The notion of a tri-polar cold war, however much that could be the case vs just being Great Power Politics lacking the ideology of the Cold War is a popular one. The most popular choice seems to be the British Empire or perhaps a stronger postwar France since the bulk of its empire wasn't just to hold an India that was getting independence no matter what (or Franco-British Union if one is a fan of Edward III). But, that begs the question, who would be Great Power number four? The way I see it, we have three options that each have their own problems. For the record, no matter what I'm assuming the POD is after 33
- The other colonial power. Both of them run into much of the same issues. Neither the US nor Soviets wanted to prop up colonial powers long enough for them to stand up on their feet again. For France, the Metropole was frankly in ruins after Nazi Occupation, and their army in no position to hold the colonies. For Britain, with India gone, much of the Empire's wealth and directly taxed population was gone, and the reforms that could keep them would make it the Indian Empire in a few decades (which I don't think would apply for France). And both of them were broke
- China, either of them. Neither the CCP or KMT wanted to march to the foreigners drum, and were powerful enough to strike out on their own as an independent power. However, they would have to rebuild the 4th largest country on the planet, and much of their growth to a major power in the 90s was still seen as miraculous
- Germany. in ww2, heir entire economy was based on looting other powers in the short term to supply their war machine and would require distinctive reworking, something I don't see Hitler or any devoted fascist doing, and their survival would require insane luck in of itself, let alone buying them enough time to survive the reform proces; however, a German Military Junta might be able to, if it can secure peace in Europe.