The life of humanity after World War II is marked by the dominance of the two superpowers that presented opposite ideologies. The first was exhibited by USSR and claimed for universal equality without the rich and poor. Another was defended by the USA, and its ideals were the free choice and competition. The first state demonstrated an unusual ability to survive in critical conditions with the inability to create a competitive economy. The second state displayed a booming economy and magnificent success while providing new technologies with regular crises and riots for equal rights against the power of the rich. Postwar decades are characterized by a substantial increase in the territories with communist or pro-communist governments. Communist ideology proclaimed intention to become the ruling one in the whole world. Although the population of USSR lived in hard conditions, there were great investments in the war economy and the development of new kinds of weapon. Consequently, they showed large success in creating atomic bombs and rockets. The USA and its allies realized the occurred danger, and their adequate reaction was to develop using appropriate measures. Despite the great danger, the nuclear weapon made impossible the incitement of a new world war, otherwise, the results would be fatal for all the participants and the rest of the world. Nevertheless, the struggle did not stop but led to the local conflicts in different regions. The history of these conflicts demonstrates that both sides were not fastidious while choosing the methods, and they were impudent intruders in the internal affairs of other countries. Generally, the result of these intrusions was the establishment of marionette governments. Though the rivals used similar tactics, the consequences were different. The countries under the influence of the USA usually became prosperous. However, the countries with communist ideology often were on a brink of starvation.
When people use the word imperialism, they usually mean it from a negative perspective. Many empires are associated with oppression and tyranny. Nevertheless, there are many positive aspects, including the spreading of Christianity and the introduction of the shared alphabet and calendar. Reviewing the events of the period after 1945 and till 1990, one may consider the policy of USA as imperialistic, but having the right to follow such a policy. If the American government took the position of non-interference, the considerable part of the world`s territories would be under the control of the governments unable to produce efficient economy and real democracy.
The Cold War began after World War II or even earlier through the term, which appeared later. The USA and USSR became the two greatest powers in the world and former allies played a determining role in establishing the types of government in the territories previously occupied by Nazis. First, it was planned that the USA and USSR would continue cooperation, especially after the creation of the UN organization. Due to the fact that the Soviet Union declined the proposition to hold free elections in Poland and intensified its control over the countries in Eastern Europe, the possibility for future cooperation was eliminated. Americans were forced to change their attitude toward the USSR. It was the first time when Winston Churchill introduced the phrase “Iron Curtain” as an expression used for the policy aimed at the exclusion of Western ideology influence on Eastern European countries. The confrontation continued in Greece during the conflict between the Greek Communist Party and their government, supported by Great Britain. The countries, which had previously friendly relationship, did not want to open military actions. Thus, the struggle arose between the diplomats. Greece was in very hard economic conditions, and England refused to give them money. The USA was obliged to interfere and provide Greece with finances; otherwise, it would have become one more country controlled by the communist regime of Stalin. It was the first, but not the last example when the USA demonstrated its goodwill by providing other countries with necessary funds and opposing communist expansion.
The US aid was not eliminated only by Greece. The present prosperity of Western Europe arose due to the Marshal`s plan, which was the economic program directed at the recovery of the European economy. Western Europe suffered from difficult conditions after the harsh winter in 1947. It was threatened by the possibility of communist changes due to the inability of democratic governments to provide the population with necessary goods. It is important to note that the Soviet Union and other Eastern Europe countries were not prohibited to use this help, but they refused. The outcome was that after the war, in which most European countries suffered severe economic losses, only Western Europe demonstrated a magnificent economic boost. At the same time, the USSR and Eastern Europe spent years in order to ensure economic recovery. They are still behind in their development. It appeared that USSR exported its ideology, while the USA provided money and resources, setting the rules that guaranteed well-being and prosperity.
The authority of USSR was greatly increased after the successful tests of an atomic bomb in 1949. It was difficult to believe that such an underdeveloped country might produce such a high-tech weapon. However, it should be admitted that the Soviet Union demonstrated great resourcefulness and endurance to hardships during different periods of its history. This success might be explained by low living standards and ideological tyranny.
When the communist`s promotion in the West seemed to have been stopped, the situation in the East was rather different. Although Chinese leader Jiang Jieshi had American arms and assistance, he was overcome by Mao Zedong, the communist leader. It was the second great state that adopted communist ideology. It is common knowledge that Chinese people experienced political abuses and economic failure when the new government came to power. Moreover, about 1.5 million people were killed during the Cultural Revolution (Cultural Revolution). The communist government assigned their leader before the danger of starvation. It is possible to draw parallels between Western Europe and China. The imperialistic USA saved Western Europe from starvation. Introduction of communist ruling in China led to famine. Western Europe reached quick success. China remained an underdeveloped country for a long time.
