Europe in Ruins

After the Second World War, there was a new era of tensions that emerged founded on the opposing ideologies. The economy of Europe was completely ruined in 1945. The situation continued on like this for a period of about two decades and things started to change by 1965. The government spending increased and therefore, there was enough money in circulation in the entire economy. Industries flourished and became well established. In fact, as a result of this, many industries were formed; the reason being that there was enough capital in the economy. Productivity was multiplied and the economy saw a magnificent growth where basic needs of life were became cheap to acquire. The entire Europe experienced a complete twist of events after the post war hard economic ties. Life had a lot to offer for the common man as the economy was at its best for them. Reformers agitated for more competition in the economy as far as industries were concerned. The cry of the workers and employees generally was that they needed more incentives which actually were attained. The economy was liberalized.

War has a lot of negative effects and comes along with a lot of costs. The absence of peace is usually a threat to peace, unity and development. With the end of the Second World War, Europe was left with a huge deficit. The costs of taking part in the Second World destabilized Europe politically and economically. With the peace and policy of neutrality that existed after the Second World War, the people of Europe were empowered and had had an opportunity to develop themselves and the country as well economically.

The western Europe for instance, the mixed economy and the social-democratic that was scorned from the left by failing to handle the structural capitalism contradictions and from the right as paving a way to the totalitarianism of the left-wing worked remarkably, unbelievably and amazingly well. These changes spurred growth economically at a pace the entire world had never realized before. There was a production of an after-tax and-transfer income allotment that was evidently egalitarian. It permitted parts of Europe to pass dramatically smoothly through the last stage of structural revolution to an industrial society and economy. A lot of things went right leading to the emergence of a vibrant society with a dynamic economy based on peaceful co-existence, economic cooperation, and the welfare state.

The economic policy of the WWII Western Europe success was occasioned by its inclusion to tap into a virtuous circle. The expansion of trade accelerated growth. This growth further drove expanded levels of real wage and social insurance programs. There was also expanded social insurance nations and social peace of actual wage levels. Social peace put inflation at a low rate while output expanded dramatically. The drastically expanding output made it possible for high investment. This further promoted growth and created preconditions that favored more and more expansions in the international trade.

The above factors were indeed a great and the righting footing for the European world. These factors added up and were very instrumental in promoting growth of productivity, the approximate size of the unexpectedly-fast growth of the post-WWII miracle of Europe. This was merely beefed by the fact that things had began on the right foot.   

Question 2. Explain what you understand by the term “Cold War”. What was its impact on Europe (East and West) in the years between 1949 and 1989?

The Cold War is commonly recognized as a war of power and dominance that was engaged between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a war between communism and capitalism. It began almost immediately after the WWII where the two nations competed severely to prove that they were the superior country. They became rivals and began to out-do each other in matters of military, economy and technology. This was what was referred to as the cold war. It was a war between communism and capitalism. It was however not a direct engagement of one another because both nations had a lot of nuclear weapons.

All the same, it has been said that the Cold War primarily began in Europe when tensions emerged between the powers of the East and Western parts of Europe on what to do with Eastern Europe in 1945, after the WWII.   After the Nationalist regime in China was overpowered by the Chinese Communists in 1949, the largest country in the universe was now under Communist control.  Truman felt the brute of the defeat because the US had troops over in China to help the Nationalists.   He was blamed for the US losing China to the Communists, even though the failure of the Chinese National Government was due to a lack of will and determination on the Chinese Nationalists behalf.   Truman felt the negative effects of having being blamed with helping the spread of Communism in China and he was more adamant ever on stopping the spread of Communism. Nine months later, Communist forces in North Korea attacked South Korea.

The Soviet Union became a communist nation emerging out of the Russian revolution.  The Russian Revolution was characterized with a series of events in Russia. These revolutions had the effect of absolutely changing the Russian Empire society to the Russian state. This led to the change from the Russian dictatorship form of governance to the Soviet Union. The Americans were undergoing a lot of fears. They feared that the communists would carry out a nuclear attack and spread communism to other nations. The newly founded Soviet government wanted to influence Eastern Europe and lead them to communism. The United States became aware of this and this is where the conflict began. The United States wanted to stop the idea of communism.

