War II: 63 Years After
World War II many things have changed in the world, both in economy and
warfare. Post WW II atmosphere initiated competition for the world's true
hegemon. This competition brought us numerous good and bad things; one of
the good things was the rapid development of technology, science,
medicine, among many other things. Conversely, the increased competition
succeeded in the manufacture and development of lethal weapons, bombs,
machines and the great economic crisis.
The Soviet Union and the United States
emerged from the WW II as the world's leading superpowers. This set the
stage for the Cold War, which lasted for the next 45 years. The United
Nations was formed in the hope of preventing another such conflict. The
self determination spawned by the war accelerated decolonization movements
in Asia and Africa, while Western Europe itself began moving toward
The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, leaving
the United States as the sole superpower in a unipolar world. However,
that is about to change.
Accordingly, regardless of the current
global financial crisis, let's take a look how some major participants of
World War II and participants of the later conflicts stand financially
today and what can we expect from them in the future, these include:
Allies Powers of the WW II: the USA, Russia, France, the UK and China.
Axis Powers: Germany, Italy and Japan. Korean War participant: South Korea
(Republic of Korea).
The United States was involved in WW II as
a major military power and more or less in every military campaign since
the WW II, almost always coming out as the winner. The United States, once
in a great power, now is in a great trouble.
Today, major economic concerns in the US
include national debt, external debt, entitlement liabilities for retiring
baby boomers who have already begun withdrawing from their Social Security
accounts, corporate debt, mortgage debt, a low savings rate, falling house
prices, a falling currency, and a large current account deficit. As of
June 2008, the gross US external debt was over $13 trillion, the most
external debt of all countries in the world. The 2007 estimate of the
United States public debt was 65% of GDP. As of October 1, 2008, the total
US federal debt exceeded $10 trillion, about $31,700 per capita. Unfunded
Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, and similar promised obligations made
the government liabilities to rise to a total of $59.1 trillion, or
$516,348 per household.
The military spending by the US Government
have created instability in the country. Conservative estimates that by
2017 the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will cost the US budget around five
Despite the current financial situation in
the US, the US economy, according to reports is still the largest national
economy in the world, with an estimated 2008 gross domestic product (GDP)
of US$14.3 trillion (23% of the world total based on nominal GDP and
almost 21% at purchasing power parity (PPP)).
Russia – Soviet Union, an Allies member,
was also involved in many military conflicts including War World II and
the Korean War. Russia came out of them undefeated. However, Russia than
Soviet Union faced serious financial problems and stagnation; with the
Cold War coming to a close in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, and with
the US increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressure, the Soviet
Union finally collapsed. Now, decades after the WW II, Russia is in a
great power, not in a great trouble.
Recent rising of oil prices, increased
foreign investment, higher domestic consumption and greater political
stability have strengthened economic growth in Russia. The country ended
2007 with its 9th straight year of growth, averaging 7% annually since the
financial crisis of 1998. In 2007, Russia's GDP was around $2,089 trillion
(est. PPP), the 7th largest in the world, with GDP growing 8.1% from the
previous year, and $14,704 GDP per capita. Growth was primarily driven by
non-traded services and goods for the domestic market, as opposed to oil
or mineral extraction and exports.
Oil export earnings have allowed Russia to
increase its foreign reserves from $12 billion in 1999 to $597.3 billion
on 1 August 2008. Today, Russia has the third largest reserves in the
world. Arms sales have increased to the point where Russia is first in the
world in sale of weapons.
Also, Russia owns $74.1 billion or 2.77% of
the US Treasury Securities.
On December 7, 1941, Japan attacked the
United States naval base in Pearl Harbor and declared war on the United
States, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This act brought the
United States into World War II. After the US atomic bombings of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki in 1945, along with the Soviet Union joining the war against
it, Japan agreed to an unconditional surrender on August 15, 1945. The war
cost Japan millions of lives and left much of the country's industry and
Despite Japan's devastating destruction,
today, Japan is one of the strongest independent economical and industrial
powers on the earth. A major economic power, Japan has the world's second
largest economy by nominal GDP, at around $4.381 trillion in terms of
nominal GDP, and $34,296 per capita, and the third largest in purchasing
power parity. Japan is a member of the United Nations, G8, G4, OECD and
APEC, with the world's fifth largest defense budget. It is also the
world's fourth largest exporter and sixth largest importer. It is a
developed country with high living standards and a world leader in
technology, machinery, and robotics.
