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Summary: The Late Twentieth Century

After World War II the nations of western Europe maintained their sovereignty and nationalist outlook but formed an economic union, the Common Market. In Britain a social revolution was accomplished with the nationalization of some industries and the extension of social programs. In the 1980s, however, Britain still faced economic difficulties and the unresolved problem of Northern Ireland.

In France, General de Gaulle reestablished republican government after liberation. Although he left office in 1946, he returned in 1968 to preside over the birth of the Fifth Republic.

In the postwar period the West German economy benefited from the building of new, modern, industrial facilities. Democratic government was established but reunion with East Germany was not accomplished until 1990.

Italy experienced turmoil in the postwar years although it enjoyed economic growth. The Italian Communist party increased in size but declared its willingness to enter into a coalition government. The Catholic church took bold initiatives in politics, especially during the pontificate of Pope John XXIII.

Dictatorships in Spain and Portugal were replaced by constitutional governments. The Scandinavian and Low countries enjoyed prosperity and stability in the postwar period.

The United States experienced unprecedented changes after World War II. Instead of isolation, it organized worldwide alliances and became involved throughout the globe. It was forced to deal with the existence of the poor within its own borders and recognize that the traditional notion of an economy of abundance had its limitations. It was challenged by the Soviet Union in foreign affairs. The assassinations of three political leaders, the radical youth movements of the 1960s and 1970s, antiwar and antiabortion protests, and demands for social change reflected serious tensions. Three successful Republican parry presidential victories brought a high degree of stability, though by the 1990s economic problems had become acute.

Canada experienced growth but faced the demands of French-speaking Canadians. In Mexico, serious economic troubles threatened the nation.

As elsewhere, the Soviet Union and the nations of eastern Europe experienced cycles of prosperity, growth, and economic stagnation, as well as social and political unrest. In 1956 Khrushchev denounced Stalin and ended the policy of mass terror. Soviet leaders emphasized production, but agricultural production remained below desired levels. After Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet leader, instituting many reforms, the Soviet Union was substantially democratized, free enterprise was permitted, the Eastern bloc satellites all denounced old-style communism, and the cold war appeared to be at an end. Ethnic nationalism broke Yugoslavian unity and threatened to do so in Russia.

In the non-Western world, educated people as well as urban and rural populations wanted independence. Britain, France, the Netherlands. Belgium, and eventually Portugal were forced to dismantle their empires.

In Asia, Japan established a democratic government during the American occupation. Its economy was rebuilt, resulting in spectacular growth. Tensions between the United States and Japan developed in the 1970s as a result of the American decision to recognize China and of economic measures that hurt Japanese trade with the United States. South Korea suffered through political instability and dictatorship in a time of economic growth.

In southeast Asia, new nations emerged, although some, such as Indonesia, were poorly prepared for independence and faced political turmoil. In 1947 South Asia was partitioned between India and Pakistan. The divided nation of Pakistan was torn by civil war in 1971 when East Pakistan became the independent nation of Bangladesh, and India emerged as a regional power.

Oil and tensions between Arab nations and Israel caused frequent international crises in the Middle East during the postwar period. Oil was used as a weapon in international diplomacy. Despite Egypt’s recognition of Israel, conflict between other Arab nations and Israel continued to make the region unstable. In 1991 war broke out between an American-led United Nations coalition and the government of Iraq over the latter’s sudden annexation of oil-rich Kuwait. Nonetheless, Israel and the PLO reached an agreement in 1994.

African nations achieved independence but faced the problem of political instability. In South Africa, the white controlled government imposed a rigid separation of races known as apartheid in 1948, not abandoning it until 1991.

As in Africa and Asia, the nations of Latin America had traditionally been exporters of raw materials and food crops. Independence and industrialization caused economic strains and political unrest that threatened many nations of the region and resulted in military coups, even in countries such as Chile and Uruguay that had democratic traditions.

Though the historian does not deal with the future, there were clear trends from the past that would continue to shape at least the near term. “Our times” had brought vast movements of people, great changes in technology, enormous population growth in many societies (and “no growth” policies to others). The definition of human rights had been broadened and “world opinion” was now a legitimate concern.

The nature of the family had changed, and for each social improvement, there seemed to be a counter-weighing social ill. Racial discrimination was, at the least, far less overt; in much of the West, the emancipation of women had been achieved; forms of the welfare state were nearly universal.

Western civilization, especially in its mass cultural expressions and in forms originating in North America, continued to have a vital and deep impact on all other societies.

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Prospects In The Late Twentieth Century

Historians do not deal with the future. Yet one justification for the writing and reading of history is that it helps us better to understand the present and to interpret more intelligently the future as it rushes in upon us.

In 1846 the young French poet Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) defined modernity as that phase of experience in which life is lived in fragments, in which the pace of change and an inability to separate the important from the unimportant create a sense of confusion, of one’s life being out of control or in the control of others.

The rapidity of observed change in one’s own time would lead to the illusion that life in the past was both more coherent and understandable and, somehow, actually slower. Such a view of history produces hope: A fixed past that one might study and comprehend, could be contrasted with a future that lacked confining definition and to which no walls had yet been set. But the historian also knows that the past helps to define the future.

What changes of “our times” would be most important in shaping the next times? What might history conclude before the fragmentation of life as experienced takes over? Certainly technology will continue to transform daily life, massive population growth will induce vast social change, and the world will become ever more interconnected. But what beyond this?

One obvious trend of the recent decades was a worldwide movement of peoples, of emigrations and immigrations, so that once ethnically or racially homogeneous peoples were dramatically less so and the cultures of once-distant peoples became parts of other cultures.

Perhaps no impact of World War II and the period of decolonization and localized post colonial wars has been more obvious than the movement of great numbers of Asians, Africans, West Indians, and others into countries once overwhelmingly European in their cultures. Such movements of people have changed clothing styles and eating habits, enriched European languages, and utterly altered communication, education, and medical knowledge.

By the 1990s the concept of human rights was thoroughly embedded in Western societies and increasingly throughout the world, and even where given only lip service, concern for “world opinion” often shaped diplomacy, military strategy, and business tactics. The range of agreedupon rights had been greatly widened to include the concept of the right to privacy, the right not to incriminate oneself, and the right of access to education, health care, and public safety.

Many claimed a right to an unpolluted environment as well. By no means did everyone enjoy such rights, even in the most stable of democracies, but they represented agreed-upon aspirations for all societies. Before our times there was little agreement on what constituted basic human rights at the international level and little concept of “world opinion.”

The last thirty years have brought the most remarkable social progress and increase in standard of living in history. In the Western democracies, purchasing power for the average employed person increased by nearly half, overseas travel increased twenty-fold, and two-family incomes became commonplace. Thirty years ago most of the world lacked personal computers, microwave ovens, audiocassettes, videos, television, FM radio, electronic toys, and credit cards or automatic bank tellers.

There were no CAT scans, lens implants, or artificial joints; there was no microsurgery, magnetic imaging, or in-vitro fertilization. There was no genetic engineering as the term is understood today. The divorce rate was one fifth of its present level, and in most of the Western world “crime in the streets” was not a political issue. Life expectancy in the industrial world rose to nearly eighty, creating an aging population.

The past three decades have also brought, in much of the Western world, the emancipation of women. The contraceptive pill, which became widely available in the 1960s, made family planning possible where social custom or religion did not prevent it. The movement in the 1970s to award equal pay for equal work, followed by equal opportunity and affirmative action programs, opened up a vast new labor market, with millions of new earners.

Families were smaller, income was larger, and thus real income rose for the great majority. Yet, single parent families rose rapidly, with half of the children in such families living below the poverty line as defined by Western societies. In many nations gay and lesbian individuals were also assured of the full exercise of their rights.

Two major changes influenced the way history was studied, giving rise to the question, Who owns history? “Women’s history” was increasingly replaced by gender history. The former had tended to mean simply adding women to the basic historical story, being certain that the achievements of women were recorded. This “add-on” approach also meant that sections of texts, courses, and curriculae included women more systematically and in far greater depth than before.

But gender history meant far more. First, it weakened class as a primary category of analysis, making it no more than simply equal to gender ethnicity, and sexuality. This meant that labor history, for example, which had tended to be heavily male in its orientation, had to be reexamined, for more was required than simply placing women at the scene, in work places and strikes or on revolutionary barricades. Gender does not equate with women, just as race relations are not “about” nonwhites; gender is part of an inquiry even if women are not.

As men had felt threatened by the feminization of work, which assailed their class positions,they also felt threatened by the idea that masculinity was a feminist issue. Thus genderized history insisted on a reconstruction of categories so that women would not be required to fit into units of study that had been developed largely to explain the actions of men. Kinship, family, sexuality, and production were seen to be aspects of the dispersal and use of power.

The second change was a challenge to the idea that there was a coherent story of Western civilization that could be outlined between the pages of a book. That books were written on, and students studied, Western societies as opposed to other world societies was argued to be a form of racism or, at least, cultural blindness in the eyes of some.

At first schools and universities simply turned to the “add-on” solution, adding courses on Africa, Asia, or Latin America, or on a variety of ethnic histories, especially in the United States. The sense that university education was organized around dominant masculine and Western values was attacked by those who were convinced that society must be freed of organizing principles that seemed to “empower” one group or another.

