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10 Countries That May Become Superpowers (PART 1)
To be a superpower, a nation needs to have a strong economy, an overpowering military, immense international political power and, related to this, a strong national ideology. It was this war, and its results, that caused each of these superpowers to experience such a preponderance of power. Before the war, both nations were fit to be described as great powers, but it would be erroneous to say that they were superpowers at that point. To understand how the second World War impacted these nations so greatly, we must examine the causes of the war. The United States gained its strength in world affairs from its status as an economic power. In the years before the war, America was the world's largest producer. From these situations, similar foreign policies resulted from widely divergent origins. Roosevelt's isolationism emerged from the wide and prevalent domestic desire to remain neutral in any international conflicts. It commonly widely believed that Americans entered the first World War simply in order to save industry's capitalist investments in Europe. Whether this is the case or not, Roosevelt was forced to work with an inherently isolationist Congress, only expanding its horizons after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. He signed the Neutrality Act of , making it illegal for the United States to ship arms to the belligerents of any conflict. The act also stated that belligerents could buy only non-armaments from the US, and even these were only to be bought with cash. Stalin wanted to consolidate Communist power and modernise the country's industry. The Soviet Union was committed to collective action for peace, as long as that commitment did not mean that the Soviet Union would take a brunt of a Nazi attack as a result. Examples of this can be seen in the Soviet Unions' attempts to achieve a mutual assistance treaty with Britain and France. These treaties, however, were designed more to create security for the West, as opposed to keeping all three signatories from harm. At the same time, Stalin was attempting to polarise both the Anglo-French, and the Axis powers against each other. The important result of this was the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact, which partitioned Poland, and allowed Hitler to start the war. Another side-effect of his policy of playing both sides was that it caused incredible distrust towards the Soviets from the Western powers after This was due in part to the fact that Stalin made several demands for both influence in the Dardanelles, and for Bulgaria to be recognised as a Soviet dependant. The seeds of superpowerdom lie here however, in the late thirties. Overy has written that "stability in Europe might have been achieved through the existence of powers so strong that they could impose their will on the whole of the international system, as has been the case since Britain and France were in imperial decline, and more concerned about colonial economics than the stability of Europe. Both imperial powers assumed that empire-building would necessarily be an inevitable feature of the world system. German aggression could have been stifled early had the imperial powers had acted in concert. The memories of World War One however, were too powerful, and the general public would not condone a military solution at that point. The aggression of Germany, and to a lesser extent that of Italy, can be explained by this decline of imperial power. They were simply attempting to fill the power vacuum in Europe that Britain and France unwittingly left. After the economic crisis of the 's, Britain and France lost much of their former international standing--as the world markets plummeted; so did their relative power. The two nations were determined to maintain their status as great powers however, without relying on the US or the USSR for support of any kind. They went to war only because further appeasement would have only served to remove from them their little remaining world standing and prestige. The creation of a non-aggression pact between the Soviet Union and Germany can be viewed as an example of imperial decline as well. Stalin explained the fact that he reached a rapprochement with Germany, and not one with Great Britain by stating that "the USSR and Germany had wanted to change the old equilibrium England and France wanted to preserve it. Germany also wanted to make a change in the equilibrium, and this common desire to get rid of the old equilibrium had created the basis for the rapprochement with Germany. Such benefits as wartime economic gains, vastly increased internal markets from conquered territory, and increased access to resources and the means of industrial production would help fuel any nation's drive for superpowerdom. One of two ways war could have been avoided was for the United States or Russia to have taken powerful and vigorous action against Germany in Divine, holds that "superpowerdom gives a nation the framework by which a nation is able to extend globally the reach of its power and influence. The question must then be raised, were the United States and Russia superpowers even then, could coercive, unilateral actions taken by them have had such significant ramifications for the international order? It must be concluded that, while they were not yet superpowers, they certainly were great powers, with the incredible amount of influence that accompanies such status. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union possessed the international framework necessary to be a super power at this time. It is likely that frameworks similar to Nato or the Warsaw Pact could have been developed, but such infrastructures would have necessarily been on a much smaller scale, and without influence as the proposed Anglo-American English speaking world pact was. At this time, neither the United States nor Russia had developed the overwhelming advantages that they possessed at the end of the war. There are several factors that allowed them to become superpowers: The United States, it seems, did not become a superpower by accident. Indeed, Roosevelt had a definite European policy that was designed from the start to secure a leading role for the United States. The US non-policy which ignored Eastern Europe in the late thirties and forties, while strongly supported domestically, was another means to Roosevelt's plans to achieve US world supremacy. Roosevelt sought to reduce Europe's geopolitical role by ensuring the fragmentation of the continent into small, relatively powerless, and ethnically homogenous states. When viewed in light of these goals Roosevelt appears very similar to Stalin who, in Churchill's words, "Wanted a Europe composed of little states, disjointed, separate, and weak. In order to make it nearly impossible for France to reclaim her former world position, Roosevelt objected to De Gaul taking power immediately after the