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Decolonization After 1945

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Sam Grund

on 15 April 2014

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Transcript of Decolonization After 1945

As new nations began to establish themselves, they joined the United Nations (member nations grew from 35 to 127 from 1946-1970)
These "third world" countries were different in not only their makeup (non-white, developing), but in their approach to politics
They were very vocal about continued decolonization, marking the beginning of the end of the colonial era
The United Nations
As the fear of communism grew, colonies began to be seen as opportunities for communism to spread
Such fears were supported by the struggles for independence by the Indonesians against the Dutch, the Vietnamese against the French, and the nationalist/socialist takeovers of Egypt and Iran
The US used aid packages, technical assistance, and sometimes military intervention in order to counteract the spread of communism
Communism and Decolonization
The United States usually supported national self determination, however its ties to European allies complicated colonial independence, as they had imperial claims to the colonies
Matters were further complicated by The Cold War, as the US was more concerned with the spread of communism than with decolonization
European powers thought that the post-war world would include a renewed vigor in the colonies, bringing them more resources
Not wanting to force the issue, the US government instead encouraged decolonization
The United States in Asia
During the war, Japan drove a number of European nations out of Asia
After the surrender of the Japanese, former Asian colonies under local movements pushed for independence rather than go back under European rule
Such groups were usually guerrilla groups, such as in Indonesia or French Indochina
They would often look to the United States for support
During WWII (Asia)
Before the breakout of war, much of the world was under the rule of a European colonial power
African and Asian countries in particular were seen as gold mines for raw material, labor, and territory
Development was not prominent in these territories, instead they were brutalized for whatever resources they had
Decolonization After 1945
British Decolonization
After the war, Britain's resources were depleted from maintaining the war effort
There were two main reasons for British decolonization
Inability to police colonies because of occupied military
Pressure from other superpowers, namely the US, with legislation such as the Lend Lease act which called for decolonization after US support of Britain
As the economy in Britain suffered as a result of the war, they were unable to maintain control over India
This coincided with growing Nationalism within India, which led to an inevitable push for independence
The British were resigned to losing India, but there was internal conflict within India as to how the population wanted the new India to look
During WWII (Africa)
As battles raged over continental Europe, many European nations found themselves with shortages for raw materials either due to exhaustion or blockades.
In order to compensate for these shortages, African nations were heavily relied on for resources such as oil and rubber.
With growing dependance, industry and wealth began flowing into the once destitute countries.
As Africa modernized for the war effort, education within rose and thoughts for independence began to grow.
India (ctd.)
The Hindus and Muslims came to blows as to how India would look after Independence
Hindus, the majority, wanted a single, non-denominational state. They were represented by Jawaharlal Nehru and the Congress Party
The Muslims, represented by Muhammed Ali Jinnah and the All India Muslim League, wanted two separate nations, one of which would be an Islamic state
Towards the end of 1945, riots broke out in India's biggest cities and led to violent conflict between the two religious groups throughout 1946
By February 1947, the British had decided accelerate the transition process. They created a deadline of June 30th 1948, when they would hand over power to an Indian authority
August 15th, 1947: Indian powers agree to a partition
The Hindus would get the Indian Union, while the Muslims would get Eastern and Western Pakistan (regions with Muslim majority)
The Pakistans were separated by 1,700 KM
There were certain regions where Hindus and Muslims had lived together peacefully, but underwent mass exoduses to get to their new locations
10-15 million people left their homes and migrated to their new locations
Many were attacked as they traveled, massacres
Hindus vs Muslims
Originally colonized by Germany, Rwanda was soon seized by Belgium during World War I.
The colony of Rwanda was primarily used to harvest coffee beans and was used to provide coffee to soldiers during WWII
Following 1945, Rwanda became a UN trust territory under Belgium, with plans for independence in the works.
