The Second World War was by far considered to be the most widespread war in the history of mankind. It was fought from 1939 to 1945 and involved most of the world’s nations (Sherman and Salisbury 758). The war resulted into the formation of two opposing military alliances. The aim of this paper is to identify the most important consequences of the Second World War and how the war specifically set up the showdown between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R.
Important consequences of World War II
There are several notable consequences of the Second World War that will be around for a long time. The first consequence of the Second World War was the disintegration of the alliance between the Soviet Union and the western allies (Sherman and Salisbury 760). This set the stage for the cold war and the division of much of the world into spheres of influence (Sherman and Salisbury 767). The cold war later resulted into a nuclear arms race and many other forms of arms race including a space race.
The second major consequence of the Second World War was the creation of a conflict in the Middle East. After the Holocaust the state of Israel was created in the Middle East. As a result of the direct consequences of the war, the British imperialism in the Middle East collapsed creating divided Arab States. These events that followed the Second World War were the major cause of the unending unrest in the Middle East region.
As I direct consequence of the war, the European powers were significantly weakened. France and the UK ended up loosing most of their overseas empires and colonies.
The world war also resulted into the US and the U.S.S.R attaining the superpower status and china embracing communism.
How the World War specifically set up the showdown between the U.S and the U.S.S.R.
Long before the end of the world war, the signs were clear that the alliance between the U.S.S.R and the western powers was bound to collapse. It had bee suggested that the dropping of the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was as much a beginning as the end: While the bombs were dropped to finish off Japan, they also sent warning signals to the U.S.S.R. in regard to the power possessed by the United States.
A confrontation was likely to occur between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R due to the deep seated problems that included the ones that follow (Sherman and Salisbury 768).
It can be remembered that the alliance between the U.S.S.R and the western powers to defeat Germany was not harmonious. The U.S.S.R suffered by far the greatest number of casualties and damage during the Second World War.
As early as 1941, Stalin had requested the western Allies to set up a second command in the West so as to relieve much of the pressure that the Soviet Union was going through. To him the response by the West was very slow causing his country to take in more and more pressure that it almost went to its knees (Sherman and Salisbury 766).
The western powers were advancing democratic principles while the Soviet Union was advocating for communism. The Western powers did not want communism to expand beyond the Soviet Union and especially Stalin’s communism that was characterized by a theoretical commitment to world domination.
The Soviet Union on the other hand did not like the idea of capitalism. It feared the spread of capitalism especially in regard to Europe’s post war weakness and the power of the U.S.A, with its strong economy and the atomic bomb (Sherman and Salisbury 767).
A discussion regarding the shape of post war Europe was undertaken by allies at Yalta in 1944 (Sherman and Salisbury 766). Churchill and Stalin agreed on different areas in regard to influence in the post war Europe. Roosevelt, the American president of that time, opposed any formal arrangement.
Churchill agreed to idea that the Soviet Union should maintain influence in Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania. Prior to the agreement the USA, USSR and Britain had signed the Declaration for the Liberation of Europe (Sherman and Salisbury 767). The declaration promised support for democratically elected governments. The western powers were upset rapid advance of USSR forces in 1945 and the imposition of communist governments in Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
In the following year, Churchill made the famous iron curtain speech that condemned the Soviet Union expansion into central Europe. A response from Stalin stated how German forces had advanced into the Soviet Union through these countries (Hungary, Bulgaria, Rumania, Poland and Czechoslovakia) because their governments were hostile to the Soviet Union.
After these instances, the mistrust between the Soviet Union and the western powers continued. With Stalin insisting that whoever occupies any territory is free to impose the social system he favors (Sherman and Salisbury 769).
The Truman Doctrine and the Marshal aid of 1947 helped the cold war to escalate to new levels.
Sherman, Dennis and Joyce Salisbury. The West In the World. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.