Consequences of World War Ii and the Cold War Essay
The end of World War Two brought a tremendous amount of economic, political and social change to the entire world. Millions of people were left homeless, the European economy had collapsed, and much of the European industrial infrastructure had been destroyed. America emerged from the war strong, united, prosperous and the unrivaled and admired leader of the world. France was humbled, Britian exhausted, Germany demolished and divided The United States established a new international order. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund were created. Germany had been defeated.
The Nazi regime was brought down and the leaders were tried for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg. Japan was left in ruins by the extensive bombings was temporarily placed under United States military rule. England, having experienced extensive Blitzkrieg bombing by the Germans was devastated by the war. Their economy became dependent upon aid from the United States. In addition, France and England were compelled to dismantle their colonial empires. This was a tremendous loss for France because of its ties to Algeria and in Vietnam. The Russians had suffered immeasurably during the war.
Western Russia in particular was devastated by the land warfare. However, in the process of defeating the Germans, the Russians had built a large and powerful army, which occupied most of Eastern Europe by the end of the war. The great resources and population of Russia assured that the Soviet Union would be, along with the United ?States, one of two super-powers. World War II led directly to the cold war and ended a century and a half of American isolationism. However, the competition between the United States and the Soviet Union for control over the postwar world began prior to World War Two coming to and end.
The mutual mistrust between the counties began during the First World War when the United States refused to recognize the new Bolshevik government after the Russian Revolution. In addition to these underlying issues, there was bitter sentiment and resentment towards the Western Allies for not opening a second front in 1942 in order to take pressure off of the Soviets. In the article, A Telegram: A Soviet View of U. S Forgin Policy by Nokolai Novkov, he asserted that the United States “would enter the war at the last minute when it could easily affect the outcome of the war, completely ensuring its interests. Stalin also resented the fact that the United States and Great Britain had not shared nuclear weapons research with the Soviet Union during the war Stalin was also angered with the United States because President Truman had offered postwar relief loans to Great Britain but not to the USSR. At the end of the war, millions of people were homeless, the European economy had collapsed, and much of the European industrial infrastructure had been destroyed. The Soviet Union, too, had been heavily affected. In response, in 1947, U. S.
Secretary of State George Marshall devised the “European Recovery Program”, which became known as the Marshall Plan. Under the plan, during 1948-1952 the United States government allocated US$13 billion (US$135 billion in 2011 dollars) for the reconstruction of Western Europe The World thus came to be divided into two power blocs (a) the Capitalist bloc of Great Britain, the U. S. and their allies, and (b) the Communist bloc of the Soviet Union and her satellites. The Cold War had a significant impact on the United States economically, politically, and socially.
It shaped political agendas for the United States presidents’. President Eisenhower reduced government spending in the U. S. in order to stop what he called “creeping socialism” and to save money for more urgent needs such as defense. Cold War tensions between the United States and the USSR eventually exploded in Korea when Soviet-backed North Korea invaded South Korea in 1950. Determined not to let Communism spread in East Asia, Truman quadrupled military spending and ordered General MacArthur to retake the southern half of the peninsula.
Although the United States and the Marshall Plan controlled West Germany’s fate, Stalin dictated policy in occupied East Germany. Determined to build a buffer between Germany and Moscow, the Soviet Red Army established Communist governments in the eastern capitals it occupied at the end of the war. As a result, the USSR created an “iron curtain” that effectively separated East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania from the West.
In 1949, the United States joined Great Britain, France, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Portugal in forming a military alliance called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The NATO charter pledged that an attack on one of the member nations constituted an attack on all of the members. Greece and Turkey signed the treaty in 1952, followed by West Germany in 1955. Kennedy’s New Frontier inspired patriotic fervor and visions of new hope in American youth.
Even Eisenhower’s farewell warning of a growing military-industrial complex within the United States, which would come to dominate American political thinking, proved to be eerily accurate during the Vietnam War era the following decade. At the same time, federal dollars feeding this complex helped produce one of the greatest economic booms in world history. The question as to whether the United States or the USSR was more to blame for starting the Cold War has produced heated debate among twentieth-century historians.
For years, most historians placed blame squarely on Soviet shoulders and helped perpetuate the notion that Americans wanted merely to expand freedom and democracy. More recent historians, however, have accused President Truman of inciting the Cold War with his acerbic language and public characterization of the Soviet Union as the greatest threat to the free world. Although conflict between the two powers was arguably inevitable, the escalation into a full “hot” war and the attendant threat of nuclear annihilation might have been avoidable.
Although Stalin joined with the United States in founding the United Nations, he fought Truman on nearly every other issue. He protested the Marshall Plan as well as the formation of the World Bank and IMF. In defiance, he followed through on his plan to create a buffer between the Soviet Union and Germany by setting up pro-Communist governments in Poland and other Eastern European countries. As a result, the so-called iron curtain soon divided East from West in Europe. Stalin also tried unsuccessfully to drive French, British, and American occupation forces from the German city of Berlin by blocking highway and railway access.