Europe DID need America after World War II - their economic help and military protection (not least by way of their new nuclear weaponry) is a major reason why the U.S.S.R. never managed to spread far beyond the Eastern Bloc. Even today, Europe's economy is absolutely dependent on the American economy - as our recent financial collapse shows. It's a balance of power that's shifting towards Asia, though, slowly, but the massive cultural ties between west-European nations and the US will play a strong part in keeping us tied to America for at least a generation or two yet.
On the subject of communism... there has never actually BEEN a communist nation, so it's kind of hard to say if it would be any better than our regular old capitalism. The Soviet Union and China both CLAIMED to be communist, but given that a communist nation has no government and functions on a complete and democratic equal share of the means of production, they're not really. They were socialist for a while, but Russia's long since fallen into the free market economy, and so has China, though they'd deny it vehemently in public. This is the major problem with communism: it doesn't actually seem to... work.
Also, capitalism is not pushed just by the 1% - in the western world it's pushed just as much by the middle classes, and in developing countries like China, even the lower classes are buying into it as their standard of living rises. It's true that with their immense resources, the wealthiest few wield tremendous influence over our politics, but the only way wealthy people stay wealthy is if they have lots of poorer people to support them. Should there be a fundamental shift in the way the lower- and middle classes think about money and economy (like, say, towards a collective communal model), the upper classes would have to either follow that shift or collapse.
It's a pretty damn complex issue, though, and I heavily suspect there is no real answer.
Excellent explanation of exploitation of superpowers (I will say the UK just had much culpability in wrecking the world economy as we had). Having multinationals across the globe we knew how we could manipulate governments and people into the downward spiral of mortgaged-backed derivatives (toxic loans to people who couldn't afford homes/cars in the first place then it spread to the ignorance/greed of the middle class who could afford homes and necessities, but played to their vanity with tons of free credit). Then cronyist governments like Greece and Spain that didn't generate enough tax revenue from the very rich and poor alike, cooked their books to get into the EU, and now have landed themselves in a mess that could have them kicked out of the EU (not that having a common currency made any sense what with different economies influenced by different cultures in order to deter war- and when were western European nations at each other's throats last?). As for Ireland and Iceland borrowing 20 times their GDP from Germany... EPIC FAIL!!! And it will happen again.
The principal reason Europe required the US was the shear industrial damage done. It was the 70's before the UK recovered properly from the devastation caused by the bombing from WWII. To this day some of the "temporary housing" constructed after WWI still stands (though admittedly they dont exactly function of emergency housing any more).
Britain shelled out billions of £'s to its colonials to enable them to continue to fight in both world wars. The British loans from WWI are so extensive and were handed out so liberally that there are no records detailing what was given to whom (So extensive were the loans in-fact that Britain could pay off its entire WWI debt to the US with plenty left over. As it is, no debts have ever been collected from WWI though technically they are all still outstanding). They couldnt be collected even if Britain tried. While the accounting was somewhat better in WWII full remunerations were never collected from said colonials. Again, Britain wouldnt collect even if it could.
France was just plain levelled and as noted Germany ceased to exist. That sort of damage takes decades to repair and in that period Europe as a whole was weakened beyond comprehension. Had WWII not happened the world political map would likely look very very different and still be very Europe centric. Critically as well, European nations that were not Britain suffered a horrific crisis of confidence. Allied nations because they were crushed quickly and with competitively little effort given their relative global power. The Axis nations because they were categorically defeated and have been labelled by history as monsters. Its difficult to describe what this does to a nation.
The last hostilities between -major- EU powers was WWII. In that regard, the EU has been unbelievably successful. Many of the smaller EU nations have been the site of significant violence in a variety of civil wars before their admission into the EU. The launch of the Euro was as you state botched beyond belief with nations lying left right and centre to get in and none properly checking them out. The Euro itself however is a brilliant idea. Part of the reason the US is so big is the availability of its internal resources and the size of its internal market. Should the rest of the world crash, while it would certainly hurt the US, they have sufficient resources and internal market to self sustain. The creation of the Euro generates a similar situation in Europe. It massively cheapens the cost of trading pan-Europe and as a result makes what would otherwise been a large commitment for an otherwise small market a profitable venture regarding a small start-up fee in order to reach some 350 million people. It is my hope one day that the UK will join the Euro, weird as this might sound coming from a Brit, a Unified Europe is an outstanding idea. In my personal opinion the only thing better is if we, the UK, can wrangle a position both in the EU and in the likely to form Commonwealth Union (Canada, Australia, India etc.).
