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JC History Tuition Online - What was the main objective of the Baruch Plan - Cold War Notes

What was the main objective of the Baruch Plan?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

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 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War II

Find out more about the historical significance of nuclear weapons and their development in the Cold War. [Video by The Cold War]

“Before a country is ready to relinquish any winning weapons, it must have more than words to reassure it.”

Bernard M. Baruch, June 1946.

Historical context
In August 1945, the United States dropped two atomic bombs, ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’, on Japan. As a result of their destructive capabilities, Japan surrendered, securing an American victory that ended the Second World War (WWII).

Afterwards, the Truman administration held a discussion, contemplating on the sharing of atomic secrets with the Soviet Union. The meeting was attended by notable officials, like Secretary of War Henry Stimson and State Department official George Kennan. The general consensus was that the end of US atomic monopoly may erode Russian suspicions and avert an arms race. Interestingly, Kennan opposed the notion of revealing their trump card to the Soviet Union, claiming that the Soviets could not be trusted.

In 1945 and the succeeding several years three broad policy options were available to the United States government. First, it could actively strive to reach an agreement with other countries for the international control of nuclear energy. […] A second option opposed this position. It emphasized the advantages that could be attained from exclusive American control of the new technology. […] The third and final broad option took shape only towards the end of the 1940s, after the harsh antagonisms of the Cold War had imposed their icy grip on international relations. This option proposed a preventive nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

An excerpt from “Nuclear Fallacies: How We Have Been Misguided since Hiroshima” by Robert W. Malcolmson.

Enter Bernard Baruch
In early 1946, the USA proposed the establishment of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission (UNAEC). ITs role was to control the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. An advisor to US Presidents, Bernard Mannes Baruch, present proposal to the United Nations.

When Baruch made the proposal on 14 June 1946, he included the need for international control and inspection of nuclear production facilities. Baruch’s proposal was based on the Acheson-Lilienthal report, which sought control of all activities deemed dangerous to global security.

Yet, he made a clear point that the USA would keep its monopoly over nuclear weapons until the proposal was put into action. Although Baruch claimed that it was the ‘last, best hope of earth’, the Soviet Union objected, offering a counterproposal to ban all nuclear weapons. It was not surprising that the USA rejected the Soviet Union’s suggestion.

By summer, it had become hopeless. The distinguished Chicago sociologist Edward Shils lamented the new status quo: “At present the situation is so unpromising as far as atomic energy control as such is concerned that even if the Soviets were to accept the majority plan, the American people and their leaders might indeed be too distrustful of the Soviets to accept their scheme which they themselves had proposed.” In June, the majority (supporters of a modified Baruch Plan) and the Soviet Union had hardened their stances to a deadlock, and in the fall of 1948 the UNAEC referred the issue to the General Assembly. It would bounce around for another year, only to die quietly in November 1949 after Soviet proliferation rendered the issue moot.

An excerpt taken from “Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly” by Michael D. Gordin.

The Soviet Union asserted that the USA could use its atomic monopoly to coerce other nations into accepting its plan. Eventually, the Plan fizzled out. The USA insisted on retaining its monopoly as a deterrent against the Soviet troops amassed in Eastern Europe.

Arms Race
By 1949, the notion of arms control was a lofty one. In September 1949, the Soviet Union tested a nuclear device successfully, ending the US atomic monopoly.

As the shock of the Russian bomb wore off, the Truman administration seemed outwardly unaffected by the atomic monopoly’s end. The President’s own repeated public assurances that the Soviet test had not taken the United States unawares even seemed an implicit argument against any steps to counter the Russians’ achievement. But Truman’s claim that the government had not been surprised was freely contradicted by a consensus of newspaper and magazine articles following announcement of the test.

An excerpt taken from “The Winning Weapon: The Atomic Bomb in the Cold War, 1945-1950” by Gregg Herken.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the failed Baruch Plan contributed to the start of the nuclear arms race in the late 1940s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What was the purpose of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks - End of the Cold War Notes

What was the purpose of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks?

