Free «Cold War and Colonialism in Southeast Asia» Essay

Cold War and Colonialism in Southeast Asia

Question 1: Cold War in South East Asia

After the defeat of the Japanese by the Americans during the Second World War, a power vacuum was created; perhaps the phenomenon led to the rise of the cold war. Because the communist interest in Spain emerged, the United States were determined to prevent the communist occupation of Vietnam. As a result, the Americans had direct military involvement in Vietnam. Furthermore, the situation worsened with the rise of Viet Minh that was under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh. The war ended in 1975 and marked approximately one million Vietnamese soldiers dead. Moreover, more than fifty thousand Americans were killed. Additionally, it caused the death of over two million civilians. The following section of the paper focuses on the historical background of the conflict in Vietnam and argument for its escalation.

The Vietnam conflict is one of the focal points of the cold war that took place in South East Asia from 1945 to 1989. The cold war in Vietnam assumed two-phase approach. The First Indochina War took place from 1946 to 1954, and the Vietnam War took place from 1954 to 1975. The Vietnam conflicts have been the historical consequences of the Second World War. The events that took place in Vietnam from 1954 to 1975 were emanating from the ideological differences between the capitalist and socialist blocks. Thus, the wars in Vietnam have been defined as proxy wars whereby the influence and roles of exogenous factors mainly the United States, China, Soviet Union and France were highly emphasized as the contributing factors that accelerated the situation. However, the Vietnamese patriotic and nationalist movement were motivated and encouraged to participate in the war during the struggle for their independence.

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It is evident that geopolitical tension, ideological antagonism between the capitalist and communist blocks primarily contributed to the military conflict in Vietnam. In addition, the confrontation also affected the internal politics of Vietnam. Historians claim that the issues turned struggles of the Vietnamese nationalist into the anarchy and class struggle. The idea is technically based on the historical development of the anti-colonialism movement in Vietnam. Anti-colonialism movement the conflict was internationalized and was endorsed as one on the critical point that led to ideological hostility of the Cold War among the chief powers. The cold war in Vietnam primary involved three powers namely; the People Republic of China (PRC), the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and the United States of America (USA).     

The first phase of the cold war was primarily geared towards exogenous factors including; introduction of communism in Vietnam and the struggle for national independence. In the colonialism era, the cold war is marked by the defeat of French colonialism in 1954. It was in 1954 to 1975 when the second Indonesia war took place. The war aroused from the protracted conflict that existed between Vietnam and French. The Vietnams militants were lead led by General Vo Nguyen Giap. The Amy was able to defeat the French army at the Dien Bien Phu outpost at is the North West corner of the country. The battle was fundamental to the Vietnam since it warned the France colonialists that they should leave Indochinese colonies. In response Paris amicably put down the weapons. It is worth noting that as the rival countries convened at Geneva, the then global actions were aggressively shaping the revolution of Vietnam. However, the Geneva accords served to steer the war in Vietnam instead of bringing forth solution it inculcated other powers into the war. It resulted in pressure from the Republic of China and the Soviet Union. The Geneva agreement forced the Vietnamese to agree to temporary partition of their country. Such decision aimed at favoring the French so that they will save the reputation in a defeat. Some nations that were involved in the Geneva Convention felt the ruling was biased. However, countries like Soviet Union and its allies feared that provoking the peace agreement would not be accepted by the United States and its associates.

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The Geneva proceedings also pointed out that Vietnam would organize the elections in 1956 in order to unify the country. The representatives argued that the elections would seal the division of the seventeenth parallel. The decision was also made because it was a temporary group that lacked cultural precedent. Thus, it would vanish through conducting elections. However, John Foster, who was the Secretary of State of the United States, disagreed with the Geneva scenario, as he claimed that communist in Vietnam would possess excessive power. Later, the US supported the decision on condition that it would participate in the national building of Vietnam through a sequence of the multinational contract. For instance, the US actively took part in the multinational agreement that marked the creation of South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

The cold war intensified in the South Vietnam that was under the leadership of Ngo Dinh Diem. SEATO was not only used as a development strategy but also as a political approach that enhanced the conflicting powers to acquire possession in Vietnam. For instance, SEATO was used as a political cover that improved Eisenhower administration to introduce a new nation. The country was dusted from the conflicts that were taking place in 1955 in the southern Vietnam. It was made possible because Diem had the military back up from the American. Furthermore, he received both financial and political support, which enabled establishing the fundamental building blocks for the administration of the Republic of Vietnam. In 1956, Diem and anti-communist ally won the elections. The dubious win made him the president of the GVN. Surprisingly, he claimed that his newly formed government was being attacked by the communists. He argued that the North Vietnam (Democratic Republic of Vietnam) wanted to take over his government. Consequently, he called upon the United States of America for military support. Through the help of American CIA, he was able to identify certain individuals disturbing his government. In return, he was able to arrest thousands of them.

