W5.06 New Empires and Confederations (1)
Hi, welcome back. Let's look at some of the ways in which the governments of the world organized themselves during the 1950s. New Empires and Confederations. So, we've talked about the world of empires. In the mid-1950s, the empires are mainly still there. India is independent. Indonesia is independent. But if you look, for instance, at this map of the world in 1939, you don't have to break down exactly whose colony belonged to whom, but you do get the sense though of lots of different colonies and mandates all over the world. Contrast that with the world of the mid-1950s. You don't have to do too much with this map except simply to notice that the dark red stuff, that's still part of the British Empire, is still substantial. The pink is now part of a British Commonwealth: independent states that still regard the queen as their sovereign, independent states in a league, or a kind of confederation, dedicated to their common heritage and economic understanding and political cooperation, as fellow members of a British Commonwealth. The green here, like here, is still part of the French Empire, Indochina in the early 1950s and so on. The empires, though, are changing. We talked in the 1800s about imperial partnerships: partnerships between colonial rulers and colonial elites, wealthy merchants, financiers, landowners, other men of property who are the essential partners of the colonial rulers in managing these domains. What's happening during the 1950s, as empires are receding, the elites are rising. But what had been a partnerships remains a partnership. It's just that instead of this side being dominant maybe this side becomes dominant, but this side is very much in play. The British role recedes, but it's still substantial. They may now be junior partners in a Commonwealth Member, but their oil companies, their political advisers, their military advisors may still be deeply involved there, so shifting imperial partnerships. As decolonization unfolds, you change from one kind of partnership to another one, in which the locals have more autonomy. Now this is a little more complicated: In this world of persistent multinational organizations, new kinds of imperial partnerships or commonwealths, now there's an overlay on top of that, an anti-communist confederation. This too is a multinational organization, or really a set of organizations, led by the United States. You'll notice that I use the word, here, anti-communist confederation. I don't use the word American Empire. That term is used very casually. Empire has a fairly specific meaning. These countries, let's say, that are countries that for example are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, are not really part of an American Empire, they remain independent countries. They are, however, part of an anti communist confederation. What do I mean by the term confederation? Well, I'll not tell you what I mean by it, this is the definition of the term in the Oxford English Dictionary. You can look at the first definition in which a confederation is a kind of league or even a kind of alliance. I especially like, though, the second definition here for confederation: a number of states united by a league, united for common purposes. It is in effect a kind of union of sovereign states for common action in relation to externals. That seems to be the best definition I've found for the kind of multi-national organizations the United States is setting up all over the world. One of the interesting things about that for the Americans is that they begin to view the members of this league with them almost in the way they view countries that are a part of their domestic politics. I mean, literally, Americans would be involved in the domestic politics of these countries, and they would be involved in domestic politics in the United States as if they were part of some common political entity, which in a way they were. So, here are German politicians lobbying members of Congress. American politicians forming kinships with members of this or that German political party. Indeed, American presidents knowing better who the leaders are of one or another German states sometimes, than they knew who the governors were of states inside the United States. It's this enlarged sense of identity, for instance of being part of an Atlantic community, that's one of the striking things to understand about this world of the 1950s. Their interests, our interests, are different, yet blended somehow. In 1947, the Americans lead the negotiation of a Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance, a kind of defense treaty involving every country colored here. Mexico was a member, too; it withdrew more recently, which is why it's shown in a different color. That treaty was signed in Rio de Janeiro in 1947. The Inter-American Treaty of Assistance, called the Rio Pact, aimed increasingly at the outside danger of communist subversion. Most famously, and most importantly, was this treaty: the North Atlantic Treaty. When first signed in 1949 in Washington, it just said North Atlantic Treaty. After the mobilization in the aftermath of the Korean War, it becomes a North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with a multinational military headquarters, commanding sets of ground forces, air forces, naval forces, in being with multinational military commands, constant interaction between the politicians, officials, generals, and colonels of this North Atlantic community. You can see them colored in blue, shaded depending on the different years in which they joined, facing the opposing alliance of the Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union. In the mid-1950s, the British, with support from the United States, began organizing a Baghdad Pact that would have linked all these countries in an anti-communist confederation, supported by the United States. The potential tension between a pact led by the British, much hated in parts of the world, created nationalist tensions that lead to the disintegration