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Tracing Origins: American Involvement in South East Asia

Explain how the U.S. became involved in the politics of Southeast Asia and how this involvement impacted the U.S. political climate of the 1950s.

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Tracing the Origins of American Involvement in South East Asian Politics

While many historians & political theorists argue that much of American policies & actions in terms of world politics including that in South East Asia stems from the Jeffersonian idea of Manifest Destiny, and while this does influence the nation's actions a great deal in terms of expansion & international relations, the idea of Manifest Destiny was a few hundred years old when the Cold War emerged from the ashes of the power vacuum left by WW2. Many Historians argue that the Cold War was simply a misunderstanding between the two then remaining Superpowers Lenin's USSR and the US in terms of how to rebuild the world after the war. America & it's allies - Britain & France primarily wanted to infuse Germany, Italy & Japan & the affected nations with laissez fraire to jumpstart economies and facilitate financial independence. To rebuild from within means self-reliance & reconstruction of political structures supported by a strong & stable economy. All these however drew from a democratic point of view where governments are elected by the people. The USSR saw these a contrary to their views - for them Communism is the answer as it assures that within a society, there are no rich and poor, everyone is equal. The government & the military is one controlled by a Pulitburo of the Communist organization, a socialist movement. Free markets are unacceptable and central control assures that things are the way it should be according to the vision of the Kremlin. This idea of rebuilding found itself at odds in Cold War's Ground Zero - Berlin. Germany was divided at the end of the War between the Soviet Zone and that of the Allies, the allied control signifying a democratic way of life and the communist zone practicing socialism.

The Berlin Wall symbolized this division. Checkpoint Charlie was one of the main 'gates' from where people pass between the Zones & many Berliners & Eastern Europeans under communism dared to jump through the barriers for their idea of freedom - living in democracy. While this seems far-off from South East Asian politics, understand that Berlin was ground Zero with the rest of the world as possible grounds for contention. Soon after the division of Berlin and the Yalta Conference, War in the Korean Peninsula was inevitable with each side becoming 'proxies' of the two superpowers. Communist Pyongyang of the North was backed by Russia - ammunitions, war machinery, personnel & soldiers. Kim Il Sung's Pyongyang was championing the cause of Communism & Russia wanted to see to it that Kim prevailed. The US & it's allies who found their way into the NATO cannot imagine a communist Korean Peninsula what with it being so close to Alaska & Canada, hence Russia must be checkmated and war for the Peninsula broke out. Then President Harry S. Truman & UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill backed the US Plan of 'Containment Policy' - to contain Communism and its influence. The Front wasn't only about clashes in wars by proxy however. It also precipitated the Arms Race. Russia and the US contested with each other in terms of technological advancement in weapons peaking in the 60's and 70's when secret nuclear installations across the US had researchers working on nuclear weapons arming missiles ready for detonation at any given time aimed at Moscow & its strongholds. Regular exercise missions were deployed by each nation to keep track of each others movements and the 'Spies' for each country had never been so busy. The Race for Space started with the creation of unmanned missions to orbit the earth & reached fever pitch when America sent the first successful human mission to the Moon. As intense as this was, after the successful division of the Korean Peninsula in the 27th Parallel, the advance of Maoist-Leninist philosophies & politics needed checking as slowly communism found its way to Indochina. Communist parties & rebellions arose against then leaders, may they be monarchies (like in Laos & Cambodia) or elected governments (like in Vietnam & the Philippines). The U.S. saw developing nations as easy targets for Communist influence, particularly in Asia. The U.S. sought to create relations by trade, political & economic exchanges through the U.N. The Soviet financed nationalist movements in countries like Afghanistan, the Philippines, Guatemala & Indochina nations (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam). Hence the war by proxy. Both countries campaigned, financed, supported & at times led these particular nations in their own in-country campaigns to battle out the opposing ideologies leading at times to bloody conflicts from ...

Solution Summary

The Solution is an extensive discussion that traces historically the political and social causes that led to the involvement of the United States in South East Asian (SEA) Politics. The solution traces the historical involvement way back before the Cold War when the US 'won' the Philippine archipelago as part of the settlement when the US won the Spanish-American War. The solution then goes through WW2 & the Japanese Reconstruction and traces the war-by-proxy policy between the US & USSR that led to the Korean War and ultimately, the Vietnam War which saw the US work at influencing the shape of governance in fledgling or established South East Asian nations. The solution is updated to the present. The solution shows how the American model of democracy & free markets have been adopted into the SEA nations and the vehicle that allows this to happen. The solution is written in APA style with a word version of the text solution attached.