During the cold war, there was a lot of anxiety that was experienced in the East and West of Europe. The region was suffering from many fears. There was fear among the people of Europe and the things that would come up as a result of the Cold War. The situation was very scary as the people feared an enemy that was not tangible as earlier thought. It proved hard to pin communism down and all efforts towards the process did not succeed. The dreadful things at the time were communism spread, economic instability and nuclear attack. The American society together with the administration applied a lot of strategies to deal with these fears and this posed a threat to all the communist societies and nations, one of them being Europe which was being drawn by Russia to communism. International politics and power shifted to the United States as it overpowered Russia and her affiliates like the Western and the Eastern parts of Europe. It was a struggle for power and political authority that produced mixed development records in these Europe regions the worst hit period being between 1949 and 1960.  

Question 3. Why the decade of the 1960s is considered “a decade of revolution”? What kind of revolution? Where did it originate, and what were some of its consequences?

The progress that was made from the conservative fifties began in the early 1960s and went on with change in many cultures in the world cutting across the world. People at all levels of age advocated for change and they embraced it as it came. There was a lot of dynamism and societal development that was experienced culturally, socially, economically and politically. The revolution was seen all over as there was great radical change in politics. Many nations and especially in Africa attained their independence from European powers that colonized them. It was the decade that saw thirty-two nations in Africa gain their independence from the European Colonial powers. The change generally affected values, education, laws, entertainment and lifestyles.

Violence and rebellion took part in this sweeping change. People from all over the universe had a great impact with this revolution. Even though slavery limited the some groups like the black Americans to live out their cultural traditions and other values, it was possible for them to save it and with time, it was blended with the culture of Europe-America. They have contributed art, clothing styles, agricultural skills, foods, music, literature and language, technological and social improvement across many societies and cultures in the world. This is the decade that saw some concern expressed on racism. After emancipation, the sufferings of the blacks in the United States have not yet come to an end. Racism was indeed a problem for the African Americans as they underwent discrimination due to color, national origin and race. During the 1960s and as the decade came to a close, a collaboration between the public and private sectors endeavored to establish plans to bring exercise fairness in learning institutions, workplaces and in the constitution and in regards to human rights. By the year 1968, there were a lot of political gains as democracy was realized in many parts of the world.

The 1960s is the decade where many changes occurred. For instance, music would change people’s way of thinking, the war that just kept destroying families and people’s life because no one would surrender and the group of people who protested against all this violence. During this time, many nations began taking other shapes of based on the wealth they accumulated and the status of their economy.

A lot of changes were evident and many nations experienced an increased stability economically. The sixties denote the complex nature of the inter-related political and cultural trends in the universe. This decade which is also referred to as a “cultural decade” is more loosely defined than the real decade, starting around 1963 and ending by the early 1970s. This decade became synonymous with new, subversive and radical events and trends of the time which propagated even after the end of the decade. The decade saw a very rigid culture which was not able to contain the demands for greater personal freedom, the breaking free of the society constraints of the period that were evident in the decade through extreme deviation from the societal norm.
A number of governments turned to the left in the start of the 1960s. In America, John Kennedy who was a staunch communist pushed for the centre-left reforms in the society like the civil rights for the black Americans as well as the healthcare for the poor and vulnerable including the elderly. He was in the same time elected to office. Thus, the 1960s was a moment of great development and economic increase across the continents and nations.

Question 4. The collapse of communism in the latter half of 1989 took place within the space of a few short months. But the underlying reasons for this collapse were many years in the making. Consider what those reasons were and evaluate their comparative significance.

The crises that the communist world faced in the 1970s and 1980s had their roots in the inconsistency dictatorship idea of Marx of the proletariat. In both the Soviet Union and China, the government claimed to represent the workers of the humanity, yet these were two of the most authoritarian regimes of their era: engaged in state-sponsored suppression, they functioned as states of policing, and were designed to thwart public expressions against regime actions. In both nations, there had been attempts to transform the official positions of the Communist Party in order to deal with the evils that these nations faced. However, reform was often followed up by retort. In the USSR, the de-Stalinization Khruschev policies were followed by the return of Brezhnev to strong essential leadership; and in the China People's Republic, the brief efforts at reform like the Hundred Flowers association were followed up by the Cultural Revolution. During the 1970s, there were even further attempts to repair the poor systems—with very different consequences for the Soviet Union and China. In China, oppressive measures managed to handle the challenges and therefore the regime retained power. In the USSR and Communist Europe, both internal and external challenges caused many responses that inducted processes of reforms. These reform processes contributed largely to the end of communism in Europe.

Russia was committed to get allies adopt a communism system, something that was greatly opposed by the United States of America. Even though the collapse of communism took place within the space of a few short months, the underlying reasons for this collapse were many years in the making. The issue of communism began movements after the WWII in what was thought to be the Third World War. It was a battle for supremacy by two powerful nations: Russia and the United States. It all started in the better part of the late 1940s.

