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11-08-2015, 17:21

FADING LONG-RANGE EFFECTS

Of course, the passage of time has made some of the conflict's effects diminish—and even reverse themselves. The economic trauma of the war was renewed and intensified in World War II, but Europe's postwar economic recovery has brought back more than mere pre- 19 14 prosperity. In the end, however, the limits placed upon Germany did not prevail. Ofcourse, a resurgent Germany again dominated Europe under Adolf Hitler after 1933. Its division after World War II turned out to be temporary, and since Germany's reunification in 1990, Europe again finds itself facing a German state, albeit one free of military aggressiveness, dominant through its population of 80 million and its economic skills. Thus, World War I served as one of two checks—but only temporary ones—to Germany's ascendance during the century. In Russia, too, as seen from the late twentieth century, the shaping force of World War I seems to be giving way to larger realities. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of Russian communism in 1991 have created a new Russia whose future remains uncertain. Russia seems oij its way to rejoining the European community, at least to the degree it had belonged before 1914. Its historic economic backwardness and ethnic divisions—as well as its role as a magnet for foreign capital and entrepreneurs— seem to be reasserting themselves. The force of nationalism—reminiscent of the pre- 1914 era—has brought an end to two nadons that were products of World War I. The peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia into separate Czech and Slovak republics is one example. The bloody and traumatic collapse of Yugoslavia is another, returning this part of Europe to the pattern of fragmentation that dominated the Balkans before 1914. In the non-Western world, the preeminence of the industrialized countries of the Atlantic Rim remains, if not completely, then generally intact as the century moves toward its conclusion. The bulk of the African continent remains economically dependent to a degree that impinges on its political autonomy. Political freedom for India has likewise not been matched by enough economic success to shatter the pattern that existed before 1914. The great economic success story in the non-Western world, with attendant political ramifications, has been the ascendancy of Japan. That development barkens back to the start of the twentieth century. In the end, the dictatorships did not prevail, although it took World War II to block them effectively. Seen from the century's close, most of Europe is once again on the same path—with the same basic norms of democratic politics and free market economies in the regions north of former Yugoslavia and west of Russia.

 

 

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