Victory in Europe – or VE day – was clearly not the final chapter of the conflict. Japan remained to be fully defeated. But it was, nonetheless, a major milestone and marked an essential step towards ushering in a new kind of global order.
The US emerged from the conflict as a military superpower, having stolen a march on Moscow in terms of the development of nuclear weapons – henceforth the prime currency of global strategic power.
But the Russians soon caught up. Their decision to retain control over much of Eastern Europe dashed some of the more ambitious hopes for a less confrontational new order.
This prompted the creation of Nato and a seemingly permanent military and diplomatic linkage between the US and Western Europe. As journalist and historian Anne Applebaum noted in a Rusi webinar this week, it “created the idea of ‘the West’; a values-based alliance system not just about borders but about ideas too”.