A level History!


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Korean War—Civil War or Proxy War?


  • To explain clearly the origins of Korean War
  • To grasp the concepts of civil war and proxy war


  • Application of content
  • Conceptual understanding


  • Fill up the questions and tables with information from your course pack as well as from readings!
  • Have fun learning! J

Section A:

1. Using the numbers 1-9, write down the order in which the following events occurred, and explain the significance of the event.


Order of occurrence


McCarthyism explodes in the US—Red Scare


The Dean Acheson speech—Defense Perimeter


UN and Chinese forces are at a stalemate - ceasefire


Partition of the Korean peninsula by the Superpowers


This is significant because it showed that the superpowers were more willing to maintain peace between them in Korea than fight over who should control all of it.

The USA gets UN to pass resolution condemning NK and helping SK


UN forces push past Yalu River


USSR ambassador boycotts UN meeting


China enters the War


Section B:

2. Research and explain on the concepts of civil war and proxy war.

Civil War

Proxy War

3. Explain who is to be blamed for starting the Korean War.

North Koreans

South Koreans




4. Considering your answers in questions 2 and 3, as well an information in your course pack, write a complete essay outline (using the format in the previous tutorial) for the following question:

“The Korean War was nothing more than a civil war between Kim and Rhee” Discuss.


Interpretation of Question:


GA: The war had been localized by the leaders of North and South as they wanted unification more than being followers of respective ideology of Superpowers, US and USSR

ELA: Thus, the SP were more often than not drawn into the conflict by the heightened expectations and tension stirred up be the local leaders


  • Explain even though the superpowers divided Korea (38th parallel) and laid the foundation of the conflict, it was a localized war i.e. one side invaded another to unify the country but the Superpowers subsequently got involved, therefore added the Cold War dimension.
  • State that the US only got involved after the North invaded the South; the Soviets did not increase its level of involvement, they didn’t want to get directly involved in a conflict with the US so as to give it an excuse to invade USSR.
  • Explain that though the US justifies its actions to continue and expand its policy of containment, it was not simply a desire to counter contain Soviet but is rather directed at communism.
  • Comment that is why the US eventually withdrew because the objective was achieved i.e. able to prevent the North from invading the South.
  • China was drawn in for security means

GA: Even though the SP did get involved in the conflict, they were drawn in by the turns of events rather than deliberately seeking a proxy to impose their ideologies and Cold War rivalry.


The US involvement

· Topic Sentence (State US increasing involvement)

· Elaboration (Explain why Korea was initially not an area of concern e.g. Acheson’s Speech in 1950 that excluded Korea from US line of defence; how it became an area of concern only after North Korea invaded the South; although the war justified the continuation and expansion of containment but it was not directed against SU, but more so communism; how the continuation of the war involved the superpowers rather than a war that resulted because of superpower conflict. Provide evidence to support the explanation)

The SU involvement

· Topic Sentence (State SU increasing involvement)

· Elaboration (Explain why Stalin was initially reluctant to get directly involve in the war and even discouraged Kim from doing so; how SU limited its involvement by providing aid and arms, but left the fighting to China; show how SU was drawn into the war after it started due to its own global considerations and not because it got into a conflict with US. Provide evidence to support the explanation)

· Most of the regional conflicts were not mastermind or instigated by the superpowers.


· Localized conflicts:

o Explain that the conflicts began as localized conflicts; revolutions.

· Superpowers drawn in:

o Expand that their roles were indirect. In other words, they were drawn in by the opportunities available such as nationalist wars and local

· Superpowers’ role is damage control:

o Comment that they were unable to really control the conflict, which implies the secondary role that they play.


· Localized conflicts:

o Unification of Korea

· Superpowers drawn in: Expand


Analytical statement: (See IH Essay outline for Korea and Vietnam)

· Though the regional conflicts were caused by the superpowers, they played an active role in aggravating the conflict once it broke out and very often determined its outcome.