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In response, immediate outcry pertaining Diem’s oppressive and harsh conditions emerged. Diem was complaining of the inversion of his territory by the communist. He once argued that “hostile act of aggression by North Vietnam against peace-loving and democratic South Vietnam”.  Kennedy administration questioned the democracy or peace of the Diem's regime. Researchers claim that Diem did not have sufficient economic and social reforms to sustain his viability as a leader who will successfully undertake the building of South Vietnam nation. As from 1956, communist expressed desires to unite the country again with the changed political approach. The Soviet Union created high pressure on the Diem government hoping that his government would collapse. Later in 1959, the communist steered the revolutionary violence hoping that they would overthrow him and bring the seventeenth parallel to an end. In return, the creation of the united front helped to mobilize the southern population to oppose GVN.

The united nation liberation brought together communists and non-communists with common goals. The unification resulted in the formation of National Liberation Front (NLF). The members of NLF party were mainly in opposition to Diem’s government. Claims from Washington stipulated that Hanoi had directed violence attack against the Diem’s government through the NLF; consequently, the banning of the organization occurred. The capitalists argued that NLF was a marionette of Hanoi. At the same time, NLF pointed that it was independent and autonomous of the communist in Hanoi and therefore it comprised of non-communist. The majority of the anti-war activist in Vietnam supported claims of the NLF.

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With the flow of events and the involvement of capitalism and communism in Vietnam, the cold war accelerated. The 1964 marked the American response to GVN espionage coast. At the same time, the DRV launched a controlled attack against USS Maddox, two American ships, and Turner Joy. The fire marked the first phase of the attack, followed by the second face. In the time in history, Johnson was the Secretary of Defense. He pointed that the second phase of attack did not take place. Johnson used a political cover that was enacted the same year to give the president broad war powers. They came to a resolution to wage limited air reprisal attack against DRV. Johnson’s administration hosted a debate deliberating over increasing air force against the DVR. They argued that the decision would stabilize the Saigon government. However, George Ball claimed that Johnson Vietnams policy were very provocative. He argued that it restricted the expected outcomes. In disregard of the predicaments, Johnson ordered DRV bombing mission that had been advocated for a long time by the chief staffs.

It is evident that the Johnson policies and administrators escalated the phase of the cold war in Vietnam. The bombing operations suggested by Johnson had devastating impacts on the Vietnam population. It triggered the communist to launch their war strategies. The party thought that it could win the South Vietnamese battle within a short period. Nonetheless, the assumption backfired. The party moved into a protocol war strategy after Johnson ordered the combat troops to attach the DRV. The communist was determined to win the war in order to prevent the US from introducing unfavorable political conditions. The communists were convinced that they would prevail if adopted the protracted war. Additionally, they argued that the US had no clearly defined goals, which implies that the Vietnamese and the communists were ready to spend vast amounts of money provided that they will win the battle. It, therefore, supposes that LNF had the conceptual commitment to conquest, which emanated from the immense population of the Vietnam.   

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Question 3: Colonialism in South East Asia

Colonialism sowed the seeds of its destruction is a very true statement. The consequences of sowing the seeds have been bitterly shouldered by the colonizing masters. Colonialism refers to the expansion, maintenance, exploitation, establishment and acquisition of the colony in one territory by a particular power from a certain region. The process results in unequal relationship between the colony and the colonizing power. Therefore, a colony refers to the indigenous population subjected to new policies and foreign culture. It, therefore, implies that colonialism has immensely influenced the native population. Evidently, most colonial powers subjected the native population to mistreatment that dehumanized them. However, in many cases the indigenous population was smart enough to use the seed sowed to affect policies, technology, and mistreatment and overcome the colonial rule. The paper endeavors to analyze how colonies such as Indonesia, Indochina, and Philippines used the seed sowed by the colonists to defeat them.

As claimed by many scholars, the presence of Dutch in Indonesia was of great concern. The Dutch colonial rule in Indonesia introduced both positive and negative attributes. They did not realize that they were accruing more problems for colonial power. Before independence, Dutch marked a transfer of sovereignty, which was aimed at embarking on the straightforward path to modernity. The approach was specifically targeting the liberal democracy. The Dutch colonialism was detrimental to Indonesia, and it embarked on setting the archipelago. The colonial masters argued that the path is the only way leading to modernity and should, therefore, emulate through the colony. The colonial government argued that the approach aimed at building the modern state, and it would grant access to modern ideas. Through the method, the Dutch was sowing its seed of destruction. Indonesia nationalism rose to claim their freedom. They turned the Western rhetoric and own values of independence and justice against the colonizing powers.

