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Questions and Answers

TOPIC

QUESTION

Suez

How could the USA and USSR pass a resolution in the UN to demand immediate ceasefire (after Suez crisis) without Britain and France (who were also permanent members of the UN security council) ?
Did Britain and France's invasion have any effect on the UN (as the permanent members did not agree) ?
The USA and the USSR joined to pass this resolution : did it have any affects on the cold war?

Mr Bunch writes

The UN didn't pass a resolution as you say because of the British and French Veto. But they were in the minority with even Australia (one of the temporary members of the Security Council) voting against them. In some ways the UN was weaker because of Suez but the leadership of the Secretary General, Dan Hammerskold probably increased its prestige. Interestingly, both the US and USSR agreed (for different reasons) that GB and France were in the wrong. So no Cold War there. However, it marks the real beginnings of both Soviet and US interference and as such increased Cold War tensions in the area. The US will act under what became known as the Eisenhower doctrine and the USSR will increase economic and military help for Egypt.

Vietnam

What was involved in the Vietnamisation of the war?

Mr Bunch writes

Training the South Vietnam Army to fight for itself and extending the war wider e.g. invasion of Cambodia.

Vietnam

What was "Mi lay" ? And what was the Tet offensive?

Mr Bunch writes

Mai Lay was a village where US forces carried out a horrifying massacre. Hugely increased protests inside the USA against the war. The Tet offensive was a combined North Vietnam and Vietcong offensive (Spring offensive) against South Vietnam and the US in 1968. Initially damaging but in the medium term unsuccessful. Long term, however, showed such an offensive was possible and was another step on the road towards US withdrawal.

French Decolonization

What are exactly the FIDES reforms of 1946-1956? And what are their significance?

Mr Bunch writes

FIDES (Fonds d'intervention pour le développement économique et social) was introduced after the 2WW by the French government as a way of improving economies, social fabric, education in its colonies. Was it to prepare for independence or to strengthen French control? In any case France poured considerable sums into their colonies...

Containment

What is exactly SEATO and CENTO? What was their significance?

Mr Bunch writes

SEATO (South East Asia Treaty Organisation) and CENTO (Central Treaty Organisation) were extensions to the Far East and to Central Asia of NATO. SEATO came about after Korea and the IndoChina war to prevent further Communist advances and had as its members: Australia, France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. CENTO was the logical continuation (Baghdad Pact) with Iraq, Turkey, Pakistan, Iran, and the United Kingdom. The US joined in 1958 when Iraq's revolution brought in the Ba'ath Party and Iraq left Cento began to look to Moscow. This 'Pactomania' saw also the extension on NATO to include West Germany....and eventually (1955) the Warsaw Pact was formed to counter all this.

YALTA

I am not sure to have fully understood why the Big Three argued about their interpretations of 'democracy' after discussing Poland at Yalta.
What did "democracy" precisely mean to the Soviets, if they considered communism to be democratic? Did they mean that the way the country was for the people, and therefore democratic?

Mr Bunch writes

I don't think they argued about their interpretations of democracy although they certainly understood it differently.  Stalin was happy to have it in the text since it allowed a common statement to be issued on Poland. Meanwhile, he could begin to manipulate the subsequent elections without there being much his allies could do. As for interpretations of democracy, the Western allies understood it to involve multi-party elections whereas Stalin believed that democracy could be achieved through a single party system.

Br  decol

Long Q
worth
reading!

I'd like to know what happened exactly in Malaya. I know the USA supported Britain to stay there because of the communist threat, but I'd like to have precisions about this threat. Malaya was divided between Chinese community, Malay community and Indian community, and at the time China hadn't yet fallen to communism, however the Malayan Peoples Anti-Japanese Army was Chinese and communist-dominated. That is what I have understood, but after that I find it confusing. What is it about the equal rights for Chinese that Britain promised and btw Chinese and Indian later? I don't grasp how it was that Malaya finally gained independence, because even though the Malayan Chinese Association, the United Malays' National Organisation and the Malayan Indian Congress formed a coalition in 1953, the communist threat still existed no ? Was it in 1955 when the Malay Federation was created that Malaya was considered independent, or was it in 1957 ? What is there exactly to remember about Malaya?