of this alliance by the end of the 1950s. In Southeast Asia, though, the Americans take the lead in forming a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization and another kind of anti-communist confederation. This shows a ceremony where the leaders are getting together in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. So, looking at all these bewildering political organizations, just think of it as a series of anti-communist confederations of largely independent countries as an overlay, underneath which are the component empires, commonwealths, associations, and entirely independent countries that have linkages, partnerships, and relationships of their own. As we'll see later on, these interests could sometimes come into tension, when the goals of an anticommunist confederation conflicted with the goals of a British Empire. To see how that conflict between confederation and empire could play out, let's look at this map published in 1956. Over here you see Egypt, which had had a British military protectorate, but in 1952, a group of Egyptian military officers throw out the king who'd been ruling as an ally of the British and claim Egypt is for the Egyptians. If this sounds a lot like the turmoil of 1881 and 1882 in Egypt, you're right. In 1882, that led to a British invasion of Egypt to sort out the turmoil and protect the Canal. And a similar crisis would recur in 1956. We'll come back to that. But for now, just think about the way the Americans thought of this problem. The British think of the turmoil in Egypt as a threat to the Empire, a threat to the Canal. The Americans think of this as a threat to the anti-communist confederation because they would like the Egyptian nationalists to be part of that confederation. They want to support Arab nationalism because Arab nationalism could be anti- communist. So, the Americans want to be friends with these new Egyptian leaders, like Colonel Gamal Abdel Nasser. As the Americans are trying to be friends with Nasser, the British are looking for ways to depose him. There's the Egyptian problem right there, mid-1950s. Look right over here at Iran. Iran is struggling to regain a full measure of independence. In the mid-1940s, the crisis was to push out the Russian occupiers. The British troops left, but the British retain a controlling interest in Iran's oil supply in this part of the country, through the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. A nationalist leader of Iran comes to the fore, a liberal named Mohammad Mosaddegh, determined to nationalize the oil interests, take over the oil industry for the benefit of the Iranians. Puts them squarely into conflict with the British. Again, the Americans are torn. On the one hand, they don't agree with the British on the oil issue, and they want to support Mosaddegh as someone who might be anti-communist. But, on the other hand, the British are their key partners in standing up to communism in Europe and in other parts of the world. So, the goals of the anti-communist confederation are running into the goals of the British Empire, which is part of that same confederation. Complicated enough? Mosaddegh understood these complications, and this liberal leader of Iran pushed the issue hard. Here's, Mosaddegh, who Time magazine proclaimed their Man of the Year in 1951. Here he is on the cover of Time in January 1952. You see, he oiled the wheels of chaos. This is not an entirely favorable depiction. And notice the picture in the background: a fist of national assertion over here in Egypt, where the canal is. Another fist of national assertion over here in Iran, where all these oil derricks are dotting the landscape. Mosaddegh, himself, was an interesting, somewhat eccentric, figure. Definitely a nationalist. Definitely in favor of reducing foreign influence, but not a brutal military autocrat in the model we've seen in so many other countries. He's genuinely, in some ways, like some of the liberal politicians of an earlier era, looking for parliamentary solutions, looking for negotiations and a peaceful way out, but his rhetorical stand is very strong. This is part of what makes his cause so appealing to many Americans, yet also so vexing. They worry he'll become a pawn of communists who will be trying to take advantage of the turmoil in Iran. In early 1953, under the new Eisenhower administration, finally the Americans decide to quit quarreling with the British about Iran and go along with them as they both plot to overthrow Mosaddegh and put back in the old ruling family in the person of the young shah of Iran, living in exile in Rome. That coup in 1953 didn't keep the British from losing control of their oil interests in Iran. It did make Iran a member of the anti-communist confederation... for awhile. Embedded in these different partnerships, politically and economically, devastated Europe and devastated Japan are reborn in these postwar years. The 1950s and into the 1960s are still looked back on with some nostalgia in both Western Europe and Japan as the great boon years. Part of what's creating this boon is a bewildering alphabet soup of organizations. It's worth taking a moment to go through them. What does GATT mean? GATT is the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. This is a multilateral organization for negotiating the terms of lowering trade barriers. The Economic Cooperation Administration is the institutional heir to the Marshall Plan. It's the organization for distributing the aid that required the Europeans to work together and leads very quickly to a European Payments Union, in which the Europeans are coordinating their financial system to lower their own internal trade and financial barriers to each other, one of the conditions to Marshall aid. Western Europe is becoming a collective political entity, a kind of political and economic association. The French Foreign Minister and the French planner, Jean Monnet, joined together with the West Germans for a historic step, this acronym, the European Coal and Steel Community. Think about it.