JC History Tuition - What is the Second Cold War - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Second Cold War?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

Find out more about the renewed tensions between USA and USSR due to clashing foreign policies such as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

Context: How it all began
Before the Second Cold War, there was a momentary period of much-desired peace in the 1970s. Also known as the Détente, both the American and Soviet governments held talks to limit the arms race. However, the myth was shattered when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Additionally, the entry of the incoming American President Ronald Reagan had set the stage for the renewed tensions and superpower confrontation in the early 1980s.

1. Renewed Confrontation: The “Afghanistan problem”
Following the 1978 Saur Revolution, in which a Soviet-backed People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan launched a coup against the Afghan President Mohammed Daoud Khan, there was growing dissent in the nation. USSR justified its intervention by invoking the Brezhnev Doctrine, which was meant to preserve the Soviet bloc through military responses.

Subsequently, the Carter administration perceived the increased Soviet presence in the Gulf as an “arc of crisis”, thus declaring their intent to counter the Soviet invasion via proxies. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) aided the Mujahideen rebels who fought against the Soviet troops and the Afghan army.

Furthermore, the Afghan invasion swayed the perceptions of the Americans and its politicians, such that the potential Presidential candidates in America were more supportive of renewing Cold War antagonisms towards the Soviets.

2. Reagan’s Cold War Rhetoric: The Strategic Defense Initiative
Reagan’s anti-communist stance had paid off, as evidenced by his remarkable victory in the US Presidential elections in November 1980. The former Hollywood actor assumed a more hostile stance towards the Soviets. In March 1983, his “Evil Empire” speech showed his resolve in denouncing and defeating the Cold War rival.

The truth is that a freeze now would be a very dangerous fraud, for that is merely the illusion of peace. The reality is that we must find peace through strength…

So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride—the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil….

Speech by the US President Ronald Reagan, Annual Convention of the National Association of Evangelicals in Orlando, Florida; 8 March 1983.

In this speech, Reagan tried to dissuade the American public from supporting the anti-nuclear demonstrations (“freeze”) as the military build-up was an effective form of deterrence to prevent Soviet aggression. Also, Reagan justified the continuation of the arms race as the only viable option to manage this “evil empire” and save the world from potential catastrophe.

A few days later, Reagan proved his point by announcing the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), which was an ambitious project to protect the United States from Soviet nuclear attacks.

The defense policy of the United States is based on a simple premise: The United States does not start fights. We will never be an aggressor. We maintain our strength in order to deter and defend against aggression — to preserve freedom and peace

It is that we embark on a program to counter the awesome Soviet missile threat with measures that are defensive. Let us turn to the very strengths in technology that spawned our great industrial base and that have given us the quality of life we enjoy today…

What if free people could live secure in the knowledge that their security did not rest upon the threat of instant U.S. retaliation to deter a Soviet attack, that we could intercept and destroy strategic ballistic missiles before they reached our own soil or that of our allies?

Address by US President Ronald Reagan, Address to the Nation on Defense and National Security; 23 March 1983.

In his public address to the Americans, Reagan introduced the SDI and declared its creation as a defensive measure against potential Soviet attacks. By doing so, peace can be assured.

Yet, the SDI alarmed Moscow as the renewed arms race clearly violated the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABTM) that was signed in 1972 by former leaders of the two superpowers. In fact, Soviet leader Yuri Andropov announced that the Soviets took the matter seriously and vowed to respond accordingly given that the SDI would render Soviet missiles obsolete.

Changing landscapes: For the better?
Fortunately, the “Second Cold War” did not persist due to a series of events. First, the rise of Soviet leader Gorbachev marked a significant change. His “New Political Thinking” was a pivotal factor in influencing the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Third World as well as Afghanistan, which ended the Cold War divide in Europe. Second, Reagan’s second term was characterised as being more accommodating. Therefore, tensions simmered when both leaders agreed to hold talks, as seen by the summits held in Geneva (1985), Reykjavik (1986), Washington (1987) and Malta (1989).


What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the political leaders were most responsible for the Second Cold War? [to be discussed in class]

After you have covered the topic on the Second Cold War, it is important that you attempt source-based case study practices to review your understanding. Join our JC History Tuition and we will guide you through the entire study process. Besides, students who join our programme will receive summary and timeline notes as well as outlines to derive a clear understanding of the Cold War.

You can also sign up for other JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition - Cold War - What was Détente - JC History Essay Notes

What was Détente?

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

Examine how the superpowers adjusted their foreign policies and eased bilateral tensions in the 1970s.

The Détente
Détente refers to the easing of strained relations between USA and the Soviet Union. Following the disastrous October Crisis of 1962, US President Richard Nixon assumed a more diplomatic stance to avert a potential nuclear catastrophe. The Nixon administration offered to promote greater dialogue with the Soviet government.

1. Moscow Summit of 1972
Following the unexpected trip to Beijing in February, President Nixon met the Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow in May 1972. The Summit led to several milestone achievements.