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 [Collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War]

Find out more about the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks [Video by Pritzker Military Museum & Library]

Historical context: Putting a halt to the arms race
Following the 13-day Cuban Missile Crisis, US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev realised that the superpowers were dangerously close to nuclear annihilation, thus seeking to ease tensions. The Soviet leader once noted that both superpowers “had been squared off against each other, each with its finger on the button”. Subsequently, the two leaders were in consensus of banning nuclear testing.

On 5 August 1963, the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed by the United States, the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union. It was a remarkable development as negotiations took only 12 days before the Treaty was officially signed. A notable clause in the treaty states that prohibition of “nuclear weapons tests or other nuclear explosions under water, in the atmosphere, or in outer space”.

On 12 March 1964, the Conference of the Eighteen-Nation Committee on Disarmament was held in Geneva, Switzerland. Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Adrian S. Fisher proposed a “verified freeze of strategic nuclear vehicles, both offensive and defensive”. Fisher continued, “That verified freeze, together with the third point, relating to a halt in the production of fissionable materials for weapon uses, would go far towards curbing the nuclear arms race”.

Yet, the Treaty had failed to slow down military build-up. In the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union and United States developed their own anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities.

Preliminaries: SALT I
On 20 January 1969, US President Richard Nixon received a statement submitted by the Soviet Foreign Ministry to deliberate on strategic arms limitations. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks were held in Helsinki, Finland, running from 17 November to 22 December 1969.

SALT I concluded with the signing of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABMT), which was signed by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev on 26 May 1972. The Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty I (SALT I) restricted the number of strategic ballistic missile launchers at current levels, Additional submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) launchers could only be developed after the same number of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and SLBM launchers had been dismantled. Notably, SALT I had laid the foundation for subsequent arms control agreements.

The objective of the ABM Treaty, in essence, is to eliminate the deployment of a large-scale ABM strategic defense, making each party a hostage to the other. The ABM Treaty was amended in 1974 by a protocol reducing each party’s permitted deployment areas from two to one, thereby reducing strategic defense deployments to a level just short of abolition.

[…] The treaty prescribes reviews every five years; the first such review was in 1977, and subsequent reviews were held in 1982, 1988, 1993, and 1999.

While the system the United States chose to deploy (Grand Forks) was placed on inactive status in 1976, after only six months of operation, the Russian ABM defense around Moscow remains operational, though its effectiveness is uncertain.

An excerpt taken from “Cornerstones of Security: Arms Control Treaties in the Nuclear Era” by Damien J. LaVera and Thomas Graham Jr.

Continuation: SALT II and breakdown
The second round of talks took place in late 1972. These talks lasted till 1979 under the aegis of three successive Presidents, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. During the Vladivostok Summit of 1974, Ford and Brezhnev came to a consensus on establishing a framework of a SALT II agreement. Eventually, the SALT II Treaty was signed by Carter and Brezhnev in Vienna on 18 June 1979.

The main goal of SALT II was to replace the Interim Agreement with a sustained comprehensive Treaty that provided broad limits on strategic offensive weapons. For instance, the agreement included a “2,400 equal aggregate limit on strategic nuclear delivery vehicles (ICBMs, SLBMs, and heavy bombers) of the sides”.

Yet, the Treaty never took effect formally. Although the 1972 ABMT restricted a range of nuclear weapons, there were unresolved matters. The USA was concerned with the Soviet Union’s obsession with the arms race. In contrast, the Soviet Union held suspicions towards the USA due to the latter’s strategic relationship with communist China.

Similarly, the new Tu-22M ‘Backfire’ bomber, which could be used for both conventional and nuclear missions, was far more capable than the older Tu-16s and Tu-95s that preceded it, and became a particular problem in the SALT II negotiations held during the Carter administration.

The non-ratification of the 1979 SALT II Treaty marks the end of this period of the Cold War. The pace of the Soviets’ strategic modernization, and the rapid deployment of accurate MIRVs on their ICBM force in particular, called the entire arms control process into question. SALT II capped the numbers of delivery vehicles on both sides, and imposed limits on the numbers of warheads each could carry. Critics believed it also locked the US into an increasingly dangerous strategic position.

