WORLD HISTORY AFTER WWII

Introduction

The Second World War ended and the conflict weary society believed that peace was achieved and would remain for a long time. However this wasn’t to be. The Soviet Union became the only country to profess Socialism. The economic policy of socialism became popular amongst countries that were under imperial powers for a long time like China, India, Indo – China. The growing influence of communism was seen as a threat to Capitalist countries like USA, Europe etc.

Containing communism was one major policy on the basis of which military and economic alliances were made. The Capitalist countries sanctioned colonialism with the hope that communism would be stopped but such measures failed in the long term. Europe too after the Second World War saw the emergence of communist governments. The Soviet Union provided full support to the governments of these new nations. The Communist governments became intolerant and other political parties weren’t allowed to exist and dissent within the party too wasn’t allowed. These nations were referred too as satellite states of USSR. Yugoslavia was the only European nation that refused to be dominated by USSR.

The countries of the World became divided into two major blocs one led by Capitalist countries like US, Britain and other by Communist nations like USSR. A third bloc of Non Aligned nations was created due to the efforts of India, Indonesia, Egypt and Yugoslavia called Non Aligned Movement.

The fall of communist regimes in 1980’s ended the Cold War between capitalism and communism and US emerged a the dominant force of the World.
Birth of the United Nations

The United Nations Organization was created to follow the ineffective League of Nations in USA in 1945. The purpose of the U.N.O was to maintain International Peace, Harmony amongst nations and achieve mutual cooperation, friendly relations and solving international problems of economic, social, cultural and humanitarian character.

Six principle organs of the U.N.O were created:

  1. the General Assembly composed of all the members of the UN;
  2. the Security Council composed of five permanent members
  3. the Economic and Social Council
  4. the Trusteeship Council
  5. the International Court of Justice
  6. the Secretariat with a Secretary General appointed by the General Assembly as its head.

The UN also later had other specialized agencies to help in its work. The Security council is the most important arm of UN with 5 permanent members and 10 non permanent members elected by General Assembly for 2 year term.

Since the major decisions of the world can’t be taken without the support of all biggest powers the U.N.S.C permanent members [US, UK, France, China and Russia] had veto powers.

India too was offered a permanent member position but declined it in favor of China.

Germany After the Second World War

Germany was captured by four nations namely USSR, US,UK and France. US, UK, France joined their captured parts and formed the democratic republic of West Germany and USSR created a communist republic of East Germany. The Governments decided to build a Berlin wall to prevent occupants of east Germany going to the West.

The wall was a source of tension during the Cold War. In 1989 the wall was broken and both the Parts of Germany were united into a country following democracy.

Era of cold War 1945 -1990

Soviet Union and the UK, USA had fought together during the WWII against Fascist aggression and this show of strength was what created the victory for the Allied forces. However after the war tensions began to emerge amongst these two sides. Although there was no active aggression but policies practiced were against each other and this situation was called Cold War.

Soviet Union had lost many citizens in the war and in absolute terms it had the most losses. During the First World War it had joined the Allies with imperial desires but had to withdraw after heavy losses and its ambitions were wasted. However in later years under the Communist Party the policies followed created development and it rapidly became a super power. It remained unaffected during the Great Depression and so the Socialist pattern of development emerged as a good alternative.

After WWII its isolation by the West had ended. It found new allies in East European and Asian countries. The Soviet Army was used to crush protests against communism in these countries. In response to the NATO – A military pact signed by US and West European countries a Warsaw Pact was signed between USSR and Communist allies.

In some nations these Cold War situations became hot and localized clashes were seen. The West’s fear of communism and the growing influence of USSR was a reason behind this. US openly announced Grants to countries for fighting communism. It also backed policies of Nations seeking to reimpose colonialism in pretext of containing communism. The War of Vietnam and Korea were good examples of this.

 

Setting up military blocs escalated the tensions.

Non Aligned Movement and Panchsheel

As the World was becoming increasingly polarized into two blocs Soviet and American, few nations decided to pursue a radical policy initiative. The thought of remaining outside the influence of both blocs and pursuing policies which are in self interest and narrow sectional interests of the Developed nations appealed to many. Amongst the leaders who took initiative and followed this policy were Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru , Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt, Marshall Tito of Yugoslavia, Sukarno of Indonesia and Nkrumah of Ghana.

J. Nehru described the five pillars to be used as a guide for Sino-Indian relations called Panchsheel (five restraints), these principles would later serve as the basis of the Non-Aligned Movement. The five principles were:

  •     Mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty
  •     Mutual non-aggression
  •     Mutual non-interference in domestic affairs
  •     Equality and mutual benefit
  •     Peaceful co-existence

Bandung Conference in Indonesia where India played an important role highlighted the need for world peace and unity of Afro Asian nations.

Non alignment looked attractive to Less developed countries or those who had just emerged out of colonial rule or those who were under constant interference of Developed nations in internal politics. The NAM summit was first held in Belgrade, Yugoslavia where 25 countries participated.

The NAM presidency rotates amongst members and the next meeting [17th summit] shall be in Porlamar, Venezuela. The country that is hosting the shall nominate the president for 3 years term.

Criticism:

  1. Role of NAM has reduced after the end of Cold War. It is facing an existential crisis as a few members have left. A founding member Yugoslavia also disintegrated.
  2. Since it doesn’t have a enforcement mechanism it can’t move beyond dialogues.
  3. Its members would play one bloc against the other and remain non committal on crucial issues.