Changing World Map Essay

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Governments make and break alliances, treaties, and agreements for financial and political gains, as well as for power and control, all in a constantly fluid manner. Such changes have been taking place as long as there have been countries, so the maneuverings should not be of any surprise; what this paper seeks to do is determine how those ongoing changes reflect the current environment as well as how the alliances will influence governments over the next several years, and decades.

Historical Context -- World War I (1914 -- 1919)

A recent historical report states that "with deliberate deceptions, lies and attempts on all sides to appear as the wronged, it is little wonder that, after a hundred years, there is still no consensus on why the July Crisis escalated into the First World War" (Mombauer, 2014, p. 23). World War I was known as the war to end all wars, but it started innocently enough with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary and the murder of his wife Sophie on Sunday, June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo, Bosnia by Bosnian nationalists. Mombauer posits that ever since that time fierce arguments about the chain of events leading up to that assassination have been debated by historians, politicians and journalists (Mombauer, 2014). Alliances of the various players in that historical context are quite interesting, especially when compared to World War II that took place less than twenty-five years later. World War I started with Germany supporting Austria-Hungary's efforts to hold Serbia accountable for the murder of the Archduke and his wife.

Mombauer states that the reason Germany may have been so supportive was due to the German's desire to test the Entente Powers (Russia, France and Great Britain) whose combined might encircled Germany and its ally (Mombauer, 2014). Germany, and to some extent, its allies (Austria-Hungary, Italy) worried that the Entente Powers were gaining too much power and wished to stem the tide. The Triple Alliance (Germany, Italy, Austria-Hungary) in some manner welcomed the chance to weaken the alliance between the Entente Powers (France, Russia, Great Britian) even if only on the slightest of pretenses.

Roslyng-Jensen provides another reason for the war could be the preceding period of peace between many of the countries as they looked to facilitate imperial expansion around the globe (2012). According to Roslyng-Jensen this imperial expansion allowed governments to appease their own citizens who viewed a general European war over a colonial dispute as unacceptable, and that the expense of war outweighed the profitability of war. Additionally, the big players practicing imperial expansion regularly cooperated in "suppressing threats to European interests, as happened during the Boxer rebellion in China" (Roslyng-Jensen, p. 530). Many of the European alliances that were shaped before World War I were defensive in nature, and it was because of this defensive orientation that clear acts of aggression were restrained by the alliance system (Mulligan, 2011, p. 15). According to Mulligan (2011) states cooperated on issues of specific interest, and even on the eve of war spheres of influence in the declining Ottoman empire were agreed upon by Britain, Germany and France.

As with almost all alliances however, the big boys see what the other players are achieving through imperialism and cooperation and become worried that they are being left behind, or that after the other players have taken over the smaller countries they would then turn their eyes, military might, and other resources towards bigger prey. Bogdanor (2014) states that two rival nationalisms -- Slav nationalism seeking to unite all the southern Slavs, and German nationalism seeking to expand eastward -- created a tension that directly contributed to the initiation of World War I.

Once Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia, and Germany announced its full support for the action, other European countries quickly climbed on board, fearful to some extent, the fallout or possible consequences of not being aligned with other like-minded governments. France, Russia and Great Britain immediately sided with the Serbs and declared war. It truly could not be declared a World War until the other fledgling superpower (United States) joined the fray; that took place on Historical Context - World War II (1939 -- 1945)

Some of the alliances formed before and during World War I were still strong preceding and during World War II, but at least one significant change was made between the major powers; Germany, along with Italy were still a strong partnership, but now instead of Austria-Hungary as a third member, Japan was invited to join their alliance, and did so. The three countries formed an Axis. On the Allied side of the equation; the United States, Great Britain, Russia (and to a much smaller and weaker extent, France) remained together in order to halt the aggression displayed by the Axis.

Originally the Axis was challenged by France, Great Britain and the British commonwealth (Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) but after Russia was attacked by Germany, and the United States was attacked by Japan, both of the two superpowers declared war and joined in with the other Allies to fight the Axis. China joined with them the same year to assist as well. The Allies not only won the war, but also became known as the United Nations.

Historical Context - Cold War (1948 -- 1989)

Many of the alliances formed before World War I were still in existence during the years preceding World War II, but some of the alliances made during those three decades changed significantly over the years known as the Cold War (1948 -- 1989). The big three countries (United States, Great Britain and Russia) found themselves down to two (United States and Great Britain) after Russia's leaders determined that communism would now be the form of government practiced there. Though Russia joined with the United States, Great Britain, France and China to form the new United Nations, they soon found themselves as the pariah (albeit a very strong and capable one) against most of the democratic countries around the world, but befriended by smaller (and equally communistic) countries. As the Cold War ran its course, a major World War was averted but it wasn't until the late 1980's that Russia's citizens finally demanded a free democracy.

The United Nations

One of the events that took place after World War II was that the United Nations was formed. The UN, which currently boasts membership of 193 countries around the globe, was formed as an alliance to prevent any further world wars from taking place.

The UN maintains offices in New York City, Geneva, Nairobi and Vienna and its charter states that its four main objectives include; 1) maintaining international peace and security, 2) developing friendly relations among nations, 3) cooperating in solving international problems and in promoting respect for human rights, and 4) being a center for harmonizing the actions of nations (UN, 2015). This alliance is one that has grown from fifty one original member countries to its current status of 193 countries all who agree to abide by the United Nation's rules, regulations and guidelines. Such agreement does not mean that the individual countries give up their sovereignty, instead what it allows is the ability of a member country to bring a complaint or issue before the council. The UN can sanction offending countries, charge them fines and even place a peace keeping force in times of severe trouble.

The purpose for including the UN in a paper such as this one is that it is a prime example of a global alliance between a large number of countries. Established immediately after the end of World War II, it could be said that its main reason for existence was to ensure that no additional conflicts of the size of magnitude of either World War would take place again. In that respect, this global alliance has been successful. Though there have been plenty of wars between nations -- and many of those nations have been members of the UN -- there has not been a world war since the end of World War II. Although there have been skirmishes, problems of a wide variety, and relationships between different countries have suffered fraction and hardship, overall it would seem that the UN is assisting countries in meeting the four stated objectives as well as other less primary objectives such as "promoting human rights, fostering social and economic development, protecting the environment and providing humanitarian aid in cases of famine, natural disaster and armed conflict" (UN, 2015).

The security council of the UN consists of 15 members, five of those members are permanent including; the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. The other ten members are not considered permanent members and serve for two-year terms at the behest of the five permanent members. The UN charter gives the 15 members of the Security Council the power to "ensure prompt and effective action by the United Nations" (UN, 2015) and the remainder of the member countries have agreed to…

Sources Used in Document:

References

Bilefsky, D. & Baumejan, M.; (2015) Terrorists strike Charlie Hebdo, newspaper in Paris, leaving 12 dead, NY Times accessed on February 27, 2015 at http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-paris-shooting.html

Bogdanor, V.; (2014) The shadows lengthen, History Today, 64(8)19-25

Bosco, D.; (2014) Assessing the UN Security Council: A concert perspective, Global Governance, 20(4) 545-561

Brinkley, J.; (2013) Islamic terror, World Affairs, 176(2) 43 -- 55

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