An excerpt taken from “Arms Races in International Politics: From the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century” by Thomas Mahnken, Joseph Maiolo and David Stevenson.

With reference to the illustration below provided by Statista, nuclear warhead stockpiles did not diminish even though SALT I and SALT II were signed in the 1970s. The Soviet Union continued to increase its nuclear arsenal till the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was signed on 8 December 1987.

JC History Tuition Online- Nuclear Stockpile - Statista - End of Cold War Notes
Military build-up by the two Great Powers [Illustration by Niall McCarthy, Statista]

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the breakdown of the arms control agreements was the main cause of the renewed Cold War confrontation in the early 1980s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the End of the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What was the Marshall Plan - Cold War Notes

What was the Marshall Plan?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy

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 1: Emergence of Bipolarity after the Second World War II

Find out more about the Marshall Plan that supported post-war economic reconstruction of post-war Europe [Video by History]

A crisis like no other: Post-war economic conditions
By the end of the Second World War (WWII), most European nations in no shape to restart industrial production. The devastation wrought by aerial bombardment had destroyed many cities, turning citizens into refugees that were housed in temporary camps. Many turned to the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) for aid and assistance, such as food and supplies.

Germany was one of those worst hit in the region. In West Germany, the economy was affected by the population change due to WWII. By 1945, death casualties amounted to 4 million by 1945. Additional millions were killed while in Soviet captivity. Even so, the West German population, which was less than 40 million in June 1939, grew to about 48 million by 1950.

The war had turned Germany into a land of refugees, for immigration from the East was preceded by the mass evacuation of urban dwellers during the Allied bombing campaign. By the end of the war, close to 9 million residents of German cities had taken refuge in the countryside. One- third of them were unable to return until 1947. One million residents had abandoned Berlin alone.

[…] The catastrophic living conditions and the unwelcome presence of refugees and expellees not only invoked social conflict and public distress; the inadequate housing supply was an impediment to economic recovery, too. With the millions displaced by war trapped in rural communities, urban industry could not find sufficient labour to lift production. Much of the working time and energy of the existing urban workforce was diverted to rubble removal and reconstruction efforts, often in the context of administrative work assignments under the command of the occupation authorities.

An excerpt taken from “The Economic Consequences of the War: West Germany’s Growth Miracle after 1945” by Tamás Vonyó.

Rehabilitation and recovery:
In the words of British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill, Europe was a “rubble-heap, a charnel house, a breeding ground of pestilence and hate”. In his speech addressed to the audience at the United Europe Committee Meeting in 1947, Churchill called to “promote the cause of united Europe” to “sweep away the horrors and miseries”.

In response to this urgent need for aid, the United States launched the European Recovery Program, which later more commonly known as the Marshall Plan. It was a US-led program named after the Secretary of State George C. Marshall to give aid to Western Europe for post-war reconstruction.

As a four-year plan that ran from 1948 to 1951, recipient nations would have the finances and other forms of support to rebuild their industries and essential infrastructure.

Eventually, sixteen countries accepted the Marshall Plan (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and West Germany), which totaled $13.2 billion. In today’s dollars, the Plan would have amounted to a staggering $800 billion.

Between 1948 and 1952 (four and a quarter years), the United States transferred $13.2 billion to the sixteen Marshall Plan countries. Accounting for inflation over those years, the total was $14.3 billion (that is, in 1952 dollars). The aid was front-loaded, with 31 percent coming in 1948, 30 percent in 1949, 20 percent in 1950, 12 percent in 1951, and 8 percent in 1952. The largest recipients were the U.K. ($3.2 billion, or $32 billion today), France ($2.7 billion, or $27 billion today), Italy ($1.5 billion, or $15 billion today), and West Germany ($1.4 billion, or $14 billion today). Austria and Norway were the biggest beneficiaries per capita ($130, or $1,300 today).

An excerpt taken from “The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War” by Benn Steil.

Containment or recovery?
The Truman administration introduced the Marshall Plan not solely for the purpose of rehabilitating Europe. In addition, the support for post-war recovery was an effective approach to counter Soviet Communism.

