Western Civilization Role in the World Major Conflicts Essay
World has experienced several conflicts, of all the major conflicts none had changed the world more than the world wars and the cold war. Western civilization played a great role as far as these three conflicts in the twentieth century were concerned. These wars were mainly fought in Europe and Asia. The century experienced some of the worst conflicts in the history of mankind some of which changed the face of the world for a long time. The world powers fought each others in a battle of supremacy. Different powers stood for different ideologies where each wanted to override the other as far as world power was concerned.
The period preceding the first world was characterized by major changes that took place in Europe. These changes affected all the aspects of life, economically, scientifically, socially among other areas. An industrial revolution had just been witnessed in Europe and was spreading to the other parts of the world. Many western nations had been involved in the manufacture of sophisticated weapons in an attempt to protect themselves from their enemies. The First World War was by itself a show of might as far arms were concerned. The great nations took this chance to show of their technological development as well their military strength. It was during this war that Germany put to test some of the weapons that had been developed by its able military weapon technicians such as machine guns and deadly gases. On the other hand the British for the first time used tanks in the warfare. Both countries for the first time in the history of the warfare introduced new aircrafts to test their ability to be used in a major war. Politically alliances were being made by different Europeans power to safeguard their interests. One of the major alliances involved the Germans and the Austrians where they signed treaties creating the dual Alliance. This was to sideline Russia one of the western nations that was seen as a threat to advancement of Germany and its expansionist ambitions. This alliance later came to incorporate the Italians who were major asset to the Germans as they fought alongside in group that came to be known as the Triple Alliance. (Stefan, B 2006)
The conflicts of the twentieth century especially the two world wars were mainly as a result of the ambitious plans by the German nation to expand its horizons occupying other nations and dominating them. They were aiming at imposing their rule on them and forcing these nations to adopt their ways. Russia was also interested in some parts of the continent, Austrian Hungary was busy trying to extend it power and in the process they were hiving parts of the Ottoman Empire something that did not go unchallenged. Each nation was busy trying to proof themselves to the rest; they were interested in dominating the continent. This competition was also extended to the other parts of the world especially regions where the European powers were interested in establishment of colonies. They could not agree on who should take which region. They were aiming at extending their power to these regions and at the same time introduce western civilization to areas that they considered backward.
Western civilization factor did not stop at the end of the First World War, this concept continued to grow and shaping the face of the world. After the Great War nation did not stop at this point, they continued to fight for supremacy where other European nations were determined to punish Germany and her allies for the role they played in the great world war. The war had left one of the great civilizations in Europe heavily bruised such that one would have written it off. The nation was determined in its recovery program, they did everything possible to rise up and emerge as one of the most dominant power in Europe. (Stefan, B 2006)
Adolf Hitler aim to make Germany the most powerful nation in Europe could have ignited another war that spread to other parts of the world and had very devastating effects than the Great War. Just like the first world nations were aiming at outdoing each other in terms of military power, economic and technological advancement. Again in the world history western civilization had led to another competition between different powers something which eventually led to a full scale war that touched every part of the world.
The passive nature of the western powers at around this period allowed Germany to break most of the treaties that had been made to prevent another war. Britain was having problems at home such that whatever Hitler was doing as far as preparation for the war was concerned was not such a bother. Hitler continued to arm himself in preparing to expand his horizons making his country a powerful nation in Europe once more. He was determined to get this at all cost.
Even with the end of the Second World War western civilization still strong, it was taking a new shape with the entrance of United States in the arena. A new form of conflict was emerging where two opposing ideologies were out to clash. On one side we had the communism which was threatening to dominate the world and on the other side we had the capitalism which was being propagated as part of the western culture. Soviet Union and other communist powers in the world were up against the capitalistic powers which were led by United States to a kind of welfare that has been described as cold war. This war lasted for a long period as compared to the other wars as it lasted up to the eighties when the communist powers collapsed. Germany just like in the previous wars was actively involved in this quiet warfare but in this time as a divided nation. One side of this nation, the western was inclined towards the capitalism world where the eastern part of Germany was controlled by the communist powers. (Bartlett, C (1977)
The attempt to spread western civilization to the other regions and the competition that existed among the European powers led to the conflicts that had very devastating effects in the face of the world. Some of which changed the course of history and brought a new dispensation that have dominated the power circles in the world. These three conflicts brought both positive and negative effects to United States and the world at large. It is as a result of these wars that America emerged as one of the powerful nations on earth. Its might came to be recognized at the end of the world war when its intervention brought the conflict that had left Europe weary. (Bartlett, C 1977).
One of the common effects of the three conflicts is the loss of lives and destruction of property. The great world war had millions of people from across the board losing their lives. This is not a small number given the world population at that time. Those who lost their lives included soldiers who were in the battlefields and civilians who were either involved in the war. Other people were killed by factors directly related to the war such as starvation and diseases which were as direct result of the war. Looking at the Second World War lives were lost too but in this case in great magnitude than in the First World War due to the level of technological advancement as far as weapons are concerned. The weapons used at this particular war were much destructive compared to those used in the previous war. This meant heavy casualties on both soldiers and civilians. It is estimated that close to fifty million people may have died in this war. This figure includes the casualties suffered after Japan was bombed by the United States using atomic bombs.
Psychologically the effects of the world wars were similar to those of revolution in America. There was a growing sense of distrust towards political class and government officials among the people who witnessed the horror and destruction that accompanied the wars. Many people were not happy that the peacemakers had not expressed their sentiments to the fullest wondering why the war was allowed in the first place. To them it could have been avoided by all means. A feeling of disillusionment was felt across the globe as people came into conclusion that their governments were not interested in serving them rather they were only after glory that comes with winning of a war. The loss of loved ones was disturbing to many families which were affected .The future of the families whose members were killed in the wars was not bright; they just accepted the reality grimly optimistic that their dreams will last. (Stewart, R 2003)
Technology advancement was registered after the war especially on the military hardware. With the end of the First World War countries that participated engaged in military advancement each outdoing the other as far as manufacturing of the weapons was concerned. This also included technological advancement in other areas which did not involve weapons. For example production of automobiles, aircrafts, radios and other products was boosted. The advantage of mass production and use of machine in production stimulated the economies making them grow at a tremendous rate.
After the end of the Second World War two super powers emerged, one would have expected that the two nations would work together to foster world peace but the two nations became hostile to each other. Each one of them started building up huge arsenals and strong ballistic missles.The two super powers were suspicious of each other. They were competing with each other as far as world power was concerned. This situation prevailed for so long such that there was a fear of a third world war erupting. This war had some effects on both countries and the world at large. One of the major effect was the collapse of Soviet Union something that marked the end of an ideology that was being spread by this mighty nation. With the collapse of Soviet Union other communist nations were not very strong to advance its course therefore the system came to an end with the death of the union. (Powaski, R 1998)
Germany as a nation was once again united, ending a hostile period that characterized a former European power. Other Baltic states that were part of the Soviet Union achieved their independence and became autonomous nations. With the collapse of communism and Soviet Union America was left as the only super power in the world. This meant that the competition that ensued between the two nations in the dominance of the world was no more. This gave America chance to concentrate on other issues of importance since the threat of invasion by Soviet Union was no more.
Western civilization can largely be blamed for all the major conflicts that have happened in the world. Forcing their ideals on other coupled with the competition for power among the nations has resulted to the first two major conflicts. The third conflict was mainly suspicion between east and west. The two sides could not trust each other; they were trying to spread ideologies across the world with each trying to out do the other. The two super powers were just advancing the concepts of the western civilization in different ways.