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After Indonesia had gained its independence, it re-embarked on national building. The country assumed the political orders and a civil construction that resembled those of their colonial masters. Indonesia adopted the technological ideas of the Dutch in their national building. Therefore, they benefited from the technology and ideas gained from their colonizing masters. The Dutch also introduced a new culture in Indonesia. Therefore, it implies that the country adopted and implemented the Dutch indigenous political forms. Indonesia was in opposition to using the political and legal approach taken to stop the Dutch rule in the country. The newly adopted legal and political aspects played a fundamental role in delivering the country from the Dutch colonial rule. The civilization of Dutch colonial rule dusted the Indonesian elites from old liberal politics into a nation ready to fight any form of oppressive rule. The new trajectory of liberal ideas empowered the Indonesian populace, and they rebelled against the Dutch rule. The nation realized that their rights were not respected, and they were being subjected to oppressive dehumanizing acts. Through the skills acquired from the Dutch, realizing their rights, knowledge gained, they declared war against the colonizers. It was the seed that the Dutch saw in Indonesia that ruined them. 

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The research point that the Dutch did not have enough personnel to rule their Indonesia colony. Additionally, they are foreign in the country made them be rejected. Therefore, they turned to the local population for support, and they also argued that the native population would be ready to listen to the people of their origin. Moreover, the Dutch officials were cultural aliens in Indonesia. Thus, they turned to recruiting the local elites with an aim of political demobilization. However, the recruited elites lacked loyalty to their masters. Eventually, the elites turned against the Dutch, and they were the pioneers of the struggle for independence. Consequently, they facilitated democracy transition from the colonial masters to the native population.

The Dutch in Indonesia allowed the native population to form the local organizations, for example, the PKI party. The party signed in 1924 with approximately one thousand members acted as political platform, and it was home to the Indonesia political groupings. The party portrayed attitudes of communism, and its ideas were a reflection of ideological and organizational learning for the Indonesia political elite. The party also acted as a link between the civilized world and the traditional Indonesia. Moreover, it associated with the traditional messianic notions, thus it gained popularity all over Indonesia. The party expressed resentments against the colonial masters. Additionally, it portrayed bitter dissatisfaction towards the colonial status quo. Through the resentment and rebellion, the Dutch in Indonesia has sowed their seed of destruction. The party had a communist appeal and a promise of revolution. Finally, it was found leading resistance that marked the end of the Dutch rule in Indonesia.    

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The colonial rule of France in Indochina also had them saw their seed of destruction. After France acquired colonial territories in Indochina, it moves forward to deport around forty-nine men to work in France. The incident happened because France was experiencing the shortage of labor. The situation was the result of six million French men drafted after First World War. There was an increasing demand for men to work in the weapon manufacturing companies. Thus, France turned into its colonies to acquire the highly demanded labor. Thus, the selected population of Indochina had an opportunity to learn not only how to manufacture ammunitions but also how to use it. French giving Indochina a chance to learn to make weapons was sowing its seed of destruction. When the men returned to their mother countries, they championed modernization and industrialization. The implication is that the men taught their brothers and neighbors how to make weapons and to use. In return, they acted as pioneers of the revolution against the French colonial rule in Indochina.

The population of Indochina that was deported to France to provide labor had a chance to interact with people from other countries. They realized that they had rights to work in good conditions, protection from the forced labor, and deserved human treatment. They embarked on forming labor movement in their home country. The movement had the following major objectives; freedom from forced labor, equal pay for labor, right to work under proper condition. Alongside labor movements’ political and professional associations, such as Association of Manual Laborers and Committee that endeavored in protecting the interests of Indochinese workers, Association of Annamite Cooks and Domestic Servants were also formed. The party acquired support from other international organizations in order to liberate their people from French colonial rule. Therefore, they assisted the local populace to realize their rights. The organizational leaders were the pioneers who advocated for the native rights. France giving the laborers an opportunity to form the labor movement implies that they had sowed their seed of destruction. The colonized realized their rights and started rebelling against their colonial masters. They refused to comply with forced labor; they actively declined to work under poor conditions and to be underpaid. Therefore, it indicated that the French colonial rule in Indochina was coming to an end.











With the rise of both the First and the Second World Wars, some Indochina population was recruited to fight as French militants. Some gained fighting skills in the battle field and were promoted to high-ranking levels in the army. By using Indochina men as soldiers, France was sowing its seed of destruction. After the war, the individuals took home the military skill. They trained the local population how to fight and use ammunitions. The experienced men also acted as generals and commanders in the rebellion against colonial rule. They had the weapons manufacture in Indochina since they had the skills. Consequently, the revolution waged the by the Indochina world war ex-militants marked the end of French rule in the country. The Indonesia used the skills and tactics learned from French to fight them, thus affirming the fact that France had sown their seed of destruction.

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