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The Third World An Overview What is the Third World? Mao’s theory – non-aligned nations Political theorist Hannah Arendt argues that "The Third World is not a reality but an ideology." Why significant? US: US needed open economies Controlling access to resources (oil!), markets, labour

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the third world

The Third World

An Overview

what is the third world
What is the Third World?
  • Mao’s theory – non-aligned nations
  • Political theorist Hannah Arendt argues that "The Third World is not a reality but an ideology."
why significant
Why significant?


  • US needed open economies
  • Controlling access to resources (oil!), markets, labour
  • Overcoming the dollar shortage
    • US investment and imports from Third World increases $ in Third World. Western Europe and Japan would trade and tax Third World, then buy US products = reconstruction in Europe and prosperity in States


  • See readings…
changes in us attitude
Changes in US attitude
  • Previous to the war = colonisation creates instability and radicalises politics (+ US companies tended to be excluded from colonies)
  • After war = decolonization contributes to instability and hostile conditions to Western capitalism
  • Favoured independence as ultimate goal but worked with colonial powers to ensure pro-Western elements
latin america
Support for conservative groups and their military allies

US sponsored a regional security pact (the Rio Treaty) and the formation of the OAS in 1948

Stressed non-intervention principles enshrined in both organisations’ charters

Permitted collective intervention from external threats

Traditional US determination to maintain economic and strategic sphere influence

Latin America
  • Distant from main centres of Cold War conflict but… significant in African devt.
  • In southern Africa the US sought to exclude Soviet and leftist influence: supported colonial powers (Britain, France, Belgium, Portugal + white minority govt. in RSA)
  • Allies of US struggle against communism
  • Southern Africa rich in strategic minerals including uranium (key for atomic bombs)
  • Despite differences (esp. over apartheid), anti-communism key to strategic relationships
middle east
Middle East
  • Crucial imptc. oil to modern warfare + recovery of Europe and Japan – look to Middle East
  • Independence Lebanon and Syria (1946) and ultimately successful challenges to control of Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria (France)
  • Britain withdrew from Palestine 1948 (loss of Indian Army)
  • British faced challenge to position in Egypt and Iran
  • Post-war Iran very unstable, as result of economic impact of the war and political struggle between the shah and the Majlis (parliament)
  • Competition among Britain, the US, the SU exacerbated Iran’s instability
asia japan
Asia - Japan
  • Japan only industrialized power in Asia
  • Japan’s defeat led to independence of Korea and return of Taiwan to China
  • US played major role in defeat of Japan - planned to remake Japanese society = purge elements responsible for the war and promote democratization, demilitarization and deconcentration of economic power
  • US-sponsored reforms included extending the suffrage, reforming land tenure, breaking up the zaibatsu (financial and industrial conglomerates), extending labour rights and abolishing the military
  • US “reversed course” in 1947-8 and began emphasizing economic reconstruction and political stability in Japan
  • Rehabilitation of old elites and institutions to re-establish political order and rebuild the economy
  • Not rebuild military (no neighbours to balance power)
independence movements us and britain
Independence movementsUS and Britain
  • Revolutions in the Third World often combined national struggle against foreign domination with an internal social revolution
  • This combo especially strong in postwar Asia
  • Philippines – granted independence 1946 but electoral fraud and resistance Filipino elite, rural rebellion
  • Malay - British defeated communist-led insurgency supported by ethnic Chinese
  • Independence granted to India-Pakistan 1947, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) 1947, Burma 1948
independence movements france and the netherlands
Independence MovementsFrance and the Netherlands
  • French and Dutch opposed independence movements
  • Indonesia and Indochina impt. sources of Third World dollars
  • SU involvement minimal, but US pressured Dutch to turn over power
  • Vietnam = faced with movement led by communists or continuation of French colonial rule, US supported French in finding and supporting non-communists
  • US saw successful resolution of these conflicts as essential to achieving their economic, political and military goals in Europe as well as Asia
korea and china
Korea and China
  • Korea split along 38th parallel
  • China, Mao Zedong and communists came to power, despite over $3 billion US assistance to the GMD
  • Chinese model of revolutionary struggle based on the peasantry had significant impact on the Cold War, even before Mao definitively looked to the SU for assistance
  • GMD fled to Taiwan, and US strategists regarded it as essential to US shipping lanes, air routes and strategic base for Asian mainland
nsc 68
  • SU successfully tested atomic bomb in 1949
  • Truman approved manufacture more weapons
  • Creation of document NSC-68, drafted 1950 by State Department official Paul Nitze
  • SU = relentlessly expansionist adversary
  • Considered the ‘blue-print’ of the Cold War, declassified 1977
  • Only US military superiority would prevent Soviets from expanding further
  • Atomic monopoly removed
  • NSC-68 called for the US to undertake a “rapid build-up of the political, economic, and military strength” of the “free world”
  • Required tripling of US military expenditure – Congress an obstacle but…
  • When North Korean forces invaded South Korea the political climate changed