The communist movement wanted to overthrow the world order and the guardian countries wanted to keep it.
The guardian countries made more drastic reforms to safeguard the existing order.
They formed a group of liberal democratic and capitalist nation-states that were upheld by American power.
Britain and France, as well as the defeated fascist ones, gave up their claims to worldwide power and empire and were content to be junior partners in this wide democratic grouping.
Political differences, economic competition, and the linking of many countries in the European Community did not change the basic pattern of cooperation under the leadership of a superpower.
The democracies dominated the international economy, pursued the modern Western goals of health, education, leisure, and abundance, and built up massive military power.
They were powerful guardians of the existing world order.
The communist challenge to the world order grew more formidable as communism spread from the victorious Soviet Union into eastern Europe and the Far East.
European communist dictatorships dominated their societies in spite of occasional revolts, and the communist planned economies grew faster than those of many capitalist countries.
The Soviet Union was able to build up armed forces because of its size and state-controlled economy.
Communism became a second group of countries under the leadership of a superpower.
Victorious but weakened countries gave up their empires and spheres of influence after the war, and intercontinental empires vanished more quickly than they had arisen a century earlier.
The people who were subject to imperial rule or indirect control were not sure what they wanted next or how to get it.
The ex-colonial peoples fought over these and other ends and means, or pursued different combinations of them.
The worldwide ferment interacted with the rivalry of the democratic- capitalist and communist groups.
They built up weapons against each other that they never intended to use.
They competed for control and influence over the ex-colonial world, and they encouraged or were drawn into bloody postcolonial conflicts, such as those in Korea and Vietnam, which never changed the balance of power.
They respected each other's vital interests, built up enough mutual trust to avoid mutual annihilation, and sometimes practiced partnership as well as rivalry.
The information revolution made the dictatorships and state-run economies too rigid to adapt.
The burden of the arms race became harder to bear as production stagnated and living standards dropped.
South Korea, Taiwan, and even China loosened economic controls, which made communism lose appeal in the ex-colonial world.
The system was restructured by the leaders who took over.
Not content with relaxing economic controls, they allowed freedom of information and discussion.
The result was a decline in communist power.
The eastern European countries broke away, and then the Soviet Union did the same.
The communist challenge was defeated by the democratic- capitalist countries.
The world order was in the hands of the heartland countries at the moment.
The human toll in the Second World War was higher than any previous conflict.
17 million people were killed when they were mobilized for military service.
6 million Jews were victims of the Nazi Holocaust, and there were more than 40 million civilian deaths.
The war's political consequences were important.
The United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union liberated France, Germany, and Africa, while Japan was stripped of its sovereignty and placed under American military rule.
Britain and France, as well as Germany, Italy, and Japan, all of them countries that a generation before had dominated global affairs, have now fallen to the rank of secondary powers.
The United States emerged as the strongest military and economic power in the world because it was untouched by battle.
As it recovered from the war, determined leaders built it into a military superpower, and communism continued to have worldwide appeal.
The time was ripe for a long conflict between the supporters of the world order and the communists.
During the war, he joined with the British prime minister and the Russian dictator.
Despite grave differences, the "Big Three" succeeded in defeating their enemies.
When the war was over, Roosevelt hoped that the major powers could continue to work together for peace.
He thought American-Soviet understanding was the key to this accomplishment.
Roosevelt posed a new international organization, the United Nations, in order to develop understanding and cooperation.
After Roosevelt's death, the organization came into being after the Big Three approved its general outlines.
Roosevelt sought to avoid what he considered to be the visionary and rigid aims of his predecessor, Wilson.
The United Nations was not based on the failed principle of collective security.
It was not viewed as a world government.
Roosevelt thought that the organization might be a step in the right direction, but its immediate function was to serve as an instrument that would enable the two superpowers to maintain world order.
After the president's death, a chill descended on the East-West and hopes for cooperation evaporated.
The reasons for the decline in relations have been debated by diplomats and scholars.
Europe after the Second World War.
The map shows the main changes that took place in Europe during and after the war, including the Soviet Union's expansion at the expense of its western neighbors, the westward shift of Poland, the division of Germany and Austria among four occupying powers, and the communist takeovers in eastern Europe.