Its difficult to really predict what might have happened has the US not been a part of post WWII Europe. Both France and the UK managed their own (and continue to, though the UK rents its missiles from the US, it is capable of building its own if required and the US has no say over how the UK arsenal is deployed) nuclear arsenals and have had them since shortly after the war, Britain was a significant partner in the Manhattan project and part of the treaties governing the joint cooperation actually stipulated that the British had to be consulted before a nuke was ever used. The dropping of the bomb on Japan is recorded in the annuls of history as a joint decision despite being regularly attributed solely to the US. Britain has never really left the nuclear cooperation agreement forged in WWII with the US (as apparent from the UK renting its missiles from them to the present day) and the positioning of US nukes all over Europe made the prospect of committing excessive resources to the development of nukes something of a losing proposition for France who had better things to spend its money on. Due to this, its very difficult to speculate on what independent European arsenals might have been built without the US. Both France and Britain were in possession of territory containing the requisite material while the US was dependant on imports. Principally this came from Canada and its kinda hard to say what would have happened had the UK told Canada to stop supplying the material given the very close ties they shared at the time.
On the none nuclear front, a unified Europe is possibly one of the scariest prospects I can think of. Individual European nations have successfully brought the world to its knees several times. Every time Europe has an internal war, it has massive ramifications globally. Should Western Europe actually ever manage a unified EU state it would be terrifying. I can readily see why Russia is trying to create its own trade block. Russia itself was in no state to prosecute a land war in Europe. While it had successfully relocated its industry to the Eastern reaches of the nation, putting it largely out of striking range, a significant quantity of material for the Russian war effort was derived from the allies. Not just raw material either, at one point 70% of the Russian air force was built in the UK and shipped by Arctic convoy to Northern Russia and in some battles as much as 90% of the tanks were British built. Additionally, Russian losses in WWII were estimated at 26.6 million. Though this has been contested and some historians suggest the true death toll may have been over 40 million. Meaning Russia lost somewhere between 14 and 25% of its population (1939 pop ~190 million). It certainly couldn't continue to sustain those sort of losses. Simply, they would have run out of men to fight.
Finally, post-war European recovery was dictated by the presumption of US support. Economic and military reconstruction plans were developed on this presumption. Had this support not been present, the redevelopment of these shattered nation would likely have progressed very differently. One example that comes to mind immediate was British decolonisation. In the 50's 60's and 70's, Britain aggressively pursued letting go of it colonies (This was arguably done WAY to quickly. Depending on how you chose to read history, the trouble in the middle east, the conflicts between India and Pakistan and Myanmar and Bangladesh, Sierra Leone to name just a few could all likely be traced to the British letting go just a little -too- quickly). They were becoming increasingly difficult to maintain given growing local dissatisfaction with having overlords and their resources becoming largely unnecessary because of a ready flow of cheap materials and goods coming in from the US making them increasingly unprofitable. Had that stream of US stuff not been available, who knows, Britain may never have let go of its Empire, certainly not so willing.
So to finally come full circle, I think its largely pointless speculating on what a post war Europe without US support might have looked like. To many variables. A bit like how its difficult to speculate on what a none US entry into WWII might have ended up looking like.
The funny thing is that you are American, and therefore instantly disqualified from making that judgement /sarcasm..
On a more serious note though, if you are referring to WWII then you are indeed incorrect, if you are referring to the bank crisis.. Well, we can thank good ol' murrica for that one as well (nah bro, I'm not anti America, I'm just anti "we are the greatest country in the world types).
