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To what extent did decolonisation

alter the power hierarchy in the

international system?


The Cold War was

fought in the Third
World. Discuss.
To what extent did decolonisation alter the power hierarchy
in the international system?
During the 19th century the Power
Hierarchies were :

- European Empires (France and Britain)

Decolonisation is a process in which a

country that was previously a colony
(controlled by another country) EMPIRES
becomes politically independent.

International System USA and USSR

Economically COLONIES
Colonies during 1914
Decolonisation transformed the
power hierarchy in the
international system.
From the Colonial Empires to Nation States

and USSR



Reactions of European Empires to Decolonisation
Colonist Empires were weakened economically and socially by the Second
World War
The United Nations supported decolonization: proclaiming the
independence of each population

Britain France

Understood it was inevitable Ignored anti-colonialist

Accepted the break of old movements. Hoped to resist to
colonies but wanted to keep decolonization.
economical interest Rejected decolonisation
(Commonwealth) Felt hard to leave the colonies
Tried a passive way but couldnt Left in a brutal way
always avoid conflicts Created wars
The impact in the European Empires
Increase of Nationalist movements
Increase of conflicts around the world
(civil wars, revolutions)
Loss of their colonial leading position
Economic losses :
- resources
USA and
- industries USSR
- exportations
- local alliances European Union

Military loss
- military bases

Special case Britain : negotiated with its colonies to stay in

the same economic market : the Commonwealth
Case Study : Vietnam
In 1857 Napoleon III took the southern part
T of Vietnam by force

I In 1874 Vietnam was colonised by France

M Atlantic Charter in 1941

E In 1945 The French, defeated by the Japanese
L during World War II had to cooperate with
the Japanese occupation forces
The Marshall Plan (1948) and the First
N Indochina war(1946-1954)

E Vietnam won their independence from

France 1954 supported by the Soviet Union
and China

Geneva accords in 1954

Case Study : Vietnam - France

France was not prepared for this kind of

revolution( 1946-1954)

France opposed more communism rather than

colonialism because of USA support

Losing Political Power : Losing Military Power :

Losing Economic Power :
- The loss of the French - Military and strategic
- Raw materials and fields
prestigious colonial status in loss (less soldiers)
cultivated in Vietnam: coffee,
Asia led to the reinforcement - Loss of rallying points
rice, petroleum
of independentists (military bases,
- Infrastructures (factories)
movements in North Africa submarines)
- Less trades (exportations from
Two superpowers supporting Decolonization


- It was an old colonial state too and

- Soviet ideology is against any forms of
received its independence in 1782
oppression or exploitation (communism)
- Decolonisation would give them an
- It is against imperialism and colonialism
economic advantage by developing free
in an even stronger way than the USA
- Increase of American exportations


In 1975 Angola gained independence from Portugal.

The Philippines gained independence from the USA in
The Soviet Union established a friendly relationship
1946 . USA supported decolonization of the
and supported Angola with military assistance
Philippines because:
towards decolonisation. The Soviet Union was able to:
Economic gains for the USA
Spread of ideology
USA had several military bases
Creation of a bloc in opposition to the West
Influence in Philippines economy even after
Economic gains from military support
the independece
The impact of decolonisation on the Superpowers
Political gains :
- more allies (the new states)
- spread their ideology (implement their
politics in the New States governments)

Economical gains :
- trading partners USA
- access to more raw materials USSR

European Union
Military gains :
-strategic basis

Social gains:
- the public opinion in the superpower was in
favor of the government since it promoted
human rights
Non Aligned Movement
The initiative of Five:

Jawaharlal Nehru, Indias first Prime Minister

Kwame Nkrumah, Ghanas first President
Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypts second President
Sukarno, Indonesias first President
Josip Broz Tito, Yugoslavias President

Formed during the Cold War

Asia-Africa Bandung
conference 1955 in Indonesia

The First NAM Summit

Conference took place in
Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in
September 1961.
Created to assure "the national independence, sovereignty,
territorial integrity and security of non-aligned countries"
Non Aligned Movement
Advantages DIsadvantages

of the Earth No economic

land surface power

1.5 billion people No military

54% of

Policy of Non-Aligned countries:

Based on independence from the Major


Peaceful coexistence

Support the movement of national

- Create an independent path in world politics
Non-adherence to multilateral military
- Word peace and security
- Right of independent judgment
- Struggle against imperialism and neo-colonialism The independence of non-aligned
- Reconstruction of international economic order countries from great powers or block
influences and rivalries;
Conclusion To what extent did decolonisation alter
the power hierarchy in the international
New era where the US and USSR take the
top line of the power hierarchy as they
emerge as new superpowers .

The old Imperialistic Empires scrabble for

the power left by the two new superpowers
through introducing a new competitive and
European Power in the institution of
EEC(European Economic Community)

New power created in the form of the EUROPEAN UNION

Non-Aligned Movement by the newly
founded nation states.