The administration’s East European chiefs of mission would conclude that “any and all movements within world communism which tend to weaken and disrupt the Kremlin’s control within the communist world represent forces which are operating in the interests of the West and therefore should be encouraged and assisted.” These statements made clear that it was Soviet influence, rather than communism as such, that the United States would oppose through the use of economic and political levers.

An excerpt taken from “The Marshall Plan: Dawn of the Cold War” by Benn Steil.

Studying the importance of US aid
Although the Marshall Plan was no doubt significant in financing the post-war recovery of European nations, questions were raised over its extent of contributions as compared to other factors. As aptly described by Herbert C. Mayer, “like all economic miracles, the German Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) was the result of wise planning, hard work and well timed aid… the German recovery would not have been accomplished alone”.

Historical statistics suggest further that recovery had begun well before the currency reform and that it was not transformed into sustained growth until the early 1950s. […] the most important limiting factors of industrial expansion in post-war Germany, namely the urban housing shortage and the structural disproportions caused by the redrawing of borders, persisted for many years after 1948. Foreign aid did little to improve these conditions, for it was not substantial enough and it was not focused primarily on these critical bottlenecks.

[…] At the same time, fiscal policy was chiefly responsible for the price stability that made West Germany the object of envy in the Western world and which earlier accounts as well as most international observers considered to be the achievement of the German Bundesbank. In reality, and most of the time, monetary policy played second fiddle.

An excerpt taken from “The Economic Consequences of the War: West Germany’s Growth Miracle after 1945” by Tamás Vonyó.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the post-war reconstruction of Europe can be explained by American aid?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Global Economy and the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What does the flying geese model suggest - Asian Tiger Economies Notes

What does the flying geese model suggest?

Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 3: Rise of Asian Tigers from 1970s to 1990s [South Korea and Taiwan] 

The Flying Geese model
According to the Japanese economist Kaname Akamatsu, Asian economies could grow based on a ‘flying geese model’. (FG model). Akamatsu noted that ‘Wild geese fly in orderly ranks forming an inverse V, just as airplanes fly in formation‘. After Japan achieved rapid economic recovery in the post-WWII years, it took the lead in economic development, whereas its neighbouring countries like Taiwan and South Korea followed suit.

During the 1930s, a Japanese economist, Kaname Akamatsu, initially sketched out a long span of history involving the evolutionary interrelationships of a developing Asian country (Japan) with the advanced West. His interest was to examine how developing countries in general may catch up with the advanced ones through their mutual interactions.

[…] Akamatsu presents a stylized four-stage model of evolving trade patterns of a typical developing country along its development process (catching-up), where the existing manufactured products are clustered into two broad categories: “consumer goods” and “capital goods”.

An excerpt from “The Asian Developmental State and the Flying Geese Paradigm” by the United Nations Conferenceo n Trade and Development.

Application on Asian economies
Although the FG model was developed in the 1930s, academics have based their research on this model in subsequent decades. While Japan was at the forefront of economic development in Asia, the ‘four tiger’ economies, namely South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, played catch up.

After the 1970s, when Japan moved into an upper ladder of technological-intensive sectors such as the automobile industry and machinery after the first energy crisis in 1973-74, Taiwan and Korea kept chasing behind Japan’s footstep by moving to an upper ladder of technological sophistication with some varieties in the second phase; while Korea developed its brand name of automobiles, Taiwan, due to the limit of domestic market for scale economy, chose to develop auto parts and machinery tools instead of manufacturing the whole passenger cars.

An excerpt from “A Century of Development in Taiwan: From Colony to Modern State” by Peter C. Y. Chow.

For Taiwan, the government emulated Japan by focusing on labour-intensive production and exported to industrialised economies, like the USA, in the 1960s. In the 1970s, Taiwan then shifted from labour-driven to capital-oriented industries in response to rise labour and import costs, which were exacerbated by the twin oil shocks.

To some extent, it was the ‘flying geese’ pattern of industrial development by following the footstep of Japan’s industrialisation in the post-war era. Meier argued that it was a process of ‘learning by exporting’ by picking up the industrial sectors that Japan left when it moved up on the ‘ladder of comparative advantage’.

