Daring Young Men by Richard Reeves is an extremely insightful and interesting book, which reflects on the dramatic blockage of the West Germany by Russia, in a bid to force them succumb to communism. In 1948, the Russians blocked the transport system, which was leading to Berlin, in order to prevent Allied Forces from supplying the region with provision. The Americans and its allies responded immediately; they organized an airlifting, in order to deliver all the supplies Berlin required by the use of airplanes. The dramatic blockade of West Berlin by the Soviet Union was a well-worked out in advance move by Stalin to disorient the West Germany and make it succumb to their power. The top aim was to make West Berlin fall under communism by denying citizens food and raw materials. In addition, Stalin wanted to test the Alliance of Western democratic countries, in order to see and evaluate their reaction. The Americans and its allies responded wisely by carrying out an airlift since fighting their way to occupying West Germany would have been costly and dangerous. The airplanes were organized to follow specific routes in and out of West Berlin, to deliver all the supplies required by the city. This paper takes a critical and succinct analysis of the historical significance of the Berlin Airlift on the ground of information provided in Daring Young Men by Richard Reeves.
At the end of the World War II, Germany was divided between the Soviet Union and Allied Powers. The eastern region fell under the sway of the Soviet Power while the western region was controlled by the United States, Britain, and France. The city of Berlin was divided into two parts. However, the Soviets controlled the railway transport system, which was critical for the economic prosperity of the region. In a short time, Joseph Stalin came up with policies, which stiffen the engagement of the eastern bloc. This move resulted in several people crossing into the western region. Prior to these events, the economic environment in the east worsened, due to Stalin’s policy. In order to assert power, the dictator suddenly declared the blockade in 1948. Because of the blockage of transport and supply routes, the transportation of goods and people to the west region of Berlin was made impossible. Stalin’s main aim was forcing the residents of Berlin to yield to their pressure. With the erection of the blockade, the Soviets intended to make the United States and its allies allow the Soviet Union to supply the food and fuel to the whole city of Berlin. The result would have let Stalin control the whole of Berlin.
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Berlin Airlift and its importance
The US and its allies were forced to resort to the Berlin Airlift. The democratic countries possessed an opportunity of forcing its way into the city, but the action could have resulted in a serious military conflict with the Soviet Union. However, the Allies also did not wish Stalin to get an absolute control over the city. In this regard, the US opted for the airlifting food supplies to Berlin as the only alternative to take. The Soviets, on the other hand, mocked at the airlift plan that it would fail soon.
In 1948, the US and its Allies began the process of airlifting goods with 32 C47 plains. They transported more than 80 tons of food. At the beginning of the operation of the Berlin airlift, less than 100 tons were airlifted, but the process was accelerated soon afterwards. The acceleration resulted in the delivery of more than 650 tons of flour, 120 tons of cereal and 100 tons of meat to the region on a daily basis. 200 tons of potatoes, 200 tons of sugar and 11 tons of coffee were added. As time went by, the airlift also included cheese, milk, vegetables, and salt.
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By 1949, more than 8,000 tons of supply had been airlifted to West Berlin, which by far exceeded the deliveries, which were done by the railway before the Russian blockade (Reeves, 2010). Despite some difficulties, the US and its Allies succeeded in delivering the supplies on a regular basis. The Berlin Airlift also incorporated Little Vittles, which involved giving out candies and chocolates to the children and people in the city. This initiative made the process popular among citizens and also acted as a great propaganda tool. In addition, the Russians were shamed when their supply rations were banished by people. This reaction made the communists remove the blockade in 1949. It was a vivid triumph of the Western Allies. It is prudent to note that even though the Berlin Airlift could not end the Cold War, it maintained the life of thousands of people in the city.
Before the end of the Second World War, the Democratic Powers realized that the Russians’ aim to set control over as much of European territory as possible would be a serious obstacle to absolute peace. The Americans allowed their army go home while the Russians ensured that their troops remained. In 1948, the United States troops in Germany estimated only 90,000 people while the Russian army ran into hundreds of thousands. The conflicting visions of the European postwar resulted in a severe political crisis. The main question was whether the Western Allies could come on agreement on the introduction of a common currency in their dominated zones, in West Germany. Soon afterwards, they decided to bring the brand-new currency to Berlin. The occupied capital city was under two regimes of the Soviet Union and the Allies. The Russian made sure that their power is felt by preventing the new currency from being introduced to the city; basically, this step could have lad to the establishment of an independent Western economic model in Germany. The Soviet troops stopped traffic on the roads and railroads going into Berlin. The move caused the U.S. a serious dilemma since they risked getting into another war by moving their convoy groups through to the capital city. The other option, for which they could opt, was a retreat; this move would have left the west part of the city and its citizens to fall under control of the communistic bloc. Richard Reeves managed to describe the actual solution in all details in his book Daring Young Men; the author reflects on the issue of the Blockade, brave and unpredictable efforts of the Allies to overcome it. General Lucius Dubignon Clay, the American military governor, was among those who were pessimistic about the idea of the Berlin Airlift. However, later on, he supported the mission when he saw the optimism, which the other allies were demonstrating. The British, on the other hand, were quite optimistic concerning the mission of the Berlin Airlift; this mission would let them not only supply their own troops, but also go ahead to feed the citizens, as well. Harry Truman, the then American president, was the one to change the history of the world by his decisiveness and determination. In the diary, President Truman wrote that Americans would stay in Berlin by all means. He further sent a powerful note to General Lucius Clay, which stressed his support of the Berlin Airlift. The President noted that the United States would do whatever possible to ensure that the Airlift was a success.