Mr Bunch writes

The important thing to emphasize is that Britain did not intend to keep Malaya and independence was promised not long after India's. It was just a question of the type of independence and the process. Britain wanted to leave Westminster-style parliamentary democracy. This was not favoured by the Malays because it would give the Indians and Chinese too much influence. First delay. Then, there was no question of leaving a situation favourable to Communism (essentially Chinese Communism). Second delay. The British were prepared to fight against that (General Temple) but not for long. It was too expensive. By having the elections and leaving, they took away the official reason for Chinese resistance.

Korea

In my readings about the Korean War, the role of China is sometimes emphasised and sometimes completely ignored; and I don't know what to make of that.

Mr Bunch writes

It's difficult to know why some books, especially textbooks, simply discuss the role of the USSR and whether it did or didn't back North Korea. I suppose it's normal, though, since not even 'Time' questioned that orthodoxy. In July 1950, I read in Time, "An 83 year old man in Los Angeles...had an urge to call up Joe Stalin and ask what he was up to...." But as the story unfolded, China starts to become more of the focus. "Time" in December is saying something different to what it discussed in July. Its map shows China as the threat and there are articles about the rise of Mao and Communism. It emphazises that China is Communist from 1949. The advance of Communism must have seemed terrifying to the US and many others. Of course, the USSR was the prime suspect in backing N Korea but MacArthur still wanted to take out China before being stopped by Truman. And then...China invaded and the war was nearly lost. In the end the UN held on but China had become a major world player. As Time, 11/12/50 wrote: "His (Mao's) armies are giving the most powerful nation on earth the worst beating in its military history........Radio Peking last week blared the order of the Red day, exhorted Mao's men on: "The imperialist armies under the command of MacArthur await their fate of being totally crushed...The entire people of Korea, of China of Asia and the whole world are watching your glorious struggle with unbounded respect." Once History books, too, get on describing the war, China takes a central role and reflect why people at the time talked of "The Yellow Peril".

Decol

I'm finding it difficult to understand the question: "how far were British decolonisations swifter and less violent than French ones?"
Many historians claim that this is true, but Britain only gave independence to Zimbabwe in 1979 and French decolonisation was not particularly violent on the whole. Besides Britain also had violent decolonisations. I was wondering whether there was a better alternative for a question about decolonisation comparison.

Mr Bunch writes

See below for whether it was less violent. I think you have the wrong question. Surely you mean to say 'easier' and not swifter? You're right, the two processes took roughly the same length of time with practically all of it done (except places like Rhodesia) by the mid sixties. Why it was swift for both is an interesting question.... and the Second World War has a lot to do with it!

Cuba

I was wondering whether or not we should outline all the events of the Cuban Missile Crisis in the subject about the origins and consequences of the crisis because after all it does only say origins and consequences. The problem is that I find it difficult to just outline all the events briefly and it would take me 3-4 minutes talking about what actually happened and wouldn't leave me much time to approach the actual origins and consequences.

Mr Bunch writes

Thanks for this question. Take note everybody: telling the story takes 3-4 minutes and doesn't leave much time to approach the actual origins and consequences. So DON'T tell the story. Only use the events to illustrate aspects of origins or significance.

Cuba

How much was the American policy after the Bay of Pigs (covert action + diplomatic and economic sanctions + military pressure...) an example of flexible response (that's what I've read) because I thought flexible response meant that any attack would be met with the appropriate level of tactical, conventional or strategic nuclear response. I just don't see the link between the two here.

Mr Bunch writes

Presumably this refers to Kennedy's so-called crisis management during the Missile Crisis itself which was flexible. But you're right to ask...I'll check further.

