The Cold War: Asian Country Trends

Figure 1.--The United States as a result of the Korean War (1950-53) committed to both the defenses of South Korea and Nationalist China (Taiwan). Here we see a Natiinalist boy soldier in 1954. Both South Korea and Taiwan joined by Singapore became major success stories, evolving into vibrant modern economies becoming known as Asian Tigers. Democracy gradually developed as well, especially in South Korea and Taiwan. At the same time North Korea and China and later Vietnam descended into absolutism, poverty and repression.

The Cold War began in Europe and after the Communist victory in China expanded to Asia. There the United States fought to major wars to prevent the spread of Communism. The first was a straight forward invasion of South Korea by North Korea, made possible and incouraged by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. This was blunted by American intervention. Chinese intervention resulted in a major commitment by the United States to Nationalist China (Taiwan). Both South Korea and Taiwan becamne major success stories, evolving into vibrant modern economies and democracies while North Korea abd China descended into poverty and repression. After the Vietminh defeated the French (1953), the United States gradually expanded its commitment to anti-Communist forces. The resulting Vietnam War is a much more murky chapter and American assessments are largely based on author's political orientation. What is not a matter of controversy is the fact that several million Vietnamese and Cambodians were killed or died after the American withdrawl and many others sprnt years in Communist prison camps. Vietnam descended into both poverty and repression. The British fought a smaller war and defeated a Communist insurgency in Malaysia. Here Islam was a factor. India managed to maintain British style parlimentary democracy--a phenomena that was under reported in the Cold War era. India's commitment to socialist economics, however, meant that the economy stagnated. Japan was findamentlly changed by its cataclismic defeat in Wotkd War II, developing both a democratic government and vibrant capitlistic economy. This was largely overlooked. It was Japan and the Asian Tigers with capitalist economies that emerged as modern, prosperous socities. Communism and even the mildren Socialist variab=nt resulted in economic failur or at best s in Undia, ecinomic stagnation. A Communist effort to take over Indonesia failed, again Islam was a factor. Singapore emerged as another of the Asian tigers. The failure of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution along with the break between China and the Soviet Union, greatly complicated the Cold War. Finally the Soviet Union imploded, ending the Cold war, Since that stunning event, you have the phenomenon of China, calling itself Communist and maintaining a political dictatorship while not only permitting, but actually promoting free enterprise capitalism.


The Cold war began in Europe. It was here that the United States and the Soviet faced each other directly. The Cold War spread iout from there, affectung vuirtually every country in in one way or another. Afghanistan was a world backwater. People in this very traditional country lived a life style that had changed little in centuries. It was on the southern border of the Soviet Union. Viewing the British with suspcion, the Afhans did not seek support from the West. Gradually Afghan Communists with support from the Soviet Union gained control of the weak natiinal government. When they tried to impose Communism in this deeply Muslim country, howevr, the people rebelled. Even with Soviet milirary aid, the government could not gain control of the countryside amnd began to lose control of towns as well. Finally the Kremlin ordered the Red Army to restore order (1979). Presidebnt Carter was shocked. Few would have guessed at the time of the Soviet invasion that this poor, isolated central Asian country would play a major role in the Cold War and set uin motion a chain of events that woukd lead to tyhe end of the Cold War and the duisolution of the Sioviet Union.


Burma was before the Pacific War a British colony with only a minor undepedence movement. The Japanese invasion and occupation (1942-45) demonsdtrated the weakness of British colonial control. Britain granted independence to Burma at abkout the same time as India (1948). The United States after the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War funded Kuomintang incursions across the Chinese border into the new People's Republic of China. This caused concerns within the independent Burmese Government about a Communist Chimnese military response. As a result, the Burmese Army was given substantial funding and a degree of autonomy. [Callahan] The businessmen and politicans who were involved in the post-colonial government did not have the same popular support as the Congress Party in India. The poorly organized guerrilla bands seeking independence gradually transformed themselves into a more professional military force (1950s). The weak state and social institutions could not compete with the military. The military seized formal control of the country (1962) and has continued to dominate the country (1962). This was important in the Cold War because the military tendeed to be more militantly anti-Western than the civilian government. The military established and has maintained authoritarian rule despite broad-based nonviolent opposition led by activist Aung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (1991).


