What impact did WWI and WWII have on international diplomacy? What kind of long-term problems were created?
Both World War I and World War II led to the development of international organizations intended to maintain the peace. The League of Nations, created after the First World War, and the United Nations, created after the Second, fit this description. But there were crucial differences related to diplomacy. One was that the League of Nations, established at the Paris Peace Conference, was weakened by the fact that the United States, having failed to ratify the Treaty of Versailles that created the League, did not join it. The League was generally powerless to deal with crises created by aggressor nations during the interwar period. Another issue was that the Treaty of Versailles took a punitive approach toward Germany, forcing that nation to accept responsibility for beginning the war. As a result, Germany was stripped of the bulk of its armed forces, lost valuable territory, and was saddled with high reparation payments that contributed to economic crisis in that nation. This, along with the national sense of humiliation in Germany, led to the rise of Nazism in the early 1930s. Nazi aggression, along with that of Fascist Italy and Japan, was free to flourish in the interwar diplomatic environment.
After World War II, the United Nations was implemented at the behest of the Allied Powers. It held a great deal more diplomatic authority than the League of Nations, in no small part due to the presence of the United States. But the United Nations in many ways became another forum in which a new diplomatic struggle—the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union—emerged. This new conflict became central to the global diplomatic order. The key to diplomacy during the postwar world was the development of atomic/nuclear power, which on the one hand made the many crises that broke out between the United States and the USSR highly tense, and on the other made global war so potentially destructive that neither side was willing to bear the costs. Another major diplomatic development in the aftermath of World War II was the advent of alliance systems. In Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) developed in opposition to the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. In Asia, the Communist revolution in China led to a diplomatic restructuring of that region that saw the United States embrace South Korea and Japan as crucial allies.
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