However, demands for revised curriculae often resulted in an irony, in which members of ethnic communities preferred to study only themselves and with individuals of the same background, precisely the organizing principles of which they often had complained when knowledge was said to be dominated by white, middle-class, or Protestant values. For the most part the discipline of history was less caught up in this debate than most subjects of study in the social sciences and humanities, however, since historians could hardly abandon the principal organizing force of historical narrative, which is sequence.

To argue that the great African author Wole Soyinka (1934 ), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986, was a writer of equal stature to Shakespeare was one thing, while to argue that Shakespeare was irrelevant and Soyinka relevant to history was quite another, simply because one preceded the other: Shakespeare influenced Soyinka, while the Nigerian writer did not influence Shakespeare. Where pure matters of chronology were involved, there was little debate; where aesthetic judgments about relative merit or, even more dramatically, about relevance to understanding the present time were at issue, there was frequent discussion. Such discussions also led to the question, Who owns history?, something not often asked in the previous century.

Typically Western governments responded to unemployment, soaring interest rates, falling educational levels, and rising crime, poverty, and illness by creating social welfare programs. Some, as with medical care in Great Britain following World War II, or sweeping programs concerning sexual mores in Scandinavia, or housing loan insurance in Australia, became long-term changes within the society, while others were mere palliatives, tried and abandoned, attempted largely for their political effect. By the end of the 1980s the United States, for example, had 200 separate welfare programs operated by the federal government.

Taxes rose throughout the Western nations, in many countries to half the income of the middle class, and while substantially less in North America, nonetheless to the point by 1991 that taxes were the single largest item in the budget of a typical citizen. The state, the government, had in all societies become a player in the life of the individual to a greater extent than ever before.

By 1995 nearly everywhere citizens appeared to want less government. Still, in most of the West less than five years from the twenty-first century there continued to be a basic faith in democracy rather than some allegedly more efficient form of government, in the value of one’s labor, hope for one’s fellow beings, respect for the environment, and love of country.

There was, by the 1980s and 1990s, much talk about the decline of the West. Certainly there was a decline, if a monopoly on technology or the ability to force the world into a Western mold by trade, industrial efficiency, or military expertise were the criteria. Yet looking beyond nation to culture, the historian could easily note the continuing global ascendency of the English language and of popular Western mass culture, especially in its American variant, if not of elite culture.

American ideas continued to absorb the ideas of others, to cross borders, to change; attempts to stave off this global culture, most notably in Muslim lands, posed vast transnational problems in terms of respecting other societies, and the future was by no means certain.

But the cultures customarily described as “Western civilization” remained vigorous, demonstrably attractive to the rest of the world, and relatively coherent. A historian could guess that in the twenty-first century the body of ideas embraced by that collective term would remain interesting, significant, and usefully true.

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Latin America In The Late Twentieth Century

Although most of the Latin American republics had by 1945 enjoyed political independence for more than a century, they had much in common economically and socially with the emerging nations of Asia and Africa. Like the Asians and Africans, the Latin Americans had been suppliers of foods and raw materials to the rest of the world.

Bananas, coffee, sugar, beef. oil, nitrates, and copper fluctuated widely in price on the world market; before the Latin Americans could raise their standards of living, they would have to build on a more stable and diversified economic base. Most of Latin America had a racially mixed population: some native-born whites or immigrants from Europe (like the Italians in Argentina), some descendants of the indigenous peoples, and some blacks (chiefly in Brazil and Haiti).

Nominally governed under a democratic system of elected officials and parliaments, they had all too often lived under military dictatorships that shifted whenever a new army officer felt strong enough to challenge the one in power.

Latin Americans traditionally felt a mixture of envy, dislike, and suspicion toward the United States. Upper class Latin Americans educated in Europe believed that North Americans lacked true culture; North Americans generally seemed to know little about Latin America. Whenever the United States ceased to be indifferent and devoted some attention to Latin America, it did so by intervening in their affairs.

Upper-class Latin Americans were well aware of the miserable poverty in which most of their people lived, but they hoped that social revolution would not disturb the system. Thus. when President Carter applied his test of “human rightsto the authoritarian regimes of South America, they were deeply resentful.

Some earlier attempts—the Pan-American Union in 1910 and President Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy after 1933—were primarily cultural in emphasis. After World War II the Pan-American Union became the Organization of American States (OAS). Somewhat looser than an alliance, the OAS provided a means for consultation among all the American nations on all important matters of mutual concern.

The Alliance for Progress—launched under President Kennedy and designed to enable the United States to help the Latin Americans to help themselves—proved a disappointment, in part because it was difficult to allay Latin American suspicions of American intentions, in part because of the deeply entrenched ruling families that dominated most Latin American countries.

Not every Latin American country was invariably a dictatorship. Uruguay, for example, a small country with a population largely European in origin, had created a welfare state so advanced that by 1970 the Uruguayan economy collapsed, largely because of the payment of state funds to individual citizens for the many types of benefits available. However, the eroding economy gave the terrorist Tupamaros an opportunity to win some support, and in 1974 the military succeeded in defeating the Tupamaros at the cost of imposing a virtual military dictatorship on Uruguay.

Venezuela, with rapidly developing oil resources, in 1959 ousted the last of a long line of military dictators and made the transition to moderate democratic rule. As a member of OPEC. Venezuela moved in the 1970s into an era of prosperity and stability. Meanwhile Colombia underwent a lengthy terrorist campaign in the countryside—virtually a civil war—in which many thousands were killed, and even when this ended was still experiencing extremes of wealth. poverty, and crime.

Brazil, the enormous Portuguese-speaking land larger than any other Latin American countm suffered from recurrent economic crises and military coups. Its poverty-stricken northeast, where many thousands lived in virtual serfdom on big plantations, contrasted sharply with the luxurious apartment-house and beach life of the big cities; but these, too, had their festering slums. Brazilian government was, until 1990, a military dictatorship that stood accused of torturing its political prisoners.

Chile, too, was plagued by military intervention. In 1970 Chileans elected a Marxist, Salvador Allende Gossens (1908-1973), as president. Though Allende was a minority president, having won less than 40 percent of the votes, he took office in relative calm and moved gradually to expropriate foreign properties. But some of his supporters felt he was not nationalizing rapidly enough, and the United States feared that he would not provide just compensation for the properties he expropriated.

In a still controversial series of events in which the American CIA and possibly the International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation were involved, the Allende administration was toppled by a military coup in September 1973. By then the economy was in chaos. The military junta declared that it would exterminate Marxism, and it resorted to mass arrests and kidnappings. The economy did not improve, and in 1990 an elected civilian government succeeded the military.

Argentina—peopled almost entirely by European immigrants and their descendants—continued to have a social system that gave power to a small landlord class. The beginnings of industrialization deepened popular dissatisfaction with the regime. Brought to power in the national election of 1946, Colonel Juan PerOn (1895– 1974) became a dictator on the model of Mussolini, Hitler, and Franco. In 1955 he was removed by a military coup. He had begun to appeal to the poorer masses, the descamisados (shirtless ones), and thus lost much of his following among the conservative upper classes.

Moreover, he had quarreled with the Roman Catholic church and put through anticlerical measures that cost him further support. Nor could he solve the grave economic and financial problems arising out of his country’s essentially colonial position; indeed, his uncontrolled spending on public works and welfare projects, and the extravagant lifestyle of his wife, Eva Duarte (1919-1952), virtually bankrupted Argentina.

During the years that followed, many Argentines continued to support PerOn, who lived in exile in Spain. Twice a weak elected government was overthrown by a military coup. The army regime installed in 1966 promised to purge Argentina of corruption but aroused much opposition by its repression of academic freedom. The old problems remained unsolved, indeed almost untacIded.

Percin returned to Argentina in 1973 and was again elected president, but he died before he could initiate new policies. He was succeeded by his second wife, Isabel (1931– ). She, too, was removed by a military coup in 1976 and placed under house arrest. The military government turned to widespread repression, killing perhaps five thousand Argentines, suppressing civil liberties, using torture to extract confessions, and becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. Inflation ran out of control, unemployment reached the highest levels since the depression, and the peso was devalued.

To distract attention from the economy, the Argentine military attempted an invasion of the Falkland (or Malvinas) Islands and suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the British in 1982. By 1987, however, Argentina seemed on the road to democracy. Political unrest continued, however, in the Caribbean states and in Central America.

The United States was deeply stung by the failure to anticipate Castro’s successful revolution in Cuba and was determined not to recognize his regime and to force Cuban submission by prohibiting American trade. The Cuban situation proved divisive at home, bringing as it did thousands of anti-Castro Cuban exiles and poverty-stricken refugees into Florida. While the United States boycotted Cuban goods, hoping to destroy the Cuban tobacco and sugar economy, other nations filled the trade gap. Castro, who had come to power in 1959, remained firmly in control.

In 1965 the United States concluded that a revolution in the Dominican Republic, a neighbor of Cuba, was inspired by Castro. Between 1930 and 1961 the Dominican Republic had been ruled by a ruthless and corrupt dictator. After his assassination, the first freely elected government in a generation took office, but increasing tension between the army and the new reformers led to military coups and finally to a civil war in 1965.

Fearing that communists might take over, President Johnson sent in American troops, and then tried to internationalize the intervention by appealing to the Organization of American States. By a narrow margin, the OAS responded, and five of its member states sent troops to join the Americans. The Dominican Republic was pacified sufficiently for constitutional elections to be held in 1966. A political moderate, Joaquin Balaguer (1907– ), became president and retained his office when elections were held in the 1970s and 1980s, and again in 1994.