What is now Bangladesh emerged from the British Raj as East Pakistan, the eastern half of a dividedv Muslim nation (1948). Pakistan from its inception was dominated by the laedership in West Pakistan. Bengalis did not share the West Pakistani animus toward India and burning desire to reclaim Khasmir. After two wats with India, Bengalis came to see that India did not have territorial ambitions in the East and that they shared little in common with West Pakistan. The result was Bengali War for Independence which morphed into the Third Indo-Pakistani War (1971-72). The Pakistani Army intervened brutally in East Pakistan, but failed to quel the rebellion. Bangladesh did not play a majopr role in the Cold War, unlike the promonent role played by India and Pakistan. The country was dominated by turbulent domestic politics. And as elsewhere, Islam made it difficult for the local Communist Party to attract adherents, but contained its own impediments to economic development. There was considerable support for Socialist economics. As in other many countries, this was widely seen as the road to rapid economic delopment and a prosperous future. The Awami League government with independence nationalized all important industries. And as in other countries, this proved to be a colosal blunder. Bengal had been one of the richer areas of the South Asia. Some of the same factors that had made Bengal a prosperous region began to work against the region during the Britgish Raj. There was a terrible famine during World War II. Socialism only made matters worse. The success of the Asian Tigers and free market capitalism or the Indian free market reforms has not significantly influenced thinking in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is today one of the poorest countries in the world.


One of the most tragic Cold War experiences was that of Cambodia. Cambodia was eventually drawn into the Vietnam War. Sihanouk attempted to remain neutral in the Cold War struggle between the United Staes and the Soviet Union as the North Vietnamese attempoted to seize South Vietnm by supporting the Viet Cong. He changed his position when President Johnson decided to intervene massively in the War (1965). He broke diplomatic relations with the United States. He also allowed the Communist Vietnamese to set up bases in eastern Cambodia to support their forces across the border in Vietnam. The War hurt the Cambodian economy. Sihanouk decided to renew diplomatic relarions with the United States in the hope of obtaining American assistance. The United States began planning to bomb the Vietnamese bases in Cambodia. While Sihanouk was out of the country, he was overthrowen (1970). He sought refuge in China. The Khmer Rouge seized control of Phnom Penh at about the same time the North Vietnamese entered Saigon (1965). The victory of the Kymer Rouge (1975) ushered in a tragic period of Cambodia history. The Kymer Rouge sought to remake Cambodian society through a terrible genocide. The Khmer Rouge were an essentially rural peasant army. They were largely hostile to urban Cambodians. The Kymer Rouge leaderhip called Ankar ordered Canodian cities to be enptied and the people forced into the countryside. They were forced to work as essentially state slaves in various forms of prinitive agriculture. The leading figure in Ankar was Saloth Sar who became known as Pol Pot. The government was the Democratic Kampochea (DK). It was eun bt by rural Cambodians who were uneducated and largely illiterate. The basic qualification was participation in the Khmer Rouge during the war. Ankar ordered that educated people be identified. Any one involved with the previous regime such as government workers, police, soldiers, teachers, and others were arrested and executed, often after beiung tortured. The Kymer Rouge muredered an estimated 20 percent of Cambodia's population. Most were murdered outright Others died from abuse, malnutrition, and lack of medical care.


The Cold War is often seen as beginning in Europe after World war II and then spreading to Asia as the conflict betwwn the Nationalists and Communists broke out into open warfare. This is a simplistic view and simply reflects the inbility of Democratic Government to recognize the war launched by Lenin and his associates when they seized power in Russia (1917). The Communists also began the Cold war in Asia in the aftermath of World war I. emerged victorious and the Nationalists retreated to Formosa (Taiwan). The Uniterd States at first tried to negotiate an end to the fighting and when this failed did not intervene. The Nationalists mananaged to prevent a Chinese invasion wiithout American intervention. American policy toward Communist China was not outright hostility. The Truman Administration was willing to seek an accomodation. It is at this time that the Cold War turned into a shooting war in Korea, probably at Stalin's instigation wsithout consulting the Chinese. And the Chinese intervened to save the North Korean regime (1950). The front was finally stabilized near the old border. American fore power caused massive Chinese caualties. As a result of Chinese intervention, American policy toward China hardened. Truman ordered the U.S. Pacific fleet prevented the Communists from crossing the Taiwan Straits. Mao pursued a radical Communist program that findamentally changed China. Efforts like the Great Leap Forward (1957-60), however, were economic disasters. Millions perished in the resulting famine. They seized control of Tibet. The economy stagnated under Communism in sharp contrast to the capitalist ecomomnies of the asian Tigers (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore). The Cold War became more complicated after the Chinese-Soviet split (1961). The Chinese fought a war with India over the Himalyan border (1962). Opposition prompted Mao to launch the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) which did enormous ecomomic damage. With the death of Mao, China began to rethink the relationship with America and the ecomnomic sysyem.. This raprochment was pursued by the Nixon Administration (1970s). Only with the introduction of free market reforms by Deng Xiaoping did the Chinese economy begin to grow and begin to bring prosperity to China. After the Cold War, the central question concerning China is if a free market economy will eventually led to the growth of a democratic government.


