American Power During World War 2 and the Cold War


Of necessity is a brief backdrop of the situation at hand; World War Two took place between the years 1939-1945, being a worldwide conflict involving a wide array of global military forces from a great many nations. Arguably the most widespread war in modern history, World War 2 pitched two alliances against each other, and nations the world over were required to align themselves either for the ‘allies’ faction or the ‘axis’, whereby the former was made up of the United States of America, the British Empire and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, whereas the latter encompassed Germany, Italy, and Japan. Consequently, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the real victors of this war, setting the stage for the onset of the infamous “Cold War”, which proceeded to span a lengthy period of some 45-odd years, characterized by heightened tension and relative calm; both nations engaged in espionage, weapons development, and calculated military coalitions, all in a bid to outweigh each other’s influence on the global arena.

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For starters, achievement from the United States perspective was its unprecedented rise as an Empire, a situation discernible especially after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the disintegration of the Soviet Union. A distinct definition of the term states that an empire is a relationship of control and influence, by a single state, over several lesser states. As a stage of human development, this involves the annexation of territories, domination of economies, or even direct political rule. The achievement of global dominance facilitated the furthering of the interests of the United States, particularly involving the control of nations beyond its borders and operating decisively in various international spheres.

Critics also argue that the start of the Second World War greatly aided the United States to crawl out of the predominant economic slump that had plagued it since the earlier part of the century. Investments were made in the technological department, with several innovative advances being made in air, sea, and land fighting artillery. Employment opportunities springing up for the masses, mostly in the field of military recruitment and well-paying defense jobs.

Along the same line, the political modernization crisis prevalent in the United States was resolved, courtesy of World War Two. National state power was channeled into national security and military institutions that had the capability of extensive international interventionism, facilitating the concept of control on a larger scale.

However, the two wars in question facilitated adverse consequences in their wake. During the Cold War, various proxy wars were funded by the United States, with the major aim of achieving selfish agendas. These endeavors, referred to as ‘low-intensity conflicts’, can tactically be regarded as state-sponsored terrorism.

Additionally, the United States – all through the War era – tended to back militant factions that were in direct opposition to popular movements, employing assassinations, torture, kidnappings, and the afore-mentioned violent terrorism, resulting in civilian casualties and widespread suffering, cases in point including Guatemala, Angola, and Nicaragua. Such ventures were all directed to undermining Soviet influence on the global sphere. In a related scenario, the United States heavily invested in political Islam, supporting Islamists by their doctrines being in opposition to Russian ideologies. This extended to activities in Afghanistan, whereby by the end of the 1980s, the level of chaos necessitated the presence of Islamists to provide a level of cohesion and stability.

Closer to home, the American people were forced to contend with the rationing of basic commodities as most of the available resources were to be channeled towards the war in progress. This included food, gas, and even clothing. Life was thus quite difficult, not to mention the amount of emotional turmoil that faced the families of the soldiers that we’re knee-deep in the war.

Scores of human lives were lost during the war period, with documented figures being in the range of hundreds of millions of people, mostly innocent civilians.


Carl G., “America in the World: United States History in Global Context”. Longman Press, 1990.

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