The United States, being less exposed to the influence of the two World Wars and political conflicts in Europe and the Third World countries, occupy a separate position among the leading capitalist powers. The USA plays a key role in the world economic relations, the main feature of which is the beneficial use of territorial and historical advantages the United States compared to the majority of other countries. The American position, aimed at getting profit from a variety of situations, made sustained economic and political growth of the country possible. The United Sate’s roles and policy after the World War I and the World War II were similar though they had different distinctions according to the power, the situation which developed after the war, and the relations with foreign states.
The World War I stimulated the economic development of the United States of America, which were in an unusually favorable position during the post-war years. Military actions did not affect the USA., and therefore the country had not experienced massive destruction of productive forces, as it was in Europe during four years. The United States successfully used the events in Europe for further enrichment. They served as the main supplier of military material, food and raw materials for the warring states. Value of the US exports increased during the war years for more than three times – from $ 2.4 billion in 1914 to $ 7.9 billion in 1919. Consolidated net profit of the US monopolies for 1914 – 1919 years amounted to about $ 34 billion. This rapid development has made the US the world’s industrial and commercial leader, but at the same time it had made it more vulnerable to crises. The World War I accelerated the changes marked in all areas of public life at the turn of the centuries: decline in the authority of the church and the family, rapid urban growth, the rise of industry, the growth of the domestic market, and production of consumer goods. The United States entered into a new phase of industrial evolution as a result of rapid economic development of the war years.
Nevertheless, consequences of the Second World War, which affected in one way or another all countries of the world, were not sparing for the US either. Though the United States were located away from the main events, they still participated both in the military operations, and in the subsequent redistribution of zones of economic and political influence. As a framework for action there was adopted Marshall Plan in order to minimize the negative effects of the United States, associated with the loss of traditional economic partners. It was support plan to the European economies, which aimed also at strengthening of the US positions in Europe and the establishment of world domination. Marshall Plan promoted penetration and consolidation of the American monopolies in the markets of the participating countries, and has led to the militarization’s rise of the economy and the growth of military spending. The situation was the same with the post-war period after the World War I: by early twenties the United States of America has become a highly developed industrial country. At that time the dominant position of the US’ economy in the imperialism era was firmly taken by the big monopolist associations. Economic growth, driven by the needs of war, accelerated the process of concentration of production and capital in the United States.
The US policy after the World War I had its disadvantages, which led to the unpleasant situation of the society. According to government statistics the cost of living in the US in 1914-1920 doubled without offsetting a large part of the increase in nominal wages. As for its absolute size, then the vast majority of industrial and transport workers, if not to mention people working in agriculture, it was completely inadequate to provide normal living conditions. According to the American policy after the World War II the similar problems were represented, though with more progressive ending: reduction in the average work week has identified a tendency to reduce labor costs, but since the Second World War this reduction was modest. Decline in fertility over the last 20 years or so has led to a slowdown of population growth in the country. However, mainly due to the increased involvement of women in the labor process, the labor force was increasing annually by about two millions. Despite of the United States’ purpose to increase national economy status and capture the dominate position among the other countries in the world it has led to the severe position of the nation.
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The transformation of the United States after the World War II in one of the most powerful countries of the capitalist world, and in its economic, military and political center, has led to unprecedented deeds in the history of reliance on military force during the global foreign policy of Washington. The US saw in the Soviet Union the obstacle to establishment of its global hegemony ruling circles, which has led to the beginning of the “Cold War”. The monopoly on nuclear weapons, economic instruments and technological leadership of America were instruments of foreign policy strategy to achieve such goals. Nuclear weapons were used as the basis of all military planning for the future, and have become the primary means of the US military strategy. Due to the fact that nuclear weapons are now considered the principal means to ensure American supremacy in the world, military strategy turns to be the basic element, the core of American foreign policy. The same can be traced by the situation set after the World War II. The rivalry between the US and Great Britain was one of the main components of imperialist contradictions. The immediate object of this competition was the English dominions. The United States of America started rapidly displace the United Kingdom from markets of Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Financial and political control of the United States was installed on a number of republics in Latin America: Peru, Bolivia, Panama, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. After the war, the interests of the United States and England have faced in the struggle for cotton, rubber, oil, other sources of raw materials and fuel. Anglo-American competition was reflected in the strong naval construction in the two countries. In 1916 America took a huge naval shipbuilding program – by 1924 its navy was to be the largest in the world. Thereby, foreign policy of the United States after the World War I and the World War II was aimed at establishing leadership positions and increase in profits among European states. However, role of the US in both struggles was based on its strategic, technical and military superiority.
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The facts, which were similar to the post-war years of the World War I and the World War II connected with the role of USA. Covering under the flag of defending freedom and democracy the overseas ideologists proclaimed the main purpose of the United States: radical political opposition to the social and economic changes, which were brewing in many countries; the fight against the revolutionary and national liberation movements; support regimes that were dependent on the United States; and world’s establishment on the American manner. The American model of economic growth was used as a sample by many developed countries, and later by the newly industrialized countries.
The US policy today remains a source of not only political, but also economic tensions in the world. Strategy of massive pressure at all sphere of life is the most important and most characteristic feature of its modern foreign policy. The United States is the only country in the world whose economy after the First and the Second World Wars became much stronger. In the postwar decades, the US leadership position in the world economy was unquestionable.
The wars saved the country from serious competitors, though economic growth in Western Europe and Japan’s industrial spurt has significantly changed the situation. Nevertheless, two wars contributed to the growth of national wealth of the United States, its transformation into a financial, economic and military-political leader of the capitalist and imperialistic worlds. The country hardly suffered in these great battles, and the American people were filled with the consciousness of their mission, both in domestic and in international affairs. The US government wanted to strengthen the defense of the democracy, which was achieved by the price of huge costs and efforts, and also to create the conditions for the prosperity. As a result, the role of the US grew up among the supporters of democratic development of the world. According to the pace of technological progress and productivity American industry far surpassed all the others. The automotive industry, which produced millions of cars each year, created an enormous market of metal, oil, rubber, glass and other materials, as well as such strong infrastructures as gas stations, auto service companies, provoked unheard-highway construction. The World War I and the World War II led to fundamental changes in the political and economic life of the country. During the wars the United States increased its national wealth by focusing through the sale of weapons, which brought the state about half of the world’s gold. However, in spite of all listed benefits, the youth counterculture challenged American values and started to search new social harmony.