Term Paper: Dissolution of Empires After WWII

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¶ … World War II also marked the end of the idea of empire, an idea that had directed the actions of many European powers for some time and that was also evident in the actions of some of the countries of Asia. These various countries sought to expand their power by taking over other nations and by controlling the actions of those nations under one banner. For Europe, the result was the colonial era in which first newly discovered areas were incorporated as part of the empire and then when many of the regions later to be called the Third World were invaded and occupied. India was such a region, and British rule would continue until Gandhi, following his non-violent approach, helped in creating a consensus against the rule of the British and allowed the people to express their dissatisfaction in a way that appealed to the conscience of the world. The violence in the 1922 campaign was a disservice to the cause and allowed the British to retaliate, though the violence of that reaction did not do credit to the British, either. While Jinnah may have been uncertain of the motives of Gandhi, he also benefited from the methods and from the changes brought about by the series of satyagrahas against British rule.

Gandhi lived to see Indian independence and the partition of India into India and Pakistan. He was assassinated in 1948, and his death highlighted the value of his life and his achievement and so contributed to similar moves for independence for remaining colonial outposts. Gandhi remained a model for others and stood as an example for others to follow, contributing to the final dissolution of European Empire, while the war ended the idea of Asian empire.

2. Vietnam achieved independence through protracted war against different outside forces, notably the French in the 1950s. The U.S. involvement was directed against interference by the Chinese in the North, and the outcome of this war saw the expulsion of U.S. forces from Vietnam and the imposition of Communist rule from the North, though less as a Chinese act than as the result of the development of a Vietnamese version of Communist rule.

The history of Vietnam since 1975 has been a history of inner turmoil. Hanoi emerged victorious as Saigon fell, so that the newly reunited Vietnam was to be shaped by the Communist sensibilities in the North. From the first, the Hanoi government believed it had to confront what Communists have long called the struggle between the two paths of socialism and capitalism. Hanoi had to translate its wartime success and socialist revolutionary experience into postwar rehabilitation and reconstruction. Hanoi first had to restore order and stability to the war-torn South, and the critical question then was whether or not the North could inspire the people of the South to embrace communism. Early changes occurred more through coercion than volition. Hanoi sought a new socialist order in the South and relied on techniques apart from socialist economic transformation and socialist education, including thought reform, population resettlement, and internal exile, as well as surveillance and mass mobilization. For the former elite of the Saigon regime, a more rigorous form of indoctrination was used as hundreds of thousands of former military officers, bureaucrats, politicians, religious and labor leaders, scholars, intellectuals, and lawyers, as well as critics of the new regime, were placed in "reeducation camps" for varying periods of time. Currently, Vietnam is in the process of trying to forget much of its recent past and to downplay the war years. Vietnam today shows considerably more promise than in the past.

3. Much of the Middle East was under British control at one time, and the borders that now exist owe a good deal to the British era of oversight and control, with British wars helping determine those orders and the rulers or ruling groups that emerged to shape the nations that eventually developed.PRIVATE

The Middle East can be divided into four sections, the Arabian Peninsula, the Fertile Crescent, the Non-Arab North, and North Africa. The British have had an influence in all of these regions. There are eight nations along the Persian Gulf, and these are the oil-rich nations where more than half the world's known reserves and one-fifth the world's natural gas reserves are found. These nations also have low population and little industry, and they exist by selling oil to the rest of the world. A number of these nations were British protectorates and achieved independence slowly, with the oil reserves serving as a way of achieving economic independence.

The Arab countries have had a number of problems because of the creation of Israel in their midst. They have also been saddled with certain divisions imposed by the British, such as the partition of Palestine, creating a point of contention not solved to this day. The poorer countries do not benefit as much from oil revenues, and even some of the wealthier regions have great poverty for the masses while the ruling class benefits from oil wealth.

4. The French were displaced from North Africa in the war in Algeria. This war closely followed the French defeat in Vietnam. France tried to create a new colonial organization in the late 1950s, but the war in Algeria became all-consuming and would lead to the dissolution of the French hold on all the colonies in North Africa.

Those countries seeking independence conducted local referendums and were then granted independence, while a few did ask to remain part of the French empire and would become territories of France. Even among those, agreement was not permanent, leading to the Nigerian civil war in the late 1960s.

5. Negritude is a term referring to certain attitudes about how some African populations should view themselves and their relationship to the world. Negritude started as a literary movement in the 1930s and extended to French-speaking Africa as a protest against French colonial rule and the policy of assimilation by force. Assimilation in this fashion was seen as assuming the superiority of European culture over that of Africa, and the movement came to center on concerns for the whole black race. Writers created a single notion of Negritude that would have a major impact on subsequent history.

What was first a cultural concept would become a political idea that would empower various movements around the world, standing as a precursor for the Black Power movement in Africa and the United States. In Africa, the political movement would seek independence, elevating the idea of black rule for black people as a major reason for independence.

6. Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana was one of the founders of the modern Pan-African movement, an effort to recover the history, culture, and national identity of black Africa from the colonial powers and their influence. Nkrumah also had a Marxist perspective and saw capitalism as having harmful effects on Africa, effects that would persist for a long time. He argued for some form of socialism even as he denied the power of the African socialism offered by others in Africa at the time.

He tried to move his country to a more industrial economic model and away from dependence on the colonial trade system and on foreign capital. However, as time passed, Nkrumah imposed more controls on the economy and on the political system and saw the good of the nation in a way that he believed superseded individual rights for the people.

7. The people of Ghana gained more power over time and developed a sense of nationalism that would result in independence, with Ghana being the first sub-Saharan country to achieve independence. The movement started after World War II and increased in power. After achieving independence, however, Ghana suffered through a long series of coups leading to the suspension of Ghana's third constitution in 1981 and to a ban on political parties. Lt. Jerry Rawlings would become head of state and would face the need to do something about the poor economic conditions in the country.

Kenya achieved independence after a long and violent struggle, notably between the Mau Mau and the British, leading to the accession of Jomo Kenyatta when independence was a reality. After this, Kenyan history was marked by ethnic conflicts among tribal groups and threats from outside, notably from Uganda. After Kenyatta's death, violence and democratic movements marked much of the period, leading in time to strikes and labor unrest.

8. The Cultural Revolution in China in the late 1960s was an effort on the part of central party members to eliminate dissent and to exert tighter control over the society. The leaders attacked the four major elements of Chinese society, old customs, old habits, old culture, and old thinking. The Red Guard had its own ideas about what should be done and escalated the violence, proving their own revolutionary zeal by denouncing those they thought lacked it. Deng reacted against the Cultural Revolution and mass movements in general. He believed China needed stability… [END OF PREVIEW]

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