World Wars and The Cold War

1325 Words6 Pages
The twentieth century saw two lengthy and costly wars, which were then followed by a Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. World War I was deemed the “Great War” but many did not anticipate another war after it just a mere twenty years later…a war that was even more intense than the previous one. The Cold War that began in 1947 and lasted until 1991 but had the term “zero-sum game” tethered to it. Two differing political systems, communist and capitalist, were at odds with one another on multiple platforms. Many feared that a win for the Soviets would create a domino effect, where one country after another would fall to communism in Europe. The idea of the domino effect is typically associated with George Kennan (1904-2005), who was a US diplomat in Russia who is famous for the Long Telegram he wrote in 1946 to U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes providing an analysis of Soviet behavior from both the domestic and international view points (Evans, 2012, para. 5). This telegram was taken in literal terms and was used the reason for many actions and postures throughout the Cold War. The zero-sum game, in this context, meant that when there is a win for one, there is a loss for the opponent, but overall, the net change or benefit is zero to all.
World War I (1914-1918)
The realist perspective examines the balance of power and the critical shifts in Europe. Germany was unified in 1871, which resulted in a power located in central Europe with a very large population complimented by a strong economy. Combined, these two political factors became a threatening presence to their neighboring countries. In turn, this threat resulted in Germany’s neighbors forming alliances against them, which then led to Ge...

... middle of paper ...

...ere the net change or benefit is zero to all. The losses suffered hardly seem comparable.

Works Cited

Broadberry, S., & Harrison, M. (2005). The economics of world war i. (pp. 3-66). New York,
NY: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from
=rpBbX3kdnhgC&pg=PA3&lpg=PA3&dq=world war 1 zero sum game
Evans, C. T. (2012, May 07). Notes on the cold war and dominos. Retrieved from Forsberg, O. J. (n.d.). Introduction to international relations: Notes. Unpublished raw data,
Political Science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN..
Nau, H. R. (2012). Perspectives on international relations: Power institutions ideas. (3rd ed.).
Washington, DC: CQ Press.
Welcome to a zero-sum world. (2010, November 22). The Economist. Retrieved from
Open Document