JC History Tuition Singapore - End of Cold War Case Studies - Source Based Case Study Skills

End of Cold War – Cartoon Analysis

In this article, we will be looking at a series of political cartoons to comprehend the interpretations of how the Cold War ended. Be familiar with the contrasting contextual interpretations shaped by the political leaders as well as the newspaper publications. By doing so, you can then better answer the source based case study questions featured in your GCE A Level History examination papers. We will be examining the third part: The End of Bipolarity

By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman – Published in an American newspaper, The Waterbury Republican and The Middletown press [1991]
The cartoon depicts a helpless Soviet leader Gorbachev observing the fragmented symbol of the nation (‘hammer and sickle’). Contextually, Gorbachev was facing a challenging situation by 1991, as the Soviet economy was on the decline, Soviet republics broke away from USSR and the August Coup was launched against him.
By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman – Published in an American newspaper, The Waterbury Republican and The Middletown press [1991]
The cartoon illustrates the three notable figures in the Communist world (Karl Marx, Stalin and Lenin) observing Gorbachev leading the funeral procession that represented the ‘demise of communism’. Contextually, Gorbachev improved relations with USA, as seen by INF Treaty and withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
By British political cartoonist Nicholas W. Garland – published in the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph [3 Jan 1986]
The cartoon depicts the two leaders, Reagan and Gorbachev, with outstretched hands, expressing their mutual desires to improve bilateral relations in the 1980s.
The caption reads ‘clear skies for all mankind‘, which is ironic as the world was illustrated as being in peril, such as Reagan’s SDI, covert operations in South America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua). Likewise, the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan.
Published in an American newspaper [27 Nov 1987]
The cartoon depicts a series of meetings from 1985 to 1988 that focused on arms control agreements signed between Reagan and Gorbachev, especially the INF Treaty of 1987. The caption reflects the cartoonist’s expression of relief that the world averted a nuclear confrontation as the two leaders backed down from the ‘large missile steps’
By British cartoonist Michael Cummings – Published in British tabloid newspaper, The Daily Express [24 August 1988]
The cartoon illustrates the helplessness of Soviet leader Gorbachev in ensuring that his glasnost (openness) reforms would be carried out effectively.
By German-Dutch political cartoonist Fritz Behrendt [1990]
The cartoon depicts the ‘powerlessness of USSR’ in which the Soviet republics (represented by the individuals holding flags) were moving away from the bear (USSR). It illustrates the inevitability of the political collapse, as seen by the 1989 Revolutions in Eastern Europe.
By American cartoonist Glenn McCoy – Published in an American newspaper, The Belleville News-Democrat [2009]
The cartoon was published to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It illustrates Reagan’s ‘footprint’ making a mark in causing the end of the Cold War.
By American editorial cartoonist Mike Keefe – published in American newspaper, The Denver Post [8 Jun 2004]
The cartoon illustrates the commemoration of former US President Ronald Reagan’s efforts in ending the Cold War, as portrayed by the collapse of the Berlin Wall that marked the physical division of Europe. Contextually, this cartoon was published one day after Reagan’s passing.
By British political cartoonist Nicholas W. Garland – published in the British newspaper, The Independent [10 Dec 1987]
The cartoon reflects the awkward handshake between Gorbachev and Reagan in a four-panel comic, which eventually concludes with a firm version. Contextually, it depicts the breakthrough in the arms control agreement signed during the Washington Summit on 8 Dec.

How do I use these sources to ace the Source Based Case Study questions?
Make sure that you have browsed through the above cartoons to understand the interpretations. Then, try to relate them to the context of examination questions. For example, ‘How far do you agree that the two leaders of USA and USSR were responsible for the end of the Cold War?’

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JC History Tuition Singapore - Cuban Missile Crisis Cold War Case Studies - Source Based Case Study Skills

Cuban Missile Crisis – Cartoon Analysis

In this article, we will be analyzing these political cartoons to understand the different visual interpretations of the Cuban Missile Crisis. By examining these visual texts and recognising their contexts, you will be more familiar with the interpretations to answer the source based case study questions effectively. We will be focusing on the second part: A World Divided by the Cold War – Cuban Missile Crisis.