First, both parties agreed to cooperate on the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project, which signaled the end of the “Space Race”. Additionally, the two leaders signed two nuclear arms control agreements: The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) treaty and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT).

The SALT I treaty was significant as it froze the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers to halt further arms build-up. On the other hand, the ABMT limited each of the two parties to 100 anti-ballistic missiles.

2. Washington Summit of 1973
A year later, Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union Alexei Kosygin made a trip to Washington for another summit in June 1973. Similar to the previous meeting, it was hailed as a turning point in superpower relations, given that both parties agreed to sign the Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War.

In essence, this agreement signified both superpowers’ willingness to exercise restraint and prevent the threat of a nuclear war.

Guided by the objectives of strengthening world peace and international security, Conscious that nuclear war would have devastating consequences for mankind,

Proceeding from the desire to bring about conditions in which the danger of an outbreak of nuclear war anywhere in the world would be reduced and ultimately eliminated, Proceeding from their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations regarding the maintenance of peace, refraining from the threat or use of force, and the avoidance of war, and in conformity with the agreements to which either Party has subscribed,

Agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War, 22 June 1973

3. Vladivostok Summit of 1974
The third meeting was known as the Vladivostok Summit, which took place in November 1974. The summit was conducted as an extension of arms control provisions between the superpowers. The American President Gerald Ford traveled to Vladivostok to sign the agreement, which restricted the number of inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

4. Helsinki Accords (1975)
Lastly, the Helsinki Accords were introduced during the Conference on Security and Co-Operation in Europe in July 1975. Also, known as the Helsinki Final Act, it was a diplomatic agreement that revealed mutual efforts to ease tensions between the Soviet and Western blocs.

Soviet Union was in favour of the Accords as it sought recognition of its post-war hegemony in eastern Europe. For example, the Soviet government insisted on the rightful existence of East Germany as well as Poland’s western border. Through this, USSR would then be recognised as a Great Power.

In return, USA requested USSR to recognise the respect for human rights, freedom of information across borders and the expansion of contacts between the eastern and western parts of Europe.

Was Détente sustainable?
Although the above-mentioned agreements made it appear as if the superpower tensions were no longer present, tensions resurfaced in the late 1970s. Following the signing of the SALT II treaty in 1979, Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.

This unexpected move resulted in open and harsh criticisms by the West. In response, US President Jimmy Carter requested the increase in the defense budget and financed the anti-Soviet Mujahideen fighters to counter the Soviet occupation.

Eventually, the electoral victory of the Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan accelerated the end of the Détente, ushering the age known as the “Second Cold War”.


What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the end of the Détente was inevitable? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have covered the major events that shaped the superpower relations in the 1970s, you should attempt some source-based case study questions to apply what you have learnt. Why not join our JC History Tuition as we provide you with bite-sized and exam-friendly study notes, additional essay and SBCS practice questions as well as outline references.

You can also join other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we offer Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the A Level H1 History syllabus

New A Level H1 History syllabus

Changes to the GCE A Level H1 History syllabus
Similar to H2 History, the A Level syllabus for H1 History (8821) has been reviewed and modified. It is imperative that you take note of these changes as examination format and contents have been changed from 2017 and beyond.

If you require additional references, please view the documents provided by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB): H1 History syllabus for 2020; H1 History syllabus for 2021.

1. Format of Assessment
For the examination structure, the H1 History (8821) syllabus features only one paper:

  • The Cold War and the Modern World (1945-2000)

The duration of examination is three hours. Within the paper, there are two sections: Source-Based Case Study (Section A) and Essays (Section B).

1a. Section A: Source-Based Case Study
The first section requires students to analyse five sources and answer two sub-questions. These sources are either text-based (e.g. academic publication) or visual-based (e.g. political cartoon – refer to our post on political cartoons). Bear in mind that both primary and secondary sources could be used in this section.

Section A carries 40 marks in total, which is 40% of the overall weighting.

For the part (a) question, students must compare two sources. It carries ten marks. For the part (b) question, students must analyse an assertion and refer to the given five sources. Application of contextual evidence may be required to answer these sub-questions.

1b. Section B: Essays
The other section involves essay writing, in which students have to complete two essays in Section B. For the first essay question, students must select 1 out of 2 essay questions that are set on Theme II (The Cold War and Asia, 1945-1991). For the second essay question, they must choose 1 out of 2 essay questions that are set on Theme III (The Cold War and the United Nations, 1945-2000).

Each essay question carries 30 marks. In total, Section B carries 60 marks, which is 60% of the overall weighting.

2. Syllabus Content
Next, we will now examine the areas of study to understand the list of topics covered for A Level H1 History (8821). At the end of the study, you should develop a keen sense of understanding about the Cold War and how its local, regional and global impacts.

2a. Theme I: Understanding the Cold War, 1945-1991
The first theme is strictly for the assessment of Section A, Source-Based Case Study. You will examine three stages of the Cold War to understand how it began and ended. First, the Emergence of Bipolarity after WWII discusses the possibly reasons that explain the outbreak of the Cold War. Then, A World Divided by the Cold War discusses two major events that explained the ‘”globalisation” of the ideological conflict, namely the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Finally, the End of Bipolarity focuses on the study of how the USSR collapsed as well as the popular interpretations for the end of the Cold War.

