Cold War Diplomacy: American Foreign Policy, 1945-1960

By Norman A. Graebner | Go to book overview

5
THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE

Like Caesar's Gaul, the world is divided into three parts. That this was not obvious in the immediate postwar years was attributable to the dominance of the Soviet- Western conflict in international affairs. World War II had witnessed the rise of two super powers on the ashes of five other great nations that had been badly weakened by the demands of unconditional surrender--England, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan. With the establishment of the Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe, a bipolar world replaced the traditional world of multiplicity and constantly shifting alignments. The United States and the U.S.S.R., like two huge magnets amid crumbling military structures, pulled the key nations of Europe like steel filings toward the poles. Those countries which continued to hover in orbits of their own were unimportant individually and collectively. The vast Afro-Asian world, still tied in large measure to Europe's faltering empires, played no active or recognizable role in international affairs.

The Challenge of Nationalism. As Europe moved toward a new stability, enforced by unprecedented peacetime military establishments, Asia and Africa unleashed another disquieting cold war on the world--a war against their own colonial past. This struggle had no relationship to the conflict in Europe, for it rested on foundations slowly formed since the dawn of the century. This awakening of the vast underdeveloped continents, which would eventually revolutionize world politics and counter all postwar tendencies toward bipolarism, resulted initially from the dichotomy, growing throughout the century, between the wealth, education, and intelligence of foreigntrained native elites and their subordinate political and racial status imposed by a history of colonial and white

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