It would have been political suicide in 1965 for any president of the United States to allow another Caribbean country to fall into pro-Soviet hands. But the Dominican episode aroused much opposition among Americans; and in Latin America the reappearance of an American occupation force served to heighten the suspicion that the United States was still determined to intervene when its interests appeared threatened.

Although the United States did not intervene directly in Trinidad, Jamaica, or Guyana, it did provide “advisers” to any mainland Central American nation that considered itself threatened by Cuban communists. In 1975 a guerrilla war in Guatemala was launched against the military government there; by 1981 the dictatorial Somoza family in Nicaragua had been overthrown by the Marxist Sandinista guerrillas, who established a five-member junta to shape a socialist state. In 1979 a military coup in El Salvador was followed by a protracted guerrilla war, political assassinations, and the prospect of deepening American involvement. By the 1980s Central America was in ferment.

Four small nations in particular were the focus of explosive events. Grenada, the smallest independent nation in the Western Hemisphere, appeared to the United States to have fallen under Soviet or Cuban influence. When, in 1983, the Grenadan prime minister was overthrown by a coup and executed, the United States invaded and until mid-1985 occupied the island state. The detested Duvalier regime ended twenty-six years of dictatorship in Haiti in 1986, and after a period of repression and instability, in 1990 the Haitians were permitted a free election in which a radical Roman Catholic priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide (1953– ) emerged as president.

However, a coup led by the Duvalier family’s private militia, the Tonton Macoutes, tried to depose him, and the resulting rioting and rise of the power of the military led to Aristide’s arrest and exile in September 1991. Military suppression spurred thousands of Haitian refugees toward the United States, and in June 1993 the UN imposed a worldwide embargo on the Haitian regime. In September 1994 the military leaders agreed to step down; thousands of American troops were sent to Haiti, and in October Aristide resumed office.

In Nicaragua civil war broke out in 1979, with Marxist Sandinista guerrillas the victors. Thereafter the United States backed contra (anti-Marxist) rebels in the hope of bringing down the Sandinistas, and despite an adverse ruling by the International Court of Justice, the American government continued to supply aid to the rebel leaders.

Late in 1986 the discovery that money intended for the purchase of arms for Iranian use—in a complex attempt to secure the release of American hostages held by Islamic fundamentalists in Lebanon—had been diverted illegally by officials of the United States government to supply the contras, contrary to the express vote of the Congress, threatened the Reagan administration with its most severe political crisis. Reagan’s intense personal popularity helped him to weather the storm, however, and in 1990, in a peaceful election, the Sandinista government was defeated in Nicaragua.

In December 1989, United States forces invaded Panama, joining up with American forces already stationed there. The immediate cause was concern for the security of the Panama Canal, which by treaty in 1979 was in process of being nationalized into Panamanian hands. The deeper cause for American intervention was fear that a former client, Manuel Noriega (1938– ), head of the Panamanian armed forces and dictator of Panama from 1982, was engaged in the international drug trade, had maintained himself in power by nullifying an election, and was threatening both American civilian and military facilities in Panama.

In four days of fighting, American forces defeated the Panamanian army. Widespread destruction in the capital city left fourteen thousand Panamanians homeless. Though most Panamanians appeared to welcome the Americans as liberators, substantial resentment against the United States grew when it failed to supply the anticipated massive aid to rebuild the damaged area and to improve the foundering Panamanian economy.

Guerrilla warfare and widespread terrorism had by the mid-1980s become common tactics of both the political right and the political left. The United States had returned to its old practice of military intervention in the Caribbean area. Wars were no longer declared, they simply broke out when, usually without warning, the troops of one nation moved onto the territory of another.

Casualties ran high, for technology had provided vastly more destructive weaponry. The United States had suffered more casualties in World War II than in all its previous foreign wars combined, and yet American casualties in the localized Korean and Vietnam wars, combined with a variety of military actions elsewhere, were nearly 40 percent the World War II figure. Conventional strategic and tactical approaches to war would not work, and the high-technology nations were slow to adjust to the new methods of warfare.

The nature of diplomacy, and the ability of the most powerful nations to exert pressure on weaker states, changed drastically as terrorism became a disruptively fearsome weapon. The Olympic Games of 1972. held in Munich, were shattered by the murder of several members of the Israeli Olympic team by terrorists. The hijacking of aircraft and cruise ships intimidated thousands of potential travelers.

As powerful a nation as the United States had to admit that it could no longer protect its citizens abroad. The murder of ambassadors on their way to work or even in their offices, the unpredictable bombings of shopping malls and military outposts in dozens of countries, forced upon normally open democracies extraordinary security measures. Most nations, however, refused to give in to terrorism and resolutely sought to conduct their affairs with as much semblance of normalcy as possible.

If the cold war between the Soviet Union and the United States was over, then its legacy continued, for in the Middle East. in Central America, and potentially in Africa prolonged instability and the prospect of involvement by one or more of the major powers remained a daily threat to the world.

Our times were, in standard of living, the best of times: our times were, in terms of stability, peace. and safety, not the worst of times but they nonetheless seemed so to millions. Western civilization had arrived at the present with little prospect that the immediate future would differ greatly from the immediate past.

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Africa In The Late Twentieth Century

The rebellion against imperialism reached Africa in the 1950s. Ethiopia was taken from its Italian conquerors after World War II and restored to Emperor Haile Selassie, who had been ousted in 1936.

In 1952 he annexed the former Italian colony of Eritrea. Selassie embarked on various programs of internal modernization though not liberalization, and he worked hard to assist in the development of the Organization of African Unity. However, he misjudged both the speed and the nature of his reforms.

An army mutiny, strikes in Ethiopia’s cities, and massive student demonstrations in the capital, Addis Ababa, led to his imprisonment in 1974. The military junta then turned to local Marxists and the Soviet Union for support. In 1978 Soviet advisers and twenty thousand Cuban troops helped rout a Somalian independence force; in the same year a famine took an estimated million lives.

Governed by a provisional military administrative council, Ethiopia was clearly far worse off in the 1980s than it had been under Selassie. Widespread famine and bloody civil war destroyed the nation’s fragile economy, and in May 1991 its communist dictator fled the country in the face of an impending rebel victory. In 1993 Eritrea declared itself independent once again.

Particularly unpredictable was the unstable nature of Somalia, a nation on the Horn of East Africa formed from Italian and British colonial holdings in 1960. A bloodless coup in 1969, led by a Supreme Revolutionary Council, began a chaotic series of changes.

Somalia claimed the Ogaden from Ethiopia on the ground that it was populated largely by ethnic Somalis, and Ethiopia turned to Soviet arms and Cuban troops to drive out the Somalian troops in a war that lasted until 1988 and brought 1,500,000 refugees into the already impoverished Somalian republic. One-man rule ended in 1991, but civil war, drought, and growing lawlessness took 40,000 lives in the next two years and the refugees faced starvation.

In July 1992 the UN took the unusual action of declaring Somalia to be a nation without a government; the United States offered to send troops to safeguard food deliveries to the starving. In the face of casualties and further chaos, the United States withdrew its troops in March 1994, though some UN forces stayed to protect the distribution of relief aid. Violence continued, and Somalia remained without a viable government.

Among the Muslim and Arabic-speaking states bordering the Mediterranean, the former Italian colony of Libya achieved independence in 1951, and the French-dominated areas of Morocco and Tunisia in 1956. Morocco became an autocratic monarchy and Tunisia a republic under the moderate presidency of Habib Bourguiba (1903– ). Algeria followed, but only after a severe and debilitating war of independence against the French.

Its first ruler after independence, Ahmed Ben Bella (1918– ), was allied with the Chinese communists. Colonel Houari Boumedienne (1925-1981), who ousted Ben Bella in 1965, in large part because of the slumping economy, favored the Soviets. Algeria and Libya strongly supported the Arab cause against Israel; Morocco and Tunisia did so hardly at all, though Tunis did become the headquarters for the Arab League in 1979.

In 1987 Bourguiba was deposed, and his successors systematically repressed Islamic fundamentalism. Algeria was less successful in doing so, and an ambitious intention to establish a multiparty system was abandoned when, in 1992, the government canceled national elections in the face of a likely Islamic fundamentalist victory.

The president was assassinated, and over the following years security forces, foreigners, high-ranking officials, and intellectuals were killed by the fundamentalists while, in turn, the state took thousands of lives in its drive to end the insurgency. By 1995 the assassinations were being carried into France, which supported the government’s hard line, while other Western powers urged conciliation, leading to a rift that the fundamentalists clearly hoped to capitalize upon.

In Libya a coup d’etat in 1969 brought to power a group of army officers. In 1970 they confiscated Italian and Jewish-owned property. American evacuation of a huge air base in Libya and Libyan purchases of French and Soviet arms added to the general apprehension in North Africa. A temporary “union” of Egypt, Libya, and the Sudan in 1970 had little political importance, but it marked the emergence of Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi (1942– ), the Libyan political boss and prime minister, as the most fanatic Muslim fundamentalist and most dictatorial ruler in the Arab world.

He was also one of the richest, and he used his oil riches to instigate rebellion and political assassination throughout the Arab world. After 1975 he purchased billions of dollars worth of modern Soviet arms and became the supplier to terrorist groups in much of the world. Mercurial and unpredictable, Qaddafi waged border wars against Egypt in 1977 and in Chad from 1977. In 1980 he conscripted civil servants into his army, casting the economy into chaos and paralyzing administration.