2b. Theme II: The Cold War and Asia, 1945-1991
The second theme is applied in Section B, Essays. In this theme, you will learn more about the effects of Cold War in shaping the diplomatic relations of superpowers and a rising great power: China. In Superpower relations with China (1950-1979), you will analyse the historical developments that led to the notable Sino-Soviet Split. Also, a major turning point in the 1970s will be studied, such as the Sino-American Rapprochement.

The second half of Theme II features The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991). At the regional level, you will learn more about the motivations that led to the formation of the ASEAN organisation as well as the significance of the Second Indochina War (more commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’). At the national level, you will examine how the ongoing Cold War threats influenced Singapore’s Foreign Policy from 1965 to 1991.

2c. Theme III: The Cold War and the United Nations, 1945-2000
As for the final third theme, which is also assessed in the essay section, you will develop a fundamental understanding of the United Nations (UN), which plays a central role of maintaining international peace and security. This is achieved through a brief examination of the Organisational Structure of the UN, which features the three key organs: Security Council, General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

As for the second half of Theme III, you will focus on six case studies to assess the Effectiveness of UN Peacekeeping Operations in Maintaining Peace and Security. A thorough review of each case study is paramount, given that past examination questions were set on specific cases.


If you are looking for writing support, do consider joining our JC History Tuition programmes. You will receive organised study notes, essay outline references and source-based case study questions. Furthermore, we conduct thematic content discussion to reinforce your historical understanding of the Cold War. Class practices are held regularly to ensure that you observe progress as you gear up for the GCE A Level examination.

On a separate but related note, we offer other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the A Level H2 History syllabus

New A Level H2 History syllabus

Changes to the GCE A Level H2 History syllabus
From 2017 onwards, the A Level History syllabus has been reviewed and updated. In contrast to the previous syllabus, there are some changes to the topics covered in the essay and source-based case study questions. Also, changes to the examination format are made. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to these developments as you gear up for the final examination. In this article, we will be looking at the syllabus requirements for H2 History (9752).

For more information, please refer to the comprehensive document provided by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB): H2 History Syllabus for 2020; H2 History Syllabus for 2021

1. Format of Assessment
For the examination format, the H2 History (9752) syllabus features two papers:

  • Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)
  • Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)

Students are required to sit for two separate papers (dates are usually announced in the first few months of the examination year). Within each paper, there are two key sections: Source-Based Case Study and Essays. Since the format for Paper 1 and Paper 2 is identical, we will be examining the two sections in a paper.

1a. Section A: Source-Based Case Study
The first section features the Source-Based Case Study (SBCS in short). Students are required to analyse six sources and answer two sub-questions. These sources can be in the form of written or visual texts. For example, a press release by the U.S. State Department during the Cold War. Alternatively, the source can be a political cartoon that depicts an issue or individual. You can learn more about visual-based sources in our post.

In total, Section A carries 40 marks, which is 20% of the overall weighting.

For the part (a) question, students must compare two sources and answer in the context of the question. It carries ten marks.

Compare and contrast the evidence provided in Sources A and B about Reagan’s motivations behind the Strategic Defense Initiative. [10]

example of the part (a) question

For the part (b) question, students must study all six sources and test the given assertion. This part carries 30 marks.

How far do Sources A-F support the assertion that the Cold War ended mainly because of Reagan? [30]

example of the part (b) Question

1b. Section B: Essays
The second section features the essays. Students are required to answer two questions from Section B.

They have to select 1 out of 2 essay questions in the first set (Paper 1 – Theme II; Paper 2 – Theme I). Then, students must do the same by selecting 1 out of 2 essay questions in the other set (Paper 1 – Theme III; Paper 2 – Theme II).

Within the Section B itself, there will be the ‘EITHER‘ and ‘OR‘ stated clearly to show the available choices for students to pick their preferred choice of question to attempt.

Each essay question carries 30 marks. Therefore, the total marks for Section B is 60 marks, which is 30% of the overall weighting.

How far was the United Nations able to overcome the challenge of Cold War rivalry?

Example of the section b essay question

One important point to remember is that for the Paper 2 Section B, students must compare at least three countries as case studies when supporting their arguments.

2. Syllabus Content
Now that we have examined the examination format, we will now move on to the areas of study for H2 History (9752). Given the broad coverage of content, this article will provide a brief summary of the topics tested for A Level.

2a. Paper 1: Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)
For Paper 1 (which is formerly known as ‘International History’), there are three major themes covered:

  • Theme I: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991) [SBCS]
  • Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000) [Essay]
  • Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security [Essay]

For Theme I, students will examine the Cold War topic from a chronological order: starting with its origins, followed by its internationalisation and finally its eventual end. The Cold War topic is an overarching theme that is essential for A Level given its widespread effects not only in Europe, but also in Southeast Asia. This means that your knowledge of the Cold War can be applied to Paper 2 as well.