The United States and India are the world's two great multi-ethnic demoracies. It might seem that they would have been natural allies in the Cold War struggle with the totalitarian Soviet Union. This for a number of reasons did not occur. The United States had pressed Britain on the colonial question during World War II. And with the election of a Labour Government (1945), Britain proceeded rapidly with independence after the War. India became independent (1947). The Congress Party stabilized the political life of perhaps the most ethnically and culturally disparate country in the world. Unlike many other European colonies, India adopted a real democratic system after independence. Many were convinced that democracy could never work in such a large, diverse country. Free market economics was another matter. Nehru and other major Indian leaders after independence saw the United States as a basically colonial power and Western free market economics as inappropriate for the rapid development of the Indian economy as well as explotive system. This idea was widespread within the Congress Party. Many Indians saw Soviet socialism and central planning as the way to both rapidly modernize the economy and to do so in a more ethically just manner. Many American liberals would now use the term 'social justice'. The result was despite India's vast economic potential was several decades of economic stagnation and poverty. None of the economic goals so optimistically anticipated were met. Despite the alienation with the British during the indpendence movement, the Indians decided to pursue English-style parliamentary democracy, but Soviet-style central planning and costly massive beaureacracy. India as a result languished as a poor, backward third world country. Indian leaders persued this economic program for several decades becuse of an almost religious devotions to socialist ideology. The Soviets in turn courted India and provided funding for major projects. It is unclear why the Indians with their democratic system were not disturbed by Soviet totalitarianism and creation of a colonial empire in Eastern Europe. It is presumasblt the same dynamic which affected left-wing individuals like Sarte in the West when they viewed Soviet atrocities. It appears that Soviet anti-colonial rhetoric was more important than actual Soviet policies. India was a participant in the Non-Aligned Movement which essentially became a foil for Soviet foreign policy, blaming economic conditions in the Third World on the West. India's Cold War policies were complicated by the wars with Pakistan over Kasmir and a war with China over the Himalayan border. Only with the fall of the Soviet Union and the exposure of its economic failure did India begin its free market reforms that has so transformed its economy.


Japan like Germany began the Cold War as an occupied country. There were, however, some basic differences. Japan unlike Germany did not prove to be central to the Cold War--rather the focus at first shofted east to China and Korea. The Japanese unlike the Germans never accepted the war guilt and responsibility for horrendous and widespread war crimes. The Japanese also did not surrender unconditionally--the Emperor was not arrested and tried as war criminal. Also the country was not divided into Allied occupation zones. The United States was solely responsible for the occupation. Actually this and not just the atomic bombs had been a major reason for the Japanese surrender. The Soviets were rapidly moving through Manchuria and down the Korean Peninsula. The Japanese realized that a Soviet invasion of the Home Islands might result. The Japanese Government had suppressed the Communists and a Soviet invasion would mean the inevitable introduction of Communism. The American occupation meant change--but not Communism. General MacArthur oversaw the occupation. He introduced a new democratic institution, gave women the right to vote, made the Emperor a constitutional figurehead, allowed the organization of labor unions, promoted a free press, and made other major changes. Japan was transformed from a militarist, authoritarian society to a modern democratic nation with a vibrant capitalist economy. As in Germany, at the heart of the outcome in Japan was the Japanese Economic Miracle. The strongly statified society which had been unraveling with the military's rise to power was also transformed. The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) dominated post-War elections. The Communists who were allowed to organize and achieved some influence in labor unions were essentually defeated by the economic successes of Japan's capitalist economy. Japan while accepting American military protection and allowing continued American use of bases in Japan, did not participate militarily in the Cold War. There were Constitutional prohibitions on war, although Japan did build a competent, albeit military for self defense. The American occupation was one of the great success stories which influenced the outcome of the Cold War. Given the World War II disster, Japan did not become involved militarily, but the failure of the Communists to achieve any success in Japan was an important Cold War developoment. The Japanese economic success was largely ignored in the rest of Asia, especilly with the Communist military victory in China. Economic success would prive a very different matter. New Asian leaders with decolonization tended to employ socialist, central planning policies. Only slowly with the success of the Asian Tigers did vitality of market capitalism as first demonsrrated in Japan become increasingly apparent.


