The World after World War II
World War II (1939–1945) was fought between the Allied and the Axis powers. Britain, France and Russia formed the allied camp; the United States joined it later in 1941 after the attack on Pearl Harbour. Germany, Italy and Japan were the Axis powers. Despite the ideological differences amongst Allies, it was Germany's fascist and war-mongering attitude that compelled them to work together. United States and Britain were not comfortable with the Soviet Union given its communist form of government.
At the end of the Second World, USSR and USA emerged as super powers. In their bid to gain ideological supremacy they entertained mutual suspicion and distrust. Both countries tried to spread their ideology either by force or by enticement. In the newly emerged bi-polar world, most of the countries had to either ally with the US or with USSR. Many Afro-Asian countries, India included, decided to remain un-aligned. This group of countries came together and formed the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
The destruction and displacement caused by the Second World War was much greater than during the First World War and so the world leaders realised the need for a world organisation to prevent a war in the future. As a result, United Nations Organisation (UNO) was established in 1945. UNO played its role in resolving the disputes among the member states. But the cold war situation prevented the UN from functioning independently and effectively. The War had ruined European economy and devastated several cities in Western Europe. European states had to come together initially for the purpose of reconstruction of the shattered economy, paving the way for its evolution as a strong collective in course of time.
In this chapter we will be discussing the emergence of the two power blocs, strategies used by them to enlarge their spheres of influence, emergence of NAM, the role of UNO in resolving disputes, the post-war reconstruction in Europe and the establishment of European Union, and finally the end of cold war with the collapse of Soviet Union.