World History Development of Civilization Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2595 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World

Twentieth Century History

Need opening and over all summary of this Era of conflict:

In order to understand how the world of 2005 came about, it is necessary to consider the effects of World War I and II, the Cold War, and the changes modern technological warfare has had on the political structure, the impact of nationalism, and the world of new options and opportunities for individual nations.

During the post World War I era of the 1920's and the depression of the 1930's, the west had divided into three camps: the capitalist democracies, the fascists and the authoritarian nations of central and Eastern Europe, and the communist Soviet Union. By 1941, all three camps-along with much of the rest of the world-had again been pulled into a violent vortex of unprecedented destruction.

Fifty million people were killed during World War II, more of them civilian than soldiers. These losses represented an upset to the balances of power that had been in place for about two hundred years. Furthermore, at the end of the war, millions of Europeans had no where to go, no homes to live in, and the nations needed rebuilding from the ground up. This was especially bad for people whose homelands were overrun by the Soviets and being forced into the Communist dictatorship of Stalin.

World War II witnessed the introduction of devastating new weaponry-jet planes, rockets, and the infamous atomic bomb. Allied fire bombings of German and Japanese cities caused hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, and soldiers by often deliberately targeting women and children made the experience of war all the more vicious. At the end of the war, Nazi death camps were reveled as the settings of unimaginable brutality and inhumanity.

Western and non-Western societies faced the overwhelming task to recover from the devastation of the war and to regain a sense of order. The road ahead looked hard and rumblings of national revolutions had already appeared. All these developments were unfolding under the shadow of a sobering new realization: that modern warfare truly had the potential to engulf and obliterate the entire world. For this paper we will discuss the influences of the major events, and their outcomes had on the development of current western civilization.

Part II: Major Events of the mid Twentieth Century

It has often been noted that WWII started at the Paris negation table that closed out WWI. Conditions in Europe after the Paris peace settlement, coupled with aggressive, totalitarian nationalism were major factors contributing to the outbreak of World War II. Real and perceived injustices, the collapse of the concept of collective security, as well as indecisive national policies represent additional factors. The Nazi Party played on damaged national pride and terrible socioeconomic problems to gain control of Germany and led the world into its second war in less than fifty years.

The Great Depression was probably a driving force in decisions to go to war, particularly in Germany. If nothing else, drumming up a war took people's mind off the financial situation and by the mid-1930s, the postwar hope for peace sponsored by the newly formed League of Nations had collapsed, as Japan invaded Manchuria (1931) and Italy attacked Ethiopia (1935), and Nazi Germany was beginning its program of military expansion.

The two major Fascist leaders went on to support the rebels during the Spanish Civil War of the late 1930s. Germany and Italy used the Spanish Civil War as a training ground for their soldiers and testing ground for the latest in war machines.

In1939, the German-Russian pact sealed Poland's fate and began a war that lasted six years, spanned three continents, all the oceans, and involved most of the nations of the world. From the invasion of Poland in September, 1939, to the collapse of France in the summer of 1940, the Germans experienced complete military success.

By May, 1945, the war was over in Europe, and two nuclear attacks brought Japanese surrender in August of that year. The second "Great" war of this century was over, and with it European domination of the planet came to an end. In the power vacuum thus created, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics moved from a reluctant wartime partnership to being deadly adversaries. It is this postwar juxtaposition of global "superpowers" that emerged as the dominant factor of the Western state system for nearly 50 years.

While what is known as the "Cold War" effectively dominated global events until the late 1980s, there were many forces at work that had a much more direct influence on the situation in the world today. Between WWI and WWII, most of the old monarchies of Europe, both eastern and western, were gone. They were replaced either by the rule of the communists of the Soviet Union or some form of elective democracy.

After WWII, most of the European states withdrew from their colonial territories. The process was rarely a smooth one, and residual bitterness still remains. When Great Britain pulled out of the Indian subcontinent, several rival states formed along religious lines. The French resistance to decolonization led to a vicious war in North Africa and led to two armed conflicts in Viet Nam, one in which the French were the primary antagonist and one in which the United States carried the greatest burden. The war in Viet Nam was publicized as a struggle against communism, but in many respects it was a continuation of the French refusal to pull out of Indochina.

At the same time French were fighting the war in Algeria and in Indochina, there was a conflict going on that still holds center stage in world politics and that is the conflict over Palestine and the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel. From the very first, when the U.N. resolution was passed in 1947, there has been almost constant fighting over the land and its division. There has been no willingness on the part of the Arab nations to accept the separate land of Israel and its existence is at the basis of much of the constant turmoil in that part of the world today. Not only is there overt fighting, but much of the terrorism in today's world is based out of the Arab countries and is founded on Islam's determination to rid the Holy Lands, Palestine and Saudi Arabia especially, of "infidels." Of course, the U.S. And other nations are determined that Islam won't win because of the oil riches of that part of the world.

France and West Germany resolved long-standing differences and launched the institutions that eventually became the Common Market (later called the European Economic Community or simply the European Community) and the European Union. Nearly all western European countries belong to these organizations today, and many reorganized post-communist regimes in Eastern Europe are seeking and obtaining membership. These organizations are important on the world scene today because of their influence on world trade.

There are those Americans who think to claim credit to the U.S. For the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but the truth is closer to the fact that it collapsed from its own weight in poor governance and blind focus on some pie-in-the-sky world dominance idea instead of taking care of their nation. The collapse is an important feature of today's world because of the shifts caused in trade and power.

By the end of WWII, most of Germany and Japan's physical and industrial strength and infrastructure was destroyed. This is another factor where the war of 50 years ago impacts the world of today. The allies, led by the United States provided money and technology to rebuild these two former enemies. In consequence, Germany and Japan had the latest in such industries as steel production where as, the allies, particularly the Americans were producing steel in plants that were fifty to seventy-five years old. This has had an economic impact on the U.S.

Part III (at least 2-3 pages)

In the pre-WWI world of Europe, Russia and the Far, and Middle East, most political structures were formed around old monarchies. Some, as in Germany had systems along the lines of the British monarchy where there were also elective bodies that made law and policy and some where pretty much old-fashion, the King was absolute ruler monarchies. As stated earlier, by the end of WWII these forms of government mostly no longer existed.

In Eastern Europe and all of the territory claimed by the Soviet Union, communism was forced on populations. Communism was originally conceived as a form of government that would remove the inequalities between people. Its original idea was to provide for every citizen regardless of ability. There was not to be social stratification. The land would be owned by all, there would especially be an end to privileged classes that lived off the work of others. Of course, history has shown that this face of Communism never appeared. Communism, as we know it, was more repressive and authoritarian… [END OF PREVIEW]

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