This was the shape of Europe for more than forty years, and most postwar frontiers in eastern Europe have lasted to the present day.
There was a deep fear of communist expansion on the Western side.
The fear was heightened by the presence of Soviet military power in central and eastern Europe.
After Roosevelt's death, the new American leader, Harry Truman, proposed to ignore prior agreements about Allied military occupation zones in Germany.
Truman turned down that proposal, but the Americans and British protested against Stalin's failure to provide free elections in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Albania.
Stalin lowered the "Iron Curtain" between the East and the West.
President Truman sent military and economic aid to Athens after communist-led guerrilla fighters threatened Greece in 1947.
The Marshall Plan, named for his secretary of state, was a program of aid for economic recovery and integration in western Europe.
The final steps in the division of Europe took place in 1949.
The Amer icans, British, and French joined together to create the Federal Republic of Germany.
The North American and western European countries formed a military alliance to defend against the Soviets.
The treaty was supplemented with alliances in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.
Huge arms expenditures by the United States would lead to the creation of the most powerful military strike forces ever assembled.
In 1955, the Soviets formed a military alliance to counter NATO.
The Warsaw Pact was a group of communist states in eastern Europe.
The satellite states nearest to western Europe, the GDR, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, gradually turned their western borders into an Iron Curtain of barbed wire, watchtowers, and minefields so as to prevent an exodus of discontented citizens.
The Berlin Wall was built by the GDR to keep its citizens from moving to the Federal Republic.
Immediately after the war, the American nuclear monopoly was the most important fact.
Russian leaders were worried that some American generals might support a war against the USSR.
Soviet scientists worked feverishly to build a bomb of their own as a counter to the American weapon, aided by secret information supplied by agents in the West.
In 1949, scientists and military leaders in the United States were surprised by this achievement.
Even without the help of spies, the Russians were a match for the Americans in advanced technical undertakings.
The Soviet demonstrations gave a degree of stability to the international situation.
The two blocs were the most powerful forces in destabilizing the world order during the Cold War.
The world had military and political poles in Washington and Moscow, as well as the geographical north and south poles.
The term "the West" used to mean the North Atlantic and western European heartland of Western civilization.
It came to be used to refer to the political and military grouping of NATO countries.
The rival blocs grew less solid as time went on.
The international scene was marked by growing national independence, as well as a wide variety of sociopolitical systems.
The world was not in the hands of the superpowers.
Even though their rivalry caused or worsened brutal local conflicts, the two groupings remained cohesive enough for the balance of terror between them to provide worldwide stability of a sort.
The unity of the socialist camp began to break soon after it appeared.
Even before Stalin's death, Yugoslavia's marshal, who was a communist, took actions that were more independent of Moscow.
After Stalin's death, the new Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, uncovered the massive crimes committed by Stalin and initiated a policy of internal relaxation, "peaceful coexistence" with the West, and more freedom of action for the satellite countries.
Khrushchev's "thaw" wasn't supposed to undermine communist dictatorship or ultimate Soviet control of the satellite countries.
The worldwide victory of communism was expected by his successors.
After the fall of the communist regime, the Hungarians were forced to return the limits of the freedom of the satellite countries.
The Soviet military intervention in 1968 suppressed the "socialism with a human face" movement in Czechoslovakia.
After Khrushchev's death, Leonid Brezhnev declared that his country had the right to intervene in any country of eastern Europe where socialism was threatened.
The primary fear of Soviet military strategists was revealed by this declaration in the West.
They believed that the defection of the satellite states would cause the Soviet Union to lose its "defensive buffer" against the West.
The Polish government placed the country under martial law in the 1980s to protect Solidarity, which was under threat of another Soviet intervention.
The island province of Taiwan was returned to the mainland by the Japanese in 1945.
He established a rival "Republic of China" with its capital at Taipei and a claim to authority over the whole nation.
After a period of dependence on Soviet aid, the Communist Chinese began to regard Mao as the principal ideologist of Marxism, and Beijing as the true capital of proletarian revolution.
By 1962, there was a split between the two communist giants.
Mao accused the Soviets of collaborating with the United States, while Brezhnev accused the Chinese of defecting from the socialist camp.
In 1965, China successfully tested a nuclear weapon in order to deter the Soviet Union as much as the United States did.