Germany and Korea were geographic and economic bookends of the Cold War. Germany provided a test case for caoitalism and Communism in an insustrial state. Korea provide the same test case of an underdeveloped country. Korea was seized by Japan and made into a colony (1909). The Japanese improved the ifrastructure, but brutally suppressed Korean nationalism. The sdchools were taught in Japan. At the end of the Pacific War, the Soviet Union declared war on Japan and swept through Manchuria, seizing northern Korea. The United States seized control in the south. Two competing regimes were organized and vied for control of the country. The Soviet Union armed North Korea to the teeth. The United States provided modest military assistance. They withdrew their troops (1949). The United States turned its authority over to an elected South Korea government--the Republic of Korea (1948). The United States withdrew its miklitary except for a small military advisory group. Stalin stepped basck from military action in Europe over Berlin (1949). Apparently enboldened by development of an atomic bomb and the Communist victory in China, he decided to try military action using North Korean proxies. The North Koreans Army crossed the 38th parallel on June 25, 1950 to forcibly unify Korea. The result was ther bloody 3-year Korean War which China entered. An armistic was signed (1953). As a result, as in Germany, capitalism and socialism competed economically while separated by a heavily armed border. Communism in Korea proved to be an even greater failure than in Germany. North Korea had been the more properous, indusdtrialized area of the country with important natural resources. But under Communism, the economy declined and by the 1970s, North Korea was not even able to feed itself. South korea on the other hand, despite lacking notable resources emerged as one of the Asian Tigers--economic power centers. South Korea trough capitalism developed not only a vibrant modern economy, but a democratic political system. North Korea under Communism developed as the most repressive country in the world and an economic disaster case.Sattelite phptos offer stark testimony of the differences between the two Koreas.


Laos was part of French Indochina when the Japanese moved into the French colony before launcing the Pacific War. Laos did not, however, figure prominently in the War. After the War, the French attempted to rexert their control of Indochina, but were defeated by the Vietnamese at Dienbenphu (1953). As a result they withdrew from Indichina, leaving the granting indepebdence to Laos and Cambodia to the south. Both were ethnically destinct from the Vietnamese. The Unioted States was concerned about these developments and the duture of Laos figured pominently in the Eisenhower Asministration's calculations as well as those of the Kennedy Administratiin. [Jacobs] The United States proceeded to pay 100 percent of Laos’ military budget and equipped anti-Vietnamese Laotian ribespeople to fight against communist guerillas. Laos became, however, a sideshow as the Kennedy dministration began focusing on Vietnam. Conducting a counterinsurgency away from the coast in a country bordering on China and North Vietnam would have been difficult even with assistanc from Thailand. In addition there was no Christian community in Laos that became a core gfor resistance to the Communixsts in South Vietnam. One author believes that cultural differences were4:59 PM 11/22/2013 even more important. [Jacobs]


Malaya and Singapore had been British colonies before World War II. The Malays and Chinese (mostly in Singapore) were shocked at the ease with which the Japanese defeated the British who had seemed so over wealming powerful before the War. Ghe Japanese brutalized the Chinese, but behaved in a more restrained fashion toward the Malays. The British drive the Japanese out of Burma, but Japan surrendered before operationjs were launched against gthe Jaopanese in Malaya and Singapore. The Japanese occupation with its propaganda of Asia for Asians promoted the growth of anti-British nationalist and Communist sentiment. Thus the British when they returned encountered growing nationalisr sentiment, especially among the Malays. The British because of the World War II damage to their economy and austerity at home and partly because of the Labour Government's socialist policies, was forced to withdraw from many Cold War conflicts such as aiding the Greek Government. The British decided, however, to make a stand in Malaya. Britain committed itself to an expensice and protracted struggle against the developing Communist insurgency in Malaya. The British pursued this effort without American support because it was a colonialist effort. Primeminister Attlee framed what came to be called the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) as part of a Soviet attempts to use the local Communist party to support its world-wide expansion efforts. During the Cold War era when the Western democracies were indeed threatened by Soviet expansionism, the British claims were largely accepted. Scholars now see the Ememergency as a largely localized effort conducted by a variety of not very well coordinated disperate groups, of which the Communists were a major part. Geography limited the ability if the Soviets or the Chinese to support and supply the insurgent forces. Unlike Vietnmam, there were no gurilla operayions befire and during Wirld War II nor did Malaya have a border with China. Another factor was the largely Muslim religion of the Malays which affected Communist recruitment.