[…] Taiwan, as one of the first tier of the flying geese, faced more competition in the second stage of EP (export promotion) from the second tier followers in South East Asia and China after its economic reform and openness.

An excerpt from “Connecting Taiwan: Participation – Integration – Impacts” by Carsten Storm.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the importance of the ‘Flying Geese’ model in explaining the phenomenal growth of Taiwan from the 1970s to 1980s.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the rise of Asian Tiger economies and the Global Economy. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the Velvet Revolution - End of the Cold War Notes

What happened in the Velvet Revolution?

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

Learn more about the historical significance of the Velvet Czechoslovakia and its impact on the end of the Cold War in the 1980s. [Video by History Matters]

Historical context: Commemorating the International Students’ Day
On 17 November 1989, student demonstrations were held in Prague, marking the 50th anniversary of International Students’ Day. On the very same day in 1939, a Nazi attack was launched on the Prague University, leading to the deaths of nine students and detainment of 1,200 students. After the end of the Second World War, a pro-Communist government was formed in Czechoslovakia, which suppressed dissent. Yet, the government sanction the celebration of the International Students’ Day.

November 17, 1989, was the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Jan Opletal, a date with special historical significance in Bohemia and Moravia. On this day in 1939, Adolf Hitler, angered by Czech resistance to the German occupation of rump Czechoslovakia, unleashed his Special Action Prague, during which nine student leaders were executed and a further 1,200 university students transported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

An excerpt from “The Velvet Revolution: Czechoslovakia, 1988-1991” by Bernard Wheaton and Zdeněk Kavan.

Dubčeks Prague Spring
Before the Velvet Revolution, the Czech people had made a failed attempt to resist Soviet control in the 1960s. In January 1968, Alexander Dubček was made leader of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Contrary to expectations, Dubček introduced political and economic reforms, including the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. His reforms had given rise to the Prague Spring. Yet, Moscow opposed this change, seeing a liberal Czechoslovakia as a threat to its regional power.

In August 1968, half a million Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia, suppressing student-led protests. Dubček was replaced by a loyalist Gustav Husak and reverted the country to authoritarian rule. Nevertheless, the Prague Spring had left a lasting impression on the people at the international level.

For once, the Communist and non-Communist worlds — and some countries that find themselves in between — joined in a general condemnation of Soviet force. The free world is accustomed to condemning Russian inroads and intransigence, from the brutal putdown of the Hungarian revolt to the erection of the Berlin Wall. In the past, most Communist countries and parties have either wholeheartedly supported such transgressions—or at least closed their eyes to them—but no longer. Last week, in one country after another, Communists found themselves on the side of the Czechoslovaks.

An excerpt from a Time newspaper article titled “World: The Reaction: Dismay and Disgust” on 30 August 1968.

Defeating the Great Evil
Notably, the 1989 demonstrations took place eight days after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Even in the face of violent threats by the police, the Czechs persisted. By 20 November, half a million Czechs and Slovaks occupied the Wenceslas Square of Prague, chanting anti-government slogans.

On November 26, 1989, three-quarters of a million people congregated in Prague, followed the next day by a two-hour nationwide strike. The Federal Assembly discarded constitutional provisions guaranteeing the Communist Party’s preeminent role, along with Marxism-Leninism as the official state ideology. New Communist Party leaders struggled to retain power, promising on December 3 to allow for fuller representation, genuine elections, protection of civil liberties, and removal of political pressures in places of employment. None of that sufficed, and on December 7, after 25,000 party members had resigned, Prime Minister Ladislav Adamec did as well. Three days later, the Communist government fell, with Husak resigning and a Government of National Understanding established.

An excerpt from “The Czech Republic: The Velvet Revolution” by Robert C. Cottrell.

Eventually, popular movements have successfully defeated the Communism. On 28 November, the Communist Party resigned, allowing an anti-Communist government to take over. A key dissident and writer, Václav Havel, was elected president a month later.

