Imperialism on the Eve of the World War II
Apr 1, 2019 at History Essays
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Redivision of the world in favor of the imperialist powers headed by the United States, Britain, and France, which won the World War I, not only failed to eliminate the controversies that caused the war, but rather created conditions for their new aggravation and explosion. Especially strained contradictions were between older and younger imperialist powers that gained the authority due to the unevenness of development. Additionally, there were contradictions between the countries-winners in World War I and the defeated countries, which sought for the revenge. Germany was defeated in World War I, and was not considered in the process of distribution of the war spoils. Consequently, it demanded a new division of the world. However, the old colonial powers, namely Britain and France, an imperialist powers represented by the Soviet Union and the United States did not have an intention to refuse their rights of winners. Thus, the system of imperialism and its inherent contradictions generated World War II.
The existence and rapid growth of the Soviet Union were the new and decisive factors that differed sharply the situation and conditions of preparation of the World War II. Alongside with the contradictions that separated the imperialists, there was something combining them, namely the fundamental contradiction between the two socio-economic systems: capitalism and socialism. It is clear that the leaders of Anglo-American imperialism sought to unite all the forces under the banner of the struggle against the socialist state. However, they hoped to lead the struggle by the forces of their opponents (Kagarlitsky, 2014).
The American and British monopolies, which believed that the revival of Germany’s military power would strengthen the position of capitalism in Europe, contributed to the growth of German imperialism. The U.S. and British imperialists have seen the real strength to fight against Soviet imperialism in the German militarism. In turn, the Soviet Union counted on Germany as the enemy of the West capitalist powers and supplied weapons to it. Therefore, Germany managed to recover so quickly after the defeat in World War I mostly due to the help of international community (Koebner & Schmidt, 2010). The broad support received by the German imperialists in their aggressive intentions gave them an opportunity to upgrade their equipment in a relatively short time, re-arm the industry, and gradually organize a powerful army.
The Nazi aggressors strived for the world domination and impetuously speculated on the anti-Soviet plans of the ruling circles of the United States, Britain, and France. The Nazis used the banner of anti-communism to defraud the loans and technical patents from their competitors, receiving resources and strategic materials. Germany leaders disguised their plans for world domination in the conversations about the “crusade” against communism. However, the German plutocracy, which produced the bloody fascist regime, was not intended to be limited only to the attack on the Soviet Union (Koebner & Schmidt, 2010). Germany regarded USSR as a crucial and decisive stage on the way to assert its domination all over the world.
The more imperialist states approached each other in the course of anti-Sovietism, which inevitably led to a further strengthening of the fascist aggressors, the more the conflict between the states for the world domination increased. In an effort to secure themselves, the German General Staff decided to capture the risk-free territories, then cause the global military conflict, deal with the states that were less powerful than Germany, and only then start the decisive campaign for the world domination.
One of the features of World War II is that it did not immediately take the world scale. It was preceded by a series of military conflicts between 1931 and 1939, which were connected to each other (Kagarlitsky, 2014). Such local wars undertaken by imperialist aggressors in three large continents – Europe, Asia, and Africa – were held for the aggressive purposes in order to enslave the people of the attacked countries and create favorable conditions for further exploitation of the territory. In all such wars, the populace was the object of aggression and defended national independence and the interests of democracy against the Nazism, which was the most reactionary force of imperialism. The imperialists of the Soviet Union, Britain, France, and the United States consistently indulged aggressors, hoping eventually direct the war against their political enemies. They ignored the strengthening of the fascist states, which were becoming increasingly dangerous for the democracies all over the world. Munich Agreement of 1938 and the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 were the culmination of such policy (Kagarlitsky, 2014). The treaties became advantageous for the German imperialism and its way to World War II.
World War II was prepared by international imperialism and waged by the aggressive states in the head of Nazi Germany. It ended with a complete defeat of the fascist forces. There was a new correlation of forces within the world political system. The fascist states – Germany, Italy, and Japan – and their allies were defeated. Their armed forces, economy, politics, and ideology collapsed. Fascist regimes were eliminated, fascist parties were banned, and the leaders were brought to justice and punished.
The fight against the Nazi threat made the Allies forget about the interstate and ideological contradictions that existed among them. The decisions at the Allies’ conferences (Tehran, Yalta, and the Potsdam Conference) laid the foundation for a post-war peace settlement. The Charter of the United Nations, created on April 25, 1945, proclaimed the following principles: a peaceful resolution of international conflicts, the recognition of the sovereignty of the newly formed states, the right of nations for self-determination, and the equality of all countries (Koebner & Schmidt, 2010). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) were created in order to achieve the financial stability and prevent the currency wars. Nazism, racism, and militarism were condemned in the person of specific criminals during the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials. The peoples of the belligerent countries dreamed of lasting peace.
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However, 1945 has radically changed the international situation. The only things the Allied countries had in common were military purposes and the issues of the occupation of the defeated countries. The interstate relations were determined by the current alignment of forces. The United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom played the main role at the conclusion of the war. The Allies occupied the territory of Germany, Japan, Italy, and other countries during the conduct of hostilities (Kagarlitsky, 2014). There was an entirely new, but theoretically predictable geopolitical situation. The idea of collective security offered by the UN Security Council was attractive but unrealistic. In essence, the permanent members of the UN Security Council (The US, USSR, Britain, France, and China) should have worked together serving as the “world policeman.” The approaches to the international relations in all of the countries were different in terms of the state, national, and international ideas (Koebner & Schmidt, 2010). Actually, the three world Pax ideas – Pax Americana, Pax Germanic, and Pax Sovietica – narrowed to American and Soviet ones. The polarization of forces around the two centers of power in the upcoming conflicts was inevitable.
The world has undergone a change in the correlation of forces. It was manifested in the fact that the communist system acquired a number of European and Asian countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, East Germany, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, North Vietnam, North Korea, and then China (Kagarlitsky, 2014). The growing influence of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe and Asia was accompanied by the creation of communist pro-Soviet governments through the direct assistance of Moscow and informal actions of the Communist Information Bureau.
In turn, the U.S. geopolitical situation was unique in comparison with other powers at the end of World War II. The U.S. forces dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, occupied its territory, and captured the entire basin of the Pacific Ocean. The U.S. dollar became the basis for the world monetary system. In addition, Americans took control of global communications using the military bases, the navy, and the air forces (Koebner & Schmidt, 2010).
During World War II, due to the persecution and extermination of the Jewish population, the latter began to develop the idea of a Jewish state in their historical homeland Palestine. Judaism, based on the experience of the twentieth century, ensured that the only ideas that could survive in the global collision are the world ideas coupled with the nationalism and the state apparatus. In 1947, the U.S. government and the Soviet Union supported the establishment of a Jewish national state of Israel. It was one of the last consequences of the post-war territories’ division (Kagarlitsky, 2014).
Thus, World War II was generated by the laws of the imperialist system and emerged within it. The aggravation of the uneven development and the resultant change in the correlation of forces of the imperialist powers determined the particularly rapid growth of the military threat. 1945 was one of the most significant years in the history of humanity in many ways. First, German and Japanese empires were defeated and occupied, resulting in the complete change of the geopolitical map of the world. Second, the European countries found themselves dependent on third countries for the first time in many years due to the formation of two superpowers outside the continental Europe, namely the USA and the USSR. Third, the technologically unusual nuclear weapons were developed, and subsequently it posed a threat to the world destruction.