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Rise Of Superpowers After Wwii Essay

3679 words - 15 pages

It is often wondered how the superpowers achieved their positionof dominance. It seems that the maturing of the two superpowers,Russia and the United States, can be traced to World War II. To be asuperpower, a nation needs to have a strong economy, an overpoweringmilitary, immense international political power and, related to this,a strong national ideology. It was this war, and its results, thatcaused each of these superpowers to experience such a preponderance ofpower. Before the war, both nations were fit to be described as greatpowers, but it would be erroneous to say that they were superpowers atthat point.To underezd how the second World War impacted these nations sogreatly, we must examine the causes of the war. The United Statesgained its strength in world affairs from its status as an economicpower. In the years before the war, America was the world's largestproducer. In the USSR at the same time, Stalin was implementing his'five year plans' to modernise the Soviet economy. From thesesituations, similar foreign policies resulted from widely divergentorigins.Roosevelt's isolationism emerged from the wide and prevalentdomestic desire to remain neutral in any international conflicts. Itcommonly widely believed that Americans entered the first World Warsimply in order to save industry's capitalist investments in Europe.Whether this is the case or not, Roosevelt was forced to work with aninherently isolationist Congress, only expanding its horizons afterthe bombing of Pearl Harbour. He signed the Neutrality Act of 1935,making it illegal for the United States to ship arms to thebelligerents of any conflict. The act also stated that belligerentscould buy only non-armaments from the US, and even these were only tobe bought with cash.In contrast, Stalin was by necessity interested in Europeanaffairs, but only to the point of concern to the USSR. Russianforeign policy was fundamentally Leninist in its concern to keep theUSSR out of war. Stalin wanted to consolidate Communist power andmodernise the country's industry. The Soviet Union was committed tocollective action for peace, as long as that commitment did not meanthat the Soviet Union would take a brunt of a Nazi attack as a result.Examples of this can be seen in the Soviet Unions' attempts to achievea mutual assiezce treaty with Britain and France. These treaties,however, were designed more to create security for the West, asopposed to keeping all three signatories from harm. At the sametime, Stalin was attempting to polarise both the Anglo-French, and theAxis powers against each other. The important result of this was theNazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, which partitioned Poland, and allowedHitler to start the war. Another side-effect of his policy of playingboth sides was that it caused incredible distrust towards the Sovietsfrom the Western powers after 1940. This was due in part to the factthat Stalin made several demands for both influence in theDardanelles, and for Bulgaria to be...

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