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Essay: The Rise of the USA as a Superpower

Categories: History, US Military
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The development and use of nuclear power has led to the United States assuming a position as the true World Military Superpower.  The Unites States was the leader in planning, building, testing and actually using the most powerful nuclear weapon known to man.  This country also led the world in relatively safe production of nuclear power.  The only other competitor to the United States, the Soviet Union, had poor leaders, induced a poor economy, and eventually led the country to lose the race for superpower.

During World War II, the United States began the research and development of the atomic bomb.  Code-named the Manhattan Project, it took place in a government built city in New Mexico called Los Alamos.  General Leslie Groves and physicist Robert Oppenheimer led the research to create this atomic bomb.  The mission was to build, test and, if necessary, unleash an atomic bomb.  With the many people working on creating and building this bomb, they completed it within the short amount of time given.  In July of 1945, they tested the nuclear bomb in New Mexico.  It was a success.  The very next month, an atomic bomb nicknamed “Little Boy” was dropped on Hiroshima.  Only a few days later, the atomic bomb “Fat Man” was dropped on Nagasaki.  It was around this time that the United States found out that nobody, not even Germany or the Soviet Union, was anywhere close to competing with the U.S. in atomic weaponry.  The atomic bomb was dropped not only to end the war with the Japanese, but to show the world, especially the Soviet Union, how powerful the United States was in its government, its military, its technology, and its people.  The fact that it was a new bomb and being the first type of its kind ever created also caused an eagerness to use the bomb and see how it would work.  These three factors are the reasons behind the United States dropping the atomic bomb on Japan, as they unknowingly and unintentionally began the nuclear age and the Cold War.

The Cold War began as World War II was ending.  The United States and the Soviet Union came out of the previous war nearly equal in strength, with the United States having the upper hand, being the first to create and use such intense nuclear power.  It was during this time that these countries were competing to become the World Superpower.  Nuclear power, for the purposes of electricity as well as weaponry, was going to be the determining factor as to who would be the greater Superpower.  The United States leadership was strong and organized.  The economy was good and growing stronger.  The Soviet Union was not doing as well.  Formerly being under the rule of Stalin, with strict centralization where it was only the highest party levels that made any and all decisions who ruled by decree and enforced with terror, the Soviet people and economy was stagnating.  Strict centralization continued and eventually led to economic decline, inefficiency, and apathy during the 1970s and 1980s, and contributed to the Chernobyl’ nuclear disaster.

The great disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 was the final string cut that led not only to the Soviet Union losing its war to become the greatest World Superpower, but furthermore, the collapse of the Soviet system.  The Chernobyl Nuclear Powerplant was being run by people who made mistakes maintaining the power supply, who were tired of their own country, and who simply didn’t care.  This careless conduct led to poor maintenance and low output of nuclear power.  To correct for this, some steps were taken to increase the power output.  During the effort to correct the low power output, one final error occurred, and the consequences were tremendous.  One of the reactors exploded and released huge doses of radiation.  The ambitious nuclear power program of the Soviet Union was now over.

The Unites States led the world in nuclear technology by producing the atomic bomb, and had the courage to use it – twice.  This proved to the world that the United States was a Superpower they should fear. The United States also had good leaders whom kept the economy strong, and kept the people in order.  The Soviet Union however, trailed behing the United States.  They did not have the technology to produce the amount of nuclear power that the United States had, nor the economy to support the research.  Their economy was not only poor, but also continually declining.  With these governing factors, and finally the accident at Chernobyl, the Soviet Union collapsed.  The Unites States endured through this time, stayed strong, and came out to be the World Military Superpower.

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