The Meaning of Yalta: Big Three Diplomacy and the New Balance of Power

The Meaning of Yalta: Big Three Diplomacy and the New Balance of Power

The Meaning of Yalta: Big Three Diplomacy and the New Balance of Power

The Meaning of Yalta: Big Three Diplomacy and the New Balance of Power

Excerpt

The balance of power which existed in Europe in the nineteenth century was upset by the upsurge of Germany about 1900, and the global balance was radically altered by the emergence of the United States and, in a lesser way, Japan as Great Powers. A readjustment and a new balance has not yet been created, although two world wars have marked the search for a new equilibrium. World War I only created complications for the future, because the peace that emerged from it did not reflect the genuine economic and potential military power of the Great Powers. The military defeat of Germany in 1918 and the chaos in which Russia found herself in the period from 1917 until the mid-thirties artificially and temporarily diminished the part both states previously had played and were destined to play again in world affairs. This combination of circumstances enabled Britain and France to play more dominant parts in international politics between the two world wars than their internal sources of power normally would have permitted. And this unique combination of circumstances made it possible for the United States to remain a Great Power without assuming the responsibilities which have usually been thrust upon Great Powers.

The resurgence of Germany under Hitler, its subsequent collapse, and the upsurge of Soviet Russia after the midthirties rudely shook both the global balance of power and the complacence of the American people. Two super powers emerged, the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Hesitantly, complainingly, suspiciously, but on the whole, well, we assumed the responsibilities which our position forced upon us. World War II itself contributed to our military education as a Great Power. Yalta was a valuable lesson in our diplomatic coming of age. Our statesmen were . . .

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