The United States reversed its policy towards the People's Republic of China in the 1970s, which made the Soviets more concerned about China's growing power.
John Foster Dulles, the American secretary of state under President Eisenhower, wanted to contain the communist regime through diplomatic and economic strangulation.
The Dulles policy had failed as other nations opened commerce with China.
President Nixon decided to abandon the American policy in favor of the People's Republic.
Nixon went to Beijing in 1972 under the guidance of his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger.
"friendship" replaced hostility after the establishment of diplomatic missions in the two capitals.
The Chinese wanted to counteract the American threat in order to keep their position with respect to the Soviets.
Carter extended formal recognition to China in 1979.
NATO was being transformed due to the swift postwar recovery of western Europe, as the communist bloc was becoming less monolithic.
Initially, it consisted of six countries: France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
Britain, Ireland, and Denmark joined the EEC in order to create a single trading area.
A common set of tariffs was adopted for imports from outside the EEC.
Europe experienced the most rapid economic advancement in its history during the 1960s and 1970s, and the rising standards of living were shared by all classes of the population.
Food and housing were better than before the war, travel became more widespread, and class lines were blurred by increasing social mobility.
Internal politics and ideology were affected by this prosperity.
The Communist parties of western Europe worked out their own "democratic" Marxism, which was a departure from the Soviet political model.
Economic growth slowed as EEC members began to feel the effects of factors such as oil price rises, decreases in birthrates, and increased costs of their welfare states.
European countries inside and outside the Community believed in it as the key to their economic and political future.
The Single European Act of 1986 provided for free movement of capital and labor across the frontiers of the member countries when new members joined.
While the western European nations accepted lesser roles in global affairs, they felt a mounting urge to reestablish their traditional character and independence.
Under the guidance of President Charles de Gaulle, France enjoyed a cultural and economic resurgence.
The strong influence that American politicians, generals, and business representatives had in Europe after the Second World War was the reason why de Gaulle acted against the United States in NATO.
In 1966, he ordered the U.S. military to leave France after establishing a French nuclear strike force.
He was against any growth in power of the Community's central institutions at the expense of national governments while trying to build up France's influence in Europe in partnership with Germany.
The policies of de Gaulle have been carried on by his successors in Paris.
The fear of the Soviet Union was a factor in Europe's mounting spirit of independence.
The Russian policy after Stalin's death gave no indication of a desire for military adventure on the Continent, as the American-Soviet balance of terror cast a protective cloak over Europe.
Britain developed its own nuclear force in the late 1950s after sharing atomic secrets with the United States during the Second World War.
The chancellor of the German Federal Republic sought to turn off the Cold War on the Continent.
He accepted for his prospering country the postwar political boundaries of central and eastern Europe during successful talks in Moscow in 1970.
The agreement gave formal support to East-West detente by guaranteeing "human rights" for their own citizens.
Europe's political leaders saw no alternative to detente with the Soviet Union.
Both blocs showed no sign of dissolving.
The economy and armed forces of the Soviet Union were larger than those of all of its allies as well as those of its rival, China, and most of the eastern European countries remained faithful satellites of Moscow.
The United States was less dominant in the West.
It was dependent on a well-understood bargain with the European and other allies.
The United States would use its military power to defend its allies, even if it cost more.
In all military and diplomatic matters, it would act in its own interests and consult them whenever it wanted.
In times of crisis, the allies would act together under the leadership of the U.S. During the Cold War, there was a world order, but it was not as strong as it could have been.
The end of intercontinental empires came in the 19th century.
Britain, France, and Japan were weakened or defeated in the war.
In most cases, the leaders of the colonial countries were opposed to imperial rule because of the Western ideas of nationalism and progress.
The leaders saw the chance to lead their nations to independence.
The result was brutal wars of colonial liberation when the imperial countries resisted the demand for independence.
The empires were no longer a source of strength and prosperity for their owners but an economic and military burden.
The superpowers had their own imperialist traditions, but they opposed the practice of imperialism by anyone else.
Between the late 1940s and the 1960s, the colonial empires mostly disappeared.
The struggle for decolonization was more than just between the colonial peoples and the im perial countries.
