The World that World War II Built – by George Friedman

by Marilou Moursund on May 24, 2017

in Geopolitical,United States of America

George Friedman, the founder of Geopolitical Futures, has a vast knowledge of history, and I always find his essays thought provoking.  I recommend a gift subscription to Geopolitical Futures for your recent high school or college graduate.  Here is the link to his recent essay “The World that World War II Built”.  From the linked essay:

On June 4-7, it will be 75 years since the Battle of Midway, the battle in which the United State won the war in the Pacific and prevented the defeat of Britain and Russia. Guadalcanal, El Alamein and Stalingrad followed, all mostly fought in the second half of 1942. Over two years of horror would remain – neither Japan nor Germany was prepared to concede the point – but the war was won by the beginning of 1943.

These were extraordinary battles in an extraordinary war. I want to devote some time this year to considering the battles on their anniversaries and, I want to try to explain how these battles were an interlocking whole – really a single, rolling, global battle that collectively decided the war. By the end of the year, my goal is to show that a single global battle, beginning at Midway and ending at Stalingrad, defined the fate of humanity.

Systemic Wars

This is not simply antiquarian interest, although surely June 1942 to February 1943 must rank with Salamis, where the Greeks stopped the Persian surge into Europe; Teutoburg, where the Germans halted the Roman advance; or Lepanto, where Christian Europe halted Muslim Ottoman expansion. These battles defined the future of a civilization; June 1942 to February 1943 defined the future of the entire world.

World War II defined the global civilization in which we now live. It ended Europe’s imperial project, opened the door to American global power, created what was called the Third World and set the stage for the emergence of the Asian mainland as a significant global player. The war also bred a distrust of nationalism, gave rise to multinational institutions and turned an interest in technology into an obsession with its redemptive powers. We live in the shadow of World War II and are now in a global revolt against the world it created.

All of this must be discussed, but to understand a war, we must understand it on its own terms, its own grammar. Many talk of wars without wanting to understand their logic, from the details of an artillery barrage to the tonnage of supplies that must flow to the battlefield. War, as all things, is a matter of detail, and the detail must be framed by both the logic of a war and its purpose. World War II had a unique logic. Many Americans long for the days when Americans were united in war. They mistake World War II as the way in which Americans once fought wars, with shared values. That was never the case. The American Revolution, the Mexican-American War, of course the Civil War, and the Spanish-American War were all fought with a vocal and angry faction opposing the war while it was underway. The dissent of Vietnam or Iraq was the norm of American warfighting, and World War II (and to a lesser extent World War I) was unique in its unity. That’s because it was a unique war.


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