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Decolonization: Adjusting to a Diminished World Role
Transcript of Decolonization: Adjusting to a Diminished World Role
Adjusting to a Diminished World Role
Dr. A.C.M. (Anna) Tijsseling
Remember the connection between lectures 7 and 8 ?
Three Questions and a Timeline
1. What caused decolonization after the Second World War?
2. What international dynamics surrounded the decolonization process?
3. Has colonialism ceased to exist?
Decolonization: Europe's Adjusting to a Diminished World Role
Causes of decolonization
after the Second World War
Colonialism nonexistent today?
1. Independence movements and Cold War dynamics
2. Lost imperial legitimacy: the British case
3. Lost imperial legitimacy: the French case
Independence movements and Cold War dynamics
Lost imperial legitimacy
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi
Tony Judt (2007) Postwar. A History of Europe since 1945 (Pimlico, London)
‘At the close of the Second World War, the peoples of Western Europe - who were hard put to govern or even feed themselves - continued to rule much of the non-European world. (...) To many in Britain, France or the Netherlands, their countries' colonies and imperial holdings in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas were balm for suffering and humiliation of the war in Europe; they had demonstrated their material value in the war as vital national resources.' (278)
'American scholars, projecting the experience and preoccupations of Washington onto the rest of the West, sometimes miss this distinctive feature of post-World War Two Europe. In the United States, the Cold War was what mattered and foreign and domestic priorities and rhetoric reflected this. But in The Hague, in London or in Paris, these same years were much taken up with costly guerilla wars in far-flung and increasingly ungovernable colonies. National independence movements were the strategic headache for much of the 1950s, not Moscow and its ambitions - though in some cases the two overlapped.' (281-282)
After the unconditional surrender of Germany
After the WWII the victors also lose their colonies
External causes and internal causes for European decolonization
US is enemy of empire: pressure to decolonize (external)
Japan defeats Europe in Pacific during WWII (external)
USSR/China: world revolution depends on liberation of colonial power (external)
Economical and military devastation of post-war Europe (internal)
Suez Crisis as turning point
in British imperial history
Dien Bien Phu (1954) Suez (1956) Algeria (1954-1962)
French humiliating defeats
New Imperialism (McKay 794ff)
The Treaty of Versailles
After the WWI the defeated countries lose their colonies....
Article 119 of the treaty required Germany to renounce sovereignty over former colonies
Article 22 converted the territories into mandates under the control of Allied states
1945ff: 'United Nations trust territories'
by 1990: nearly all sovereign states
File:League of Nations mandate Middle East and Africa.png (Wikipedia)
File:League of Nations mandate Pacific.png (Wikipedia)
28th President of US
League of Nations
"National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action..."
— Woodrow Wilson with his famous self-determination speech on 11.02.1918
Problems and tensions:
- definition of 'people'
- self-determination versus territorial integrity
- self-determination versus majority rule/equal rights
- cases of disputed self-determination (e.g. Aboriginals, Kurdistan, Cyprus)
Imperialism: trans-historical, trans-cultural and trans-geographic
Imperialism has been found in the histories of Japan, the Assyrian Empire, the Chinese Empire, the Roman Empire, Greece, the Byzantine Empire, the Persian Empire, the Ottoman Empire, ancient Egypt, the British Empire and India.
Today: Europe's imperialism/colonialism
some idea of
Liberal Commonwealth interpretation
Crisis in confidence
Termination of Western consensus on colonialism
Nationalist independence movements in colonies
Diplomatic pressure by other industrialized powers
The history of decolonization varies from region to region and from country to country
Violent/peaceful decolonization process
Post-colonial violence/post-colonial peace
'Europeans clearly expected to retain their colonies after the war, albeit with greater local autonomy.' (481)
Wartime eclipse of power of European states: destroyed legitimacy of colonial regimes
Military and financial exhaustion: precluded efforts to re-establish colonial authority
Ideal national self-determination after WWI
Skilled guerrilla tacticians exploited heightened expectations, swollen populations, and land hunger that European contact had generated
Chapter 9. Lost Illusions
discusses the history of European decolonization as...
