Part V: The end of World War II and the aims of different countries and peoples
At the end of the Second World War, the socialist Soviet Union emerged as one of the victorious powers. It stood as an inspiration to people across the world who were fighting to liberate themselves from the colonial yoke. On the other hand, US imperialism emerged as the leader of the reactionary anti-communist imperialist camp.
The main difference between the situation at the end of WWI and WWII is that at the end of WWII, there existed a powerful socialist state that, despite its tremendous losses during the War, had emerged as one of the victorious powers with greatly enhanced prestige. In the various colonies of the imperialist powers across the world, the peoples looked to the Soviet Union as a model and as a friend of their struggles for liberation.
Hence, even before the War ended, when it looked like the Axis powers were going to be defeated, the other Allied powers led by US imperialism began to prepare for a new offensive, this time against the Soviet Union. They began to do systematic propaganda against the Soviet Union. In his notorious speech, the British Prime Minister Churchill accused the Soviet Union of drawing an “iron curtain” across Europe. In the post-war years, US imperialism organized the formation of openly anti-Soviet anti-communist military alliances all over the world, such as NATO, SEATO and CENTO. It began a witch hunt against communists and progressive people in its own country. It attempted to boost reactionary, anti-communist forces in many newly liberated countries, even organizing bloody coups against popular and progressive governments, such as in Greece, the Philippines, Iran, and particularly in Latin America. It also used its veto power and that of its main allies, Britain and France, in the UN Security Council to try and isolate and put pressure on the Soviet Union. This crusade against the Soviet Union and the socialist camp was known as the Cold War.
Immediately after the War, the old imperialist powers rushed to re-impose their rule on their former Asian colonies whose peoples had fought heroically against the Japanese occupation. Where they could not hold on to power, they made sure that they handed over power to bourgeois forces tied to the imperialist order, as in India. They redrew maps and divided countries to ensure the weakening of the newly independent states. However, they did not succeed in their plans in the case of China, which carried out a revolution in 1949 that led to the removal of this huge country from the imperialist system of states. The imperialists were also unable to stop the formation of popular front governments in Eastern Europe.
The emergence of US imperialism as the dominant imperialist superpower
The leader in the anti-communist and reactionary crusade was US imperialism, which emerged from World War II with relatively few losses and became undisputed leader of the imperialist camp, a position which it holds to this day.
Apart from the military blocs, US imperialism and its allies also established financial and other institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to squeeze the struggling economies of newly independent and weaker states. They also carried out ‘aid diplomacy’ to bribe and win over ruling elites in these states and turn them into a reserve of imperialism. The US treated Latin America in particular as its own fiefdom, backing the most reactionary regimes and organizing coups and intervention against those opposed to it, such as in Chile and Grenada. When Cuban revolutionary forces overthrew the American henchman Batista there in 1959, US tried every trick in the book to sabotage the revolution, although without success.
US imperialism also resorted to direct military intervention to harass and threaten socialist states and movements, starting with its invasion of Korea in 1950. When national liberation forces led by the communists in Vietnam defeated the French colonial rulers, US imperialism directly intervened to divide the country and set up a puppet regime in the southern part, until it was finally defeated by the heroic efforts of the Vietnamese people in 1975. Among the atrocities committed by the US against the peoples of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during this war was the use of chemical and biological weapons with devastating effects.
In the strategically important and energy-rich West Asia-Persian Gulf region, the US used the Zionist state of Israel created after World War II as its chief weapon to attack Arab nationalism. It bribed and corrupted a series of reactionary Arab rulers to divide the Arabs and ensure its access to and control over the huge oil reserves of the region. In 1953, it helped to overthrow the nationalist government in Iran and install its henchman, the fascist Shah. Following the Iranian revolution in 1979 that overthrew the Shah, the US has spared no effort to try and undermine the revolutionary government there, attacking them as ‘Islamic fanatics’.
Beginning in the decade of the sixties, the Soviet Union changed from being a bastion of revolution and national liberation struggles, a defender of the peace and the rights of nations, into a social-imperialist state. It began to collude and contend with the US over markets and spheres of influence. It used socialist phrases to justify its imperialist actions. The Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Afghanistan in 1978. In contention with the US led military alliance, NATO, the Soviet Union set up the Warsaw Treaty, its own military alliance of states. Both the superpowers, US and Soviet Union armed themselves with the most sophisticated weapons of mass destruction, including deadly nuclear weapons and weapons of bio-warfare. The principles that had been universally agreed to after the defeat of Nazi fascism and the end of the Second World War, were trampled in the mud by both the superpowers, US and Soviet Union, each claiming to be saving the world from the other.
Even after the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991 that marked the formal end of the Cold War, US imperialism has single mindedly pursued a course aimed at becoming the sole unchallenged superpower in a unipolar world. Towards this end, it has continued to try and weaken Russia by detaching the various countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics from its influence. It has unleashed violent attacks against any country or government that opposes its dictate. This has resulted in the ruin and wholesale destruction of many countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and so on. On other countries it uses the method of economic strangulation through crippling economic sanctions aimed at imposing great hardship on the peoples of those countries and inciting them to revolt. Even against its own allies like Germany and the European Union, the US has resorted to applying pressure and using intrigue to weaken them and ensure that they don’t challenge its domination in any way.
In recent years, US imperialism has viewed a rapidly growing China as the main threat to its status as the sole superpower. It has carried out a number of provocations against China, including sending its warships into the South China Sea, unleashing a trade war, stepping up its support for anti-PRC forces in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and targeting Chinese companies abroad. In the conditions of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it is accusing China without any evidence of deliberately unleashing the virus, and trying to form a coalition of states, including India, against China.
The single-minded drive of US imperialism to maintain and extend its domination in the world is the main force behind the increasing geopolitical tensions in the world, and the main factor in the threat of a new world war. When the horrors of the last world war are being recalled, it is of utmost importance to understand that even greater catastrophe awaits humanity as a whole unless imperialist aggression, led by US imperialism, is checked.