· Explain that the US was particularly active in aggravating the regional conflicts.

· Expand on how the US involvement was in response to the Soviet perceived threat.


Korea (US aggravate conflict)

· Initially not an area of US concern

o Local conflict but subsequently saw involvement of US; note that Korea was not an area of initial US concern (Dean Acheson’s Speech in 1950 to exclude South Korea from US line of defence)

o US heavy involvement after conflict started;

o State reasons – e.g. US policy of containing communist threat and not Soviet per se.

Challenge (2nd Half)

Korean War was not just a civil war between Rhee and Kim, rather its influence expand between the geographical location of Asia and had an impact on superpower rivalry

Analytical statement:

· The regional conflicts did at times affect Superpower Cold War rivalry.


· Expand that in certain instances, it did aggravate Cold War rivalry but one must consider other factors that contribute to this rivalry as well


Korean Conflict

· Conflict aggravated Superpower rivalry:

o Regional conflict in this case certainly aggravated Superpower Cold War rivalry

o Comment on how it led to the militarization of the Cold War (See lectures on Korean War)

à US building of defence pacts and military bases: ANZUS, SEATO, CENTO; sealing of

alliances: Japan and South Korea; increase aid to allies: e.g. Vietnam, Middle East

o Comment that the aggravation was in the context of the happenings in post war Europe

Regional conflicts were used by the superpowers to further their Cold War agendas. As such, the superpowers had control over the regional conflicts – the superpower supported/abandoned their Third World clients according to their self-interests

Ultimately, candidates must decide who played the more prominent and active role in causing and continuing the two conflicts: the superpowers or the local leaders? Through deeper evaluation, candidates are also expected to show awareness of the fact that while the superpowers were not in control at the start of the two conflicts (“became embroiled… unwittingly”), they did try to manouevre the ending of the conflicts and direct their outcome in the superpowers’ favour. (In the end, US and USSR replaced Korean national agenda with their own rivalry: Korea remained partitioned as a symbol of the ideological divide. US suppressed Castro’s agenda: Cuba was sterilised of nuclear missiles in exchange for the removal of Jupiter missiles from Turkey, while Kruschev suffered a loss in international stature for having “given in” to American pressure).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Question : With reference to 2 SEAsian states, explain the factors that led to the rise of nationalism in SEA before WWII.

Instructions : Using COMPLETE sentences fill in the table as if you would do an essay. Please take note that the case studies should come from different SEAsian states.

General Argument: Factor leading to nationalism?


Evidence - Case Study 1 Indonesia

Evaluation –Explain why this case study was chosen

Evidence – Case Study 2 Burma

Evaluation – Explain why this case study was chosen

One reason why nationalism arose in SEA before WWII was because of economic policies taken by the colonial masters which caused the pauperization of many SE Asians.

The introduction of capitalism into previously self-sufficient economies brought about competition from migrants and instability in the local economies as now they are subjected to the demand and supply mechanism of the world. These resulted in land alienation and indebtedness which led to the formation of nationalist parties to represent their interests.

In Indonesia, one of the main reasons why the Sarekat Islam (SI) was set up was to represent the economic interests of locals against the economic dominance of the Chinese and the Dutch. In doing so, it managed to gather together a large following of 360,000 by 1916, merely 3 years after its founding in 1913.

This case study shows that the Dutch economic policies gave local SE Asians a compelling reason to congregate with such unity and in such large numbers. This paved the way for the formation of more mass-supported political parties in the future and that in turn provided more opportunities for SE Asians to fight for nationalist causes.

In Burma, the Saya San Rebellion was a reaction to the frustration over taxation, rice prices and the lack of control over Indian immigrants. It saw the pongyis heading a mass movement of peasant in retaliation against the colonial powers for their unfair treatment.

This case study shows that the British economic policies were what prompted the Burmese into action. The economic hardship drove the rise of nationalistic feeling amongst the peasants and pongyis as they blamed the colonial master for their suffering and predicament.