For Theme II, students will learn more about the Growth and Problems in the Global Economy as well as the Rise of Asian Tigers (South Korea and Taiwan). This topic can be analysed both from the economic and political perspectives. Notably, the establishment of multilateral financial institutions (IMF, World Bank & WTO) still affects the modern world in many ways.

For Theme III, students are required to be familiar with the formation of the United Nations as well as its application in Peacekeeping Operations. Given the ever-changing and ever-expanding functions of the United Nations, the A Level H2 History syllabus will only cover four organs: Security Council, General Assembly, Secretary-General and the International Court of Justice. For UN Reforms, there will be changes to the content coverage, particularly the section about the ‘rise of regionalism and regional organisations’.

2b. Paper 2: The Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)
For Paper 1, there are three main themes as well:

  • Theme I: Search for Political Stability [Essay]
  • Theme II: Economic Development after Independence [Essay]
  • Theme III: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation [SBCS]

For Theme I, students will learn about the Approaches to Governance and the Approaches to National Unity. This theme will provide a historical study on how various Southeast Asian colonies (as well as Thailand) became independent after World War Two. Political concepts, such as ‘Parliamentary Democracy’ and ‘Authoritarianism’ will be covered as well.

For Theme II, students are required to learn about the Paths to Economic Development and the Asian Financial Crisis. Similar to Paper 1 Theme II (Global Economy), the application of general economic concepts is carried out to understand how Southeast Asian nations became prosperous. Additionally, there will be a section dedicated to understand the causes and consequences of the 1997 financial crisis.

For Theme III, students are expected to be familiar with Inter-state Tensions and Co-operation as well as the establishment of the ASEAN. This theme is largely relevant in raising awareness on the political complexities of inter-state relations, given the persistence of such challenges in the modern world (e.g. South China Sea dispute). Furthermore, students will learn how this newly-formed regional organisation strives to maintain regional peace and security through various methods.


You can sign up for our JC History Tuition to study productively. Our programme features summary notes, essay outline references and source-based case study practice questions. Our structured curriculum will ensure that your time is well-spent as you learn in a progressive way.

Furthermore, you can consider register for our JC tuition, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How to answer an A Level History essay question

How to answer an A Level History essay question?

Essay Writing: Revisited
In contrast to the typical posts that feature specific themes, such as the Cold War and the United Nations, I will re-cap on the critical aspects of essay writing, which is for Section B. This is done in view of the GCE A Level examination for H1 and H2 History in November 2019. Previously, I have also posted a similar article that highlighted relevant areas of study.

1. Be familiar with the syllabus requirements
It is important to understand the featured themes that are covered in the examination. By doing so, you can derive a clear strategy for the actual day.

(a) For H2 History (9752), there are Papers 1 and 2:

  • For Paper 1, you are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme II: Understanding the Global Economy and ONE essay question from Theme III: Safeguarding International Peace and Security.
  • For Paper 2, you are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme I: Search for Political Stability and ONE essay question from Theme II: Economic Development after Independence

(b) For H1 History (8821), there is one paper, but the examination format is identical to the H2 syllabus:

  • You are required to answer ONE essay question from Theme II: The Cold War and Asia
  • Also, you have to answer ONE essay question from Theme III: The Cold War and the United Nations

(c) Be familiar with the topics tested within each theme
Within each theme, there are several topics that students are expected to learn and apply in the essay section. For example, H2 History Paper 2 Theme II has two main areas: ‘Paths to economic development’ and ‘Asian Financial Crisis’.

Although some students hold the assumption that they can spot, meaning that they focus on specific topics, while excluding others, it is a risky strategy to take.

Although some students hold the assumption that they can spot, meaning that they focus on specific topics, while excluding others, it is a risky strategy to take. In view of the recent 2019 A Level examination (for H2 History), the ‘Asian Financial Crisis’ was not featured in Section B. We have gathered feedback from students and some revealed that there were those who were unable to write the second essay due to the lack of content familiarity.

Therefore, our concluding remark is that you are strongly advised against spotting as it can result in such disastrous consequences. Instead, it is crucial to cover all relevant topics within each theme. At least, you should cover the fundamental content for the topic that you are less likely to select during the examination.

2. Read the essay question carefully
Cliché as it sounds, this word of advice should not be ignored. From the question itself, you can derive the given perspective as well as the contrasting viewpoint. Misinterpretation is a typical issue that some students encounter in their study of the subject.

(a) What is the question looking for?
In History essay writing, students are required to analyse the extent of agreement based on the given perspective set by the question. Look out for phrases like ‘how far do you agree’ and ‘how important‘.

(b) Are we allowed to introduce other factors/perspectives not featured in the question?
This is a major consideration as the decision to introduce irrelevant factors in a narrow-based question can compromise your essay grade.

The following are two essay questions:

  • How far do you agree that the Cold War hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations?
  • How far do you agree that the Cold War was the most significant obstacle that hindered the effectiveness of the United Nations?

Clearly, we can observe that the second essay question is broader in nature as students are allowed to introduce other factors besides the ‘Cold War’ to answer the question. In contrast, the first question is more specific than the latter.

