Consequencesof the Second World War
TheSecond World War was the last most intensive aggression involvingmultiple countries. It triggered the players to try out new weaponsand military tactics. Most of the stakeholders had increased the sizeof their armies after the First World War. The aftermath of theconflict included social, political, and economic consequences. Theprimary objective after the ordeal was to rebuild the economies andstrengthen the military force. Also, new alliances and rivalriesarose. The end of the conflict led to the recession of former vibranteconomies, including, France, Germany, and Italy. The USSR and theUnited States rose to become the world‘s dominant states. USSRengaged the United States in competition for power at theinternational arena, leading to the cold war. The undergroundactivities gave rise to the nuclear era where the countries engagedin an intensive competition to expand the military power. To preventa destructive skirmish, the United Nations established laws tosupport international diplomacy and avoid another war. WWIIpaved the way for the United States to become a superpower leading toan era of cold war that triggered the intensive manufacture ofnuclear weapons and an ever-growing mistrust.
Riseof the United States as a Superpower after the Second World War
Fora country to dominate over others in different spheres of life, itmust fulfill several requirements. First, it must put together astrong army that can protect its borders and engage in externalaggression without overly straining the internal economy. Inaddition, the nation must have a model economy that does not run on astringent budget. Unlike countries that claim to be self-sufficient,a superpower must have the capacity to exercise its economicauthority in the international market (Cuordileone, 2015). Universaldominance also involves being influential in decision making inmatters of security, economic, and social issues. Another primaryrequirement involves having a concrete national ideology. Theinternal environment must support the policy of the state to avoid aninternal conflict that can lacerate the economy and the politicalsystem. The philosophy to dominate the world must emanate from withina nation.
Variousevents led to America assuming the position of the most influentialstate in the world. First, the country was an economic giant as aresult of its international trade activities. According toCuordileone (2015), the United States was the largest producer in theworld in the early 1940s. The resources were instrumental in theformation of a robust army with contemporary equipment. For example,project Manhattan that involved the making and testing on nuclearweapons was idealized through the injection of massive resources.During the era, no other country had the potential to produce weaponsequivalent to “little boy” or “the fat man” (Bayly, 2015).The atomic bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima revealed that theother countries were yet to engage such lethal means in war.Consequently, the nation took an early lead in military prowess.
Secondly,before the Second World War, The United States did not have anyintention of participation in the preceding aggression (First WorldWar). It only unleashed its power to project its capital assets inEurope. The Neutral Act adopted by Roosevelt’s administrationrestricted the country from sending arms to any of the warringcountries (Cuordileone, 2015). Scholars and political analystsbelieved that that the stability of Europe could only be achievedthrough the intervention of a party that had international influence.In 1945, there was no such country in Europe. According to Bayly(2015), it was an opportunity for the United States to exploit thewindow and emphasize its dominance. Furthermore, Roosevelt’s policyalso inclined towards dissolving Europe in single units that loathedeach other. The move would make the players in the war helpless anddiscriminative. Consequently, no country would be either in aposition to challenge it individually or through formed alliances. Itwas, therefore, easy for Roosevelt to lead the country to the mostinfluential position in the world.
Anothermajor event that catapulted the United States to supremacy was theeconomic and infrastructural laceration suffered by the Soviet Union.During the Second World War, Germany, under the firm leadership ofAdolf Hitler, attacked the Soviet Union. The country used a third ofits resources in protecting its assets and engaging in retaliatoryattacks. Cuordileone (2015) agrees that the geographical position ofthe United States and its late entry resulted in relatively minimaleconomic costs. When the war ended, the Soviet Union tookconsiderably long to rebuild its infrastructure and reorganize itsarmy (Horwitz & McPhillips, 2013). Its condition propelledAmerica to remain dominant by the virtue of its robust defense andfinancial muscle.
Thedeclaration of the United States as the superpower led to variousshort and long-term effects to the country and other players in thewar. According to Horwitz and McPhillips (2013), the nationalideology that the citizens had for their supremacy created anenvironment dominated by the American moral force. Most of thembelieved that the period could be legitimately described as the“American Century.” The feeling turned out to be a long-termsource of national pride that trickled to all the citizens. Eventoday, the citizens exhibit a high level of loyalty and pride fortheir state.
Secondly,the key players in the war reacted differently to the eminenceassumed by Roosevelt’s administration. The Soviet Union incurredheavy losses in the aggression. It responded to the Americandominance by concentrating on building a strong force (Horwitz &McPhillips, 2013). However, it was not easy to surpass the UnitedStates immediately. The failure to bow down to the yoke of dominancefully gave rise to the cold war between the two countries. Thelong-term effect of this rivalry led to massive spending in militaryhardware, whereby, both countries elevated to a level above otherstates. The United Kingdom and France were compelled to follow theUnited States` lead, and they ceased to dismantle Germany’seconomy. Germany lost more than 7.5 million citizens leading to a lownumber of employees in the reconstruction of its industries. Americanpolicy for the Post-war Germany was to reduce the capacity of thecountry to recover (Horwitz & McPhillips, 2013).
Asa superpower, the U.S. did not want an immediate competitor inEurope. However, Germany would become a strong rival byreconstructing its industries. To prevent this, the United States`policy put 1500 manufacturing firms on the crippling list.Nevertheless, the objective of rebuilding Europe became difficultwith the limitation placed upon Germany. Its citizens would not riseto their original standards without a strong financial power. From1946, the state received funding from the United States (Horwitz &McPhillips, 2013). Japan was a major victim of the United States`lethal force. To emphasize its supremacy, USA deployed its army inJapan until 1972. The long-term effect of the supremacy has been astrained economic relationship between the two countries.