First Kashmir War 1947
A decision by the Hindu Maharaja decided to join the Indian Union, even though the majority of Kashmir was Muslim.
Pakistan opposed this decision and invaded part of Kashmir
1949- a ceasefire is called by the UN and Kashmir is divided into two
Even today, Kashmir remains a contested territory
Under UN guidelines, Rwanda held a democratic election in 1960. By 1961, Rwanda became a full fledged republic
Post Indian Independence
After gaining independence, the Indian Union tried to gain possession of the French and Portuguese trading posts there
Got them from France after negotiations in 1949 and 1954
Portugal didn't want to give them up, the Indian Union eventually took them by force in 1961
In 1971, East Pakistan rebelled again
st the
government and gained its own independence, under the name Bang
Throughout the 20th Century, a movement known as Pan-Africanism swept through African populaces
The idea of Pan-Africanism was for African unity and the acquisition of rights and autonomy through collective self-reliance. As such Pan-African leaders were strongly in favor of the decolonization of Africa and were instrumental in bringing about change.
Following the Fifth Pan-African Congress in 1945, widespread nationalism began to sprout up across Africa.
By 1960, numerous African countries had attained independence
Issues within Rwanda
Within what is present day Rwanda, there exist two main ethnic groups. Hutus were some of the first people to settle in the area and constitute the majority, while Tutsi are often considered to be "foreigners" and represent the minority.
However, when Europeans arrived, they found the Tutsi to be more "Caucasian" and used notions of phrenology to assert that Tutsi were the racially superior Africans.
With these notions in mind, the Germans and the Belgians created pro-Tutsi laws that discriminated against the largely Hutu population. Tutsi were held as the elite. This increased tensions held by the two groups.
In the years leading up to independence and in the years following, both Hutu and Tutsi extremist groups launch attacks on one another.
Belgian authorities largely do nothing to stop the attacks
Rwandan Genocide and European Reaction
Tensions over colonially-induced prejudices finally boiled over in 1994, when almost 1 million Rwandans were slaughtered over the course of 100 days
Europe was slow to react, initially citing the incident as an act of civil war rather than genocide.
The UN was conflicted in its response as there were accusations that the French supported the Hutus and reports of Tutsi's committing genocide against Hutus in neighboring Zaire
The Recurring Theme
One major criticism often brought up with decolonization is that the country that is decolonizing often leaves without properly transitioning the former colony. As such power vacuums often erupt. When power vacuums form, new groups spring up to replace the old regimes. Extremists often seize the opportunity to take control. These groups fight out the problems brought by colonization in ideology or wealth disparity, often with disastrous consequences
Hong Kong
Hong Kong was underr British rule starting in 1841. and was until 1941
During WWII, it was taken over and occupied Japan
After Japanese surrender. control went back to Britain
Under British rule Hong Kong had a flourishing capitalist economy
It remained so until , in 1985, the Sino-British joint declaration was signed
It stated that on July 1, 1997, Hong Kong would go back under Chinese control
"One country, systems"-- China agreed to let Hong Kong maintain its previous capitalist economy, while mainland China would continue in its socialist ways. They agreed that this way of life would remain unchanged for 50 years
Tensions between Hong Kong and China because of conflicting ideaoligies, socioeconomics
Sierra Leone
Colonized by the British in the early 19th Century, Sierra Leone was long prized for its mineral deposits.
Conditions in the mines were brutal and countless natives were killed
Like many African Nations during the mid 20th century, Sierra Leone attained its independence in 1961 with free elections. They achieved this under the leadership of Sir Milton Margai.
Conflict Following Decolonization
With the Sierra Leone no longer under the control of the British, a power vacuum emerged within the country
In less than a decade since independence, three military coups had overthrown the government.
African Warlords seized control of the lucrative mining operations, leading to a world trade of "blood diamonds"
With political instability brought from decolonization, extremist factions like the Revolutionary United Front terrorized the country, as tensions culminated with the Sierra Leone Civil War in which over 50,000 were killed.
While the UN made efforts to quell the conflict, companies within Europe and across the globe continue to fuel the violence with the flow of the blood diamond trade.
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