Even so, he continued to command a widespread loyal following, perhaps in part because of American air and sea attacks on Libya in 1986. In 1992 the UN imposed sanctions on Libya for its failure to surrender men believed to be linked to the bombing in 1988 of an American commercial aircraft over Lockerbie, Scotland, but Qaddafi remained in power.

South of the Muslim tier of nations lay the former colonies of the French, British, and Belgians. The West African climate had discouraged large-scale white settlement, except in portions of the Belgian Congo; but in East Africa—in Kenya and Uganda especially—many Europeans had settled in the fertile highlands, farmed the land, and regarded the country as their own, as did the large white population of the Union of South Africa. Here, too, were substantial Indian populations, usually small merchants, who carried on trade across the Indian Ocean.

In the areas with little white settlement, independence came quickly. The Gold Coast, with a relatively well-educated population and valuable economic resources, became the nation of Ghana in 1957. Its leader, the American-educated Kwame Nkrumah (1909-1972), made a hopeful start on economic planning within a political democracy. But he grew increasingly dictatorial, jailing his political enemies and sponsoring grandiose projects that personally enriched him and his followers.

A promising democracy became a dictatorship in the 1960s, while the economy was in serious disarray. Rising foreign debt and Nkrumah’s inability to persuade the rich and populous Asante people to submerge themselves in a greater Ghanaian nationalism, led to his overthrow by a military coup early in 1966. Many coups later, however, Ghana remained economically stagnant and overpopulated.

The French colonies all achieved independence in 1960, except for Guinea, which broke away in 1958 under the leadership of a pro-Soviet, Ahmed Sekou Toure (1922-1984). After independence, most of the colonies retained close economic ties with France as members of the French Community. Guinea did not; the French left in 1958, and the country developed a socialist economy with some success. The neighboring states of Mali (formerly French Sudan) and Mauritania also pursued a generally pro-Soviet line.

Of the newly independent former French colonies, two proved especially important. Senegal grew under the twenty-year leadership of Leopold Senghor (1906– ), a noted poet who spoke of the beauties of negritude, helping give rise to the slogan “black is beautiful” around the world. The Ivory Coast, whose leader Felix Houphouet Boigny (1905-1993) had long parliamentary experience as a deputy in Paris, also proved to be stable and prosperous. The Ivory Coast led a pro-Western bloc within the Organization of African Unity, while Senegal often played the role of intermediary between factions, developing a multiparty system and full democratic elections at home.

In 1960 Nigeria, most important of the British colonies, achieved independence. With 60 million people and varied economic resources, it represented a great hope for the future. The British had trained many thousands of Nigerians in England and in schools and universities in Nigeria itself. The country was divided into four regions, each semi autonomous, to ease tribal tensions, of which perhaps the most severe was that between the Muslim Hausa of the northern region and the Christian Ibo of the eastern region. In the Hausa areas, the well educated, aggressive, and efficient Ibos ran the railroads,

power stations, and other modern facilities, and formed an important element in the cities. When army plotters led by an Ibo officer murdered the Muslim prime minister of Nigeria and seized power in 1966, the Hausas rose and massacred the Ibos living in the north, killing many thousands.

By 1967 the Ibo east had seceded and called itself the Republic of Biafra, and the Nigerian central government embarked on full-scale war to force the Ibos and other eastern groups to return to Nigerian rule. Misery and famine accompanied the operations, and the war dragged on until 1970, with both Britain and the Soviet Union helping the Nigerian government. The Biafrans got much sympathy but no real help.

When the war finally ended, the mass slaughter that had been feared did not materialize and the nation devoted its energies to reconciliation and recovery. Nigeria was able to use its growing oil revenues for economic development. In 1979 it returned to civilian government after thirteen years of military rule, but in 1983 a coup ended democratic government.

In east Africa, the British settlers in Kenya struggled for eight years (1952-1960) against a secret terrorist society formed within the Kikuyu tribe, the Mau Mau, whose aim was to drive all whites out of the country. Though the British imprisoned one of its founders, Jomo Kenyatta (1893-1978), and eventually suppressed the Mau Mau, Kenya became independent in 1963. Kenyatta became its first chief of state and steered Kenya into prosperity and a generally pro-Western stance. However, Kenya moved increasingly toward authoritarian government under Kenyatta’s successor, Daniel Arap Moi (1924— ). In 1961, under the leadership of Julius Nyerere (1922— ), Tanganyika became independent.

A violent pro-Chinese communist coup d’etat on the island of Zanzibar was followed in 1964 by its merger with Tanganyika as the new country of Tanzania. Nyerere solicited assistance from Communist China to build the Tanzam railroad from Dar es Salaam, the Tanzanian capital, to Zambia, to help that new nation achieve greater economic independence from South Africa. Nyerere also nationalized the banks, established vast new cooperative villages to stimulate more productive agriculture, and sought to play a major role in holding African nations to a neutralist course. Still, all efforts to create an East African federation failed, as Kenyatta pursued a generally capitalist path, Nyerere a socialist one, and Uganda an intensely nationalist and isolationist policy.

In contrast to the British, who had tried to prepare the way for African independence by providing education and administrative experience for Africans, the Belgians, who had since the late nineteenth century governed the huge central African area known as the Congo, had made no such effort. When the Belgian rulers suddenly pulled out in 1960, it was not long before regional rivalries among local leaders broke out. A popular leftist leader, Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), was assassinated; the province of Katanga, site of rich copper mines and with many European residents, seceded under its local leader, who was strongly pro-Belgian; other areas revolted.

The United Nations sent troops to restore order and force the end of the Katangese secession, while the Chinese supported certain rebel factions and the South Africans and Belgians others. By 1968 the military regime of General Joseph Mobutu (1930— ) was firmly in control. Soon after, Mobutu renamed the cities and people of his country to erase all traces of the colonial past: the Congo became Zaire, and he changed his own name to its African form, Mobutu Sese Seko.

Two small Belgian enclaves, originally under German control from 1899 and administered by the Belgians as a League of Nations mandate from 1916 and a UN trusteeship after World War II, also experienced civil war. Originally Ruanda-Urundi, the two areas became Rwanda and Burundi in 1962. The Hutu people were in a substantial majority in both states, though they were ruled by the Tutsi, who took the best positions in government and the military.

An unsuccessful Hutu rebellion in Burundi in 1972-1973 left 150,000 Hutu dead and propelled 100,000 refugees into Zaire and Tanzania. The first democratic election in Burundi, in 1993, was followed by the assassination of the elected Hutu leader, resulting in waves of ethnic violence. In April 1994 the presidents of both Burundi and Rwanda were killed in an unexplained plane crash, and systematic massacres followed, especially in Rwanda.

Hutu militias killed over 200,000 Tutsi, and 2 million refugees fled to miserable camps in Zaire and elsewhere, where cholera decimated the starving populations. French troops, acting for the UN, moved in to establish a “safe zone,” but the inter-ethnic strife, and the fact that many Roman Catholic clergy had been killed in the predominantly Christian country, left deep wounds and simmering suspicion even as the French gave way to an African peacekeeping force later in the year.

In Portuguese Angola a local rebellion forced Portuguese military intervention. Angola, which provided Portugal with much of its oil, together with Mozambique on the east coast and the tiny enclave of Portuguese Guinea on the west, remained under Lisbon’s control despite guerrilla uprisings. The Portuguese regarded these countries as overseas extensions of metropolitan Portugal. But the guerrilla war proved expensive and unpopular at home, and in the mid-1970s Portugal abandoned Africa. Thereafter Angola became a center for African liberation groups aimed at South Africa. The Angolan government invited in many thousands of Cuban troops, to the dismay of the United States, and the remained until 1991.

Most stubborn of all African problems was the continuation and extension of the policy of apartheid in South Africa, where whites were a minority of about one in five of the population. The nonwhites included blacks, coloureds (as those of mixed European and African ancestry were called), and Asians, mostly Indians.

The Afrikaners, who had tried unsuccessfully to keep South Africa from fighting on Britain’s side in World War II, had emerged after the war as a political majority. Imbued with an extremely narrow form of Calvinist religion that taught that God had ordained the inferiority of blacks, the ruling group moved steadily to impose policies of rigid segregation: separate townships to live in, separate facilities, no political equality or inter-marriage, little opportunity for higher education or advancement into the professions, and frequent banning of black leaders.

The Afrikaners also introduced emergency laws making it possible to arrest people on suspicion, hold them incommunicado, and punish them without trial. Severe censorship prevailed, and dissent was curbed. In 1949, in defiance of the United Nations, South Africa annexed the former German colony and League mandate of Southwest Africa, where the policy of apartheid also prevailed. The International Court of Justice in 1971 ruled that South Africa was holding the area illegally.

One possible solution to the Afrikaner problem— how to maintain segregation, prevent rebellion by the black majority, assure South Africa of a continuing labor force, and satisfy world opinion—seemed to be a combination of modest liberalization of the apartheid laws and the establishment of partially self-governing territories, known as Homelands, to which black Africans would be sent.

Begun in 1959 as Bantustans, or “Bantu nations,” the plan called for pressing most blacks onto 13 percent of the country’s land area. Virtually no African nation would support such a plan, and much of the West was also opposed. The United States equivocated.

