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INTRODUCTION eric patterson In October 1944 British Prime Minister Winston Churchill flew to Moscow to meet with Soviet leader Josef Stalin. Part of their discussion centered on British and Soviet spheres of influence following an Allied victory over the Axis powers. Churchill nonchalantly jotted on a piece of paper his suggested percentages of British and Soviet spheres of influence: 50–50 in Hungary and Yugoslavia, 90 percent for the Russians in Romania , and 75 percent in Bulgaria, whereas the Brits were to have 90 percent influence in Greece. Churchill pushed the paper across the table to Stalin, who ticked off the various countries one by one: Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary. Stalin then returned the sheet to Churchill. The prime minister recorded in his biography that the following exchange ensued: Churchill: Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of these issues so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper. Stalin: No, you keep it.1 Is this all that there was to it? Was the end of the Second World War in Europe really decided over brandy, without regard for wider issues of colonies, oil, or the looming German question? What about the unresolved business of the Treaty of Versailles from World War I, not to mention other players such as Japan, China, and the United States? Today we tend to look back on that as a golden period, a so-called great war for civilization. We refer to its American participants as the Greatest Generation. Historians hail Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and 1 2 eric patterson members of the Truman administration as the leaders who prosecuted a war against barbarity and handed us a new world order in the aftermath. However, many of the postwar achievements—the political rehabilitation of Germany and Japan, the Marshall Plan, the Truman Doctrine, the Bretton Woods System, the inauguration of the United Nations—were ad hoc. They were often experimental quick fixes to the dilemmas of international politics of the time, and they were not tethered to robust strategic and ethical analyses that provided a long-term future picture of what international relations might look like at war’s end. Certainly, some planning did occur on specific issues, but neither Churchill, Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Clement Attlee, Dean Acheson, General George C. Marshall , nor any other major figure as far as we know utilized a formal ethical framework to think ahead to the long-term issues of justice and security at war’s end beyond immediate victory over the Axis powers, securing Europe and the Pacific, and prosecution of the enemy’s senior leadership. Nevertheless, in retrospect, the late- and postwar decisions of the Allied leadership illustrate three critical principles. First, after war’s end there had to be robust, enduring order. Churchill and Stalin, as veteran observers of an earlier world war, understood that better than anyone, and they began secretly discussing their spheres of influence as early as 1943. They recognized that the settlement of World War I led to disorder: a bankrupt Europe; a seething, starving Germany; American isolationism; and the absence of agreement among the Great Powers—such as that which kept the peace between them for nearly a century following the 1815 Concert of Vienna. What was needed was level-headed—or coldblooded —calculations of international security rooted in political realism, not the fanciful idealism of the League of Nations and the Kellogg-Briand Pact (which had outlawed war in 1927). International security would only be secure if pragmatic actions were taken to found the peace: spheres of influence, buffer zones, a divided Germany, and powerful national militaries . After the war ended, many practical steps were implemented as new conditions arose to bolster security and avert new wars from breaking out, from continued military occupation to new alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Second, the Allied Powers were particularly concerned with justice. The Nazis were particularly heinous, having not only violated international law in aggressing their neighbors but by practicing what today we call ethnic introduction 3 cleansing and genocide. In 1945 the Allies chartered an International Military Tribunal to prosecute leaders of the German war effort. Made up of four judges from each of the four victorious Allied powers, the Tribunal at Nuremberg ultimately passed 25 death sentences, 20 life sentences , 97 lesser prison terms, and acquitted an additional 35 individuals. The postwar German government prosecuted...


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