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Friday, July 4, 2014

Essay on Watershed Moments in History

Essay Question: Historians sometimes speak of \"watershed\" moments in history. These are critical turning points that signaled an important and permanent change of historical fortunes. Do you think there are \"watershed\" moments between the  American Civil War and the war in Vietnam? Please discuss and analyze their historical importance. Please defend your choices with specific examples that justify your belief that an important change took place.

Essay on Watershed Moments in History

            Watershed moments or events are the moments or events in history that are so important that they changed the course of history forever.  These are important and monumental events that can be considered as the turning point in human history.  It can be argued that without these events, therefore, no significant change would have been enough to alter history. 

One of the watershed moments in history was World War II.  World War II is known as the war among the Allied versus the Axis countries.  The Allied countries were the United States, USSR and the Great Britain which fought against Italy, Germany and Japan.  Historically speaking, World War II is known as the most devastating wars because it claimed more than 60 million human lives, six times that of World War I (Strayer 1008).  World War II also initiated the use of technology in warfare which was so precise that it could hit targets from miles away.

One of the reason why World War II can be considered as a watershed moment in human history is that it significantly altered the world order.  Before World War II, England and France were the superpowers with colonies extending as far as Asia.  Serious casualties during World War II left these two countries impoverished and unable to match the rising powers such as the United States.  “As the war ended, Europe was impoverished, its industrial infrastructure shattered, many of its great cities in ruins, and millions of its people were homeless or displaced.” (Strayer 1009) With the weakening of these countries, their colonies took advantage by fighting these colonizers and demanding their freedom.  Nationalist and anti-colonial sentiment caused the people in their colonies to unite together to fight what they perceived as abusive tyrants. As a result, Great Britain and France lost control of their colonies.  

More importantly, World War II saw the rise of the United States as a new super power.  After beating Japan, it came to the realization that military development is one of the key areas in ensuring that it maintains its new status.  Substantial economic development after the war helped stimulate its economy and become a superpower together with the USSR which was at that time extending its grip in Europe and Asia.

The World War II also helped boost the USSR as a superpower.  After beating Germany which has extensive plan to dominate Europe, the USSR continued its expansion throughout Europe and Asia which caused concerns from the United States.  This led to a period in history which is known as the Cold War because though these counties never truly declared war against its each other directly, they had their missiles pointed at each other.  Moreover, both countries were making sure that each other’s ideology does not extend further.

Cited Works

Strayer, Robert.  Ways of the World: A Brief Global History.  Boston: Bedford, 2013.

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