The United States feared the communism concept that was advocated for by Russia. Russia started to set up affiliate states and was further seen to influence the western and eastern Europe to adopt communism. The United States had a very important position in Europe and Russia seemed to destabilize America from this position. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by Russia in 1949 increased the tension in between the nations. All these years, there had been a lot of tension in both economic and military supremacy between the United States of America and Russia in search for The United States continued its dominance and overpowered Russia in terms of having power and influence and more especially in the East and West of Europe. This was a major blow to communism which was deeply rooted within the circles of Russia. It was no doubt that communism would die out and that democracy would rule because the United States seemed to have a strong control of the region and many other parts of the world.  Thus, communism had its beginning long from the times after the WWII and was one of the initiators of the Cold war between America and Russia.

Question 5. The breakup of Yugoslavia was perhaps the most shocking and surprising episode in the aftermath of communism’s collapse. Consider the events that shocked Europe (and the world) during this period and discuss how the situation was eventually resolved.

The Eastern Europe went through a great moment period of countrywide resurgence therefore facilitating the formation of three other states that included the Czechoslovakia, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. It was still during the same period that the national self-determination principles against the sovereignty were under a great test and therefore seeing real civil wars emerging out in Chechnya and Yugoslavia.

The end of communism can be noted as an occasion that led to the ultimate end of the Cold War in the year 1991. After Communism came to an end, there was a new move of democratization that was not initially in existence. This was a complete test and a big turn from the communism that was largely pushed by Russia. Such developments were indeed a surprising and a shocking consequence of the fall of communism. It was something that had not happened before in the entire universe. Many regimes of authoritarian nature were substituted for elected officials. There was a certainty that spreading of democracy contrary to the previous communism would amount to less conflict among citizens and nations of world.

The democratic revolution that started to emerge through the events in Yugoslavia was a huge shock both to Europe and the entire world because not many people expected such developments. Communism had completely eaten the fabric of Europe before the United States came to rescue and brought an end to communism. Yugoslavia occupied a land strip starting from Central Europe reaching unto the Balkans which is historically known for ethnic conflict. Yugoslavia was initially a conglomeration of six republics in the region as well as two other autonomous provinces that was more or less divided on lines of ethnicity and broke up in the 1990s into a number of independent nations. This was Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia and the two autonomous provinces that existed in Serbia: Vojvodina and Kosovo.

This shocked the entire world and was seen as the way the United States advocacy for ant-communist governments was powerful. This was part of the expanded effort to enhance a quiet revolution to take over communist parties and governments while reintegrating the nations of the eastern part of Europe into an economy that is market oriented. Communism failed greatly all over the Eastern and Central Europe and further brought internal conflict and economic inefficiencies in Yugoslavia.

The situation was eventually resolved through a democratic process. A multi-party system was adopted for the independent states and leaders promised to protect the interests of the individual states. However, the struggle continued all through the 1990s and thus the final break up came up between 2006 and 2008. Most of the issues that were experienced in Yugoslavia were amicably dealt with through anti-communist reforms and the adoption of democratic revolution. The United States’ interest in the region helped a lot in bringing a resolution to the long-troubled Yugoslavia and the affiliate states. Attaining independence in operations and governance was instrumental in handling the shaky situation in Yugoslavia and the affiliate states.

Question 6. The events of 1989-91 revealed unequivocally that communism was indeed “the God that failed.” How do you account for this failure?

In actual sense, communism was “the God that failed”. Communism was a major unifying force after the Second World War. The spread of the communist regime by Russia all through Europe made it a major unifying factor although did the opposite as well. It led to the emergence of a union of states between other communist nations but also a fear within Western parts of Europe. The spread of communism in Europe also affected the United States of America as it caused it to establish many organizations like NATO and the Marshall strategic plan to fight it. Although it actually unified, it also led to separation. It led to the division of Germany and of Berlin as well.

After the Second World War, Russia unified all the nations within her surrounding with communism. It started with the establishment of satellite states that surrounded Russia later finally became largely known as the ‘Iron Curtain’. These nations were mainly set up as a strategy to protect Russia since they believed the associates would attack, just as they did moments after the WWI. The main national interest of Russia after setting up other nations having communist regimes was to largely spread communism. They went about establishing organizations such as Communist Information Bureau (Cominform) and Council for Economic Mutual Assistance (Comecon) to offer military and economic assistance to the soviet satellite states. The Warsaw pact was established in 1955 to offer a combined force of military of soviet satellite states. This was further strengthened by events of 1989-91. As Eastern Europe amalgamated as communists, the Eastern Europe just united mainly with the fear of communism.

