World War II shaped international law and influenced the foreign policy of many nations across the world. After the end of the war, many reforms were made, including establishing the United Nations which was aimed at maintaining global peace and security and preventing another world war. However, the world came close to another world war when the Cold War started between the Soviet Union and the United States. The cold war led to other reforms that positively and negatively impacted society. Aside from the war, the rise of the civil rights movement had a significant impact on American society (Verney, 2020). This paper analyzes how the reforms from World War II, the cold war, and the civil rights movement impacted society.
How the Events Since World War II Impacted Society
World War II led to unprecedented property damage and loss of human life. Innocent civilians were caught in the line of fire while others were bombed indiscriminately. For instance, when Britain and the American Air force planned the Strategic Bombing Campaigned against Germans, part of the plan was to hit cities occupied by innocent civilians (The United States and the European War). After winning the war, the Allied forces agreed to form the United Nations to act as an international watchdog to prevent nations from engaging in another war. The United Nations was inclusive such that even the Axis powers were allowed to join. The various institutions within the organization play a significant role in creating international laws and setting standards for international relations, which member states must observe to maintain global peace (Fazaeli & Karami, 2020). The United Nations has significantly impacted society by promoting global peace and unity. It has been significant in helping nations with humanitarian crises and mediating treaties to de-escalate global tensions, such as signing nuclear deals (Fazaeli & Karami, 2020)). Additionally, the UN has been essential in coordinating solutions to emerging social problems such as pandemics, droughts, and climate change.
When World War II ended, the Soviet Union and the United States emerged as the leading world superpowers. However, these two countries shared ideological differences that led to the outbreak of the Cold War. While the Soviet Union embraced communist ideology, the United States preferred capitalism (Cronin, 2021). The cold war changed the United States’ foreign policy and significantly impacted American society. When President Truman announced that his administration would support any country that felt threatened by the communist ideology being propagated by the Soviet Union, most Americans developed a negative attitude toward communism (Cronin, 2021). In the 1947 Truman Doctrine, President Truman portrayed communism as a threat to democracy that threatened people’s freedom and led to the establishment of dictatorial regimes (Primary Source: The Truman Doctrine). The cold war led to a widespread anti-communist movement in the US. Anti-communism negatively impacted freedom of expression because communists were arrested and detained on the allegations that they were spying for the Soviet Union. Employees who failed to denounce the communist ideology were fired. Since the cold war, the US society has made it difficult for the thriving of communist ideology.
While the US society may have been affected by several international reforms, other domestic issues significantly impacted society. One of the critical key issues in the United States is racial segregation. Increased racism in society led to the emergence of the civil rights movements that were determined to advocate for an inclusive society conducive to the thriving of any race (Verney, 2020). Black activists such as Martin Luther were at the forefront of calling for social reforms that would grant African Americans equal rights with the white majority (The Civil Rights Movement Continues). Racial discrimination was prominent in American society in the 1960s. Most social amenities, such as hospitals and schools, were segregated based on race. In most cases, institutions meant for the black community were often in a poor state compared to those for whites. Furthermore, employment was selective, especially for the army veterans who had returned from the Second World War (Verney, 2020). As a result, most African American veterans did not enjoy the unemployment benefits that the government had allocated to cushion the veterans from unemployment.
Despite experiencing stiff resistance from the white population, the black activists did not despair. Through various forms of demonstration and resistance, including the boycott of products and sit-ins. The activists managed to voice the needs of the black community which led to social reforms, which impacted society positively by outlawing segregation of public institutions and granting the black community equal rights, including voting (The Civil Rights Movement Continues). These reforms have improved the position of minority groups in society and enabled them to access quality education and healthcare. Although racism is still common in society, the rise of civil rights movements significantly changed American society into a more accommodative and inclusive society.
In conclusion, most of the postwar reforms greatly impacted society. These reforms defined American relations internationally and domestically. The end of the Second World War led to the formation of the United Nations to maintain global peace and security. Although there have been wars between countries, the UN has successfully prevented a third world war. The cold war impacted American society greatly by vilifying the communist ideology and giving rise to anti-communism, which remains active in society. Lastly, the civil rights movement led to inclusivity and equality in society by advocating for the rights of the black community.
Cronin, J. E. (2021). The world the cold war made: Order, chaos, and the return of history. Routledge.
Fazaeli, M., & Karami, M. (2020). Historical Transformation of the International law from Resort to Force to the formation of the United Nations System: Fears and Hopes. Holy Defense Studies, 6(1), 31-60.
Introduction to the Cold War. Lecture.
Primary Source: The Truman Doctrine (1947). Lecture.
The Civil Rights Movement Continues. Lecture.
The United States and the European War. Lecture.
Verney, K. (2020). The debate on black civil rights in America. In The Debate on Black Civil Rights in America. Manchester University Press.
Women and World War II. Lecture.