1.The US launched a war against Iraq in 2003 in the name of a new foreign policy that was very much shaped by the ideas of an organization known as the “Project for A New American Century” – ideas that when implemented came to be known as the “Bush Doctrine.” What were these ideas and to what extent did they represent a new direction in US foreign policy? 2.It has been argued that US President Ronald Reagan “won” the Cold War through his sternly anti-communist policies and through his rapid and monumental expansion of the US military in the 1980s. Assess the validity of this claim. 3.The United States of America was by far the world’s most powerful state in the 1960s, yet despite this power it found that it could not defeat a far weaker and less technologically advanced opponent in the Vietnam War. Why? 4.In the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 the new state of Israel triumphed over a combined five Arab states. In what way was the Arab defeat a function of the colonial heritage of these countries? 5.In 1966 Mao Zedong launched the “Cultural Revolution” in China. Examine the cultural revolution and explain why, from the perspective of his Maoist version of Communism, it was a necessary process. 6.In 1973 Egypt launched a war against Israel that Egypt's leader, Anwar Sadat, fully believed he could not win and did not want to win. Why did Sadat launch this war in 1973? 7.A wave of national independence movements successfully swept across Africa in the 1950s and 1960s putting an end to most European colonialism. Yet the hopes for these newly independent states were crushed by decades of continued underdevelopment and political dislocation. Examine one of the newly independent states of post- World War II Africa and discuss why independence did not lead to development. 8.Against the broad trend of national independence and the retreat of Empire, “settler colonial” states based on “white rule” (states such as Rhodesia and South Africa) endured through the 1970s and 1980s. Why did these states persist and what role did the Cold War play in helping them to persist?
9.In the 1950s and early 1960s the British government fought an extensive military campaign against a shadowy rebel movement the Mau Mau. Yet in 1963 the British abandoned their rule there and turned over power to Jomo Kenyatta and the Kenyan African National Union. Explain this seeming contradiction in British policy. 10.The radical movement known as “Al-Qaeda” that was responsible for the attacks on the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, had been harboured by the “Taliban” government of Afghanistan. To what extent was the United States of America responsible for creating the political conditions in Afghanistan that gave rise to the Taliban regime? 11.Between 1989 and 1991 Communist regimes were swept from power in Eastern Europe by popular movements like Solidarity in Poland and the "Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia. Yet in many of these same countries renamed communist parties had been voted back into power by the mid- to late-1990s. Why? 12.In 1958 the Gamal Abdel Nasser announced the formation of the United Arab Republic that formally unified the states of Egypt and Syria in a move that seemed be the first step in the unification of Arab peoples that had been separated into a variety of colonial states after World War I. By 1961 the UAR had failed. Why? 13.In the 1960s several third world countries (led by India) embraced an agenda of scientific and agricultural reform known as the Green Revolution that aimed to radically expand food production in developing countries. Examine the Green Revolution in one third world country and assess its success. 14.Climate change has become an overriding fact of life globally. Discuss the role of climate change in creating political instability in a given state or region. 15.Beginning in the 1970s the IMF and World Bank adopted a policy of extending monetary aid only to those states that embrace so-called “structural adjustment programs.” What were these programs? What did the IMF and World Bank hope to achieve with them? And, using a single third world country as an example, to what extent did they succeed or fail in their stated goals? 16.It has been alleged that the system of “indirect rule” employed by colonial empires in Africa made it difficult for newly independent states there to maintain effective multiparty democratic systems. Discuss the example of Kenya, Tanzania or Uganda and how the character of colonial rule influenced the kind of political systems that emerged under independence regimes. 17.In 1961, UN Secretary General, Dag Hammarskjold, died in a plane crash in Zambia while on a mission to settle a conflict involving newly independent Congo and a secessionist state, Katanga, backed by western industrialists. Rumours persist that the plane crash was a targeted assassination of Hammarskjold. Examine this case and assess the evidence for these claims. 18.In 1978 Deng Xiao Peng officially launched China’s “Four Modernizations” campaign. To what extent did this campaign represent an abandonment of the Mao’s legacy? 19.For four decades after independence in 1947, the Congress Party dominated Indian politics. Yet since the 1990s it has steadily declined in power and influence. What was the basis of Congress leadership in those first four decades and why did it lose its central place in Indian politics? 20.Economists and historians describe Taiwan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore as “Asian Tigers” to describe their fantastic economic growth since the 1980s. What are the similarities and differences between their patterns of growth and development that would merit (or not) grouping them together as a common set of states? 21.In the 1960s, Kwame Nkrumah advanced the idea of “pan-Africanism” as an ideology to unite the efforts not only of newly independent African states but also other states with majorities of people from the African diaspora. Define Nkrumah’s agenda of pan-Africanism and discuss why it succeeded or failed in achieving its aims.
Key Topics in 20th Century World History
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