General Argument: Factor leading to nationalism?


Evidence - Case Study 1 Burma

Evaluation –Explain why this case study was chosen

Evidence – Case Study 2 __________

Evaluation – Explain why this case study was chosen

One factor which led to the rise of nationalism in SEA is religion is religion, which united many SE Asians together in the face of severe challenges presented by the colonial masters.

Many SE Asians was extremely religious, because religion provided an emotional anchor through easily understood tenets. In the face of hard times, they became a familiar and potent rallying point for many SE Asians. When rallied, many such groups either evolved into political groups devoted to nationalist aims, or became a source of power exploited by nationalist groups themselves.

In Burma, the power of Buddhism as a nationalist force is seen in the “Shoe Incident” of 1916 in Burma, in which the YMBA, a society of Buddhist intellectuals dedicated to Buddhist education and Burman history, successfully rallied many Burmese to protest against what they perceived to be disrespect against the religious beliefs of the Burmese. They managed to garner so much support that the British were forced to back down on the issue and give the Burmese religious authorities the right to decide what proper decorum within temples was.

This case study is important on two levels. Firstly, the formation of the YMBA shows that religion was a potent bond which united elites together to pursue nationalistic aims. Secondly, the success of the YMBA in garnering nation-wide support against the British showed that religion was a potent source of nationalism. This was so because many Burmans, both literate and illiterate, were easily swayed to support nationalism on the basis of religion alone.

In Indonesia, the earliest nationalist and proto-nationalist (pre-nationalist) movements were often religious in nature. For instance, Sarekat Islam, which achieved a peak membership of 2 million in 1919, began as an economic and religious movement whose leadership was eventually replaced by members whose avowed aim was independence.

This case study is important because it clearly shows us how religion served as a stepping stone toward the formation of nationalist groups with the avowed, explicit aim of independence.

General Argument: Factor leading to nationalism?


Evidence - Case Study 1 Thailand

Evaluation –Explain why this case study was chosen

Evidence – Case Study 2 Burma

Evaluation – Explain why this case study was chosen

Another reason why nationalism arose in SEA is the provision of secular education to an increasing number of SE Asians, which allowed them to see beyond their parochial (traditional, small minded) mindsets.

The collective educational experience of SE Asians allowed them to see that they were actually exploited by their colonial masters. Furthermore, their educational experience exposed them to alternative forms of government that were more equitable, relevant and just. This aroused interest in them to unite and fight for change and obtain concessions from their colonial masters.

In Thailand, the monarchy under Chulalongkorn provided education to many middle class youths. It was these newly educated middle class elites who were later became dissatisfied by the nepotism of the monarchy, who denied the highest ranking jobs to all except the relatives of the king, despite their qualifications. The fact that this was in contrast to their experiences abroad with the ideals of democracy and caused them to attempt numerous coup attempts, culminating in the coup of 1932, which successfully ended absolute monarchy in Thailand and ushered in a period of democracy.

This case study is significant because it clearly shows the connection between the provision of education in causing the rise of a new elite capable of rivaling a colonial-like power, as well as providing them with the impetus and the courage to forge ahead to provide an alternative form of government that is more inclusive and broad-based.

In Burma, nationalist movements gained political sophistication after the arrival of the Buddhist layman of the YMBA (later GCBA), and later the Thakins, groups formed by those who received secular education. It was they who inspired the masses to an identity that was not merely founded upon religion, but upon other unifying symbols such as the national dress, as well as the extensive use of modern political tools such as slogans, agitation, propaganda and better political organization. This was in contrast with the contribution of the traditional Pongyis, which were limited to rebellion and agitation.

This case study shows that although religion was an important factor in promoting nationalism, education also played an equally large role in its development as well. This is so because many of the ideas used by the Thakins, such as political organization were found among those who did not only receive religious education, but higher levels of secular education as well.

General Argument: Factor leading to nationalism?


