty officer at the command center for the Oko nuclear early-warning system when the system reported that a missile was being launched from the United States. Petrov judged the report to be a false alarm, and his decision is credited with having prevented an erroneous retaliatory nuclear attack on the United States and its NATO allies that could have resulted in large-scale nuclear war. Investigation later confirmed that the satellite warning system had indeed malfunctioned. SOURCE: Wikipedia
2. To date, the United States and Iran have not gone to war, in spite of calls for attack by some within the United States. Rather, the two sides are engaged in on-going negotiations about the nuclear question. SOURCE: Juan Cole
3. The United States and the then-USSR – the Cuban Missile Crisis. A diplomatic solution was reached behind the scenes with an agreement that the USSR would withdraw its missiles from Cuba and the United States would withdraw from Turkey.
4. South Africa.
There are others, both near and far in time, I am sure. The point is this: we are taught much around the world about wars that were fought, but, I suspect, precious little about the wars that were not – except the ones history judges should have been (think Chamberlain and the charge of appeasement).
Might the wars avoided to a good end be just as valuable a lesson?
Might our children not profit from learning how not to fight a war as much as by learning how to fight one?
Might we not all be the better for a little time spent in contemplation on how not to fight?
Some other conflicts that didn’t erupt into war but could have: Cracked.com