It saw South Africa as a strategically important potential ally in case of war with the Soviet Union and appreciated its staunch anticommunist position on world affairs, but it also realized that any unqualified support to the South African regime would cost the United States nearly the whole of black Africa and would also be opposed by many at home. Thus when South Africa finally created its first allegedly independent Homelands—the Transkei in 1976, Bophuthatswana and Ciskei in 1977, and Venda in 1979—not one nation, including the United States, gave them diplomatic recognition.

Despite South Africa’s most efficient and well equipped military force, and the very competent Bureau for State Security (mockingly called BOSS), the apparently secure, white-dominated government was repeatedly challenged by black youth, a rising labor movement, and the African National Congress which, in 1983, turned to terrorism. International condemnation of South Africa did not appear to shake the determination of the government of P. W Botha (1916– ) to maintain white supremacy.

In 1989 Botha stepped down and was succeeded by F. W de Klerk (1936– ), who had committed himself to phasing out white domination, though without permitting black majority rule. De Klerk surprised the world by doing as he had promised, and at the cost of the withdrawal of several members of his Nationalist party, he ended many of the segregated practices and, early in 1991, declared before parliament that full racial equality was his goal. The many nations that had applied economic sanctions against South Africa to force change now felt vindicated, as apartheid appeared to be near an end.

Two black African leaders who had opposed each other also appeared to have made their peace early in 1991. Nelson Mandela (1918– ), in particular, became a worldwide symbol of hope for racial harmony in southern Africa. Until the Sharpeville massacre of 1960 he had been an advocate of nonviolence and a vice-president of the African National Congress (ANC), but when he turned to sabotage he was imprisoned for life in 1964.

From prison he became the rallying point for the South African freedom movement. Botha offered Mandela his freedom subject to a promise not to use violence to achieve change, and Mandela refused; in February 1990, de Klerk released him unconditionally. After a triumphant trip to the United States and elsewhere, Mandela returned to South Africa to attempt to create a unity movement.

The leader of the most prominent tribe, the Zulu, was Gatsha Buthelezi (1928– ), who favored negotiation with the white government and was believed to be angling for Zulu dominance in any multiracial administration that might result. At times Buthelezi had openly opposed the ANC, and the Inkatha Movement, which he led, fomented street fighting in black communities throughout the 1980s. However, with Mandela’s release and de Klerk’s denunciation of apartheid, Buthelezi agreed to work with Mandela and the ANC.

Despite repeated outbreaks of local violence, the transition to full democracy was far smoother than virtually any observers had predicted. In 1993 the ANC and the National Party agreed on the outline of a new constitution, and in April 1994 South Africa held its first election in which people of all races could vote. Mandela became president, the ANC taking over 62 percent of the vote. The last legal vestiges of racial separation were cast down.

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The Middle East In The Late Twentieth Century

In Saudi Arabia, in the small states along the Persian Gulf, and in Iraq and Iran, the Middle East possessed the greatest oil reserves in the world. Developed by European and American companies that paid royalties to the local governments, these oil resources influenced the policies of all the powers.

Many of the oil-producing states had banded together in 1960 to form the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), and they quickly discovered a powerful new weapon in international diplomacy. They used the mechanism of oil pricing and threatened increases both to frighten Western industrial nations dependent on a continued flow of oil and to manipulate Western foreign policies toward Israel.

When the British withdrew their forces from Palestine in 1948, the Jews proclaimed the state of Israel and secured its recognition by the United Nations. The Arab nations declared the proclamation illegal and invaded the new state from all directions. Outnumbered but faced by an inefficient enemy, the Israelis won the war.

A truce that was not a formal peace was patched together under the auspices of the United Nations in 1949. Israel secured more of Palestine than the UN had proposed, taking over the western part of Jerusalem, a city the UN had proposed to neutralize. However, the eastern part, or “old city” of Jerusalem together with eastern Palestine, remained in the hands of the Arab state of Jordan.

During the 1948 war almost a million Palestinian Arabs fled from Israel to the surrounding Arab states. The United Nations organized a special agency that built camps and gave relief to the refugees and tried to arrange for their permanent resettlement. The Arab states, however, did not wish to absorb them, and many refugees regarded resettlement as an abandonment of their belief that the Israelis would soon “be pushed into the sea,” and that they themselves would then return to their old homes. This problem made the truce of 1949 very delicate.

The new state of Israel continued to admit as many Jewish immigrants as possible, from Europe, North Africa, Yemen, and later the Soviet Union. The welding of these human elements into a single nationality was a formidable task. Much of Israel was mountainous, and some of it was desert. The Israelis applied talents and training derived from the West to make the best use of their limited resources, and they depended on outside aid, especially from their many supporters in the United States.

In 1952, less than four years after the Arab defeat in Palestine, revolution broke out in Egypt, where the corrupt monarchy was overthrown by a group of army officers led by Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970). They established a republic, encouraged the emancipation of women, and pared down the role of the conservative religious courts.

Only one parry was tolerated, and elections were closely supervised. As an enemy of the West, which he associated not only with colonialism but with support for Israel, Nasser turned for aid to the Soviets. Czechoslovak and Soviet arms flowed into Egypt, and Soviet technicians followed.

Nasser’s chief showpiece of revolutionary planning was to be a new high dam on the Nile at Aswan. He had expected the United States to contribute largely to its construction, but in mid-1956 the United States changed its mind. In retaliation, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal, previously operated by a Franco-British company, and announced that he would use the revenues thus obtained to build the dam. For several months, contrary to expectations, the new Egyptian management kept canal traffic moving smoothly. The French and British governments, however, secretly allied themselves with Israel.

In the fall of 1956 Israeli forces invaded Egyptian territom and French and British troops landed at Suez. The Soviet Union threatened to send “volunteers” to defend Egypt. Nor did the United States, angry at its British and French allies for concealing their plans, give its support to them.

With the United States and the Soviet Union on the same side of an issue for once, the United Nations condemned the British-French-Israeli attack, and eventually a United Nations force was moved into the Egyptian-Israeli frontier areas, while the canal, blocked by the Egyptians, was reopened and finally bought by Nasser.

After the Suez crisis, Nasser’s economic policy was governed by the grim struggle to support a fast-growing population. He undertook programs to reclaim land from the desert by exploiting underground water, and to limit the size of landholdings so that landless peasantry might hope to acquire land. To provide more jobs and to bolster national pride, he also accelerated the pace of industrialization. Most foreign enterprises in Egypt were nationalized.

In 1967 Nasser demanded that the United Nations troops that had kept the Egyptians and Israelis separated since 1956 be removed. UN Secretary General U Thant complied. The Egyptians began a propaganda barrage against Israel and closed the Strait of Tiran, the only water access to the newly developed Israeli port of Elath. The Israelis then struck the first blow in a new war, destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground and also hitting at the air forces of the other Arab states.

In six days they overran the Sinai peninsula, all of Palestine west of the Jordan, including the Jordanian portion of Jerusalem, and the Golan heights on their northern frontier with Syria, from which the Syrians had been launching raids for several years. This third Arab-Israeli war in nineteen years ended in an all-out Israeli victory.

It was a humiliation not only for Nasser but also for the Soviet Union, which had supplied much of the equipment that had been abandoned as the Egyptian army retreated. The Soviets moved vigorously to support the Arab position, arguing their case in the United Nations, denouncing Israel, and rearming Egypt. Israeli armies remained in control of all the territory they had occupied.

Had negotiations begun soon after the war, much of this territory could perhaps have been recovered, but as time passed the Israeli attitude hardened, and it became difficult for any Israeli government to give up any part of Jerusalem or the Golan heights, whose possession ensured Israeli territory against Syrian attack. Sinai, the Gaza strip, and perhaps the West Bank of the Jordan might be negotiable.

But the Arabs, led by Nasser, refused to negotiate directly with the Israelis or to take any step that would recognize the existence of the state of Israel. Rearmed and retrained partly by the Soviets, the Egyptians repeatedly proclaimed their intention of renewing the war. Israel existed as an armed camp, its men and women serving equally in the military forces, ever prepared for an attack.

In 1969 and 1970 tension again mounted dangerously in the Middle East. Arab Palestinians organized guerrilla attacks on Israel or on Israeli-occupied territory from Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. The Lebanese government—precariously balanced between Christians and Muslims—was threatened by the Palestinian guerrillas and forced to concede Lebanese territory nearest the Israeli frontier.

In various airports—Zurich, Athens, Tel Aviv— terrorists attacked planes carrying Israelis. At times the Palestinian Arab terrorist movement took on the aspects of an independent power, negotiating with the Chinese, compelling Nasser to modify his pronouncements, and demanding that its leaders be heard in the United Nations. In the autumn of 1970 terrorists hijacked four large planes—Swiss, British, German, and American—in a single day, holding the passengers as hostages in Jordan for the release of certain captives of their own.

During the tense negotiations that followed, full-scale hostilities broke out between the Arab guerrillas and the Jordanian government. The Syrians intervened on the side of the guerrillas, and the threat of American intervention on the side of Jordan’s King Hussein (1935– ) and of a Soviet response was suddenly very real. Jordanian successes, Syrian withdrawal, and American and Soviet restraint helped the critical moment pass.

Just as grave was the continual Arab-Israeli confrontation in Egypt. Here Egyptian raids across the Suez Canal into Israeli-occupied territory in the Sinai were followed by Israeli commando raids into Egyptian territory on the west side of the canal and by Israeli air raids deep into Egypt. During 1970 the installation of Soviet missile sites near the canal forced the suspension of the Israeli attacks.