Conflicts between the colonial peoples and the imperial countries over control of territories that the imperial countries gave up are still unresolved today.
The loss of the American colonies taught the British that it was hard to hold together overseas.
The British began giving self-government to countries like Canada and Australia at the height of their power in the 19th century.
These countries have become friends with Britain.
They hoped to benefit from established ties of commerce and culture and keep a measure of political influence around the globe.
The word "British" was eventually dropped from the organization's name.
Pakistan wanted the Commonwealth to be their common property, not that of any one member.
The freeing of India from British rule was the most important step in the end of colonialism.
Before the Second World War, limited self-rule was granted to the 400 million people of the subcontinent.
At the end of the war, Indian nationalists insisted on full independence.
In 1947, the last British viceroy, Lord Louis Mountbatten, agreed to partition the colony into two independent states in order to avoid violence.
India was the name of the Hindu portion of the subcontinent.
India and Pakistan became members of the British Commonwealth on their own.
The violence that Mountbatten had hoped to avoid took place.
Muslims and Hindus retaliated against each other because they were dissatisfied with the terms of the division.
The Hindu prince who ruled the majority Muslim population of Kashmir gave his authority to India.
In 1949, the territory was divided along a cease-fire line that has remained in place ever since, but this has not prevented many disputes and armed conflicts between India and its unwilling Kashmiri citizens, as well as between India and Pakistan.
The two territories of Pakistan, one in the west and the other in the east, were separated by over a thousand miles.
The eastern territory rebelled against the central government in 1971.
The rebels established an independent state in Bangladesh.
India and other outside powers provided aid to this poor, war-torn land.
Out of the conflict with India, ethnic divisions, political corruption, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, the remaining state of Pakistan encountered stubborn difficulties in achieving stability.
After ten years of military rule, a civilian government headed by a woman was voted into power.
Her party suffered defeat at the polls in 1990 due to allegations of incompetence and corruption, as well as a return to political influence by the military.
India faced mounting economic and political problems.
In 1975, the Indian prime minister, Indira Gandhi, suspended constitutional guarantees and tightened her personal control over the country.
The prime minister and her Congress party were defeated in parliamentary elections.
Gandhi and her party were swept back into power in 1980, after the opposition groups fell apart.
The country was shocked by the fighting between government forces and Sikh rebels in Punjab state.
Britain, France, Japan, the Netherlands, and the Soviet Union were all part of the imperial domain in 1939.
Afghanistan, China, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, and Thailand are shakily independent.
After fifteen years, British, French, Japanese, and Dutch rule ended and the Soviet rule collapsed.
The region has twenty-nine independent countries.
She was shot dead as an act of revenge by members of her bodyguard.
In 1984 her son, Rajiv Gandhi, was elected as prime minister.
He had hopes for national reconciliation.
Five years after being voted out of power, Rajiv was assassinated by a coalition of opposition parties.
In 1957 and 1960, the British granted freedom to the Gold Coast and Nigeria.
Most of Africa was ruled by a few countries in the late 60's.
South Africa was ruled by a minority of European settlers.
Most of Africa gained independence in 1964, except in the south, where the opposition of Portugal and South Africa delayed it until the 1970s and 1980s.
Cuba and the Soviet Union supported Marxist regimes in the 1980s.
Forty-nine countries are independent today.
The end of imperialism in some African territories of the British Empire was slowed by the fact that the European population did not consist only of soldiers and administrators.
Some European settlers were unwilling to leave countries that had become their homes or give up their position as privileged elites.
In East Africa, a white minority resisted black participation in the government, leading to a rebellion by blacks.
After the rebellion was defeated, Britain granted independence to Kenya.
The first African experiment in multiracial government was launched by Kenyatta, despite the British detaining him on suspicion of being involved in the Mau Mau movement.
There was a bitter racial fight in southern Africa.
Ian Smith, the leader of the all-white government in South ern Rhodesia, declared independence in 1965, despite the fact that there was a large and privileged European minority.
Some blacks formed bands of armed resistance after Britain imposed economic sanctions against Southern Rhodesia.
The British succeeded in getting all parties to agree on a new constitution and free elections in 1980.
The country's name was changed to Zimbabwe after the black majority chose Robert Mugabe as the new leader.