... something that occurred mainly because of lack of knowledge:
colonies were partly governed indirectly:
"[P]oliticians of post-war Europe had hardly any information about the rapid growth of nationalist sentiment among a coming generation of activists throughout the empires" (279)
impact of World War II:
"The world war (...) had wrought greater changes in the colonies than most Europeans yet understood." (280)
main development highlighted by Judt:
Japanese occupation of European colonies:
myth of European invincibility shattered for good
growing pressure to relinquish their traditional claims (280)
Chapter 17. Western Europe, the Cold War, and Decolonization
Chapter 29. Cold War Conflict and Consensus
Demand national self-determination, racial equality, and personal dignity of non-Western people
spread to masses after WWI
WWII leads to triumph of independence movements
Declining power differential rulers and ruled:
Europe: economically devastated, military weak
Japanese victory during WWII
Japanese stimulated anticolonial nationalist movements in conquered Asian territories
Pressure US: enemy of empire
Stimulation USSR/China of anticolonial movements: liberation key part of world revolution
Different view of empire in 1945 (compared to 1919) (WWII shattered belief in superiority)
1947: decolonization and partitioning
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
do try this @ home!
liberation in 1949
1945-1949: ' police actions'
Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia
Ho Chi Minh (1890-1969)
Dutch East Indies
President of Communist North Vietnam (1954ff)
Yes: after the collapse of the European empires, no empire resurfaced (yet...)
After fall of Roman, Persian, American empires new empires resurfaced
After decolonization no new empires
No: colonization is not only about territory!
Special situation: decolonization after WWI
Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Transjordan already independent
Mandates Syria and Lebanon independent after WWII
not the same as anti-western!
Nasser declares Egypt non-aligned in 1956
(see lecture 7)
remember the Balfour Declaration? (02.11.1917)
1st President of independent Israel (r.1948-1952)
New after WWII:
Jewish Resistance Movement: anti-British
20.09.1947: UK leaves Palestine (refers the question to UN)
1947: British would no longer rule India from August 1947
other locations available to base troops: Egypt, Libya and Kenya
UN: non-binding two-state solution
Anti-pro-western nationalist revolution in Egypt
Menachem Begin speaks to activists in 1948 EPA
Prime Minister of Israel
African independence movements after WWII
for earlier anti-colonial movements in Africa, see:
independent in 1957
founding member of the Non-Aligned Movement
don't judge a flag by its star!
Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania gained independence with little or no bloodshed...
Please note: Abyssinia was a member of the League of Nations (predecessor of United Nations)
Italian colony 1936-1944
1949: Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I
Military overthrow of Selassi (1974)
What is different?
Socialist Military Regime
Lots of socialist symbolism
People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1987
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1996
Addition after 6 years
Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, 1991
Flag without symbols (used by population irrespective of official flags)
back to the flag from before 1936
international independence movement
Mouvement National Congolais
led by Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961)
first prime minister after independence
Other decolonization processes were violent...
other violent decolonization process (Algeria) in next section
prior to Suez
post-war: crippled but victorious
initially no doubts about legitimacy colonial rule
India being the exception
Labour administration after 1945!
put down insurrections in the colonies
British Guiana (Guyana): military response to Marxist-led government (1953)
Kenya: Bloody suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion (1952-1957)
Malaya: guerilla warfare (1948-1957)
citing Paxton and Hessler (2012: 483)
'Britain and France had divided up the spoils after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Arab resentment at seeing their national aspirations thwarted by British mandates over Palestine and Iraq and French mandates over Syria and Lebanon simmered between the wars. It was raised to fever pitch by the Zionists’ success in creating a Jewish state in part of Palestine in 1948. A new generation of Arab nationalist leaders, such as the Egyptian Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser, threw out some of the corrupt pro-western monarchies of the Middle East and turned to the Soviet Union for aid. Egypt and Syria accepted Soviet arms in 1955. Then, when the United States refused to provide new funds to Egypt for a new high dam at Aswan on the Nile, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, a vital artery for petroleum shipments to Europe, then under international control. Britain, France, and Israel secretly devised a joint lightning attack that was supposed to seize the canal and Cairo. (...) [A]erial bombardment of Cairo and Port Said had already earned the intervention nearly unanimous condemnation at the United Nations.’