But the Soviet involvement in Egyptian defense also threatened open confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States. To avoid this danger, the United States, Britain, and France held four-power discussions with the Soviets on the Arab-Israeli conflict. With the Soviets totally committed to the Arab side and the French increasingly pro-Arab, with Britain balancing between the two sides, and with the United States trying to help Israel but determined to avoid another entanglement like Vietnam, the Israelis regarded with skepticism the possibility of any favorable solution emerging from the big powers’ discussions.

They insisted that only direct talks between themselves and the Arabs could lead to a satisfactory settlement. Arab insistence that a return of all occupied territory must precede any discussions rendered such meetings impossible. In the summer of 1970, however, the Egyptians and Israelis agreed to a cease-fire. But as hopes were renewed that discussions might at least begin, President Nasser died suddenly, to be replaced by Mohammed Anwar el-Sadat (1918-1981), who pledged himself to regain all occupied territories.

Sadat became suspicious of the Soviets’ intentions, and in 1972 he expelled them from Egypt. Determined to regain Egypt’s lost lands, he attacked Israeli-held territory, in concert with Syrian forces, on the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur in October 1973. For the first time the Israelis were caught by surprise, and the Egyptians inflicted heavy losses.

An Israeli counterattack turned the Egyptians back, however, and in November a truce was signed in the Sinai by Israel’s prime minister, Golda Meir (1898-1978). Oil diplomacy now demonstrated its force. At the outbreak of the war, the Arab oil-producing states cut off the flow of oil to Europe and the United States to force the West to bring pressure on Israel. While Americans had alternative sources of supply, many European nations had none, and the Arabs’ policy had the desired response of pressure on Israel.

Sadat, however, was convinced that his people needed relief from constant conflict. In 1977 he committed himself to achieving Egyptian-Israeli peace. Flying to Israel, he addressed the parliament and met with the new Israeli prime minister, Menachim Begin (1913— ). Begin had taken a particularly hard line on all issues relating to the Arab states, including the question of a homeland for the Palestinians. Though immediately condemned by most Arab states, Sadat persevered, and both he and Begin later accepted an invitation to meet with the American president, Jimmy Carter, at Camp David outside Washington. There a series of accords was worked out in September 1978 as the basis for future negotiations on a wide range of Middle Eastern questions.

But the “spirit of Camp Daviddid not last. The Arab states refused to join Egypt in negotiations. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), as the principal voice for the Palestinian refugees, mounted an increased terrorist campaign. PLO leader Yasir Arafat (1929— ), helped by growing Western disenchantment with Begin’s tough bargaining positions, began to make inroads into Western support for Israel.

Then three blows disrupted the delicate peace once again. In October 1981 Sadat was assassinated in Cairo by Muslim extremists. Two months later the Israeli parliament annexed the Golan heights. Charges of bad faith drove a wedge between the new Reagan administration and Israel. Then in 1982 the long explosive situation in Lebanon was ignited.

Determined to drive the Palestinians out of south Lebanon, the Israeli army had previously staged a massive invasion in 1978 and had withdrawn in favor of a United Nations peacekeeping force. However, Israel continued to aid Christian forces in Lebanon. A second Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon occurred in 1980 in retaliation for a raid on a kibbutz (Israeli collectivist agricultural settlement). Israel next declared Jerusalem to be its capital. In response to an Israeli attack on Syrian helicopters, Syria moved Soviet-built surface-to-air-missiles into Lebanon. In June 1981 an Israeli air strike on an Iraqi atomic reactor near Baghdad was widely condemned even by Israel’s friends.

Even though the new Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak (1929– ), stood by the spirit of Camp David, the Arab-Israeli conflict continued to make the Middle East the world’s most unstable region. Begin, narrowly reelected in 1981, was determined not to appease the Palestinians. In the fall of 1982 he and his military advisers decided that they must at last clear the Palestinians out of all of Lebanon; They mounted a massively destructive attack on the city of Beirut. Shortly thereafter a Lebanese Christian Phalangist militia was allowed—probably with Israeli knowledge and clearly without sufficient Israeli supervision—to move into two large Palestinian refugee camps and massacre men, women, and children.

Even as Israel moved to institute a full inquiry into the killings at the Lebanese camp, tensions ran high in Israel and throughout the world. The investigating commission found several top Israeli military and government officials “indirectly responsible,” which led to their demotion or dismissal. Weary and in poor health, Begin resigned in October 1983, and Israeli politics fell into a period of instability.

Iraq, at first closely aligned with the British after World War II, had ousted its monarchy and proclaimed a leftist, pan-Arab republic in 1958. Extremists of the left and right thereafter subjected the country to a series of coups and abortive coups. In 1968 the Bdath (Renaissance) party took control, and within three years one of its activists, Saddam Hussein (1937– ), had emerged as leader.

The party ruled by decree; in 1972 it signed an aid pact with the Soviet Union and began to receive heavy armaments in great quantities, and it supported Syria against Israel. Between 1969 and 1978 Iraq developed the most terror-ridden regime of the Arab states. Iraq and Syria—also in the hands of a Ba’ath party—soon became enemies.

Saddam Hussein had sought to conciliate Iraq’s largest minority, the Kurds, who had been in sporadic rebellion for decades in quest of the autonomy promised to them by the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, a promise broken by the Treaty of Lausanne three years later. The Kurdish leader, Mustafa al-Barzani (1901-1979), led a revolt in Iraq from 1960 to 1970 and, convinced that he could not trust Saddam, renewed the rebellion in 1974, continuing until his death. Iran had supported the Kurds until 1975, and the continued revolt led to Iraqi bombing of Kurdish villages in neighboring Iran.

In September 1980 Iraq and Iran entered into open warfare with air strikes and heavy ground fighting. The war expanded into the Persian Gulf in 1984, with attacks on oil fields and oil tankers. This fierce war ended in August 1988, when Iraq accepted a United Nations resolution for a cease-fire. Saddam then turned his forces against the Kurds once again, thoroughly crushing all opposition. He also continued to acquire the instruments of war from a variety of sources until, by 1990, he had one of the largest and best equipped armies in the world. The Western nations, particularly the United States, had thus far been content to see Iraq engage Iran, which had turned against the West and decreed the United States to be “the Great Satan.”

Saddam Hussein declared in July 1990 that some Persian Gulf states, inspired by America, had conspired to keep oil prices down through overproduction and that Iraq’s oil-rich and small neighbor Kuwait was part of an “imperialist-Zionist plan” to deny just free market prices to Iraq for its oil. At the end of the month the OPEC ministers agreed to a rise in oil prices, though not sufficiently high to satisfy Saddam.

Iraq had claimed sovereignty over Kuwait since 1961, insisting that it was the artificial creation of the Saudi monarchy supported by the West, and before dawn on August 2 Saddam sent Iraqi tanks and infantry into Kuwait, occupying and looting the state. Later that day the United States denounced Iraq’s aggression, the United Nations condemned the invasion and demanded the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from Kuwait, and the Soviet Union suspended arms sales to Saddam’s army. Fourteen of the Arab League’s twenty-one members also voted against Iraq’s aggression, and the United Nations called for a boycott of Iraq.

The West, as well as Saudi Arabia, hoped that economic and moral pressure would force Iraq to withdraw. The United States President, George Bush, wanted a firm deadline to be given to Saddam, and the UN named January 15, 1991. Fearful that Iraq might launch an attack on Saudi Arabia, the Western nations began a massive troop movement to take up positions along the Iraqi and Kuwaiti borders. With financial aid from Saudi Arabia, West Germany, and Japan, and troop contingents from several Western nations, the United States took the lead in putting pressure on Saddam to withdraw.

When Saddam had not done so by the announced deadline, the United States led a concerted air attack against Iraq on January 16. Iraq replied by sending missiles against Saudi and Israeli targets, by the latter hoping to draw a response from Israel that would fracture the anti-Iraq coalition and lead to the withdrawal of some of its Arab members. Jordan, caught between the contending forces, turned from its formerly pro-Western stance to show increasing sympathy for Iraq.

In just two months, the coalition had thoroughly defeated the Iraqi armies, and Saddam Hussein had agreed to accept UN observers, to destroy Iraq’s nuclear stores, and to rescind his annexation of Kuwait. In the United States, President George Bush’s (1924— ) popularity soared, and the sense of disenchantment with the military, pervasive since the war in Vietnam, was replaced with widespread patriotism and enthusiasm for the victorious American generals, in particular the Chief of Staff, Colin Powell (1937— ) and the commanding officer in Kuwait and Iraq,

General Norman Schwartzkopf (1934— ). There were unforeseen results of the war as well: As the Iraqis retreated from Kuwait, they set fire to virtually all of that nation’s oil wells, sending into the Persian Gulf unprecedented airborne pollution that would take years to correct; and millions of Kurds fled from Iraq into Iran and Turkey. The United Nations coalition failed to achieve one of its goals in the Gulf War: bringing down Saddam Hussein, who remained firmly in power.

He employed chemical weapons in his ongoing war against the Kurds, attempted to defy the teams sent by the UN to verify that Iraq had dismantled its nuclear capacity, and in 1994 declared himself to be prime minister as well as president. The Middle East remained a powder keg, though there was hopeful movement on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

When the Labor party of Yitzhak Rabin (1922— ) was elected in 1992, Rabin called for reconciliation with Israel’s neighbors, and despite repeated incidents of terrorism, Rabin and Arafat met to conclude an agreement in September 1993 by which the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians.