Mongolia and China have a closely intetwined history. It was because of th Mongols and other Steppe people that the Chimese built the Great wall. At times the Mongols conquered China and at times the Chinese extended their control over large areas of the Steppe. Finally the Chinese Manchu-Qing dynasty Chinese managed to incorporated much of the Steppe including what is now Mongolia into their Empire (late-17th century). The Chinese were making major military advances just at the time that Europeans had begun to arrive along the coast. Mongolia was never part of the Tsarist Empire whivh it bordered to the north. Following the collapse of the Qing Empire (1911), Mongolia declared independence but had to struggle with the Chinese to gain de facto independence (1921). Here a major factor was the Russian Revolution and Civil War. The Soviets after the Civil War gained influence in Mongolia, largely because of their military strength. The Soviets never incorporated Mongolia into he soviet Union, perhaps because it was never part of the Tsarist Empire. They did exert total control over Mongolia which was not allowed to conduct their own international reltions. The Mongolians under Soviet control declared the Mongolian People's Republic (1924). Mongolian politics for the next six decadeds followed the basic patterns as Soviet politics. Stalin personally chose Horloogiyn Choybalsan to govern Mongolia (1936). Choybalsan, following Stalin's example, ruled Mongolia with an iron hand. The Mongolian-Manchurian (Manchukuo) border was the scene of a major battle between the Soviet Union and Japan just before the onset of World War II (July 1939). It was not a massive engagement by world war II standards, but it was enough to convince the Japanese tht the Red Army was a formidable fotrce. Unlike China, Japan, and the Soviet Union, Mongolia was not devestated by World War II. The Chinese Nationalist Government after World War II recognized the full independence of Mongolia (1945). We are not entirely sure why, but presumably reflected the Soviet control of Mongolia. Mao after the Comminists seized power did not question this step (1949). After Stalin's death (1953) and Nikita Kruschev's denounciation of Stalin at the Twentieth Party Congress, the Mongolian Party did the same to Choybalsan. The Party condemned Choybalsan's personality cult and many of his hard-line policies. As this was essentially the same policies beung pursued in Moscow, the Mongols has a degree of flexibility that they did not have under Stalin. The Mongols shifted their priorities to ecomonic development and permitted small-scale private enterprise--something not allowed in the Soviet Union. The Soviets permited the Mongols to estanlish ties with 'safe' countries--the new Communist countries established after World War II. Mongolia gradually became regonized by the international community. Although a Soviet puppet state, Mongolia managed for atime to navigate a degree of neutrality in the Sino-Soviet split (1960s), but eventually the Soviet Red Army entered Mongolia in strength and was deployed along the Chinese border. The country was admitted to the United Nations (1961). Mongolia continued as a Soviet puppet state until the late-1980s. The end of Soviet control and fall of Communism in Eastern Europe resonated in Mongolia. After the Eastern European Revolutions and fall of Communism (1989), the Mongolian Revolution (1990) led to the creation of a multi-party system, a new constitution (1992), and beginning the transition to a market economy.