war. Roosevelt defended the Allies "right [to] hold the political situation in trust for the French people. Roosevelt wanted to hold the strings of France's future in his hands, so that he could decide that country's fate. It could be argued, however that they were taking the reigns of power, not from the resistance, but from the hands of the Vichy French. It might be asked why Roosevelt did not plot the fall of the British Empire as well. A cynical answer to this is that Roosevelt understood that the United States was not powerful enough to check the Soviet Union's power in Europe by itself. It made sense that because the United States and Britain are cultural cousins, the most commodious solution would be to continue the tradition of friendliness, set out in the Atlantic Charter earlier. As far as economic or military competition, Roosevelt knew that if he could open the British Empire to free trade it would not be able to effectively compete with the United States. This is because an imperial paradigm allows one to sell goods in a projectionist manner, finding markets within the Empire. This allows a nation to have restrictive tariffs on imports, which precludes foreign competition. A nation, that is primarily concerned with finding markets on the other hand, is in a much better position for global economic expansion, as it is in its interest to pursue free trade. The more generous, and likely the correct interpretation is that Roosevelt originally planned to have a system of three superpowers, including only the US, the UK, and the USSR. This was modified from the original position which was formed before the USSR joined the allies, that held for Great Britain to take a primary role in Europe, and the United States to act as a custodial in Asia. Later, after it was seen that either the Germans or the Russians would dominate Eastern Europe, the plan was forced to change. Roosevelt hoped for the creation of an Anglo-American-Russo world police force. However, Roosevelt, underestimated the power of the Russian ideology. He believed that the Russians would back away from communism for the sake of greater stability and union with the West. Roosevelt saw the Soviet Union as a country like any other, except for her preoccupation with security the safety corridor in Eastern Europe that Stalin insisted on , but he thought that that this could be explained by the cultural and historical background of Russia. It was not thought unreasonable to request a barrier of satellite states to provide a sense of security, given that Russia and the USSR had been invaded at least four times since It was felt that granting the Soviet Union some territory in Eastern and Central Europe would satisfy their political desires for territory. It was only after experiencing post World War II Soviet expansion, that the Soviet quest for territory was seen to be inherently unlimited. He felt that there should be definite spheres of influence, as long as it was clear that the Soviet Union was not to interfere with the governments of the affected nations. The reason that Roosevelt did not object to a large portion of Eastern Europe coming under the totalitarian control of the Soviet Union was that he believed the weakness in the Soviet economy caused by the war would require Stalin to seek Western aid, and open the Russians to Western influence. Many historians feel that Roosevelt was simply naive to believe that the Soviet Union would act in such a way. Arthur Schlesinger saw the geopolitical and ideological differences between the United States and the Soviet Union. He stressed however, the ideological differences as being most important. They were divided by the most significant and fundamental disagreements over human rights, individual liberties, cultural freedom, the role of civil society, the direction of history, and the destiny of man. He thought that the Russian Revolution created two antipodal camps: Anglo-America and Soviet Russia. Stalin felt that the best way to ensure the continuation of communist world revolution was to continually annex the countries bordering the Soviet Union, instead of attempting to foster revolution in the more advanced industrial societies. This is the underlying reason behind the Soviet Union's annexation of much of Eastern Europe, and the subjugation of the rest. The creation of the Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe did not come as a total surprise. The Joint Chiefs of Staff however, predicted that after the German defeat, the Russians would be able to impose whatever territorial settlement they wanted in Central Europe and the Balkans. In it was hoped that if the Soviet Union was attacked, that they could hold off the Germans long enough for the West to help fight them off with reinforcements. In the Soviet Army was marching triumphantly through Berlin. Was this planned by Stalin in the same way that Roosevelt seems to have planned to achieve world supremacy? The answer to this question must be a somewhat ambivalent "no. Stalin was an opportunist, and a skilful one. He demanded that Britain and America recognise territory gained by the Soviet Union in pacts and treaties that it had signed with Germany, for instance. Stalin's main plan seemed to be to conquer all the territory that his armies could reach, and create to socialist states within it. From this it can be seen that one of the primary reasons for the superpower rivalry was Roosevelt's misunderstanding of the Soviet system. Roosevelt and his advisors thought that giving the Soviet Union control of Central and Eastern Europe, would result in the creation of states controlled somewhat similar to the way in which the United States controlled Cuba after the Platt Amendment. The State Department assumed that the USSR would simply control the foreign policy of the satellite nations, leaving the individual countries open to Western trade. This idea was alien to Soviet leaders. To be controlled by the Soviet Union at all was to become a socialist state; freedom to decide the domestic structure, or how to interact with the world markets was denied to such states. Stalin assumed that his form of control over these states would mean the complete Sovietization of their societies, and Roosevelt was blind to the internal logic of the Soviet system which in effect required this. Roosevelt believed that the dissolution of Comintern in , along with the defeat of Trotsky, meant that Stalin was looking to move the Soviet Union westward in its political alignment. While Stalin might have been primarily concerned with "socialism in one country," communist revolution was a "paramount, if deferred policy goal. The post war plan that he had created was dependant upon the creation of an open market economy, and the prevailing nature of the dollar. He was convinced that the Soviet Union would move westward and abandon its totalitarian political system along with its policy of closed and internal markets.
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