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African and Asian nations

The independence of African and Asian nations after World War I had much importance in European and world history. World War I sped the process of decolonization (Tucuman, handout). When the old Ottoman Empire was dismantled a lot of European holdings became angry that they had fought along with European nations and still did not gain any freedom (class handout ). World War II allowed many of these holdings to become free. This seems like a good thing, but many of the holdings were unprepared for the reality of self rule (class handout). Tribal fighting became common, economies crashed, and military coups caused disaster (class handout).

These holdings are now what we consider to be Third World countries (class handout). On the other hand, capitalism started in occupied Japan, and the idea spread to South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore (class handout). This created a large economic center that still thrives. In Europe and Asia, however, many battles raged over ethnic and religious preferences (class handout). Some of these still carry on today, and they change the borders of the world frequently. In short, African and Asian independence changed, and continues to change, borders and countries as we know them and affects history at every turn.

Question 2: The Third World countries were important in the rivalry between the Unites States and the USSR because they were areas that the two nations could try to influence and draw over to their side in case of a major conflict. The Third World countries were having problems with becoming “modern nations” (class handout). They also were experiencing huge population growth and were becoming overwhelmed (class handout). The US and the USSR took advantage of the unsteady situation to try to push their political and military influences on the newly formed nations (class handout).

This caused disaster for many of them. For example, Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan were pulled into horrible wars (class handout). Eventually the situation became so unstable that the USSR was no longer able to hold together (class handout). This created a lot more Third World countries, most of which have been left to their own devices, and a lot of which have created mass conflict with each other (class handout). Question 3: The former Soviet Union started to lose control of its colonial satellite system in Eastern Europe in March of 1985 (Russia and the Collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe).

This is when Mikhail Gorbachev took over control. He immediately saw that the economy of the USSR was falling apart and something must be done. He chose to try to improve foreign relations so he could move military spending to economic restructuring, otherwise known as “perestroika” (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) Unfortunately, the USSR was still involved in the war in Afghanistan, there was extreme ill will from the USA and China, and Eastern Europe was a major drain on all their resources, with one exception.

Poland had begun to rise up, and was quickly moving toward being its own separate entity again (Russia and the Collapse of Communism). Gorbachev noted all these problems, especially in Eastern Europe, but the result was not what he expected. Hope for some economic relief gave the holdings hope for other things, mainly to get out of the USSR (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) . Gorbachev then implemented new human rights initiatives, and that included “relaxing the regulations on foreign travel and immigration”(Russia and the Collapse of Communism) People began to take full advantage.

All of Gorbachev’s policies began to backfire. “Glasnost,” or “publicity,” was one of his biggest errors. He felt that honesty was important to his restructuring plans, but all it did was make the Eastern European nations see how much they had given up and how much was still demanded of them (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) . To placate the nations, Gorbachev turned the institution of Soviet policy over to each individual nation, and in so doing destroyed the legitimacy of the Communist party just when it was needed the most (Russia and the Collapse of Communism).

In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down, and to everyone’s surprise Gorbachev supported the reunification of Germany (Russia and the Collapse of Communism). That was the end. Four other nations split away the same year, and the next year all the satellite nations held their own elections for the first time in many years (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) . There were several reasons why the Soviet Union did not try any harder to stop these events.

Eastern Europe was a huge drain on Soviet resources, there was no way to use force without destroying perestroika, and the biggest reason, the USSR had no idea how much it was hated and that every effort they made to calm the European nations was one more move towards losing them forever (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) . In the end, loosening the grasp of Communism meant the end of the colonial satellite system. Question 4: The collapse of empires creates dangerous times because nations that had formerly been under tight rule are released to do whatever they wish, and often times they are not prepared in any way to rule themselves.

They are handed the reigns to a nation with either a very poor economic system or none at all, tend to get buried in foreign debt, often have huge unemployment problems, an “archaic infrastructure,” and in the case of Eastern Europe, huge environmental disasters (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) . The worst problem is that often times empires have been created out of nations that were formerly enemies (Russia and the Collapse of Communism) . When the empire is gone, the enemies still remain, and no one is there to stop them from pouncing on each other.

Sometimes, the empire makes enemies of the nations (Shattuck). For example, in Rwanda, the invading Europeans deemed the Tutsi tribe to be better than the Hutu tribe, even though there was no real basis for this (Shattuck). The Hutus learned through several decades to hate the Tutsis, and when they were made independent again the Hutus attacked the Tutsis (Shattuck). This finally ended with the 1994 genocide of the Tutsis (Shattuck). Thrusting independence on a nation may seem to be a good idea, but the ramifications can be catastrophic.

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