Pakistan was created after World War when Britain granted ibdependence to India (1947). This was just as the post-War differences between the Soviet Union was developing into the Cold War. The division of India on religious grounds degenerated into comunal violence of apauling dimensiins. Difference over Kasmir degenerated into the first of a series of wars. Thus the primary issue in independent vPakistan became the conflict over Kasmir with India. India after independence adopted socialist ecoonomics and sought clos relations with the Soviet Uniion, a country they soughht to emulate economically as a path to rapid development. As part of thesecrelatiins, the Soviets provided military assuistance. Pakistan turned to the United States for military aid and economic assistance. The strength of Islam in Pakistan limited the growth of Communism. During the Cold War, the primary issue continued to be Kasmir rather than the East-West struggle. Unlike India, democratic rule in Pakistan was often interupted by the Army. East Pakistan (Banladash) separated from Pakistan (1971). Pakistan as a new nation failed economically. The need ton invest vast sums in the military certainly was a factor. Islam with the supression of women and constrints on education was another factor. Gradually radical Islam, in part because of econiomic failure, grew in strength and by the end of the Cold War was a major force. The Pakistani military supported the Mujadain in Afghanistan after the Soviet invasion (1979). Now Islamic fundamentalist threaten the Pakistani state. Some scholars predictably attribute ithe country's difficulties to the Cold War and relations with the United States. This is often the assessment of Pakistani analysts reluctant to blame Islam and the country's committment to the struggle in Kasmir. [Cohen]


Singapore was a largely British creatiion. they turned an island with small fishing villages intio an importnt ommercial center. Over time it became largely populted by Chinese brought to Malaya as laboers. Chinese traders became an important part of the island's economy. After World War I, a basically bankrupt Britain was forced to down-size the Royal Navy. They descided to turn Singapore into a strategic naval base and inpregnable fortress. Rather than maintainng an expensive fleet in the Pacific, Singapore would defend British onterests and hold out until a fleet was disptched from Britain. This proved impossible during World War I because of the German U-boat threat. This and incredibly inept leadership, led to the fall of Singapore (1942) which remained in Japanese hands for the rest of the war. The British continued to view Singapore as a key military post. This cointinued to be the case withthe rise of Mly nationlism and decolonization. The British fought a war against Malsy Communits (1948). The British were concerned that the Chinese population in Singapore might move toward the Chinese after the Comminnit victory in the Chinese Civil war. Thus Singapore was granted autonomy (1955) and independence as part lf a merger with the Federation of Malaya (1963). The British continued to see this strategic naval base as critical to British interests in Southeast Asia. The inclusion of Singapore and Borneo into Malysia was largely influenced by British Cold War calculations. British maneuvers to prevent Singapore from being seized by the Comminists fundamentally determined island's future. Here socialist leader Lee Kuan Yew played a central role.

Soviet Central Asia

Soviet Central Asia did not play a major role in the Cold War. The Soviet Eastern European Empire played a much greater role. There compliant satellite nations dutifully supported Soviet ambitions. This seems less the case in Central Asia. We are not entirely sure why. The area was less developed and the population less educated. Perhaps Soviet officials were less sure of the populations loyalties, in part beause of the substantial Muslim popuklations. The remoteness of the region resulted in the Soviets locating some important space and nuclear facilities there. Despite seven decades of Soviet control, little progress was nade in developing a modern economy. Industries that were established were ineffificient and uncompetitive. And even worese, Soviet development projexts did huge environmental damage that the now five independent counrtries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) must face. Yhe ebormity of the dusasters were not understood until the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Kazakhstan, at the time the Kazakh SSR, was subjected to the same brutal collectivization program by Stalin as the Ukraine and the resulting famine took a deadly toll (early-1930s). During the War, Kazakhstan was used as a dumping ground for populations deemed un relaiable in Eastrn Europeam countries seized by Stalin as part of the NAZI-Soviet Non-Agression Pact (1939-41). The NKVD forced victims into box cars in deplorable conditions. After the German invasion, populations deemed synpathetic to the Germans were also dumped here. aer industries were also located here to keep them out of German hands. After the War, Kazakhstan did not play a majopr role in the Cold War. It was probab;y best knpwn fpr the Baikonur Cosmodrome also refwerred to as Tyuratam. It was the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. It was located at a remote spot in the desert steppe of Kazakhstan, some 200 kilometres east of the Aral Sea. The soviets also chose Kazakhstan as the center of their nuclear program. The Soviet Union detonated its first atomic (fission) bomb at the Semipalatinsk Test Site (August 1949). It was a major development in the Cold War and ended the American nuclear monolopoly. The Soviets denonated their firt hydrogem (fusion) bomb at a test facility on the steppe of northeast Kazakhstan. The test site was Semipalatinsk Polygon would be the location of 456 atomic explosions over its 40-year existence. Residents in the surrounding area thus became unwitting human guinea pigs, exposed to the aftereffects of the nuckear devices tested. The radiation has devastated three generations of Kazakhs and others living there, perhaps more than a million people. Virgin Lands Campaign of Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev (1956-64). Huge expanses of Kazakh grazing land were plowed fot wheat and other cereal grains. It proved to be an environmental nightmare. Other Sovier projects focused on the energy industry.