Following the Suez crisis, 1956:
bitter recriminations at home, and six months of gasoline rationing
dramatic scaling back of military commitments
winding up Malayan and Kenyan operations
redeploying colonial forces to Great Britain
1959: abolishing universal military service
granting African colonies independence:
1957: Gold Coast (Ghana)
1961: Sierra Leone
1963: Kenya (Mau Mau uprising)
1963: Tanganyika (Tanzania)
Almost all former British colonies chose to adhere to the Commonwealth after independence, an organization created on the basis of equality between Britain and its self-governing colonies and dominions in 1931. (Commonwealth is product of Imperial Conferences, 1911ff).
Humiliation of Suez Crisis overshadowed by considerably more traumatic defeats.
Before: Dien Bien Phu. After: the surrender of Algeria.
France’s conduct in their colonies:
- Brutally suppressing pro-independence riots:
Damascus, Syria (May 1945)
Setif, Algeria (May 1945)
Haiphong, Indochina (November 1946)
Madagascar (March 1947)
War in Indochina (1946-1954)
Algerian War (1954-1962)
French army: draftees. Effect: civilians experience professional army’s frustration of failure of modern weapons against guerilla warfare. (486)
Within France: bitter division between critiques of the war and those who thought France was defending civilization and Enlightenment against Communism (486)
May 1958: Coup d’etat by Pieds-Noirs, Frenchmen in Algeria opposed to independence (fought against Algerian FLN). Result in France: transition from Fourth Republic to Fifth Republic. De Gaulle for president.
‘The Empire seemed the key to French greatness after the shame of Vichy.'
(Paxton and Hessler, 2012: 484)
Viet Minh troops plant their flag over a captured French position
First Indo-China War (1946-1954)
Lost imperial legitimacy
1. Causes for decolonization
Decolonization is a varied process: violent/non-violent; post-colonial conflict/post-colonial stability
2. International dynamics
Triumph of (nationalist) independence movements
From illusions to lost illusions: European colonial rulers
US vs USSR/China Cold War struggles
1955: NAM - international independence movement
3. Colonialism - Decolonization - Neo-colonialism
feminist, anti-racist youth organization in The Hague
die mijn land geplunderd
ook mijn staatsschuld
socio-economic and political control that can be exercised economically, linguistically, and culturally
"The time has come to end this charade [paying debts to IMF and the World Bank, AT]. The debts are unaffordable. If they won't cancel the debts, I would suggest obstruction; you do it, yourselves. Africa should say: "Thank you very much, but we need this money to meet the needs of children who are dying, right now, so, we will put the debt-servicing payments into urgent social investment in health, education, drinking water, the control of AIDS, and other needs".
— Jeffrey Sachs 'Africa should not pay its debts' (BBC news 6 July, 2004)
Why do I need to know about the Cold War and decolonization?
Judt: ‘[I]t was to head off a return to the old demons (unemployment, Fascism, German militarism, war, revolution) that western Europe took the new path with which we are now familiar.
Post-national, welfare-state, cooperative, pacific Europe was not born of the optimistic, ambitious, forward-looking project imagined in fond retrospect by today’s Euro-idealists. It was the insecure child of anxiety. Shadowed by history, its leaders implemented social reforms and built new institutions as a prophylactic, to keep the past at bay.’ (6)
Remember lecture 7:
Cold War and Decolonization:
the context of the post-war European economic and political integration process
"The Rhodes Colossus" – cartoon by Edward Linley Sambourne, published in Punch after Rhodes announced plans for a telegraph line from Cape Town to Cairo in 1892.
caused regime-change in France!
birth of the Fifth Republic:
The First Republic
The First Empire
Provisional Government of the French Republic
main reason why UK was apprehensive about joining the European integration process at first
timeline french regimes 1789-1958