By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman [31 August 1961]
The cartoon portrays Castro as a towering figure over two petite looking persons representing Cuba and Brazil. Castro persuades Brazil to lead a communist revolution like his. Yet, Brazil looks bewildered as Cuba is in a poor state.
In late August 1961, Cuba was facing food shortages, whereas Brazil was in debt. The cartoon was possibly meant to depict Brazil’s skepticism towards Castro’s revolution.
By British Magazine, Punch [1962]
The cartoon depicts both superpower leaders (Kennedy and Khrushchev) feeling annoyed over their neighbour’s tree branch(es) extended into their own territory.
The intended audiences are possibly the citizens of USA and USSR in depicting superpower involvement, seen in terms of their bases in other countries (e.g. Cuba and Turkey)
By German cartoonist Herbert Kolfhaus [30 September 1962]
Below the cartoon, the caption reads ‘What do you mean, a threat? Surely it’s all right to go fishing, isn’t it?’
The cartoonist depicts an ironic illustration of Moscow’s true motives on Cuba. In Sept 1962, an agreement was signed between Cuba and USSR for the construction of a port in the Bay of Havana, which Castro claimed to be a base for the Soviet fishing fleet in the Atlantic.
By Die Vaderland [1961]
The cartoon depicts a miniature-sized Castro targeting the Soviet missile at a terrified ‘Uncle Sam’ (USA), while Khrushchev looks on from afar in delight.
By Welsh political cartoonist Leslie G. Illingworth – published in British newspaper, The Daily Mail [29 October 1962]
The cartoon illustrates both Kennedy and Khrushchev taking part in an arm wrestling match that neither side was likely to win. They are seated on missiles that could go off anytime.
The cartoonist is trying to depict the unpredictability of the world as the crisis may lead to ‘mutually assured destruction’.
By Hungarian-British cartoonist Victor Weisz (‘Vicky’) – published in London News [24 October 1962]
The cartoon illustrates Kennedy in The White House and Khrushchev in the Kremlin facing each other with nuclear missiles placed outside their buildings. In context, the cartoon depicts Kennedy as being hypocritical as he questioned Khrushchev about the missiles in Cuba, since there were twice as many American missiles as there are than the Russians.
By Estonian and American cartoonist Edmund S. Valtman [30 October 1962]
The cartoon depicts Khrushchev as a dentist extracting Castro’s teeth, which is illustrated as missiles.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy announced that US would impose a ‘naval quarantine’ to prevent the delivery of Soviet missiles to Cuba. Khrushchev eventually backed down and agreed to remove the missiles.

How do I use these sources to ace the Source Based Case Study questions?
First, be familiar with the main perspectives of Cuba, USA and USSR in explaining their involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Refer to the aforementioned article for more information.

Second, examine these cartoons and attempt to answer the following question: How far do these sources support the view that the Cuban Missile Crisis was a superpower conflict?

Third, pay attention to the date of publication and the source origin (i.e. who published it?) to consider the motive. This section will be important when you attempt to derive the provenance of each source.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - What were the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997 - JC History Essay Notes

What were the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Economic Development after Independence
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Asian Financial Crisis

The aftermath of the regional currency crisis
In view of the causes that explain how the Asian Financial Crisis began, it is important to examine its consequences. This includes the government responses that varied between Southeast Asian nations, such as the bail-out loans by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), crisis response packages and stringent financial regulatory measures.

Immediate government responses
After the Asian Financial Crisis happened, governments played a critical role in introducing immediate responses to arrest the situation.

For instance, the Thai government tried to maintain the peg by tapping on its reserves to prevent further currency depreciation, which was caused by speculative attacks. From 1997 to 1998, it was estimated that nearly US$30 billion was spent to maintain the baht.

Unfortunately, their efforts proved futile, such that the abandonment of the fixed exchange rate led to rapid currency depreciation. On 2 July 1997, the baht was allowed to float, resulting in the depreciation of the currency value by 18%. By January 1998, the value had fallen to US$1 to $55 baht.

Given the economic interconnectedness of Southeast Asian markets, the Thai economic crisis spread to other neighbouring economies, which was known as the contagion effect.

Crisis Response Measures
Another important consideration was the introduction of crisis response measures to contain the economic crisis. These measures involved large government spending to stimulate the markets and facilitate recovery.

For example, the Malaysian government formed the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) in 1998 to pursue economic stabilization. One method included the imposition of capital controls to stabilize the ringgit.

Additionally, the national asset management company, known as Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional Berhad, was in responsible for relieving the banking system of its non-performing loans (NPLs) and assets. By 30 September 2005, the Danaharta had resolved all of its NPLs. It was reported to have met its recovery target of RM30.35 billion.

In fact, Danaharta was one of the three-pronged strategy that the Malaysian government introduced to achieve stabilization of the banking system. It also included Danamodal Nasional Berhad and the Corporate Debt Restructuring Committee (CDRC).

Acceptance of IMF Bail-out Loans
Lastly, the IMF also offered to provide bail-out loans to affected Southeast Asian economies. These conditional loans required governments to accept an IMF-imposed set of policies. In particular, the IMF required recipient countries to engage in fiscal austerity (spending cuts) to correct their balance of payment deficits. Yet, these governments were not running budget deficits, thus worsening the economic slowdown.

