World War II further threatened Anglo-American-style globalization. The Axis powers—a loose coalition of Germany, Italy, and Japan—resorted to military force to overthrow the post-Versailles world order and to establish closed, regional systems dominated from Berlin, Rome, and Tokyo. The conflict afforded the United States a second chance to provide leadership and to promote its vision of a peaceful, prosperous, and united world. The Roosevelt administration pressed plans for international rules and institutions that would structure the post–World War II global economic and political system. In joining technology with national security, the war forged an enduring partnership among business, government, and science. Afterward, the new military-industrial complex would sustain America as an economic and military superpower, develop endless frontiers for scientific discovery, and speed the globalization process.
Unit questions: How do social, political, and economic conditions lead to extreme beliefs? How do these beliefs lead to conflict?
It was the bloodiest, deadliest war the world had ever seen. More than 38 million people died, many of them innocent civilians. It also was the most destructive war in history. Fighting raged in many parts of the world. More than 50 nations took part in the war, which changed the world forever.
For Americans, World War II had a clear-cut purpose. People knew why they were fighting: to defeat tyranny. Most of Europe had been conquered by Nazi Germany, which was under the iron grip of dictator Adolf Hitler. The war in Europe began with Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939. Wherever the Nazis went, they waged a campaign of terror, mainly against Jews, but also against other minorities. In Asia and the Pacific, Japanese armies invaded country after country, island after island. On December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day, the U.S. Congress declared war, taking the U.S. into World War II.