What were the political effects of World War I?

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It would be difficult to overstate the political effects of World War I . It was, after all, a “world war,” and one that fundamentally transformed much of the existing international structure while planting the seeds of another, more devastating war that would follow. For one, the old empires—Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman,...

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It would be difficult to overstate the political effects of World War I. It was, after all, a “world war,” and one that fundamentally transformed much of the existing international structure while planting the seeds of another, more devastating war that would follow. For one, the old empires—Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman, German, and Russian—all collapsed, although the Russian Empire would be painstakingly and bloodily rebuilt by the regime that replaced the monarchy. In their place emerged the international order that would remain largely intact for the next 70 years.

Borders shifted as the Great War’s victors seized territories from the losers. The modern Middle East was forged out of the remnants of the Ottoman Empire, although the French and British diplomats who drew the map of the newly-reconfigured region planted the seeds of future conflicts among Arabs, Kurds, Persians, Jews, and others.

The formation of the Soviet Union (in effect, a reassembling of the old Russian Empire with the added phenomenon of mass forced migrations of nationalities like the Tatars) represented a serious challenge to the empires that survived the war, mainly that of Great Britain, due to its avowed support of what came to be called “movements of national liberation.”

One of the most consequential effects of World War I was the evolution of Germany, shorn of important territories like the region on the French border known as Alsace-Lorraine, which was turned over to France, as was control of the vital Ruhr industrial region. The loss of these deprived Germany of the means to pay the onerous reparations that were demanded of it in the Versailles Treaty. The treaty’s stipulations are viewed as one of the main reasons that the Weimer Republic—Germany’s short-lived democratic government—failed, opening the door to the National Socialist Party of Adolf Hitler.

As a direct result of that disastrous war, the old monarchies of Europe either disappeared or were sublimated to other forms of government. The Bolsheviks, of course, slaughtered the Russian czar and his family to ensure that the Romanov Dynasty would never rise again, replacing one dictatorship with an even more brutal one, especially following Joseph Stalin’s rise to power. Conversely, the fall of the Ottoman Empire opened the door to the establishment of a Turkish Republic that would survive the next world war but whose founding doctrine of secularism would be wiped away with the emergence of the Islamist Justice and Development Party in the early 2000s.

These could be considered the main political effects of World War I. The collapse of old empires, the emergence of a communist regime in Russia, the failure of the Weimer Republic in Germany (accompanied by Adolf Hitler’s rise to power on a platform of hate and expansionism), and the redrawing of borders across the Middle East.

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World War I had a profound political impact across the world. For one thing, consider the sheer number of casualties and suffering inflicted by the wartime experience (a loss of life that would be further exacerbated by the Spanish Flu). It was a profoundly destructive experience.

In Russia, World War I resulted in the downfall of the monarchy and (when the provisional government still tried to continued the war) the rise of the Bolsheviks and creation of the Soviet Union. Across Europe, the economic strain of the war resulted in extensive inflation and economic turmoil. This was perhaps most strongly expressed in Germany, which additionally had to make heavy reparations payments to the Allies. Hitler was able to take advantage of the anger and economic distress within Germany to rise to power and create a totalitarian state.

Finally, to give a positive political impact, it was in the aftermath of World War I that women's suffrage was achieved in a great many countries.

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There were political effects of World War I both in the United States and around the world. At home, during World War I, the power of the federal government increased. The government, through the War Industries Board, regulated the production of materials. The government also controlled people’s speech with the passage of the Sedition Act. The government also drafted soldiers to fight in the war as a result of the Selective Service Act. Another impact at home was that people were tired of the United States being involved in world affairs. This helped Warren G. Harding get elected on a platform of returning to normalcy.

Around the world, there were also political effects. A weak republic, the Weimar Republic, was established in Germany. However, because of the excessive reparations Germany had to pay, $33 billion, the economy of Germany collapsed, and the Weimar Republic failed. This helped lead to Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. Another international impact of World War I was the creation of many new countries. As a result of the policy of self-determination, new countries were created based on ethnicity. The goal was to have people being ruled by their own ethnic group. Thus, countries like Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia were created.

A final political effect was the creation of a world organization designed to try to prevent war from occurring. The League of Nations formed so countries could talk about their issues instead of fighting over them. Unfortunately, the League of Nations was not successful in accomplishing these goals.

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