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The United States emerged from World War II virtually unscathed, except for the bombing at Pearl Harbor. Economically, we were stronger after the war than before it. This put us in a position to be very influential in the rebuilding of Europe’s economies after the war, which worked out to our economic benefit. Also, we were the only country with atomic weapons at that time, which put us in a strategically unique position.
Russia was the other big winner, as far as post-war territory was concerned. The Russians paid a very steep price in the war, both in terms of lives lost and the impact the war had on their country physically. Because they were able to recover after being pushed to the brink by the Germans, they were in a position to dictate peace terms at the Yalta Conference in 1945. They ended up with a lot of territory around their borders.
It is interesting that the U.S. and Russia arrived at their superpower status in such different ways.
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