History : History

Chapter 2 mainly explains international competitions in terms of the concept “Ba

Chapter 2 mainly explains international competitions in terms of the concept “Balance of Power.” The chapter briefly discusses ancient history, including Chinese empires that engaged in “Balance of Power” with rulers of neighboring lands, yet the chapter’s main thesis begins in the 17th century when modern Western imperial states arose in Europe, following the Thirty Years war which resulted in the Westphalia Peace in 1638. It was the European states that colonized the world, including Britain’s effort to colonize most of North America in the 17th and 18th centuries.
“Balance of Power” suggests that international peace can best be preserved if strong states balance each other, holding in check the desire of political leaders to go to war. The idea is that heads of state will not resort to armed aggression if they feel a rival power has the strength to resist. Authors of our textbook say this “Balance” prevailed after 1638 until the early 1800s when the ambitions of leaders in revolutionary France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte, launched a continental military campaign against rival states. While Napoleon disrupted the peace, a new “Balance of Power” was created among European states after Napoleon’s defeat in an attempt to restore order in Europe, while allowing European colonial rulers to profit from possessions overseas.
The 19th century “Balance of Power” and overseas colonization were briefly challenged by Prussian-French and Russian-Turkish wars, but what finally disrupted them was Japan’s defeat of Russia in 1905, followed by the first and second World Wars. Going back to the 17th century, and most of the 18th century, the US did not exist as a state. Thus, it is not possible to ask about the role of US political leaders in Europe’s early “Balance of Power.” Through the late 19th century, US leaders were preoccupied with colonial expansion on the North American continent, rather than contests in Europe. In fact, US presidents preferred to prevent European heads of state from interfering in North America, thus they had no interest in becoming involved with contests inside Europe. All of this changed in the 20th century’s two World Wars, followed by the long Cold War.
Write an initial statement about US interest in “Balance of Power” in Europe since World War (1914-2022) using roughly 150 words, followed by at least two responses to other students in class which are at least 20 words in length. Do you think the US helped maintain “Balance of Power” in Europe between 1914 and 2022, or has the US disrupted “Balance of Power” in Europe? US policy changed across time, thus you might think of four phases: first, World War I and the interwar period running from 1914 to 1939; second, World War II and the early postwar years running from 1939 to 1949; third, the Cold War 1949-1989; and fourth, the post-Cold War era 1989-2022.
What did the US government do in each of the four phases above? Did politicians in Washington always help preserve peace in Europe via “Balance of Power,” or did they at times contribute to war in Europe? Lastly, what do you think about the current US role in the Ukraine war? Does the US role today in Ukraine help or hurt the interests of peace in Europe?