The situation threatened to be changed when almost all Southeast Asia area would be under the control of communist regimes. America was forced to respond again, and President Truman created the National Security Council in 1948. This document declared defensive strategy targeted at keeping the balance. The effect was that America took the course on militarization. The validity of such a step was soon confirmed. USSR had an intention to strengthen its influence in Asia. Having the support of USSR, the North Korean army crossed the 38-th parallel and attacked South Korea. In a few days, they practically united both countries. This case was presented in the UN, and North Korea was appealed to cease the fire. UN forces under MacArthur commandment came to help South Koreans. China sent its forces to help North Korea, and the war started with renewed vigor. It is important to note that the UN forces were able to gain a complete victory and MacArthur accepted this plan, but Truman`s desire was to restore everything as it was before. The war continued with varied success, and, finally, the border was restored at 38-th parallel as it was before the attack. There is no reason to blame the USA for such a policy. US army operated according to the law and tried to restore order. Nowadays, South Korea is a new economic wonder whereas North Korea is famous for its tyranny with a population living in poverty. Such a situation is due to the imperialistic strategy of the USA, according to some radicals.
The Soviet Union tried to keep its position in Eastern Europe. Observing the quick success of Western Europe and facing economic hardship, the population of Hungary organized armed rebellion and demanded independence from USSR in 1956. The Soviet Union responded with the deployment of troops into its territory. Practically, it lasted until the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1990 that USSR retained control of the Eastern European territories. The Soviet Union did it despite the dissatisfaction of the local population, using the tactic of intimidation and political spying. The Soviet Union adhered to such policy till its collapse. For the purpose of objectivity, it should be mentioned that there was also much inconsistency in the American policy. In this case, McCarthyism should be mentioned, but these trends were successfully overcome. For example, Afro-Americans received equal voting rights and improved living conditions.
Pro-communist views were strong in Southeast Asia, and Americans feared that its following proceeding would create the domino effect. Anti-colonialist protests in Vietnam gradually changed to anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist. American allies rejected participating in suppressing revolutionary movements in Southeast Asia, and French troops left these territories. Only the USA was against Vietnam reunification.
Americans started to be afraid. It may be considered that all nationalist rebellions became to be Pro-communist due to the USA attitude. Peasant revolts in Cuba were also regarded as part of the Cold War. In order to find support against the United States, Fidel Castro adopted Marxism and asked help from the Soviet Union. He found strong support among peasants since the Americans had lion share in the economy of Cube. He built his policy playing on anti-exploitation moods and won. Soviet leader Khrushchev agreed to provide his help. These events finished with Caribbean Crisis that brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war.
Americans increased their presence in Vietnam, and the number of American “advisors” reached the 16000 in 1961. Finally, in 1965, American troops ceased to be “advisors” and the United States went into full-scale war. By 1968, the number of U.S. troops in Vietnam had reached half a million. It was the moment when the USA stopped providing only financial help and started direct military intrusion without the support from the UN organization. The superior American military technology was ineffective in such conditions of the jungle war. The USA was involved in a long-term war, without chances for a quick victory. The opinion about the American troops in Vietnam was spoiled after there were reported cases of atrocity. Such situation aliened Americans toward the war in Vietnam. It became worse in the background of the Civil Rights Movement when there was a risk that anti-segregation protests grow into an anti-capitalist movement. The American invasion of Cambodia in 1970 caused more anti-war protests that issued in shutting down colleges and universities. In order to improve the state of affairs, President Nixon visited China and restored diplomatic relationships with this country. Nixon also visited the USSR and signed a historical treaty about nuclear arms reduction. It is extinguished as the flames of the Cold War. Nixon announced the ceasefire, and the US Army left Vietnam in 1973. South Vietnam was unable to offer adequate resistance to the North, and the war was soon finished with South Vietnam`s defeat.
American imperialism is often rightly criticized. The USA imports a lot of raw materials from different countries, providing them in return with high-tech products. The American nation has a bad experience of the war in Vietnam. Nevertheless, one can confidently assert that many nations would still live in the Bronze Age if they were not assisted by the United States. The USA belongs to the states that spread not only own economic interests but also new technologies and rules of free business. Moreover, the US government has powerful leverage in the form of economic sanctions and embargo, which are able to destroy economies of weaker countries. I addition, they often use this right. It is impossible to find a country in the history of the world that had such an advantage and did not use it (Chueh). During the Cold War, the only alternative was the Soviet Union. Although Communist governments announced democracy, they practiced different forms of autocracy and tyranny. The Western world had a lot of examples when people achieved equal rights by democratic ways through the ballot boxes although it was a hard and long process. American allies were allowed to have their own opinion, as it was before the war in Vietnam. Different attempts to have own opinion in Eastern Europe were oppressed by tanks, such as in Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968. Communist victories in the USSR in 1917 and China in 1949 were accompanied by a great number of deaths and inevitably led to the creation of economies that developed in contradiction with natural laws. Finally, most of the communist regimes were overcome, using no force, but exemplifying the Western style of living. The economy of USSR was weakened by the arms race, especially considering the fact that it depended strongly on oil export. It was impossible to keep the “Iron Curtain” forever. People in USSR and Eastern Europe gradually adapted to the Western values and became corrupted, keeping the faith in the ideals of communism only formally. American imperialism proved to be more preferred by people than Soviet “democracy”. Despite the apparent hardships, the US economy remains one of the leading in the world, as well as the free enterprise, proves its validity for most of mankind.