Zi Ang, aged 15

“Our work for peace must begin within the private world of each one of us. To build a world without fear, we must be without fear. To build a world of justice, we must be just.” – Dag Hammarskjöld.  

1949 was a big year in the recent history. The world was in course of the Cold war, during which proxy wars, military tension and political conflicts were occurring mainly between the epitomes of the Communist world – the USSR and the Capitalist realm- the USA. Although those superpowers did not have direct conflict with each other, tension was not less than that of the beginning of the World War I. Any move made by the big powers seemed to have the possibility of sparking yet another devastating war. Peace was very much threatened at the time.

Through the eyes of theUSA,USSRwas as a big threat to the Western Capitalist world. Communism is regarded as ‘highly contagious and jeopardizing’ and theUSAought to take effective means in order to stop its spread. As for theUSSR, it had suffered terribly in the World War II and therefore was very concerned about its regime security.

It was not until 1945 that the situation had gone worse. On 12 April 1945, the president of the USA- Franklin D. Roosevelt died. His successor- Truman was not a friendly person as presidentRooseveltwas. Comparing to Roosevelt, Truman was much more anti- Communist and very suspicious of theUSSRleader- Stalin. He saw theSoviet Unionas a monster that was getting ready to engulf the world. On 1945, the Americans successfully detected an atomic bomb in their desert and Truman informed Stalin about it. This incident primarily was a great threat to peace as an atomic bomb was extremely powerful. If it exploded, thousands of lives would have been killed. Furthermore, it made Truman even more suspicious of theUSSR, committing as the seed of the later on tension. From 1945 to 1948, theUSSRtook over and permeated Communism throughout the wholeEastern Europe. The Western World was alarmed by this, and by 1945,Britainsent troops to Greece-one of the few that had not been controlled by Communism.USSRappealed to the United Nations in accusingBritainwas a hazard to peace inGreece. The United Nations did not support and subsequentlyUSSRstarted off a civil war against the British inGreece.USAintervened; it supported the British. Fortunately enough, there was not direct conflict between theUSAand theUSSR, as otherwise the war would be enlarged not only to a greater scale but also to a catastrophe to peace of the world. In addition,Greece’s economy was very weak after being stricken by the civil war. Unstable economy and society would consequently, arouse social chaos, poor living conditions, which would encourage the rise of criminal conducts such as robbery, theft, homicide etc. Also, the collision of different cultures and religions might bring about clashes between different communities, religious groups, racial groups and so on. Furthermore, hatred and animosity would take root in Greek residents’ minds along with the intrusions ofBritainandUSSR, for those two superpowers had unnecessarily stormed in and ruined the harmony of the country. All those factors hampered peace from fulfilment.

By 1947 and 1948, the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Aid were introduced along with the new American diplomatic policy- containment. The Truman Doctrine and the Marshal Aid were ‘the two halves of the same walnuts’ as they shared a mutual principle, that is to say, to send monetary and military support to countries that were menaced by Communist take-over. Through this incident USAclearly stated its attitude to the USSR, meanwhile intensified even more the tension between those two powers. The motive of those policies could be traced back to a simple reason- the longing of power, which in this case would be the eager of secured power. It is arguable that theUS introduced such polices only to help other countries, without looking for something in return. Whoever has the money has the power. Injecting large amount of capitals into Europe meant thatUSA would then have dominance inEurope. Those policies, in other words, helped to increase the impact of theUSA on the world arena.USSR, shared the similar thinking as theUS did, undoubtedly would have conflicts with US over interests. As a result, war would be set off, and peace would fade off along with the killings. To a certain extent, the Cold War could be seen as the product of the collision betweenAmerica’s andSoviet Union’s military strategies: both countries wanted to rule the world but there is only one king.

In 1946, Britain, France, and USAcombined their territories in Germanyand in Berlininto one zone[1], known as the Western Germany. Under USA’s containment principle, the economy of Western Germany had been recovering rapidly. Stalin felt that USA’s handling was provocative. In late 1948, the USSR blockaded Berlin by cutting of all the supply lines. [2] This blockade, inevitably, resulted in poor living conditions of Western-German residents and caused turmoil within the city. As this blockade was set by theUSSR, the suffering residents would then have a very negative image or even hatred toward theUSSR, which might trigger civil wars in the future. Most importantly, war betweenUSSR andUSA seemed to be a real possibility; the relationship between those two was at the nadir. At this point, peace was hardly visible.

In 1949,Chinaturned Communist, a watershed in the history.Chinawas a growing superpower under its leader- President Mao. Along withChina’s joining, the tension had risen to yet another level. TheUSwas feared as the Far East was under the total influence ofUSSR. Chiang Kai-Shek, who was the leader of the defeated party- nationalism inChina, escaped toTaiwan.USAsupported him andTaiwangreatly in order to counteract the influence of Communism in MainlandChina. As a result, not only had this incident caused more conflicts and civil wars inChinabut also deteriorated the US- China relationship, laying a hazardous landmine that might one day burst into the World War III.

In conclusion, there were various factors that endangered the maintenance of peace by 1949 including unstable economy and society, difference on political views, collision of military strategies and so on. Conflicts of interest and longing for superpower are particularly the major dangers to peace. The whole Cold War can be regarded as the incubation for the World War III; however luckily, it had not hatched at the end- because mankind yearns for peace. Although the Cold War ended, there are still some peace-threatening issues waiting for us to solve, and more coming to us. In order to maintain a peaceful world, there are lots we should do.

[1]Germany was separated into four zones after the World War II.Berlin situated in the Soviet zone, however it was also separated into four sectors- French,British America and Soviet zone.

[2] The capitalist sectors inBerlin were linked to theWestern Germany only with railways, roads and canals.


About UN News Geneva

Sharing entires to the United Nations Peace Essay competitions run by the Information Service in Geneva in 2011
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