The Cold War provided a structure, lasting for nearly half a century, within which major developments, the end of colonialism, the creation of the European Union, and even the emergence of the Pacific economies, were opposed or supported, accommodated, articulated and interpreted. To a considerable degree it also imposed a perspective upon the great conflict which preceded it. Most obviously, because it seemed to make ideology the key to the present, the Cold War perspective emphasised the ideological dimension of the Second World War, conceiving of it as a clash of ideologies. Thus the concept of a war against fascism, rather than of a war between states wedded to different ideologies and systems, was influential. The fact that none of the allies had, in fact, gone to war to crusade against fascism was not allowed to interfere with what was, essentially, a convenient fiction.
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