Evidence - Case Study 1 Burma

Evaluation –Explain why this case study was chosen

Evidence – Case Study 2 Thailand

Evaluation – Explain why this case study was chosen

The entry of many immigrants who lived and worked in SEA nations led to resentment and racism which eventually became an issue exploited by nationalists seeking support for their nationalist causes.

The entry of large immigrant communities into what were relatively homogenous SE Asian nations had the effect of making the local SE Asians aware of their similarities and how different they were from the newcomers. Furthermore, many of these immigrants ended up as economic competitors to the locals either in the civil service or in the arena of businesses. The effect was to increase the unite SE Asians by helping them identify themselves not only by what they are, but also by what they are not.

In Burma, the British invited Indians from India to migrate to Burma and serve as civil servants and businessmen. Many of them were extremely successful, at the expense of the local Burmans. This increased resentment against the Indians in general which led to calls in 1929 to establish a “Burma for the Burmans League” which called for separation from India and the reduction of Indian immigration. Furthermore, anti-Indian riots broke out in 1930, which spread throughout the country.

This example is significant because it shows that the Burmese now not only identify themselves by what they are, but that the presence of the Indians have given rise to a firmer Burmese identity projected against a perceived “enemy”, which was exploited by nationalist causes.

In Thailand, resentment against the rich significant Chinese minority was expressed under Phibun, who expressed the notion of “Thailand for the Thai”, which was directed against Western, but more significantly, Chinese domination of the economy.

As previously seen in the Burmese case study, “Thailand for the Thai” was linked to anti-minority (Chinese) sentiments policies. This shows that Thai identity in this period before and during WWII (1938-1944), like in Burma, was not only determined by what Thais were, but were reinforced by opposition against a minority that was exploited by nationalists for their own causes. That this should happen despite the fact that Thailand was not colonized, shows that the presence of minorities played a large role in nationalist developments, whether or not the colonial powers were present or not, and shows that racism aroused by changing demographics was a significant factor in the rise of nationalism in SEA, whether it was caused by the colonial masters, or by something else.

General Argument: Factor leading to nationalism?


Evidence - Case Study 1 __________

Evaluation –Explain why this case study was chosen

Evidence – Case Study 2 __________

Evaluation – Explain why this case study was chosen

The spectacular rise of foreign influences led to the rise of nationalism within SEA itself because it provided them with viable examples to emulate, and sources of aid which were not available back home.

This developed SE Asian nationalism because Japan and China provided success stories of Asian modernization that allowed local nationalists to see modern alternative of government such as democracy as viable, instead of being confined to traditional forms of government for fear of uncertainty they brought along with their novelty. Furthermore, many nationalists not only chose to emulate their example from afar, but traveled to those countries with the explicit desire to gain usable support for their movements back home, which were granted in some instances.

In Vietnam, it was the generous scholarships provided by the Japanese which helped sustain the Dong Du movement organized by Phan Boi Chau, and laid the foundations of the Quang Phuc Hoi, arguably the first political organization in Vietnam. The influence on China, on the other hand, is seen most strongly in the later development of KMT-inspired important political parties such as the Quang Phuc Hoi and the VNQDD, which dominated the non-Communist nationalist scene in Vietnam before WWII.

The role of China is important because the fall of the monarchy under pressure from the French when they came into the region would have caused many Vietnamese to be disillusioned by the institution of the monarchy while alternatives such as democracy might have been rejected altogether as foreign, if not for the example they provided. However, because of the example of the KMT, modern political parties such as the VNQDD were successfully set up. Furthermore, given the repressive policies of the French against nationalists, the contribution of Japan is important because they helped nurture the development of nationalism immensely by providing Vietnamese nationalism a safe haven while in their infant stages.

In Burma, the Thakins were inspired to follow the example of the Japanese, and traveled to Japan to seek training which could be used against the British. They were granted military aid and financial support.

This support which was granted by the Japanese was crucial because it greatly enhanced their effectiveness as a political organization, and granted them access to a level of military might which were not accessible to them previously.