3. Manage your time wisely
In general, everyone is given the same amount of time for the A Level examination – 3 hours. To the uninitiated, 180 minutes may be perceived as long. However, one must be aware of the need to answer 1 source-based case study question and 2 essay questions within the time limit.

To the uninitiated, 180 minutes may be perceived as long. However, one must be aware of the need to answer 1 source-based case study question and 2 essay questions within the time limit.

Furthermore, students are assessed based on their ability to perform under pressure, such as deriving a clear essay structure and forming well-analysed arguments that are backed with adequate evidence. As such, it is folly to leave practice to the last phase of your two-year study.

You should set time aside for timed practices, even if it is for one essay question. When you are attempting the timed practice, you are not only reviewing your content familiarity, but also re-wiring your brain to think fast and clearly. Over time, you develop the quick-thinking skills to form arguments and critique the given perspective effectively.

4. Prepare yourself thoroughly
More importantly, you should be mentally prepared for the A Level examination. Enter the examination venue with the anticipation that there may be ‘abstract-sounding’ questions that are intended to throw students off. Again, some students who sat for the 2019 A Level H2 History examination have shared with us that certain essay questions were difficult to attempt due to their style of phrasing.

Enter the examination venue with the anticipation that there may be ‘abstract-sounding’ questions that are intended to throw students off.

Indeed, from our observations as well, some essay questions tested narrow areas that were seemingly challenging to address at first sight. Yet, if the standard thinking and answering steps were to be applied, such abstract questions can still be answered.

Therefore, one final tip for essay writing is to practise as many questions as you can. Do not simply refer to past year preliminary examination questions and attempt to do so right away. Instead, you should be aware of the possible areas of testing to cover the fundamental aspects. Then, you can intensify your efforts by answering complex questions. Find the right balance of questions to have adequate time spent on each theme. Besides, you can gather feedback from your teacher, tutor or classmate to check if there are other arguments to broaden your discussion.


Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we conduct regular essay writing skills development workshops to refine your thinking and writing techniques. During these lessons, you will receive concise study notes, practice questions and reference answers to enhance your study efforts. Also, you can consult our JC History Tutor to identify your areas of improvement, such as essay structure, perspective setting and evidence explanation.

Also, you can consider joining our JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to learn more.


On a separate note, this is the final article in the 52-week cycle of 2019. It has been an enriching and meaningful year as I have covered diverse topics relating to A Level History. At the start of 2019, I have made the decision to embark on this endeavour primarily to provide students with a useful educational platform to access learning resources conveniently. Although some would claim that the freer access to the Internet has made information gathering easier, I believe that this website will ease the search process and empower students to learn purposefully. In anticipation of the upcoming decade, I will continue to expand on this platform. Let’s look forward to another series of informative, insightful and interesting articles!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What is the Pedra Branca dispute - JC History Essay Notes

What is the Pedra Branca dispute?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 1: Inter-state tensions and co-operation: Causes of inter-state tensions: territorial disputes

Learn more about other border disputes to understand the causes and consequences of inter-state tensions in Southeast Asia.

Historical Background
Pedra Branca is an island situated in the easternmost point of Singapore, between the Singapore Strait and South China Sea. The island is known to many sailors for years, given its strategic location as a internationally-recognised shipping route.

Following the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, Pedra Branca was within the British-influenced territory of the Johor Sultanate. In the 1850s, the British established the Horsburgh Lighthouse (not the featured article image).

From 1826 to 1946, the Straits Settlements administered the Pedra Branca island. Subsequently, Singapore took over.

Origins of the Dispute
On 21 December 1979, the Director of National Mapping of Malaysia published a map that depicted the island to be within its territorial waters. The map was titled ‘Territorial Waters and Continental Shelf Boundaries of Malaysia‘, which illustrated the inclusion of Pedra Branca, the ‘Middle Rocks’ and ‘South Ledge’ in its territory.

In response, Singapore delivered a diplomatic note on 14 February, requesting the map to be corrected. From then on, the territorial dispute began.

The conflict began to escalate in the 1980s as the Malaysian Marine Police entered the waters surrounding Pedra Branca several times.

Nevertheless, both parties exercised restraint and avoided direct confrontation. As such, political leaders from both governments engaged in discussions to defuse tensions.

International Arbitration: The ICJ
In 2003, Singapore and Malaysia signed an official agreement to defer the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). The ICJ carried out its proceedings in 2005 and the case was heard in November 2007.

From Singapore’s standpoint, it claimed sovereign rights over Pedra Branca based on the premise that it had managed the island over the years. For example, Singapore and its predecessors had investigated marine accidents in the vicinity, planned land reclamation works and installed naval communications equipment.

On the other hand, Malaysia undertook no action with respect to Pedra Branca from 1850 onwards. Furthermore, in 1953, the Acting Secretary of the State of Johor stated that they did not claim ownership of the island.