The fear of communism spread to Western Europe caused many nations in Western European opt for the joining of forces in order to stop the spread. Communism was basically the direct conflicting philosophy of the democratic regimes of Western Europe, the antagonistic tactics of Russia to stretch communism endangered them. If Communism was to enter the USA, Great Britain and Western Europe, other nations would loose important partners in trade. To put a stop to this, they established many organizations to deter the economic threat brought about by communism. This is what significantly led to the failure and complete downfall to communism. The United States of America established NATO and the Truman Doctrine for Western Europe to offer support of military for any state that was threatened by the takeovers of communism. This was mainly in response to the military might of Russia.

The United States actually feared communism as it threatened trade and the nation’s position in the Europe and in the entire universe as a super power both economically and militarily. The whole world was divided between communism and capitalism. The threat of Russia to America grew after Russia acquired Nuclear weapons. This was one of the biggest threats that led to the Cold War. The failure of communism was factored in by the United States and the success that America had in assisting Europe to recover with the Truman Doctrine and NATO.    

Balkan Ghosts Review

The main mission by NATO in the Balkans obviously is Kosovo. “Balkan Ghosts” is a vivid and a timely perception of the Balkans. These were the soldiers of God in 1989. Having lived in Athens for about seven years and having occasionally traveled to Bosnia, Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria and Moldavia, the author gives a very deep insight in his book. The text of Kaplan- - - part history of the region: of Turkey influence, which, West saw, had devastated the Balkans, with a destruction that was so huge that it has not yet been amended concerning the deep religious and ethnic rifts that existed in places like Bosnia. Kaplan talks of a rural, secluded and characterized with hatred and suspicion to a level that complicated Croats of Zagreb could hardly figure out.

The author highlights the conflicting dreams of majestic glory, with each country that required its borders regress to the position they were. He refers to these issues at the exact moment when the empire had attained its high point. Concerning the Romanian history, Kaplan talks of long docility periods interrupted through brief yet stunning violence eruptions.  This same violence was reflected in Yugoslavia. The author reiterates that it did not deteriorate drastically. It was a gradual process which took course in the 1980s (Kaplan, 1993).  The descriptions of the author about the politics of Greece are equally shrewd since it is a discussion of the insinuations of the ethnic Germans exodus all through the region back to Germany.  At the same time, over the entire broods of Balkans the communism ghost which will leave the world stage showed for what it exactly was; fascism, with the ability of fascism to make the trains move on time. This was a very tremendous representation of an important area.

The book presents issues like the assassination that prompted the First World War to the ethnic conflict now sweeping Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia, the Balkans have been the crucible of the 20th century, the point where genocide and terrorism first became policy tools. This enchanting and habitually distressing political travelogue completely deciphers the ancient passions of the Balkans and the stubborn hatreds for aliens. For Kaplan, he goes through the vibrantly-adorned churches and through the soul-destroying barricades of the former Romania, Albania, Yugoslavia, Greece and Bulgaria. The book allows the reader to see the history of the region as a time warp where Slobodan Milosevic ends up being the reincarnation of a 14th century martyr of Serbia.

One of the things the book reveals is the most tragic, although needless, legacies of the administration of Bill Clinton and the involvement that America had in the former Yugoslavia. The campaigns of bombing against Serbia are representative of a very dark chapter in the history of the United States. Serbia did not attack the United States and neither did it threaten America nor did it engage in a war with the United States. All the same, the American nation smashed Serbia just because it defied America’s demand of being granted unrestricted passage right through their land. This saw the tearing off the cradle of their nation, Kosovo.    

In this book, “Balkan Ghosts”, the author made an exploration of the unbelievably multifaceted mosaic of Balkan, intrigue, politics and ethnic conflict.  It was published in a tie prior to the delivery of the first bombs by the Air Force of the United States. Kaplan indicated that while the good and evil obviously existed in the Balkans, the differing claims and twisted histories of the different parties made away from intervention through meddling outsiders a very risk offer.

Kaplan combines an exhaustive knowledge of the area with a vivid and forceful style of narration because of his first hand experience with the Balkans. He better demonstrates the desperation intrinsic in Romanian communism than massive statistics of comparative economy and diplomatic wires.

Balkan Ghosts is an entertaining and readable introduction to the most infamous quagmire of Europe. While the author, Kaplan does not propose any particular policy objectives, his whirlwind tour that he made of the Balkans makes it evident that it is actually a most complex area. It is to an everlasting shame of America that her senior policy drafters did adhere to this insightful analysis before choosing the sides they chose and before they even drop their bombs.      

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