Decol

I'm having trouble trying to find the reasons as to why French decolonisation was more violent than British decol a part from a different approach to the colonies altogether and the presence of white settlers....

Mr Bunch writes

Was it? When you think of it, Morocco, Tunisia and all of French Equatorial Africa and French West Africa (creating countries like Senegal, Chad, Ivory Coast...) were all peaceful and relatively successful. The French Union (1946) and then the French Community (1959) resembled the British Commonwealth which later became the Commonwealth. So there was only Indochina and Algeria which were not. Both of those countries had special circumstances, just as Malaya and Kenya did for the British. In Malaya, Britain fought a war against Communist infiltration before giving independence, and in Kenya it defeated the Mau-Mau. So in Indochina, France, who began trying to recover lost prestige after the 2WW, also found themselves fighting a war against Communism; a war which was supported and paid for by the USA. Algeria, which was never considered anything other than France, was, of course different.......

Fr 4&5th

What is there to retain from the 4th & 5th Republics period ?........

Mr Bunch writes

Your long question on France might be answered soon on a full page. In the meantime, the Economy of the 4th Rep is already up available pnline from the menu.

Mid-East

Was Arab nationalism and Arab leadership a real issue in the 1956 Suez crisis?

Mr Bunch writes

Yes, I think it was. Nasser was certainly exalting Arab Nationalism and was riding on a wave of popularity which encouraged him to challenge Western influence. This Nationalism was part of the emergence of Arab Progressive Socialist states (cf Iraq 1958). As for leadership, Nasser was certainly the Arab leader making the largest impact and he will soon be clearly bidding for it with the creation of the UAR (United Arab Republic) with Syria.

Decol

What was the "Simon commission"?

Mr Bunch writes

Mention of the Simon commission would come when discussing British attitudes towards India and would be very brief. How prepared was Britain to entertain Independence? That Britain was discussing India's future government is in itself significant and the Simon Commission, which had been sitting for some years, reported in 1930. It envisaged Indian participation in provincial government and a central legislature elected by provincial legislatures, which themselves had been set up in 1919. On the other hand, it did not alter the executive government, controlled by the British, and there were no Indians on the Commission. Much more important were the Round Table conferences (1931-2) in which Indians, including Gandhi, did sit. These proposed a Federation which was put forward in the Government of India Act in 1935.

Far East

What were the exact significances of the Korean War?

Mr Bunch writes

Well, I'm not sure we want to have our answers in black and white but I can give you a few lines of thought.

1. It was the moment when the Cold War, and particularly the policy of Containment, was extended to the Far East.

2. It represented a change in American policy in three other ways:

a)

Instead of being just Containment, it was now active. This had been already understood at the time of NSC 68 (a paper which outlined American policy in 1954). As the war went on, American policy took on the appearance of "Roll Back" especially when MacArthur was influential.

b)

The USA now understood that future conflicts could be 'Conventional' rather than 'Nuclear'. (but in 1953 when Eisenhower came to power he saw that the Korean War was expensive in material and lives and so he looked also to a nuclear policy of overwhelming response as a deterrent. 'A bigger bang for your buck'.)

c)

The US developed the domino theory that if one state fell to communism, they would all fall. Therefore we see them changing their attitude to the French colonial war in Indochina which they now practically pay for.

4. Following the war, we see the extension of Containment alliances: SEATO, CENTO and the extension of NATO ( all known as Pactomania)

5. It is possible to say, therefore, that the timing of the Warsaw Pact's creation (1955) in response to the entry of West Germany into NATO, was indirectly a result of the Korean War

6. And we can perhaps say that the rearmament that the war caused led to hardships in East Europe and the uprisings in Berlin in 1953...

7. It sees the arrival of China on the World stage even if it was later 'contained' by both the USA AND the USSR.

8. It underlined structural weaknesses in the UN which will not agree another Security Council vote for action until after the fall of Communism (Kuwait war)

9. It was wasteful in lives on a horrific scale (see figures) and was yet to become known as 'The Forgotten War'.

 

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