Conflict Resolution
In conclusion, the Court declared that the sovereignty of Pedra Branca belonged to Singapore, whereas the surrounding Middle Rocks and South Ledge were granted to Malaysia.

Initially, the Malaysian Government expressed its intent to reconsider the Court’s ruling over the island. In May 2018, Malaysia chose to drop thetwo cases of revising and interpreting the judgment by ICJ.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the consequences of the Pedra Branca dispute on the management of inter-state tensions between Singapore and Malaysia [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the general overview relating to this territorial dispute, it is imperative that you attempt source-based case study questions (Paper 2 – Making of Independent Southeast Asia) to review your knowledge application and writing skills.

Alternatively, you can join our JC History Tuition as we provide you with summarised content for each case study, outline references and additional practice questions. By doing so, you will be prepared thoroughly for the complexities of the GCE A Level History examinations.

Also, do consider joining our related JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Vietnam War - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Vietnam War?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Contextual Analysis
In the previous article, we have examined the historical developments of the first and second Indochina Wars. Next, it is imperative to consider the political impacts of the Vietnam War on the superpowers – USA and Soviet Union.

1. Impacts on the USA: ‘Vietnam Syndrome’
Notably, the withdrawal of USA from Vietnam was largely influenced by anti-war sentiments. Many young Americans were against the drafting process. Also, the growing disillusionment and exposed war atrocities (especially the ‘My Lai massacre’) created the impetus for citizens to demand the immediate withdrawal.

Furthermore, critics questioned the necessity of US involvement in the politics of other countries even though many still supported the notion of ‘defending democracy’. As these doubts surfaced, some argued that US Presidents should not be given extensive powers to wage wars without Congress approval.

1.1. The War Powers Act
In November 1973, the War Powers Act (also known as the ‘War Powers Resolution’) was passed as a congressional resolution to curtail the US President’s ability to conduct foreign military campaigns. Its main purpose was to prevent US from being trapped in costly and protracted wars, like the conflict in Vietnam.

This Act required the president to seek congressional approval before American troops can be deployed overseas. For instance, the President has to inform the Congress within 48 hours.

Although President Nixon vetoed the law by claiming that it was ‘unconstitutional and dangerous’, the Congress overrode his action.

However, the congressional resolution proved futile as future US Presidents found ways and means to circumvent it. For example, President Ronald Reagan deployed troops in El Salvador in the 1981, during the renewed confrontation with the Soviets.

1.2. The Detente
As the world was on the brink of nuclear confrontation in the late 1960s due to the Sino-Soviet split, USA changed its diplomatic stance towards China. Additionally, in the early 1970s, the Nixon administration extended an ‘olive branch’ to Soviet Union in the form of diplomatic visits.

On 22 May 1972, Nixon visited his Cold War rival, Leonid Brezhnev in Moscow. It marked the first-ever visit by an American president to Soviet Union. The key takeaway from these visits was the increased mutual cooperation.

For example, the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I) Agreement was signed on 26 May 1972. The Agreement signified the mutual decisions of the superpowers to halt the build-up of strategic ballistic missile launchers. The SALT II Treaty was signed later in the 1970s that banned the development of new ballistic missiles for both countries.

Also, this phase of the Cold War led to the push for space exploration. In July 1975, both USA and USSR conducted a joint-space flight and encouraged collaboration.

However, the thawing of superpower relations halted when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Tensions resurfaced as USA boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.

2. Impacts on the USSR: Race in the Third World
On the other hand, the Second Indochina War prompted the Soviet government to intensify its efforts to support the Communist regime. Ho Chi Minh’s victory in Indochina was hailed as a significant victory against the Americans.

As such, Soviet Union raised its military expenditures to support its Cold War allies. As stated earlier, its campaign in the Third World regions began with the invasion in Afghanistan. This conflict was a turning point as observers noted that Soviet Union invaded a country outside the Eastern Bloc, such that its actions drew international criticisms.

The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with the intention to reinforce the Brezhnev Doctrine, in which the government seems to secure its political influence in these socialist countries.

However, the campaign in Afghanistan proved disastrous for Soviet Union. The protracted conflict was perceived by some historians as “Soviet Union’s Vietnam War”, particularly due to the mounting economic costs.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political significance of the Second Indochina War on the USA [to be discussed in class].

Besides the topical review of this Cold War event, it is important that you attempt source-based case study questions or essay questions to determine whether you have fully understood these historical developments. Join our JC History Tuition and get additional support as we provide numerous practice questions and answer outlines. By doing so, we ensure that you can study productively and effectively to perform well for the GCE A Level History examinations.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened druing the Second Indochina War - JC History Essay Notes

What started the Second Indochina War?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Vietnam War (1955-75)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): The Second Indochina War (1964-1975)

Historical Context: Battles in Indochina
Before we examine the Second Indochina War, which is commonly known as the ‘Vietnam War’, it is imperative to understand the historical developments in the Indochinese region.

Ever since 1887, Vietnam was under French colonial occupation until World War Two. Following the end of the Japanese Occupation, the French returned to Vietnam.

