Emergence of Modern Europe Essay

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¶ … Europe

The defeat of the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) in World War II had deep and lasting effects on almost every country in the world. A new era in geopolitical struggles, economics, and political ideology came into being with the decades long tensions between the United States and Soviet Union known as the "Cold War." However, for Europe as a whole, there were both positive and negative aspects of post-war rebuilding, depending on geographical location. First and foremost, the geopolitical atmosphere of Europe changed after the war -- new countries, territories and expectations. Second, the U.S. role in Europe increased beginning with the Marshall Plan which led, in many ways, to NATO. Third, Europe was divided into two distinct political and economic camps -- the East and the West. Fourth, several economic changes dominated economic policies that are felt even today. and, finally, the most serious consequence of World War II for Europe, and one which encompassed almost every other change -- the Cold War.

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Politically and culturally, most of the changes to Europe were highlighted by the Cold War. This war, not really a war at all, but an ongoing ideological conflict that had political, economic, and military complications between the Soviet Union and its allies (the Warsaw Pact Countries) and the United States and Europe (NATO). The Soviets saw the conflict as a reaction to American aggression all over the World, the West as a reaction to Stalinism and the export of communism. Most of Europe and certainly the Soviet Union, had millions dead or homeless, millions of acres of agricultural land destroyed, and an infrastructure and transportation system in shambles. The United States, however, with the exception of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, had not suffered invasion and the post-war economy was booming. A combination then of fear and economic determinism would reshape Europe in the Post-War period. This would define the next 40+ years -- a bipolar model of nations either supportive of the U.S. And policies or of the U.S.S.R.

TOPIC: Essay on Emergence of Modern Europe Assignment

Part 2 - the infrastructure in most of Europe was in shambles, but unlike the situation after World War I, the United States found a new determination in President Truman and his staff. Because they wanted to build up a democratic Europe, aid was put into place (the Marshall Plan) to help restore Europe to hegemony and self-sufficiency. However, because Europe was in such turmoil and there was somewhat of a power vacuum that France, England, the United States, and of course, the Soviet Union, wished to fill. Disputes between the Allied nations led to a new international balance of power between the West and the Soviets. Germany was divided into two sections; East and West, and for a time, Berlin was divided into four sectors with the United States, France, and Great Britain constituting West Berlin, the Soviets East Berlin. The immediate consequences to this division were a disaster for the German people. This, of course, was compounded by the damage created by Allied bombing and the devastation that occurred in the cities and countryside as both the Red Army converged from the East, and the British, French and Americans from the South and West. Even with U.S. aid, it took decades for Western Europe to recover, and for Eastern Europe, even longer.

The end of the Cold War came about with Mikhail Gorbachev's Perestroika, the realization that the U.S.S.R. could no longer economically, politically or militarily sustain itself and Eastern Europe, and the reunification of Germany with the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the opening of the "Iron Curtain." This eventually led to the formation of the European Union (EU). The EU was established on November 1, 1993 by the treaty of Maastricht. It developed a single, regionalized, market structure through a system of standardized laws that apply in each member state so that citizens, goods, capital, and services are regional rather than local. With the establishment of a common currency, the Euro, the EU is also concerned with the overall economic and fiscal health of each… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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