Banking, insurance, real estate, retailing,
transportation, telecommunications and construction are all major Japan
industries. Japan has a large industrial capacity and is home to some of
the largest, leading and most technologically advanced producers of motor
vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous
metals, ships, chemicals, textiles and processed foods. The US is maybe
the biggest importer of the Japanese products in the world.
Japan owns $593.4 billion or 22.17% of the
US Treasury Securities.
Germany was a major European power from the
1930s to the mid-1940s. Its historical significance lies mainly in its
responsibility for escalating political tensions in Europe by its
expansionist foreign policy which resulted in World War II. The state came
to an end in 1945, after the Allied Powers succeeded in seizing German
occupied territories in Europe and in occupying Germany itself. Germany
like some other European countries was seriously destroyed during the WW
Today, Germany is the largest national
economy in Europe, the third largest by nominal GDP in the world, around
$3,320 trillion. Also Germany is ranked 5th by GDP (PPP) at around $2,812
trillion; its growth rate in 2007 was 2.4%. Since the age of
industrialization the country has been motor innovator and beneficiary of
an ever more globalized economy. The export of goods "Made in
Germany" is one of the main factors of the country's wealth. Germany
is the world's top exporter with $1.133 trillion exported in 2006 (Euro
zone countries are included) and generates a trade surplus of €165
billion. Most of the country's products are in engineering, especially in
automobiles, machinery, metals, and chemical goods. Germany is the leading
producer of wind turbines and solar power technology in the world.
Concerning the European Union, Germany was
and still is the Union's biggest net contributor; with the biggest
economy, she is responsible for about 23% of the EU budget.
Germany owns $41.1 billion or 1.54% of the
US Treasury Securities.
South Korea – The
Republic of Korea
In the 1950s South Korea became one of the
poorest countries in Asia; its infrastructure and resources were severely
exploited during the Japanese occupation and completely destroyed by the
However, following the military coup led by
General Park Chung-Hee in 1962, South Korea became for four straight
decades one of the fastest-growing economies in the world history,
completely transforming itself from farming and fishing based economy into
one of the world's most high-tech industrial powers.
Today, South Korea is a major economic
power and one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. The South Korean
economy is highly developed and
one of the four largest in Asia and 13th largest in the world. Often
called the "Miracle on the Han River", South Korea's tremendous
economic growth was fueled by the export of high-tech goods. The South
Korean economy continues to grow at a very fast speed, having one of the
highest GDP, at around $1,201 trillion, export and industrial production
growth rate in the developed world. By 2050, the South Korean economy
would have grown to over $4 trillion and have an income per capita of over
$90,000, surpassing almost all of the current G7.
Today, South Korea is leading several key
industries in the world, particularly in the fields of science and
technology. The South Koreas strongest industries are automobiles,
biotechnology, construction, computers, electronics, petrochemicals,
robotics, semiconductors, shipbuilding, and steel.
South Korea owns $35.3 billion or 1.32% of
the US Treasury Securities.
There are many other participants who were
defeated or seriously affected by the WW II and the Cold War, although
stands strong today, these include: the UK, Austria, Italy, France,
Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria among others.
If we look at the above records, it looks
like that all Allies Powers except the US, who contributed mostly to the
WW II, stands economically strong today, including Axis members, who by
all studies are the strongest ones.
Consequently, one question rises from this:
did the Allies Powers really defeated Germany, Italy and Japan in World
It looks like they did not. Today, Germany,
Italy and Japan are very powerful countries, and if they unite for some
mutual cause, they might become unbeatable. As an example, if Germany,
Italy and Japan decide to start a new war by forcing out the US military
basis from its territories, what can we expect; can we expect to see all
five major Allies Powers and Security Council members joining against them
for the second time?
Knowing that Germany and Italy became major
European powers, and Japan Asian power, is that really possible?
If this war comes to place, Russia would
look for her own interests this time, and that is Europe. Russia learned
her lessons from the Cold War. China would stay neutral, although, closer
to Russia than to the US. France would not be able to help the US; France
has too many problems these days, France would have to stay in good
relations with European members in order to prosper. The UK is the most
interesting one; she would be in very difficult situation, to help closest
friend and ally, or to bond closer to Europe.
If the UK fails to provide necessary help
to the US, who will? In that case the United States could only expect help
from the South Korea and the State of Israel.
This is just a theory, however, one day
Germany, Italy and Japan will try to force out the US military basis from
its lands. Let's just hope it will be done in peaceful and understanding
way so that we do not get the chance to see millions of people killed and
nations destroyed all over again.