At Yalta, even before the end of World War II, the United States, Russia, and Britain harbored very different visions of the coming world order. World War II destroyed Europe’s dominance, leading to a three-world system. Locked in the cold war struggle were the First World—the United States and allies—and the Second World—the Soviet Union. The Third World included virtually everyone else.Modules
After colonial empires collapsed during World War II, colonized peoples were determined to forge their own nations. Decolonization followed three patterns: civil war, negotiated independence, and incomplete decolonization. Independence came with little bloodshed in the British territories of India and Africa. Seeing the writing on the wall, the British simply withdrew. With decolonization creating new independent states, the superpowers positioned themselves to offer either democracy and capitalist economic growth or egalitarianism and rapid modernization respectively. Choosing to go their own way, many states struggled to modernize even as cold-war competition found its way into Third World politics.