Self-rule was extended to the Gaza strip and in the West Bank, and on July 25, 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a declaration ending their state of war forty-six years after it had begun.

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South Asia In The Late Twentieth Century

The Labour victory in Britain in 1945 made the emancipation of India a certainty. But the deep-seated tensions between Muslims and Hindus had assumed critical importance. When the Hindu Congress party and the All-India Muslim League faced the need to draw up a working constitution for the new India, they found themselves in complete disagreement.

The Muslims had long been working for separate Hindu and Muslim states, which were in the end reluctantly accepted by the Hindus. In 1947 Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan were set up as separate self-governing dominions within the Commonwealth.

Pakistan was a state divided into two parts, widely separated by Indian territory—the larger, arid West Pakistan in the northwest, and the smaller, more fertile, and far more densely populated East Pakistan in former East Bengal. The rest of the British Indian Empire and four fifths of its inhabitants became the republic of India. Pakistan, with its smaller population and its relatively poorly developed industry, was weaker than India and at first kept closer political ties with the British.

Violence accompanied partition. It was not possible to draw a boundary that would leave all Hindus in one state and all Muslims in another. Bitter Hindu-Muslim fighting cost hundreds of thousands of lives, as Hindus moved from Pakistani territory into India and Muslims moved from Indian territory into Pakistan.

A particular source of trouble was the mountainous province of Kashmir. Though mainly Muslim in population, it was at the time of partition ruled by a Hindu prince, who turned it over to India. India continued to occupy most of Kashmir, to the economic disadvantage of Pakistan. The United Nations vainly sought to arrange a plebiscite.

In domestic politics the two states went through sharply contrasting experiences. The chief architect of Pakistani independence, Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1876-1948), head of the Muslim League, died shortly after independence. Thereafter Pakistan floundered in its attempts to make parliamentary government work and to
solve its pressing economic difficulties. In 1958 the army commander, the British-educated Mohammed Ayub Khan (1907-1974), took full power, attacked administrative corruption and the black market, and instituted

a program of “basic democracies” to train the population in self-government at the local level and then gradually upward through a pyramid of advisory councils. A new constitution in 1962 provided for a national assembly and also for a strengthened presidency, an office that Ayub continued to fill.

But as Ayub grew older, charges of corruption were made against his family and his officials, and the depressed peoples of East Bengal protested loudly against policies that discriminated in favor of West Pakistan. Disorder spread, and in 1969 a new military government ousted Ayub.

The tension between West Pakistan, whose Punjabis had a disproportionately large role in the central government, and the underrepresented and miserably poor Bengalis of East Pakistan erupted in civil war in 1971. The East, assisted by India, declared itself independent. As fighting continued, 10 million East Pakistanis fled into India, straining to the limit that nation’s resources.

War between India and Pakistan followed, ending in a pact in 1972. East Pakistan became independent as Bangladesh; West Pakistan, shorn of its eastern portion, turned increasingly toward Islamic nationalism. In 1979 the leader of Pakistan’s People’s party was executed by military rulers who had taken over in a coup, and the American embassy in the capital of Islamabad was stormed and burned.

Even though the nation became more reactionary, the United States concluded a new agreement to provide Pakistan with economic and military aid. Benazir Bhutto (1943— ), the daughter of the executed leader, became the first woman head of state in a Muslim nation by election in 1988, and though defeated two years later, she returned to power in 1993.

Newly independent India had suffered a grievous loss when Gandhi was assassinated by an anti-Muslim Hindu in 1948. But Jawaharlal Nehru (1889-1964), a seasoned politician, at once assumed leadership. India successfully inaugurated a parliamentary democracy of the Western type. Nehru’s daughter, Indira Gandhi (1917-1984), who became prime minister in 1966, successfully carried India through the war with Pakistan.

Feeling that the United States was anti-Indian in the conflict, Mrs. Gandhi signed a twenty-year friendship pact with the Soviet Union in 1971. As the old Congress party split into two camps, Mrs. Gandhi’s New Congress party became less democratic; in 1975 she used the emergency provisions of the Indian constitution to arrest thousands of her opponents and to impose press censorship.

However, she did not turn to dictatorship, and in 1977 she was defeated in federal and state elections, in part because of a highly unpopular attempt to institute birth-control measures that were repugnant to most Hindus. She was returned to office in 1980 and assassinated by Sikh extremists in 1984. Her son Rajiv Gandhi (1944-1991) succeeded her until 1989, when he, too, was assassinated.

India faced acute overpopulation; by 1975 it had more than 600 million people, with a projection of 1 billion for the year 2000. The threat of famine was always present. In 1950 the government launched the first in a series of five-year plans for economic development, permitting the expansion of private industry but stressing government projects: irrigation and flood control, transport and communications, and especially agricultural education.

In the late 1960s a new strain of high-yielding wheat was planted experimentally; the initial results were promising. But the very success of the new foods (the green revolution”) threatened a new form of crisis, as farmers displaced from the countryside by new agricultural techniques flooded into the cities of India, where there was no employment for them.

Political controversy also arose over the question of language. There were thirteen major regions in India, each with its own distinctive tongue. Believing that a common language was essential to national identity, the government supported Hindi as the national language, to which it gave official status in 1965. It also recognized English as an associate language. The elevation of Hindi to official status aroused especially strong opposition among the speakers of Tamil in the south. The government met the problem by making some concessions but without abandoning its aim.

The debate over the relative weight to be given to industry and agriculture also continued. In 1970 India dedicated a nuclear power plant near Bombay, built with American assistance. Canada helped build two nuclear reactors, and in Max’ 1974 India exploded an underground nuclear device. India was determined to pursue a path between the West and the Soviet Union, ably playing one against the other, hoping to be dependent on neither.

Nonetheless, India remained the most populous democracy in the world, with a largely unintimidated legal system, continued if declining use of the world’s international language, English, and an apparent commitment to economic reforms.

These hopeful signs were somewhat offset by a wave of communal violence in 1993 and a continuing low-level war between Indian troops and pro-independence demonstrators in Kashmir. Political instability and persistent corruption challenged the democracy at every turn, but it remained intact and hopeful.

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Southeast Asia In The Late Twentieth Century

Once the Japanese occupation ended in southeast Asia, the major Western colonial powers found that they could not revert to the prewar status quo. The United States had granted the Philippines independence in 1946. In 1949 the Dutch had to recognize the independence of the Netherlands East Indies as the republic of Indonesia, with a population of 100 million people.

Britain gave Burma independence outside the Commonwealth (1948) and the Federation of Malaya independence within the Commonwealth (1957). The island of Singapore at the tip of Malaya, with a largely Chinese population, became fully independent in 1965, after a period of union with the former Malaya, now called Malaysia after the addition of certain Borneo territories in 1963.

Singapore, the fourth greatest port in the world, soon experienced its own economic miracle, attaining the second highest standard of living in Asia, remarkable productivity and stability, and high standards of health, education, and housing under its brilliant long-term prime minister, Lee Kwan Yew (1923— ), who held office from 1959 until 1990. In marked contrast, Burma, originally led by a vigorous advocate of democracy, U Nu (1908-1995), became increasingly isolated, economically bereft, and authoritarian following a military coup in 1962, after which Burma was renamed Myanmar.

The Dutch in Indonesia had not prepared the people for independence by education. Nevertheless, the Indonesians at first attempted to run their government as a parliamentary democracy. Almost everything went wrong; the economy was crippled by inflation, by shortages, by administrative corruption and the black market, and by the expulsion of experienced Dutch business leaders.

The Muslims, who made up the bulk of the population, proved unable to form stable political parties. The outlying islands of the archipelago, resentful of domination by the island of Java—which contained the capital, Jakarta (the former Batavia), and two-thirds of the population—rebelled against the central government. As the high expectations raised by the achievement of independence were disappointed, President Sukarno (1901-1970), the hero of the Indonesian struggle for independence, urged a “guided democracy” based upon indigenous rather than borrowed political institutions.

Sukarno suspended the ineffectual parliamentary regime in 1956 and 1960 and vested authority in himself and in the army and an appointive council. But “guided democracy” created still more turmoil. Inflation ran wild, necessities vanished from the market, pretentious new government buildings were left unfinished for lack of funds, and all foreign enterprises were confiscated.

In external policy, Sukarno initiated an alternating hot and cold war with the new federation of Malaysia for control of the island of Borneo, where both states had territory. He annexed former Dutch New Guinea (called West Irian by the Indonesians). When the United Nations supported Malaysia early in 1965, Sukarno withdrew Indonesia from membership; he also rejected United States offers of aid and moved closer to Communist China.

A coup planned by Indonesian communists misfired at the last moment in the autumn of 1965; 300,000 local communists were then slaughtered. Anticommunist forces came to power under military leaders, among whom General Suharto (1921– ) took the lead, becoming head of state in 1967, reaching a settlement with Malaysia and rejoining the United Nations.

Inflation was brought under control, a five-year plan was launched, and parliamentary elections were held in which Suharto was elected from 1973 through 1993. In 1976 Suharto took advantage of civil war in Portuguese Timor to annex that colonial remnant, and a continuing war marked by massacres festered on the island.