The period of decolonization alters the powers at the top, but also introduces a new power to
the table, and thus creates an interesting new era of international policy.
The Cold War was fought
in the Third World.
1. Defining the Third World
2. Defining the Cold War in the Third World
3. Thesis
4. Background to the Cold War in the Third World
5. Cuban Missile Crisis
6. Chilean coup detat
7. The Vietnam War
8. The alternative view
9. The effect of NAM on the Cold War
10. Egypt courting the superpowers
11. Conclusion
12. Discussion Question
What is the Third World ?
The word Third World was used in the early 1950s by the French
demographer Alfred Sauvy to describe the poor Afro- Asian countries and
peoples who belonged to these countries.

neither the Western capitalist bloc,

the First World,

nor the communist bloc,

the Second World.

The Third World includes the states of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, South
Asia and South-East Asia.

These nations faced many problems. Most suffered from conditions of extreme
poverty and social inequality.
What is the Cold War in the Third World?
After WWII : Cold War and Decolonisation movements in Africa and Asia.
Colonial territories seized their opportunity to rid themselves of their
imperial rulers.

Anti-Americanism during the Cold War. Even though the US had condemned
European imperialism, the United States itself was accused of

Some leading members of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) were also

anti-Soviet in outlook, believing that the USSR was as guilty of imperialism as
the USA.
The Cold War was in deed fought in the Third World not only in the form of
military intervention, but also by exercising political, economic, and social
influence over the Third World countries. While some countries suffered from
the tensions, others benefitted from the competition of the two power blocks.
Background to the Cold War in the Third World
Many Third World nations were caught in the middle of the
superpower clashes.
The superpowers often exercised their hegemony through
economic means.
If a country accepted aid from one of the superpowers, though,
it risked falling under that superpowers control.
The country could become the target of covert actions designed
to undermine the government and remove its leader.
Third World nations were often squeezed between East and
West and became a battleground in the superpower conflict.
Cuban Missile Crisis
Castro forged close ties with the Soviets and began to build a communist state
in 1959. He implemented radical reforms, including land reform.
The US responded with the regime of overthrowing Castro. CIA operation
included the Bay of Pigs invasion in Apr 1961
Under Castro, Cuba grew dependent on the Soviets for economic aid. He
nationalized American companies, and cut ties with the US. He established
public health and education programs and raised the standard of living for
most Cubans.
The American government imposed the complete trade embargo in 1962.
Nuclear-armed Cuban missiles were being installed just 90 miles south of
Kennedy enacted a naval blockade Quarantine and made it clear that the
U.S. was prepared to use military force if necessary.
The people around the world feared that this was the brink of nuclear war
Chilean coup d'tat
Prior to 1970:

Democratic Government
American investment in the
copper industry

After 1970:
Chileans elected a socialist president, Salvador Allende.
The fear of the government heading towards communism.
Economic pressure:
Cutting off American aid and blocking loans from the World Bank.
Nixons aim was to squeeze the economy until it screamed.
Military pressures:
In the 1973, the military launched a coup detat.
Tanks rolled through the streets and fighter jets attacked the presidential
A military dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet supported by the US.
The Vietnam War
A war between the popular communist state in the North
ruled by Ho Chi Minh and the non communist state in the
South ruled by the dictatorship of Ngo Dinh Diem.
The elections in 1956 after Geneva Accords were
canceled by South Vietnam.
As local opposition to dictatorship grew, a
communist rebel forcethe Viet
Conglaunched a response.
Strong anti war sentiments in the US.
In 1975, the North won.
Casualties are 58,000 Americans and 2 million
The alternative view
During Cold War, some
independent nations of Asia and
Africa, wanted to remain free
from the choice between the one
of the two superpowers.
Their priorities were to speed up
Western decolonization and to
tackle the causes of their economic
They took the name of
Non-Aligned Countries This MAP shows
Used communism and capitalism the distribution
against each other for their own of the
advantage non-aligned
throughout the
The effect of NAM on the Cold War
No practical effect:
Non-Aligned Movement had little influence, for its activities did not lead to any
abatement of the Cold War
Many states in the Third World remained allied to one side or the other until the
superpower competition came to its conclusion
No achievements of major breakthroughs in their attempts to press the advanced
industrialized countries to make concessions over trade and aid
The impact of activities of the non-aligned countries was not negligible.
One key consequence was the growing sense of a shared consciousness between
those states that constituted the Third World.
Third World had acquired a voice in world affairs that could not be entirely
ignored and had created normative changes that meant that development was a
central issue in international politics.
Egypt courting the superpowers
Nasser understood a key idea of non-alignment :
By 'courting the superpowers:
persuade the Americans them to fund the construction of the Aswan
Dam project.
Then he decided to move towards the USSR by buying arms from
In the ensuing crisis over the Suez Canal:
Nasser balanced the superpowers against one another and emerged
the winner.
He kept the canal, and humiliated the colonial powers.

This was a clear Cold War victory

for a non-aligned state.
The Cold War was fought in the Third World.
The battle for ideological and economical influence of the US and USSR
extended their spheres across the world, but only within the weak and newly
decolonized nation states. The superpowers used the newly decolonized Third
World countries strive for rapid progress for their your own advantage. In some
of the Third World countries this battle of the two giants brought destruction,
casualties, oppressive governments and civil unrest. However, the competition
for influence was used by some Third World countries for their own gains which
came from both sides.
Discussion Question
Which human principles and values did the world
develop due to the cruel use of the Third World as a
Have we stopped using the Third World as a field for
superpowers portraying their superiority over each
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