1a. First Indochina War (1945-1954)
In contrast to the pre-WWII phase, Vietnam engaged in a serious of fierce military confrontation with the French. This conflict was known as the ‘First Indochina War’. Eventually, after the historic ‘battle of Điện Biên Phủ‘, the French was defeated. At the same time, the Geneva Accords were signed during the Geneva Peace Conference, which signified the withdrawal of the French from the Indochinese region.

During the First Indochina War, the French formed a local government led by Bảo Đại, who was a self-exiled former emperor. In early 1954, Bảo Đại was replaced by Ngo Dinh Diem as the prime minister.

1b. The Great Divide: 17th parallel
The provisions of the Accords included the division of Vietnam along the 17th parallel. The northern part was known as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) led by Ho Chi Minh. The southern region below the 17th parallel is called the Republic of Vietnam (RoV) under Emperor Bảo Đại.

Although the partition was carried out with the aim of facilitating a ceasefire after the 1954 conflicts, tensions mounted and manifested in the form of actual fighting again. Furthermore, the South was unwilling to participate in the 1956 elections.

More importantly, the North and South were largely influenced by Cold War rivals, which later shaped the developments of the next major conflict.

2a. Second Indochina War (1954-1974)
In South Vietnam, Diem deposed Bảo Đại and became the next president. Notably, Diem was a viable anti-communist leader that aligned with the Cold War interests of USA.

Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy Administration intensified its efforts in supporting the Diem regime to stem communist expansion in Indochina. One clear evidence is the increased presence of American military advisers deployed in the South.

In the North, Ho Chi Minh’s DRV expanded its military might with the help of external powers, such as the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Soviet Union. Furthermore, Ho rallied the peasants to support his nationalistic cause.

2b. A Test of Loyalty: Sino-Soviet split
Ever since the controversial ‘Secret Speech‘ by Soviet leader Khrushchev in April 1956, USSR was at odds with PRC due to ideological differences and personality clashes.

As such, both Communist powers competed to gain the trust of North Vietnam through the provision of military and economic support. From 1964 to 1969, the PRC aided the North with the condition that their recipient reject support from Soviet Union.

From 1967 onwards, Soviet Union increased their support for the North. Similar to Kennedy’s approach, Soviet advisors entered the fray and aided the North. Also, military support was granted to improve their chances of victory. Notably, more than 75% of North Vietnam’s military capabilities originated from USSR, such as tanks and anti-aircraft guns.

2c. The ‘Americanisation’ of the Vietnam War
After the Tonkin Gulf incident in August 1964, the Lyndon Administration embarked on a large-scale military campaign in Vietnam under the auspices of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

Subsequently, numerous American men were drafted to expand the size of the US military forces. The drafting process was challenging as some of the students aged 18 to 25 in the USA protested openly.

Furthermore, the US government launched ‘Operation Rolling Thunder‘ in March 1965, which involved a prolonged period of aerial bombing. Its purpose was to display American air superiority and demoralise the North forces.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Second Indochina War broke out due to ideological differences? [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have covered the key events and players that explained the Second Indochina War, you should apply your knowledge to essay practice questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition. You will receive concise study notes and engage in enriching thematic discussions to be more ready for the GCE A Level History examinations.

Besides, you can join our JC tuition classes, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What happened druing the first ASEAN summit - JC History Essay Notes

What happened during the first ASEAN summit?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Historical Context: What is the Bali Summit?
Now that we have examined the functions of ZOPFAN that sought to counter the rising Communist influence in Southeast Asia, it is imperative to consider the subsequent developments. ASEAN members stepped up efforts to intensify their extent of regional cooperation in the mid-1970s.

After the untimely departure of the USA from Indochina, ASEAN members were increasingly concerned with the ideological dangers that may threaten regional security.

On 24 February 1976, ASEAN held its first-ever Summit in Bali, Indonesia. The heads of states attended this historic event to develop countermeasures against the Communist threats. Notably, the meeting led to the signing of two key agreements: the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) and the ASEAN Concord.

Agreement #1: Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC)
Leaders of the founding five members of ASEAN signed the TAC during the Bali Summit. In general, the TAC was a political agreement to encourage peaceful cooperation among members and the mutual respect for sovereignty of states.

The purpose of this Treaty is to promote perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among their peoples which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship,

In their relations with one another, the High Contracting Parties shall be guided by the following fundamental principles :

a. Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all nations;

b. The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;

c. Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;

d. Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means;

e. Renunciation of the threat or use of force;

f. Effective cooperation among themselves.

Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), 24 February 1976.

Additionally, ASEAN encouraged non-members to adhere to the TAC principles in order to preserve regional peace and security. The agreement can be acknowledged as a bold attempt for the regional organisation to preserve security through non-violent means in spite of past and on-going inter-state tensions.

Agreement #2: ASEAN Concord
The second agreement is known as the ‘ASEAN Concord’ that can be interpreted as a unified response to stem the spread of Indochinese Communism. The ASEAN Concord focuses mainly on economic cooperation and peaceful conflict resolution.