The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we got used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore each other, to care only for ourselves. Concepts such as love, friendship, compassion, humility, and forgiveness lost their depth and dimensions… . The previous regime… . reduced man to a force of production and nature to a tool of production… . It reduced gifted an autonomous people to nuts and bolts in some monstrously huge, noisy, and stinking machine, whose real purpose was not clear to anyone

An excerpt from the speech titled “New Year’s Address to the Nation” by Czech President Václav Havel, 1 January 1990.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that People Power was the main cause for the end of Bipolarity in the 1980s?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the End of Bipolarity. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - Why is Myanmar's military so powerful - Approaches to Governance Notes

Why is Myanmar’s military so powerful?

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]:
Paper 2: Search for Political Stability
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme I Chapter 1: Approaches to Governance

Learn more about the historical significance of the military in independent Myanmar. [Video by South China Morning Post]

Historical Context: Humble beginnings
4 January 1948 marked the newly-independent Union of Burma. Initially, the Burmese military was led by a Karen, General Smith Dun. Later, Dun was replaced by a Burma, General Ne Win. In the mid-1950s, the Tatmadaw (official name for the armed forces of Myanmar) numbered only 110,000.

While Mountbatten accepted Aung San’s recommendation of Bo Let Ya as junior Deputy Inspector General, he chose Colonel Smith Dun, a rapidly promoted officer of Karen ethnicity, as the other and slightly more senior Deputy Inspector General from the old Burma army.

[…] Ne Win was then appointed as the Deputy Defence Minister. Under the new dispensation, Smith Dun, as Chief of the General Staff, was to have direct access to the Prime Minister in case of disagreements with Ne Win, an arrangement which the BSM chief, General Bourne, founded highly unsatisfactory.

An excerpt from “General Ne Win: A Political Biography” by Robert Taylor.

The military was charged with the responsibility to maintain social and political order. As Prime Minister U Nu’s Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) government was beset by two communist rebellions and minority revolts, the democratic leader turned to General Ne Win for help.

After the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, the remnant Kuomintang (KMT) forces fled into northern Burma, biding time to launch resistance movements on the mainland. U Nu was concerned that the Chinese confrontation may spill over into the northern parts of Burma.

Caretaker Government (1958-1960)
Although elections were scheduled to be held in 1958, the AFPFL was increasingly fractured due to divisive political views. U Nu’s decision to pardon leftist soldiers had alarmed the military. These soldiers supported the National United Front, which demanded to join the military.

To prevent Burma from being plunged into a civil war, U Nu made reference to the constitution, allowing the military to take over. During this two-year period, the military was tasked to restore law and order and prepare the nation for elections.

Senior military personnel approached the prime minister suggesting that he allow the military to take over for a period (initially six months that was extended to about eighteen months) to avoid internal conflict. The legislature agreed; it was characterized as a “coup by consent” or a “pseudo-constitutional-peaceful-military coup d’état ”. “U Nu took the constitutional way out and Ne Win the constitutional way in.

[…] The “caretaker” military forcibly lowered prices in the bazaars, removed over 160,000 illegal squatters from downtown Rangoon to the rice paddies of the suburbs (the military repeated this in 1988/89), diminished insurgent control, negotiated the Chinese border agreement (signed later by U Nu), eliminated the legal authority of the hereditary ethnic Shan and Kayah leaders, and passed a universal (male-female) military conscription law passed (but never enforced) on an Israeli model.

An excerpt taken from “The Military in Burma/Myanmar: On the Longevity of Tatmadaw Rule” by David I. Steinberg.

General elections were then held on 6 February 1960 after the military voluntarily handed over to a civilian government for democratic processes to persist. U Nu’s ‘Clean AFPFL’ won 158 seats, whereas Kyaw Nyein and Ba Swe’s ‘Stable AFPFL’ won 41 seats. The leftist NUF won only 3 seats.

During the elections, U Nu campaigned the promotion of Buddhism as the state religion, which angered the Kachin minority. Notably, the the military was partly comprised of Kachins, which may have influenced the decision for a military-led revolt. General Ne Win objected to the pro-Buddhist policies of U Nu as the some of the military personnel were Christians.

