Liberalism and The consequences of World War II
Ayomide A Adaranijo
History 3100; Diplomatic History
Dr. Oreste Foppiani
Although the term liberalism, in the political sense, became very popular in the early 1970’s, actions that would qualify as liberalism had begun to take place since, at the latest, after the Second World War, and probably before that time. The aftermath of the Second World War was the beginning of wide spread international cooperation, and the period immediately after the war signified the beginning of international organizations and the beginning of political and economic cooperation amongst the most powerful countries at the time. Because of the effects of the war, most countries had no other choice but to cooperate with each other in order to recover from the economic downturn after World War II. This period after the war marked the beginning of a series of actions that would eventually lead to the globalized and interdependent political economy that we have today. At the end of the Second World War, most of the former super powers (Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany) were in ruins. The only two true winners of the war were the United States and the Soviet Union. However, the United States was the only country to come out of World War 2 with a stable and efficient economy as well as an intact army and the capacity to produce nuclear weapons1 (this was very crucial at that time). With most of the world’s economy in jeopardy, the leaders of these powerful countries made a decision to come together to revive themselves. They decided to cooperate, in order to attain quicker and more efficient recovery rather than try to get to their former places of power individually. Additionally, none of these countries really had the resources to revive itself economically and politically. This cooperation was also to ensure that a war like this, that left countries destitute and extremely dependent on other countries, would never happen again. One of the most important results of this cooperation is the Bretton Woods conference that took place in New Hampshire in 1994. The main purpose of this conference was to “facilitate the resumption of international trade after the war”2. The conference resulted in a new trade system, the Bretton Woods system. This system marked the beginning of widespread international cooperation and was a significant move towards the liberal, globalized economy that we have today. The fact that these countries decided to cooperate in order to revive themselves economically shows the increasing importance of international relations at that time. Individual economies realized that in order to prosper in the long run, there were going to have to consider the effects of their actions on other countries and not just on their own economy. International relations became a lot more important than it was before the Second World War. The Bretton Woods conference led to the creation of two very important international organizations, which still hold as much, or even more, importance in the international economy as they did when they were first created. The two organizations are The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The IBRD and four other organizations make up the World Bank of today. Participation in these two organizations required cooperation with the rest of the group and sometimes consideration of the international system before individual economies. The IMF, one of the organizations formed at the Bretton Woods conference, consisted of a pool of money, which was provided by member state. This pool of money was to be used to to save countries when they were in financial trouble. The second organization, IBRD, was created specifically to help war-torn Europe in its recovery efforts. This Bank gave large loans to European countries in order to help them recuperate from the effects of the war. This...
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