The term Sphere of influence first gained legal significance in the 1880s when the European countries were expanding their colonial powers across Africa and Asia. This was the last stages of the struggle by colonial powers to peacefully compete for colonies through mutual agreements. The agreements that were made on the spheres of influence facilitated this process. This can be seen through the alliance between Germany and Great Britain. In the 1890s there was an agreement between Germany and Great Britain concerning the colonies of East African countries. Since then the spheres of influence has been used by several other states in their control over other territories. This paper will thus look into the reasons why the United States developed a sphere of influence in western Europe and Japan after the second world war and not the first world war. It will also analyze the reasons that this sphere of influence transformed into a liberal international order and how the cold war was caused by the post-war order building efforts by the Soviet Union and the US.
Notwithstanding the wartime alliance between the Soviet Union, the US and Great Britain, tension continued to mount as the war came to an end and the leaders started discussing what to do with Germany. There were post-war conferences in 1945 that set the stage for the division of Europe and the beginning of the cold war. While confident of the victory in the allied war, the US president Franklin D. Roosevelt, Stalin, and British prime minister Winston Churchill met near Yalta to discuss the reorganization of Europe after the second world war. With each leader coming with their idea of how they wanted the rebuilding and the restructuring of the war-torn continent to be. Roosevelt wanted the Soviet Union to participate in the newly formed united nation and their immediate support for the ongoing Pacific war against Japan. Stalin wanted the Soviet sphere of influence on eastern and central Europe starting from Poland. He asserted that this was to ensure that the Soviet Union is provided with a geographical and political buffer zone between the western capitalist and them. Churchill, on the other hand, wanted free and fair elections to be done that would lead to democratic leadership in both eastern and central Europe. This, therefore, showed that there were conflicting ideas between the leaders and there was the need for negotiations. However, the three territories would later agree to end the aggression after realizing the United States superiority in nuclear power that acted as the warning to the Soviet Union.
As a way of coming up with the sphere of influence in the post-war era, President Franklin Roosevelt came up with the “Four Policemen” concept (Ikenberry). This concept was named the four policemen, and it was made up of the big four powers in the region made up of the US, the soviet union, Great Britain and China (LaFeber). The primary responsibility of the big four was to ensure that there was order in their spheres of influence. They were tasked with the responsibility to ensure that there was peace and that situations of war would not arise. They would exert control over the small countries and would ensure that there were measures put in place to prevent new conflicts and the nations within their power would be disarmed (Ikenberry). The united states were to control over the western hemisphere. And the bug four would be the only countries allowed to have weapons that are more powerful than rifles. The big four states would then make up the United Nations security council when it was later established.
John Ikenberry asserted in his liberal hegemony how power could be used in international relation (Ikenberry). He argues that states with more control can use their strength to better the way other countries are run. This is visible in the post-war sphere of influence that the United States had at the end of the Second World War. The formation of the four policemen which was made up of the most potent states ensured that there was no more war since the powerful countries exerted their control over the other smaller countries and thus providing that no country was armed to lead to war (Ikenberry). David A. Lake, on the other hand, argues that the key to international relations lies in great debates. However, in some cases, these debates may be inconclusive and may lead to disagreements (Lake). In such cases, he asserts that the parties would instead shift their focus to the real world problems and work on solving the most pressing issues. This can be seen in the Yalta conference where each of the leaders present had their ideas and could not come to a conclusion (Lake). The leadership then shifted their concentration to the problem of the war and came up with the four policemen who helped ensure that the war was controlled and would no longer reoccur.
With time the sphere of influence grew into a liberal international order. This is because the United States and all the partners established a sprawling and multifaceted international law. This order was organized around multilateral institutions, economic openness, democratic solidarity, and security cooperation. With the United States being the leader in this organization, it came up with these orders to stabilize the economy of the world and to foster the cooperation and free world values. The United States achieved this by the use of the four policemen policy which was incorporated into the United Nations Security Council.
After the end of the Second World War, there was a geopolitical fight between the United States and the Soviet Union. This was because these two parties had the aim of spreading their ideologies across the globe. This was in the wake of the collapse of the Second World War. The name cold war came up from the fact that the conflict between the two powers led to military confrontation.
This paper has thus shown the events that led to the establishment of the spheres of influence. It points at how the four policemen that were the brainchild of the united states was instrumental in ensuring that the region is stable and ensure that war is averted. It then goes ahead to explain the reasons as to why the order would later grow into liberal international order and how the procedure was implemented. It shows the benefits of global stability that was brought about by this order. The study also explains the events that led to the start of the cold war.
Ikenberry, G. John. Liberal Leviathan. Princeton University Press, 2012.
LaFeber, Walter. The American Age. Norton, 1994.
Lake, David A. Entangling Relations. Princeton University Press, 1999.
Lake, David A. The Statebuilder’s Dilemma. Cornell University Press, 2016.
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