The elimination of poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy is a primary concern of member states. They shall therefore intensify cooperation in economic and social development, with particular emphasis on the promotion of social justice and on the improvement of the living standards of their peoples.

Member states, in the spirit of ASEAN solidarity, shall rely exclusively on peaceful processes in the settlement of intra-regional differences.

The Declaration of ASEAN Concord, 24 February 1976.

Although Communism posed a clear security threat to ASEAN members, there was common consensus on adopting a non-military stance to overcome this challenge. Therefore, threats to security were usually managed through the support of countries or groupings outside ASEAN.

The ASEAN Concord proved to be a significant achievement for ASEAN as members were more willing to work together and manage the communist threats from within.

Conclusion: Is it adequate?
Ever since these two agreements signed during the first ASEAN Summit, members of the regional organization has continued to reaffirm their desire for greater cooperation, as seen by the increased frequency of intra-ASEAN and external organizational interactions (e.g. Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, United Nations). ASEAN’s solidarity was later put to the test during the Third Indochina War in 1978.



What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that Bali Summit of 1976 was a turning point for ASEAN’s efforts in managing the Cold War threats in Southeast Asia? [to be discussed in class].

Join our JC History Tuition and learn to organise your knowledge for ASEAN and other related topics. In fact, we provide concise study materials, practice questions and reference answers to derive an exam-oriented programme for you.

Also, you can join other JC tuition programmes, such as GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to know more about these classes!

JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What does ZOPFAN stand for - JC History Essay Notes

What does ZOPFAN stand for?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Regional Conflicts and Co-operation
Source Based Case Study
Theme III Chapter 2: ASEAN (Growth and Development of ASEAN: Building regional peace and security – relations between ASEAN and external powers)

Topic of Study [For H1 History Students]:
Essay Questions
Theme II Chapter 2: The Cold War and Southeast Asia (1945-1991): ASEAN and the Cold War (ASEAN’s responses to Cold War bipolarity)

Background: How ZOPFAN was formed?
In the early 1970s, there were several notable events that took place. First, the Western powers (USA and UK) declared their position to reduce their military presence in Southeast Asia. The British announced its withdrawal of forces in 1971. Similarly, the departure of the US troops led to the fall of Saigon in 1975 during the Second Indochina War.

As such, the Communist powers (PRC and USSR) benefited from these developments. For instance, there was increased Chinese support for the communist forces in Vietnam. Besides, the signing of the Shanghai Communique between USA and PRC expanded the latter’s opportunities to assert its influence more extensively in the region.

Some member nations of ASEAN were alarmed by the growing communist threat. During the Non-Aligned Conference of 1970, Malaysia proposed a policy of ‘neutralisation’. This meant that ASEAN should reject external interference, particularly the Cold War bipolarity, in order to protect its regional security and sovereign rights.

Although there were differing interpretations of Malaysia’s suggestions, ASEAN eventually formalized it in the concept known as the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN).

The Mechanism: How did ZOPFAN work?
On 27 November 1971, the ZOPFAN was established during the Special ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ZOPFAN functioned as a political declaration to prevent external interference and encourage regional cooperation among ASEAN members.

DO HEREBY STATE:

1. That Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand are determined to exert initially necessary efforts to secure the recognition of, and respect for, South East Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality, free from any form or manner of interference by outside Powers;

2. That South East Asian countries should make concerted efforts to broaden the areas of cooperation which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.

Declaration of Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN), 27 Nov 1971

Arguably, the ZOPFAN was a display of regional unity as member states could come to a consensus on their interactions with external powers. For instance, Indonesia advocated regional cooperation within ASEAN and disregarded external involvement. Contrastingly, Singapore sought external support for security and economic reasons due to its vulnerable position geographically.

Application: Putting ZOPFAN to the test?
Although ZOPFAN was created to declare ASEAN’s position on external interference, compliance by non-ASEAN parties was difficult. The Third Indochina War of 1978 was a clear example to support this observation. From Vietnam’s perspective, they perceived ZOPFAN as an extension of Western influence and refused to cooperate.

Following the defeat in 1975 during the Second Indochina War, the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia alarmed member nations of ASEAN, especially Thailand. Political observers pointed out that this occupation may result in the expansion of communist influence beyond Indochina, possibly towards the rest of Southeast Asia.

Furthermore, some of the ASEAN members supported the internationalisation of the conflict, in which the United Nations was being requested to call for Vietnam’s withdrawal from Cambodia in 1979.

In conclusion, it is imperative to consider the international circumstances and political considerations of member nations in ASEAN to understand the strengths and limitations of ZOPFAN.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the effectiveness of ZOPFAN in explaining ASEAN’s responses to the Cold War bipolarity [to be discussed in class].

Now that you have considered the functions of ZOPFAN, you can apply your content in essay and source-based case study questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for JC History Tuition. Our classes are focused on content enrichment and the refinement of thinking and writing skills. In addition, you can join other JC tuition classes, like GP TuitionEconomics TuitionJC Chemistry TuitionJC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Secondary English TuitionSecondary Math tuitionSecondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. Call 9689 0510 to find out more.