Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century

By Ian Clark | Go to book overview

5
STATES OF WAR, 1939-1945

As in the case of the Great War, the Second World War was simultaneously a unifying and fragmenting experience. It directly affected a greater number of human lives than any other single event and is hard to regard as anything other than a fully global experience. At the same time, the war deepened the divisions, and exacerbated some of the economic fragmentation, that had already become entrenched in the 1930s. Its global impact has been summed up in the following graphic terms:

Hitler's war brought the peoples of the world, hitherto still existing in fairly loose and abstract interdependence, into accelerating interaction. It was like a funnel into which was poured the turmoil of the inter-war years and all human diversity too. It was the most powerful common experience yet imposed upon humanity.

To be sure, the impact was not evenly felt. It is estimated that some 60 million people lost their lives in the war, of whom some 25 million were in the Soviet Union, 4 million from Germany, and 2 million from Japan. Britain and the United States lost 400,000 and 300,000 respectively (Weinberg 1994: 894). What these figures reflect is the duration, and the severity, of the fighting on the eastern front specifically where, it has been said, 'more people fought and died. . . than on all the other fronts of the war around the globe put together' ( Weinberg 1994: 264).

How are we to assess the role of the war in stimulating or retarding globalization? To some, the war is not an independent cause but itself a symptom of a more deep-seated disease -- be it the anarchy of the balance of power, the culmination of the era of nationalist imperialism, or the crisis of the capitalist system. However, if the war is not discarded as simply an epiphenomenon reflecting these other forces, then it becomes itself a major causal agent. In these terms, the effects of the war become important evidence for the formative influence of state policies and international relations: global war is the voluntaristic political act par excellence and an autonomous intrusion into other economically or technologically driven processes.

This chapter will depict the main phases and characteristics of the war. It will then assess, systematically, its impact upon fragmentationist and globalizing trends. In particular, it will take into account the effects of war upon the internal

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Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Detailed Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Globalization and Fragmentation 16
  • 2 - The Paradoxes of the Pre-War World, 1900-1914 33
  • 3 - The Impact of War, 1914-1919 52
  • 4 - The Fragmentation of the Inter-War Era, 1919-1939 75
  • 5 - States of War, 1939-1945 99
  • 6 - The Cold War and Globalization, 1945-1969 122
  • 7 - Eras of Negotiation and Confrontation, 1970-1989 148
  • 8 - Beyond the Cold War, 1990-2000 172
  • Conclusion 197
  • Bibliography 203
  • Index 215
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