In the 19th century, the European powers invaded Africa and other parts of the world in search of greener pastures and political influence. By definition, colonialism is the unequal relations in politics whereby one state institutes and sustains dependent territory. In most cases, colonialism is construed in terms of political influence where a satellite is forced to abide by the rules and regulations of the colonizer.
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Decolonization is a process that involves struggle among colonized states, aiming at attaining autonomy, independence, self-rule, sovereignty, and cultural dominance. It predominantly refers to the breaking of neo-imperial kingdoms after WWII (Sherman and Salisbury 777). Decolonization is a process that took years to materialize because European powers had a strong influence on global affairs. The United Nations had the mandate of overseeing egalitarianism and sovereignty in the world but it was under the control of foreign powers such as Britain (Sherman and Salisbury 787). Furthermore, the UN allowed native communities to either use violent techniques or apply peaceful tactics in pressuring the colonizers to leave their land.
It is, therefore, noted that decolonization is a political procedure that involves violence and conflicts. In most cases, negotiations fail to solve the problem of colonization because of the intricacies involved. In this case, the colonized resort to violence may take the form of a revolution.
One of the examples of nonviolent decolonization is that of India led by Mahandas Gadhi. The Second World War precipitated the process of decolonization because the American president had declared that the war aimed at liberating all people in the world. The process of decolonization reaches its peak after the international community recognizes the aggrieved state. This means that the status of the state changes from de facto status to de jure level.
After decolonization, the third world countries or the newly independent states were faced with a major problem that was related to the Cold War. Cold War is a term that is commonly used in history to refer to strained relations between the West and East. The West was led by the US while the East was under the leadership of the USSR (Sherman and Salisbury 779). The newly independent states were stuck because they never knew whether to follow the tenets of capitalism or communism.
The two economic ideologies were popular at the time because each bloc wanted its ideas to dominate. In so doing, the countries of the south found it difficult to draw independent economic policies that were free of external influence. Some, such as Tanzania, decided to come up with a different economic policy referred to as Ujamaa. The state experienced various problems because it was sidelined in global affairs. At the time, a state had either to incorporate capitalism or communism into its financial system.
One of the universal problems of the Cold War in the third world was related to leadership. Leaders could exercise dictatorship because they had support from either the west or east. In other words, leaders were not held responsible. There was no rule of law meaning that the word of the leader was law. In this case, many people perceived to be political dissidents had to operate from outside the state boundaries. In extreme cases, many lost their lives because of opposing the views of government. In Kenya for example, the then President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta abolished the opposition referred to as KPU in 1965 because it supported the USSR.
The newly independent states had a problem with economic development and business. Colonialists had established a poor economy that depended on agriculture alone. In this case, the third world could only manufacture goods that could be processed elsewhere. Furthermore, elections held in many states in the third world were never free, credible, and fair. The West intervened to ensure that their candidate takes over.
In Vietnam for example, the American government overthrew a democratically elected president because he intended to nationalize private companies owned by Americans. The US intervened militarily to secure the north from the south. Furthermore, the US provided arms and technical support to the northern militia in Vietnam. Finally, the US ended up exterminating many Vietnamese in what is popularly referred to as the My Lai massacre in modern history (Sherman and Salisbury 781). This was aimed at threatening any leader who attempted to resist the desires and interests of the US.
It can be observed that the Second World War precipitated the process of decolonization because colonialists were weakened both financially and socially. Through decolonization, the third world could join the war as equal members, which would translate to something big in the UN council. Various opposing groups in Europe funded militia groups mainly to overthrow British and French administration in the third world.
During the Second World War, the international system was highly militarized hence threatening world peace. The warring groups decided to come to terms with the signing of a treaty, meaning that they would not be aggressive to each other again. This strengthened decolonization because states engaged in negotiations meaning that they abandoned their previous relations characterized by conflicts, tensions, and revolutions. Through negotiations, many states gained independence, as well as sovereignty.
Sherman, Dennis and Salisbury, Joyce. The West in the World, Volume II: From 1600. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.