In the 1980s the military, together with a growing navy, remained the principal source of power in Indonesia, which, in part on the basis of its oil reserves, was again experiencing growth. This vast nation, stretching along the Indian and Pacific oceans on 13,000 islands, with 200 million people—exceeded only by China, India, and the United States—held the promise of stability or chaos for southeast Asia.

Equally critical to regional stability was the Philippines. A vast island nation, substantially Westernized— English was recognized as an official language, and there was a considerable overlay of both Spanish and American culture—the Philippines faced chronic economic and social problems, complicated by persistent urban and rural violence in part instigated by Communist-led Huk guerrillas and later by Muslim secessionists.

A liberal and reforming administration under President Ferdinand Marcos (1917-1989) grew increasingly authoritarian, first through martial law, then through a new constitution by which Marcos had himself proclaimed president, and through the grant of powers to Marcos’s wife Ismelda.

The assassination of a respected opposition leader in 1983 touched off widespread demonstrations. In the election of February 1986, Marcos was declared the victor over the widow of the assassinated leader, Corazon Aquino (1932– ); in the midst of allegations of fraud against the Marcos machine, Mrs. Aquino declared herself the lawful president.

Under pressure from the United States Marcos resigned and Mrs. Aquino abrogated the constitution, dismissed the National Assembly, and instituted rule by decree, until holding full elections in May of 1987. A failed military coup late in 1989 underscored President Aquino’s problems, however, as the economy remained weak and the army unpredictable. In 1992 she stepped down.

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The Koreas In The Late Twentieth Century

South Korea had also attempted constitutional government in the Western manner but ran into serious difficulties. After the disruptive Korean War of the early 1950s, the government of Syngman Rhee (1875-1965), South Korean president since 1948, came under mounting criticism for corruption and arbitrary actions.

In 1960 massive protests by students forced Rhee out of office and inaugurated a tumultuous period marked, first, by the political intervention of the army and, then, by another attempt at constitutional rule. While the economy boomed during the 1960s, political instability continued, and in 1979 the chief of the Korean intelligence division assassinated the head of state. South Korea again became a police state under martial law.

There were signs of hope in the lessening of tensions with North Korea, which though also strongly authoritarian, agreed in 1972 to seek the common goal of reunification of the two states by peaceful means. But there had been little real movement toward this goal by 1990. South Korea nonetheless boomed industrially and achieved some measure of world regard by successfully staging the Summer Olympic Games in 1988. By 1990 democratization had moved forward in the south.

There was no such democratization in North Korea, however, and in 1993 North Korea became the first state formally to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, an international pact aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons. The following year North Korea’s leader Kim Il Sung (1912-1994), who had
ruled over the nation for forty years, died, ushering in a period of uncertainty.

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People’s Republic of China In The Late Twentieth Century

The People’s Republic of China, the most populous country in the world (in 1994, with an estimated population of 1,190,431,000, the only nation with more than a billion people), remained important in Western economic and political calculations and also relatively isolated.

After years of upheaval, with massive purges during the cultural revolution in 1965, the nation’s leadership appeared to realize that it had done untold damage to China’s educational system, to its industrial capacity, and even to the revolutionary principles it espoused.

Starting in 1968, purged officials were permitted to return to office, and factional fighting decreased. With the decline of Mao’s authority and the rise of the more pragmatic Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) and Deng Xiaoping (1904– , relations with the West appeared to improve. However, with the death of both Zhou and Mao in 1976, Deng was purged for a time, together with Mao’s widow and other leftists.

With the opening to the West initiated by President Nixon, sweeping changes in the central government in 1982, and a series of substantive economic reforms, China appeared to be on the verge of normalizing relations with the West. However, on May 4, 1989, some 100,000 students and workers marched in the nation’s capital, demanding far more sweeping democratic reforms. Believing that the demands called for too much change too quickly, Deng called for martial law, purged the Communist party of those who would not support him, and brought back some of the survivors of the Long March generation to help combat “bourgeois liberalism.”

When protests spread to twenty other cities, and the capital city was filled with more than a million demonstrators, Deng called upon the Chinese army. On June 3-4, 1989, tanks and armored personnel carriers attacked the assembled protesters—largely students and workers—in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

An estimated five thousand protesters died, perhaps another ten thousand were injured, and hundreds were arrested. Most Western nations condemned the Chinese leadership, and the PRC appeared to have moved back into a repressive stance.

Badly in need of additional Western technology to continue its own rapid industrialization and well aware of its increasingly isolated position in a crumbling world of communism, the PRC was obviously cautiously considering its options for the 1990s, as Deng formally stepped down and Li Peng (1928— ), also a conservative, emerged at least for the moment as China’s primary leader.

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Japan In The Late Twentieth Century

The occupation of Japan was wholly American. Despite some strong opposition from American opinion, the emperor was left on this throne, deprived of his divine status, and subjected to the close control of the forces of occupation.

When the American occupation ended in 1952, the Japanese had made a promising start on a democracy of the Western type. Their economy grew so rapidly that it overtook France and West Germany, to rank third in the world after the Untied States and the Soviet Union.

Industrious, efficient, loyal to their employers, and well-educated, the Japanese work force had by the 1970s displaced both West Germany and the United States in many critical areas of the new high technology. Leadership in automobile production also passed to the Japanese, the Datsun overtaking the Volkswagen even in the American market. By 1980 Japanese per capita income was only slightly behind that of the United States.

Signs of change and of affluence multiplied. Programs of birth-control education were successful, and the birth rate dropped, to become one of the lowest in the world. Peasants migrated to the cities, especially to Tokyo, which surpassed London and New York as the world’s largest city until Mexico City moved past it by 1980. Weekend traffic jams resulted from the rush of Tokyo residents to the beaches in the summer and to the ski slopes in winter. Western styles of dress became customary in urban centers. Japanese tourists became known as the most avid and wealthy in the world as the yen soared in value.

Politically, democratic parliamentary institutions flourished under successive cabinets of the conservative Liberal Democratic party. The left-wing opposition, including both socialists and communist, objected to the mutual security pact binding Japan and the United States after the official restoration of full Japanese sovereignty in 1952, but otherwise it lacked widespread appeal.

The greatest strain between Japan and the United States arose over Nixon’s trip to China in 1972. In going to China, Nixon was shaking the foundations of the special American relationship with Japan. And by failing to let the Japanese know about his plan before the public announcement in 1971 Nixon offended them seriously, leading them to ask whether the Americans were preparing to abandon them.

The enormous economic success of the Japanese had stimulated the Chinese fear that Japan would rearm, and Chinese propaganda constantly stressed “renewed Japanese imperialism.” To allay this fear, Nixon concealed his plans from the Japanese, hoping that he could later repair the damage.

But the United States followed the same tactics in proclaiming a series of surprising new economic measures. The president freed the dollar from gold, allowing it to float, and imposed a new customs surcharge on foreign goods. Both these measures were damaging to the Japanese, who were forced to revalue their undervalued currency and whose enormous sales of manufactured goods in the United States would no longer be so profitable.

The Japanese continued to feel betrayed despite all efforts to reassure them. Premier Eisaku Sato (1901-1975), who had presided over Japan’s growth as a world power, now resigned, beginning a period of relative political instability for the island nation. After meeting with Nixon, the new Japanese premier went to Beijing in September 1972, and regular Chinese-Japanese diplomatic relations were established. This meant that Japan would no longer recognize the Taiwan government.

Upon its formal diplomatic recognition of the People’s Republic of China in 1978, the United States also severed relations with Taiwan, leaving this island of 18 million people isolated and fearful. Thus a complex relationship among Japan, mainland China, and the Untied States brought a diplomatic revolution and relative stability to East Asia for the first time since World War II.

Japan’s economic power, combined with a lack of a substantial military force, since the postwar settlement had limited it to self-defense, had proved unique. Protected by the United States, not having to put any substantial part of its national income into arms, prohibited from developing the nuclear capacity for war, Japan had been able to catch up rapidly with its protector.

Now the tension between wishing to continue the economic advantages of such protection and apprehension that such protection was suspect led the Japanese to explore new initiatives. Yet these initiatives were largely limited to new diplomatic and commercial ventures. The Japanese vigorously developed close trade relations with Australia, becoming that nation’s major trading partner, and sent whaling and fishing fleets throughout the Pacific. In 1978 a Japanese Chinese friendship treaty completed the regularization of relations with the old enemy on the mainland.

By 1990 serious strains had opened up between Japan and the West, and in particular the United States. Recurrent political scandals suggested that the lessons of democracy had not been so well learned after all. Clashes over fishing rights and environmental issues complicated the relationship between the two nations.

At the end of the Reagan administration and early in the presidency of his successor, George Bush, “Japan-bashing” became popular in the United States, with Japanese trade practices, its often closed markets, its paternalistic industrial customs, and its culture of hard work and achievement being blamed for America’s relative industrial decline, especially in the automobile, electronics, camera, and computer industries.

By 1994 Japanese political instability was accompanied by signs of economic weakness. Early in 1995 a catastrophic earthquake devastated Kobe, at the center of Japan’s second largest metropolitan complex, taking over four thousand lives and leaving perhaps two hundred thousand homeless, a staggering blow both economically and socially.

Slow and often inefficient rescue and aid operations by the government led Japanese citizens to question the capacity of their bureaucracy more than at any time since World War II, giving rise to the likelihood of greater political turmoil.

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