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====Wartime devastation of Europe and Japan====
Furthermore, U.S. allies—economically exhausted by the war—accepted this leadership. They needed U.S. assistance to rebuild their domestic production and to finance their international trade; indeed, they needed it to survive.
Before the war, the French and the British were realizing that they could no longer compete with U.S. industry in an open marketplace. During the 1930s, the British had created their own economic bloc to shut out U.S. goods. Churchill did not believe that he could surrender that protection after the war, so he watered down the Atlantic Charter's "free access" clause before agreeing to it.
Yet, U.S. officials were determined to break open the empire. Combined, British and U.S. trade accounted for well over half the world's exchange of goods. If the British bloc could be split apart, the U.S. would be well on its way to opening the entire global marketplace. But as the nineteenth century had been economically dominated by Britain, the second half of the twentieth was to be one of U.S. hegemony.