“I thought this was a mistake. For one thing, unlike the Latin American nations, the East Asian countries were already running budget surpluses. In Thailand, the government was running such large surpluses that it was actually starving the economy of much ­needed investments in education and infrastructure, both essential to economic growth. And the East Asian nations already had tight monetary policies, as well: inflation was low and falling. (In South Korea, for example, inflation stood at a very respectable four percent.) The problem was not imprudent government, as in Latin America; the problem was an imprudent private sector­­ – all those bankers and borrowers, for instance, who’d gambled on the real estate bubble.”

Former World Bank Chief Economist, Joseph Stiglitz, New Republic, 17 April 2000 – Source: https://bit.ly/2GIk2cp

For example, Indonesia accepted the IMF bail-out reluctantly. By the time the third agreement was introduced, the government acceded to IMF’s demands to remove subsidies on essentials, like food, medicine and fertiliser.

This proved to be disastrous, given that the loss of state support raised the cost of living and worsened socio-economic conditions. As a result, the skyrocketing basic commodity prices resulted in a surge in inflation rate. Poverty rate increased from 11% before the crisis to nearly 60% afterwards.

Furthermore, the economic instability had severe socio-political consequences that culminated in the resignation of Suharto.

What can we learn from this case study?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that governments of Southeast Asian economies were responsible for the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have learnt the consequences of the Asian Financial Crisis, it is imperative that you apply your knowledge to A Level History essay questions. You can sign up for our JC History Tuition to find out how you can organise your content and form well-analyzed essays to ace the GCE A Level History examination.

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JC History Tuition Bishan Singapore - How was national unity forged in Singapore - JC History Essay Notes

How was national unity forged in Singapore?

For this article, we will be examining the case study of Singapore to understand how national unity was achieved in Singapore. It will be important for students taking the H2 History A Level examinations to be familiar with various case studies found in the region of Southeast Asia so as to form effective comparisons.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 2: Approaches to National Unity

Find out more about the annual celebration of ‘Racial Harmony Day’ in Singapore, which is a critical aspect of national unity.

History of the multicultural Singapore
To understand the approaches to national unity, we must first find out more about the history of Singapore. In particular, during the uncertain time when Singapore merged with Malaysia from 1963 to 1965, there were inter-ethnic tensions that threatened social stability. At the same time, political disagreements between the People’s Action Party (PAP) government in Singapore and the Alliance government in Malaysia (led by the United Malays National Organisation, UMNO) further exacerbated the problem.

As a result, the communal riots (also known as racial riots) broke out from 31 May to 6 June 1964. Historians have commented that the riots were the most severe and prolonged social conflict in post-war Singapore.

Post-1964 Singapore
After Singapore attained independence on 9 August 1965, the PAP government introduced policies that emphasized heavily on ‘multiculturalism’. Learning from the lessons of the 1964 riots, it was imperative for the government to recognise racial diversity and provide state support to protect the interests of the ethnic communities.

Approach #1: Education
One such approach involved the policy of bilingualism, which involved the study of English as the official language and the study of a ‘Mother Tongue’ (based on the ethnic categorization of ‘Chinese, Malay, Indian or Others’ – CMIO). Such an approach would be beneficial as the English language acts as a common tool for inter-ethnic communication. Likewise, the preservation of ethnic-based languages would allow communities to understand their cultural heritage.

Additionally, ever since 1997, 21 July was marked as the “Racial Harmony Day”, which was celebrated by schools annually. The purpose was to remind students on the importance of racial harmony.

Approach #2: Legislation
Another important approach involves the use of legislation for the institutionalization of racial harmony. On 9 November 1990, the “Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act” was passed. Its purpose was to prohibit the politicization of religion for subversive purposes. At the same time, the Presidential Council of Religious Harmony was set up, which was responsible for the execution of this act.

Additionally, the Sedition Act was enforced to prevent the spread of ill will by any individuals or organizations with malicious intent to cause racial and religious divisions in Singapore.

Therefore, these approaches have proven to be effective in ensuring the maintenance of national unity in Singapore, as observed by the absence of serious inter-ethnic tensions and conflicts from independence to 2000.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that education is the most important approach to forge national unity in Singapore? [to be discussed in class]

Now that you have examined the approaches of the Singapore government in forging national unity, it is important you apply them to JC History essays. Join our JC History Tuition to find out how you can organise your answers and form persuasive arguments effectively. We also provide summary notes and essay outlines for effective revision. Get started to ace your GCE A Level History examinations!

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