Unit 9 Links
of Mao and Stalin, 1951
The end of the First World War saw the total collapse of the traditional political order in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Russian Revolution toppled 304 years of Romanov rule and triggered fear of global communist tide. 642 years of Hapsburg rule ended as Austria-Hungary fragmented. Kaiser Wilhelm II's abdication in Germany ended 393 years of Hohenzollern rule. The 623-year old Ottoman Empire collapsed. Britain, France, Italy, and Serbia, the victors of World War I, paid a heavy price too, in lives and treasure.
Out of the chaos arose terrible dictators promising order: the Fascist Benito Mussolini of Italy, Communist Joseph Stalin of the Soviet Union, and Nazi Adolf Hitler of Germany. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s, these aggressors along with the expanding Japanese Empire plunged the world into the even more terrible World War II which became the deadliest war in history. Of the 70–85 million killed, about 2/3 were civilians including the 11 million murdered during the Holocaust. The Soviet Union lost 20–40 million people while China lost 15–20 million. That conflict drew to a close only when the United States rained nuclear devastation down on Japan.
From the ashes of the Second World War, two superpowers with competing visions of social order vied for global domination - the democratic, capitalist United States and the communist Soviet Union. For forty years, they challenged each other in an arms race, in a space race, in espionage, and through proxy conflicts in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East, and Afghanistan. Finally, in the late 1980s, the communist stranglehold on Eastern Europe came to a dramatic end as the bankrupt Soviet Union suddenly fell.
- Explain how economic crisis contributed to the growth of various political and economic movements.
- Evaluate global wars in terms of how they challenged political and economic power structures and gave rise to new balances of power.
- Explain how international crisis has impacted international politics.
- Analyze the “new” balance of power and the search for peace and stability in terms of how each has influenced global interactions since the last half of the twentieth century.
- Analyze scientific, technological and medical innovations of postwar decades in terms of their impact on systems of production, global trade and standards of living.