At an early date, an additional third airport was reconstructed from the Berlin's ruins, mostly by the housewives of the city. Indeed, females composed the majority of the population in West Berlin as most men fell victims of the war. This social group experienced the worst treatment from the Russians during the Soviet Union 62 days invasion. Before the Americans reached for their rescue, the women were abused and raped massively. According to Reeves, one million women were raped durign that time. In addition, the women had to work hard on the construction of the additional airport, which was ruined during bombings.
Even though the construction of the airport, adjusting supply, and other contributory issues caused some serious problems, the Allies managed to make the Berlin Airlift a huge success. In a period of six months, the Berlin Airlift had supplied more than 2,300,000 tons of clothing, provision, and coal. The Airlift was operated at a cost of the American taxpayers. Whether the Berlin Airlift could have proceeded on into another winter, or not is a completely different question, which has not been fully addressed by Reeves. The health condition of the Berlin dwellers, despite the food supply they received, was rather bad as compared to the previous year. This situation was because the Soviets succeeded in imposing real damage to the citizens even though they did not manage to remove the Western Allies from Berlin. Eventually, the Soviet Union suffered the consequences; the blockade compelled the United States, Britain, and France form a powerful alliance, to prevent further communist expansion. Consequently, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in 1949; West Germany became its most critical barricade and witness of the new democratic alliance power. The Berlin Airlift saved West Germany from starvation and oppression, which the Soviet Union intended to inflict on it. Therefore, the West German people remained under the influence of democracy and capitalism. It was also a wake-up call for countries, which were concentrating on reconstruction of their economies, to cooperate and avoid the conflict, which might have resulted in another world war, in the future.
The Berlin Airlift led to the formation and development of Western Alliance for the sake of promoting peace and democracy. The alliance also caused the implementation of the Bretton Wood System, to address the post World War development. As a rule, international organizations, such as the IMF and World Bank, have criticized the recipient countries for their lack of transparency, rampant corruption, and undemocratic governments. Towards this, they occasionally insist on the reform of the above-mentioned aspects as a pre-condition to giving loans and debt relief. However, these similar challenges affect the World Bank and IMF as these organizations are not always transparent, democratic, and accountable. Corruption takes place within these international organizations, and millions of dollars go unaccounted each year. The IMF and World Bank have headquarters in Washington, USA and are jointly owned by 184 member countries. It is noted that 40% of all shares are held by 7 powerful countries. This state of affairs gives the US an opportunity to hold the biggest share of ownership of 18%. This share gives them the ability to question the IMF and World Bank rules and regulations that are not in line with their economic and political interests. Voting rights are shared according to financial contribution and economical strength. This voting right has been dominated by a few countries, due to their financial influence in these institutions.
It is stipulated that the IMF and World Bank are, democratic organizations with voting shares, which are shared by all member countries in spite of their economic power. However, the irony is in the fact that the developing countries still cannot exercise their democratic mandates in the IMF global operation. As a rule, the countries with the leading economic strength, such as the USA, Eropean Union, and Japan have a well-stipulated agenda for trade negotiations and financial operation of the IMF. In these trade negotiations, the developing countries feel inferior due to their less powerful economic strength of ownership. This structural operation of the IMF and World Bank category prevent the majority of the world from influencing the international trade and financial agenda.
The Berlin Airlift also led to democratization of German and its later unification, which ensured that the German country is a single united republic. In addition, it made totalitarian regime, such as the Soviet Union, realize that it cannot do anything bad and expect the world to keep quiet. Therefore, this mission has promoted global human rights and cooperation among the nations.
The Berlin Airlift is a great lesson to the world on the need to maintain peace and fair cooperation. The totalitarianism was also put on notice by the act of the Soviet Union. Totalitarianism is a form of government whereby all the country resources are monopolized by the state in a bid to control all spheres of public and private life. This regime is characterized by propaganda, terror, and technology. The totalitarian concept does not recognize the essence of corruption and immorality. However, it projects a different society, in which corruption and immorality are a part and priority of the government. Totalitarian forms of government monopolize the country resources for the selfish conformity. It is hierarchical in nature, and it is dominated by a few political elite, just like the one in the Soviet Union. It is, therefore, prudent to note that Berlin Airlift opened a new chapter in the world cooperation and also proved the idea of a powerful democratic alliance for a better world.
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