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The Second World War is arguably the biggest occurrence in the history of human kind. According to John Keegan, there is no other event in history that is even remotely close to being as big as the Second World War. John Keegan further writes about the fact that, the war caused the death of over 50 million people, leave alone the large number of people who were severely wounded during this war.
Cold war refers to the fierce confrontation between nations that practice a democratic governance system and those nations that embrace the communism. The communist nations are led by the Soviet Union while the democrats have the United States as their front runner. The cold war is slightly different from the conventional wars like those of the first and Second World War. More often than not, the clash and show casing military strength is not embraced. Rather the nations fight it out in many other ways, for instance the most notable is in relation to economic aspects and diplomatic issues. Clash of military though an option at the table is always very minimal.
In both these conflicts (second world war and cold war), the soviet union and the united states have emerged as the major players, that not only held significant influence at the time, but they are also the faces of communism and democracy respectively that continue to shape world politics even today. It is interesting to note the fact that, in all these wars the Soviet Union and the United States did not initiate them, yet at some point they eventually took the stage as the main players.
The super powers after the Second World War
A super power is that nation that exerts the most dominance in the world arena on issues that not only affect it but the other nations as well. In the late 1940s, the United States and the Soviet Union were perceived as the super powers. There are a number of factors both economic and social that propelled the two nations to the status of a super power. For a nation to become a super power, it should not only have the most able military, but should also be able to manifest extreme economic ability and assert significance influence in the whole world.
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Prior to the Second World War the United States and the soviet were the two largest economies in the world. The Soviet Union was immensely endowed with resources, top among them, energy. These made the Soviet Union independent with very little reliance on imports. The Soviet Union was extremely influential not just in Europe but in the global domain as well. The United States on the other hand, embraced a liberalized market. The farming industry and other manufacturing industries were at their pick, not to mention the immense resources that ensured the United States asserted significant influence in the globe. The economic prospects of both the United States and the Soviet Union were huge and thus accelerated their economic influence, which would later set the stage for them to ascend to helm of super power status.
Politically, both the United States and the United States are no doubt influential even in the present day. Both these nations are strong believers of their governance ideologies (communism for Soviet Union and capitalism for the United States). Both these country are permanent members at the United Nations Security Council with veto powers. All these factors and the fact that they both have allies from different parts of the world make them extremely powerful and essential. This is what contributed to their super power status after the Second World War.
In the social aspects, both the United States and the Soviet Union employed different approaches that have obviously worked well for them and enabled them to achieve the super power status. In the Soviet Union, free speech is curtailed while the United States advocates for a free world. The respective positions taken by these nations played a big role in enhancing their influence that later among other things propelled them to the super power status.
The main players in the cold war
The cold war emerged solely due to the fact that, the different nations had their own ideologies and could not accommodate the ideologies of other nations. After the first and the second world wars the countries in Europe were devastated in all aspects as regards development. This left power sharing to the United States and the Soviet Union. However these two nations had significant differences in all their ideologies.
Both the Soviet Union and the United States were not active in power politics initially, but later they emerged as the main players of the cold war. This is because; Europe had been weakened and was focused on rebuilding. However nations like the Soviet Union and the United States were stable, because the war did not affect them much. In fact they benefited as the European countries depended on them for materials to build their nations. With Europe out of the picture, the so called bystanders, the Soviet Union and the United States seized the opportunity. Seizing the opportunity did not automatically make them the main players, rather the differences in their ideologies in all fields and the desire to outdo each other.
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The Second World War set the platform for the United States and the Soviet Union to emerge as the super powers. However so many things have changed in these modern times, that nobody can tell for sure if there is a super power. Countries like china are slowly but steadily eclipsing the United States influence in the world. Economically, there is no doubt china will overtake the United States. Whatever unfolds nobody can tell for sure. However one thing is certain, in this era, there is no super power. This is because nations are so dependent on one another and it is difficult to conclusively state the dominant nation.