Last modified on 23 August 2012, at 17:50

Saylor.org's Comparative Politics/Growth of the State System after the Second World War

Perhaps even more than the First World War, WWII discredited the idea of 'empire' once and for all. The destruction and worst crimes of the war were brought about by aggressive nations seeking expansion and empire: Nazi Germany in Eastern Europe, Fascist Italy in Northern Africa, and Japan in East Asia. Although British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would have liked to see the continuation of the British Empire and Soviet premier Josef Stalin ostensibly pushed for a Soviet empire in Eastern Europe, the post-war world was one decidedly based on nation-states and not empires. The number of independent states to have emerged since the end of the war is staggering. In 1945 there were only some 75 sovereign states, today the number hovers around 200. This explosion of sovereignty was largely due to the push for decolonization of the former British and French Empires, particularly in Africa. Central to the protection of state sovereignty in the Postwar world was the creation of the United Nations in 1945. Many believed that the aggression of the Axis Powers might have been prevented had the League of Nations had more authority, or participation from the United States.