Sri Lanka

Britain granted Sri Lanka domestic independence (1948) at the same time in granted independence to India. This quickly evolved into full independece. The country did not play a major role in the Cold war,in part because the Indian Ocen was not a major theater of the Cold War. The country has, however, a very strategic location in the modern wold, halfwat beteen the Middle Eastern oil producers and oil guzzeling China. but was an early proponent of neutrality in the developing Cold war, referred to as non-aligned. Am early concern of Sri Lanka was India's foreign policy and possible suport for the Tamil independence movement along with the new country's lack of any ability to defend itself wihot the British. The domestic conflict betweem the majority Buddhist Sinhaese and the Hindu Tamils dominated Sri Lanka during much of the Cold War era. Primeminister D.S. Senanayake supported the Agreements on Defense and External Affairs with Britain, negotiated when the country wa granted Dominion status. Thus was critiiczed in Parliament and the press and not just by Marxist groups. [De Silva, p. 507.]


Japan seized Taiwan whuch they called Formosa in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). Formosa was a backwater in the Pacific War. The United States did not invade Formosa, but there was damage as a result of air strikes. After the Japanese surrender (August 1945), Taiwan was turned over to the Nationalist Chinese. The victory of Mao Tse-tung and the Communists in the Chinese Civil War caused Taiwan to become a frontline country in the developing Cold War (1949). Chiang Kai-shek and the surviving Nationalist units withdrew to Taiwan where the Communists without a Navy could not follow. The Communists demanded that Taiwan be turned over to them and it became a focus of their foreign policy. This and the Korean War resulted in Communist China become a vitrolic foe of the United States in the Cold War. American provided economic and military support to Chiang and the Nationslists. The American 6th Fleet made it impossible for the Communisdts to cross the Taiwan Straits and invade Taiwan. Chaing and the Nationalistrs maintained the hope of one day returnuing to China. Ironically both the Comminists and Nationalists maintained the One China Principle. Much of the Taiwan population was not Han Chinese, a factor in the modern Taiwan independence movement. The Natiionalists also held the off-shore islands of Quemoy (Jinmen) and Matsu which the Communists intermitently shelled. This became an issue in the American 1960 presidential election. While the military confrontation between the Communists and Nationalists made cthe headlinrs, a more quite development quietkly changed Taiwan. While Communist rule and edconomic brought economic failure and one of the worsrt famines in Chinese history, the free market capitalist economics of the Nationalists and association with the United States created an economic powerhouse in Taiwan. The economy geww developing modern new industries. Taiwan became one of the Pacific Tigers while Communist China languished in poverty and economic failure.




Vietrnam at the time of World War II was a French colony. After the fall of France, Japan seized control of Indochina and used bases it estanlished there as a launching point for its conquest od Southeast Asia. The Unites States supported the Communist Viet Minh which was a Communist guerrila group which opposed the Japanese. After the Japanese surrender, the French attempted to reestablish control of Indo-China. This led to the First Vietnam War and became increashing difficult after the Chinese victory in the Civul War. A Communist China ment that the Viet Minh had access to military equipment and other supplies. The French decided to evacuate grant independence after their military defeat at Dien Bien Phu (1954). The War officially ended with the 1954 Geneva Accords. France agreed to withdraw from Indochina which was partitioned into North and South Vietnam. Once securely in power in the Notth, the Communists North Vietnamese began to infiltrate the South in an effort to seize control. The United States did not intervene to save French colonial Indo China. It decided, however, to support independent South Vietnam. Fighting began to intensify (1957), beginning the Second Viet Nam War.


Callahan, Mary P. Making Enemies: War and State Building in Burma (2005), 296p.

DeSilva, K.M. A History of Sri Lanka (University of California Press: 1981). 603p.

Jacobs, Seth. The Universe Unraveling: American Foreign Policy in Cold War Laos (2012).


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Created: 2:03 AM 7/5/2010
Last updated: 4:34 AM 2/15/2016