Actually, I'm talking about the Cold War. Europe was destroyed both economically and physically. Without the Marshall Plan it's extremely likely that all of Europe, in it's desperate state, would have turned to communism. Of course there's also NATO which is basically "Haha Russia you can't attack us because if you do America will be required to attack you back!". (I don't think America is the best country in the world, that would just be arrogant of me)
If I'm not entirely mistaken(could happen ^^) the cold war kinda came about thanks to good ol' mother Russia+ mr murrica battling it out with each other, that being said America did contribute significantly to rebuilding Europe economically
As for Europe turning to communism - meh, doubt it, everyone (outside of Russia)knew it was a failed/doomed system (source: had family that visited the DDR back in the days) - But then again, we will never know ^^
As for nato : Meh, you are pretty much spot on Kinda funky how we have managed to elect socialists in Denmark though.. barff....
Sorry if I was kinda "head on collision" towards ya, I guess I AM damaged from playing Xbox live after all
Nothing per se, except that in Denmark they promised a whole load of horsemanure to get elected, and have been busy the last 8 months running as far away from all the stuff they promised as possible...
So far the only thing i can say i have noticed changing are the prices, everything that contains sugar has become noticeably pricier, while the alternatives haven't become any cheaper whatsoever.. Now, me being a student & all i should probably be happy, but the truth is that student's are the ones hit hardest by higher food prices, but I've grown up with a family that has traditionally voted for the "worker" parties, I voted for a "worker's" party back then, and was fairly disappointed that we ended up with a socialist government.. Not because I'm against socialism, but they have a habit of making stuff more expensive, not doing what they say they are going to do when they get elected, and generally trashing the economy... Basic Danish politics flowchart - step 1: Does the economics section of the country work? If yes, elect socialists, if no elect capitalists/"worker"s to fix it. step 2: Rinse and repeat every four years.
Desperate people do desperate things in desperate times, hence Nazi Germany. Besides, whether Europe wanted communism or not, it's them vs the soviet union. I'm sure many east Europeans didn't want communism.
Yeah, but pretty much all of Europe is socialist to some extent now.
I've never played Xbox live, but if you really do get "faggot" and "I slept with your mom" comments as much as they say then I'd be damaged too
They probably didn't, although I'm fairly certain that when USSR comes knockin' on the door, you better answer on your knees :/
True, lets see how long it lasts
Yeah.. "I never knew my mother was such a whore, until I joined Xbox live". This is however mostly the COD/battlefield kids, people in most other games know what they are doing, and are usually fairly nice people ^^
No, even back then they would disagree. de Gaulle was not known to be a happy collaborator with the US, and the British Empire was a proud thing, even in its twilight years. Yeah, they took the money, but it was an age of patriotism and nationalism, they didn't make vassal-states of themselves
England: Dammit America put us down right now or no dessert for a year!
America: nooo. ok fine *everyone gets down expect Denmark*
Sweden: Denmark you can get down now
Denmark: I'm not done drinking my beer, *finish beer* ok now I'll get um...* clutches on America's head* why are you so tall America?
England: I wounder that too, I could never get him to eat he's broccoli.
Norway: I'll help you down Denmark *helps Denmark down*
EU: See America we're not mindless zombies working for some evil over lord we're be just fine... *sees Japan's robot* um America
America: *Thinking wow my neck feels so much better with all that extra weight off my head*
EU: Um America pick us up
America: *still thinking serous with all this extra weight off me I could go for a nice jog in the park*
Sweden: Um I think this is serous America pay attention
America: *Oh but which park should I go to, should I go to a big park with gardens or maybe a smaller park, should I go with a crowded park or a deserted park, a park with people, but not too many people..
Everyone: "AMERICA PICK UP RIGHT NOW!"
America: *snaps out of he's thoughts* The park will have to wait..
America: exactly Germ, We need a vast space of land to fight this robot,
*everyone goes to country side of France...*
*America and the tower of Europeans fight the Japaneses robot, and Japan was almost defeated but he refuse to give up and almost did a kamikaze but then Germany called Sister Japan and asked her to ask Japan to stop being mean to him, and Sister Japan, came in with her giant mutant Lizard and the Robot and Giant mutant Lizard fight, but then made up.*
*then everyone went to a French restaurant*
*and France spit and all their food cause she's piss of everyone fighting in her yard*