TheExpansion of the Soviet Union
TheSoviet Union suffered the greatest burden of the Second World War.The country almost faced a defeat before its Red Army occupiedTallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Warsaw, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, andSofia. More than 25 million citizens succumbed to the attacks, andthe survivors were extremely weary from the events of the war(Epstein, 2016). However, after the confrontation, the country madetremendous strides in the recuperation of its economic growth. Itsresilience in political stability was demonstrated by the capacity ofStalin to consolidate the government institutions. Various factorsemanating from the war triggered the path forged by the Soviet Unionto expand beyond its capacity.
First,in the 1940s the Soviet Union had strong institutions that were notfully exploited during the war. They became instrumental inrebuilding and strengthening both the political and military power.During the conflict, Stalin discovered the intention of his enemiesand how he would exploit the untapped potential in the best interestof the country’s security. According to Epstein (2016), Stalinpresumed that a democracy could not be favorable for the country’sreconstruction. He placed a firm rule to enforce loyalty. He orderedthe execution of officers and incarceration of soldiers who hadassisted Germans to lacerate the local economy and infrastructure.The move, coupled with his determination to raise the country back toits global position, hastened the recovery process.
Secondly,after the war, the Soviet Union did not disband the assets that hadbeen set up purposely to support its troops while fighting theGermans. Holland (2015) provides that, Stalin directed for their fastrebuilding and expansion. Consequently, the borders becamegarrisoned, and the military bases, mostly in hostile conditions,were upgraded for the purpose of manufacturing nuclear weapons. Thestrengthened borders led to the conception of an extensive controlthat resulted in the protracted war to occupy the Baltic region andEastern Poland (Holland, 2015). Besides, the development of theSoviet Union after the war emanated from the attitude of thecitizens. During the aggression, about one in every eight of them waskilled. The pressure on their lives and resources cultivated abehavior independent of the central system.
Thesehad both various effects on the country and its citizens. Thefast-tracked growth enabled the country to transform efficiently fromwar to peace. As the conflict ended with a victory, millions ofSoviet inhabitants were full of joy, and they celebrated across thecountry. The mood suited Stalin’s recovery efforts. The massesharbored a feeling that their country was under prudent leadership.The acceptance was critical for the resultant non-democratic stanceassumed by the leader. The rate of economic growth after therestoration surpassed the initial progression during the yearsdominated by tranquility. Between 1913 and 1945, the Soviet Union’sGDP grew by 2.0% per annum as opposed to the inflated boom of 3.8%that was experienced between 1946 and 1961 (Holland, 2015).
Thelong-term effects of this optimism were an intensified growth of thecountry’s influence in Europe. However, Stalin did not put intoconsideration that attitude of the United States towards thesocialism that he was extending to other regions. The growth almostled to another near-aggression between the two countries. However,instead of going into the battleground, they engaged in political andeconomic sabotages. The consequences are still evident today with theuncertain relationship that exists between the United States andRussia. Its genesis can be traced to the aftermath of the SecondWorld War.
Beginningof the Nuclear Age and the Cold War
Afterthe second war, America and the Soviet Union developed mistrusttowards each other. President Roosevelt had conceived the idea ofmaking nuclear weapons by enlisting the help of the Germanscientists. One of the primary reasons for accepting to channelresources to the Manhattan project was to prevent Stalin fromadopting the technology before the United States. The attack onHiroshima and Nagasaki made Stalin consider his country as vulnerableand relatively powerless (Prowse, 2015). After the war, he pursuedthe primary objective of enlisting the help of German physicists tomanufacture weapons. America, sensing a close competition made a pleato the United Nations to grant it the monopoly of atomic weapons. TheSoviet Union objected fiercely, questioning the goodwill of Americatowards global security.
Thecold war resulted from many events that took place after the WW2.According to Brooks and Wohlforth (2002), Stalin inclined to thesocialist idea that gave the government the mandate to administrateresources and ensure equal distribution. As an influential partner inEurope, the Soviet Union projected a region that would embrace suchpolitical ideologies. Conversely, the United States was acapitalistic state, and it was against the idea of USSR turning thewhole of Europe into a socialist region (Brooks & Wohlforth,2002). The two countries, therefore, engaged in political subversionsin the states that they wanted to control. The Soviet Union intendedto enforce the philosophy in Romania, Bulgaria, and Poland since thegovernment considered them buffer zones.
Thecold war and the era of nuclear weapons had various implications inthe two countries and other players in the international security.First, America and other allied states formed the NATO to join theirpowers in case of an attack by the Soviet Union (Sparrow, 2014).Also, the USSR intensified its efforts to catch up with the UnitedStates leading to an ever intense race of nuclear superiority. Thelong-term effects of the cut-throat competition attracted othercountries including France, Germany, Britain and Iran to manufactureatomic weapons. The United Nations called for the signing of theNon-proliferation Treaty in 1968 for the members to agree on themanufacturing size, testing and use of the weapons (Sparrow, 2014).The common citizens were subjected to the feeling of distrust amongthe top rivals.
Inconclusion, the consequences of the cold war paved the way for theUnited States to become a superpower leading to an era of cold warthat triggered the intensive manufacture of nuclear weapons andmistrust. The United States large economy and political prowessrendered it as the most powerful country than other European partiesthat had taken part in the war. Also, the Soviet Union led by Stalinengaged in an intensive reconstruction that resulted in the country’seconomy progress surpassing the previous records. The aftermath ofthe WW2 paved the way for the cold era and the large-scalemanufacture of nuclear weapons. The United States and the SovietUnion developed a significant level of mistrust due to the militarycompletion and difference in ideologies. While Stalin waspredominantly socialist, Roosevelt inclined to capitalism. Thesituation led to an underground rivalry that lasted for 40 years.
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