How did World War II change the world?

My answer, World War II destroyed a great number of people’s homes and lives. The raw destruction of life which stared in the face was almost to the point where it was unbearable. This had a profound impact not just on people’s lives and but on the world as well.


by Krishna Ravinthiren                                                                                         

( November 7, 2016, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) World War II was a global war which lasted from 1939 to 1945. The war formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies (United States, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, United Kingdom, and France) and the Axis (Germany, Italy, and Japan). The Allies and Axis drew virtually all of the countries into war directly involving more than 100 million people. The major participants declared a state of total war, putting all of their economic, industrial, and scientific might behind the war effort, and removing the distinction between civilian and military resources.

Marked by the mass death of civilians taking into account the Holocaust where approximately 11 million people were killed and the strategic bombings of industrial zones and populous areas including the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which resulted in an estimated more than 60 million people dead which was around 3% of the world population during the 1940s.

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history.

The most important change which happened during World War II was when women entered the workforce to replace men as they went to war. This was the start of the movement for equal rights. Women worked in a range of areas from healthcare to military production to farming.  Many women served in the front-line as nurses and in the USSR women joined the Red Army as soldiers. Kalugina Klavdiya Yefremovna was one of the youngest snipers in the Red Army, she started her military service at aged 17.

I drew comparison as to how in the United States only until recently women are allowed in combat roles and as to how still the United States has not provided women with equal pay, which is a key topic of discussion during the 2016 Presidential Race.

Attitudes of countries towards others were determined during World War II notably China’s, North Korea’s and South Korea’s who took a hostile approach towards Japan. The reasoning behind this were the horrific crimes committed notably the Nanking Massacre, where an estimated 40, 000 to 300,000 people were victims of the Sankō Sakusen or Three Alls policy (“kill all, burn all, loot all”) and Japan’s forcible use of Koreans as “comfort women” (comfort women were used as sex slaves by the Japanese Army). In December 2015, Japan and South Korea struck an 8.3 million U.S. Dollar deal along with an apology to put the “comfort women” issue to rest. However, South Koreans were disappointed with their government’s decision.

Furthermore, America’s lend-lease policy of maintaining military presence in countries began following World War II which can be seen today. The policy of America in maintaining military presence overseas is widely debated as some find it as a violation of their country’s sovereignty while others feel secure with an American military presence. For example, take Japan where according to Harvard Political Review Japanese citizens are pushing for the removal of the U.S. military presence. Washington is beginning to question this policy and so far President Obama has begun to withdraw troops from countries and scale down military presence.

I find that in World War II the use of propaganda was perfected to increase nationalism in countries to demonize the enemy. A prime example was President Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 deportation of Japanese American’s to internment camps which showed that people who did not fit the description were less tolerant. Even today in countries’ such as China and North Korea the media is instrumental in ensuring that a nationalist sentiment is very much alive with the general public.

In Palo Alto, California, two electrical engineers William Hewlett and David Packard started a company in their garage making radio, sonar, and radar devices, as well as artillery shell fuses. Packard ran the company while Hewlett served in the Army Signal Corps, unaware that they were founders of what would become Silicon Valley. Today, America especially Silicon Valley is a technology hub and Hewlett Packard is one of the world’s leading billion dollar companies whose products span the globe.

The world went into an uproar when whistle-blower Edward Snowden revealed details on government spy operations. However, decades before Snowden’s revelations there were no uproars when every piece of mail to scan every cable; and to every phone call were monitored and censored if needed. USA TODAY reported that whena letter from a soldier overseas often arrived with a few words, a sentence or an entire paragraph snipped out, and the envelope was resealed with a tape bearing the label “Opened by Censor.”  Constitution interpreters say that it is because of the growth in knowledge is to why Americans are extremely conscious about their civil rights and civil liberties and are willing to fight to defend them.

A question which I asked was why didn’t the USA and the USSR to engage in physical confrontation during the Cold War? Why did President Kennedy order the troops not to engage with the Soviets?

My answer, World War II destroyed a great number of people’s homes and lives. The raw destruction of life which stared in the face was almost to the point where it was unbearable. This had a profound impact not just on people’s lives and but on the world as well. Looking at the Cold War I believe that the U.S. would not have directly challenged the USSR or vice-versa because of the experience both nations had during World War II especially in terms of the number of lives lost. Furthermore, Hiroshima is buried deep into the memory of American history and given that both countries possess nuclear warheads the end result would have been total devastation and given that the countries are super-powers their allies would have been drawn into this war making it World War III.

To conclude President John F. Kennedy said ‘Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.’ Today millions of lives are claimed due to war, following World War II the United Nations was created to prevent war, therefore the members of the United Nations Security Council should come to a consensus on how to end these wars and restart peoples’ lives again.

 


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Fitzgerald, Stephanie. Children of the Holocaust. Minnesota: Compass Point Books. (2011).          Web. 6th June, 2016

U.S. Census Bureau. “World Population Historical Estimates of World Population“. Web.  6th June, 2016

I Remember, “Калугина (Пантелеева) Клавдия Ефремовна”. Web. 6th June, 2016

Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II.                               New York: Basic Books. (1997). Web. 6th June, 2016.

BBC Asia News. “Japan and South Korea agree WW2 ‘comfort women’ deal”. BBC News,                      28th December, 2015. Web. 6th June 2016.

Podugu, Pooja. “The U.S. Military in Japan: An Overview”. Harvard Political Review,                             12th March, 2013. Web. 7th June 2016.

Hampson, Rick. “70 years later: How World War II changed America”. USA TODAY,                             18th July, 2015. Web. 7th June 2016.

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