Enter the Burma Socialist Programme Party (1962): The Coup & Pre-eminence of the Military
After the military coup on 2 March 1962, a 17-man military council formed the Burma Socialist Programme Party (BSPP). Subsequently, the BSPP imposed strict laws to curtail political freedom.

Over the next couple of years, all other political parties were banned, censorship imposed, student protests violently suppressed, the judicial system destroyed, the bureaucracy purged of senior officials, foreigners (especially Indians—those from the subcontinent—and Chinese) expelled, and a nationalization of all industry begun. Buddhist monks were finally registered, and in 1982 a highly nationalistic citizenship law was enacted. To run a socialist government requires a talented bureaucracy, but it had been decimated. Eminent Burmese economists left the country.

An excerpt taken from “The Military in Burma/Myanmar: On the Longevity of Tatmadaw Rule” by David I. Steinberg.

Overall, the military dominated nearly all aspects, the economy, politics and even the society. For instance, 15,000 businesses were nationalised, enabling the military to run the economy. The BSPP expanded its organisation, including 99,000 ‘candidate’ members and 167,000 ‘sympathisers’. The Tatmadaw formed a Central School of Political Science in 1963 and trained over 29,000 cadres. These cadres replaced the civilian elites that initially occupied civil service sectors.

In 1974, a new constitution was developed, legitimising the BSPP as the sole party.

On 3 January 1974, the Constitution was enacted. It constitutionalised a single party system with the BSPP as the sole political party. It established a unicameral legislature as the most powerful state organ. The Council of State was formed from the members of the unicameral legislature and remained responsible to it. The unicameral legislature elected all major bodies including the Council of Ministers, the Council of People’s Justices, the Council of People’s Attorneys and the Council of People’s Inspectors. Members of the Pyithu Hluttaw were in theory directly elected, and elections were to be held every four years. Elections were held in 1974, 1978, 1981 and 1985. These elections, however, usually only had one candidate for each seat.

An excerpt taken from “The Constitution of Myanmar: A Contextual Analysis” by Melissa Crouch.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that military intervention in the politics of independent Southeast Asia led to increased political stability?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about Approaches to Governance. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - How did Singapore respond to the Cambodian Crisis - ASEAN Notes

How did Singapore respond to the Cambodian Crisis of 1979?

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)

Prelude to the CGDK: An enervating meeting
In view of the Vietnamese invasion and subsequent occupation of Cambodia in the late 1970s, ASEAN and its member nations including Singapore became increasingly concerned with this challenge posed to regional security.

In 1979, the Thai Foreign Minister Upadit Pachariyangkun and the Singapore Foreign Minister S Rajaratnam met the members of the outsted Pol Pot regime, such as Kheiu Samphan and Ieng Sary. During the meeting, Thailand and Singapore deliberated on the inclusion of other Cambodian factions to oppose the pro-Vietnamese puppet regime under Heng Samrin.

Notably, this meeting had set the stage for the creation of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) in June 1982. Rajaratnam made it clear to the Pol Pot leaders that they had to take a backseat, while the other two groups, namely Sihanouk’s royalist faction and anti-communists under Son Sann, led the coalition. This was because of the controversial atrocities committed Pol Pot regime in the 1970s that would have hindered efforts to garner international support.

Minister Rajaratnam reminded them of the horrors [the Pol Pot regime] had perpetrated and that they had no chance of getting international support without forming a coalition with other nationalist groups. […] While this discussion was going on, I observed that Ieng Sary’s wife, Ieng Thirith, was giving fierce looks at our Minister, boiling with anger, breathing heavily with chest heaving and subsiding as she listened to her husband’s requests being rejected. [..] We prevailed because they had no choice. We thus cobbled together a coalition under Prince Sihanouk.

An excerpt from a chapter entitled “Scenes from the Cambodian Drama” by Mr. S. Dhanabalan in “The Little Red Dot: Reflections by Singapore’s Diplomats” by Tommy Koh and Chang Li Lin.

Interactions with China
During a special International Conference on Cambodia in 1980, ASEAN had lobbied for a United Nations resolution to demand the immediate withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia. During the Conference, a delegation that represented the People’s Republic of China (PRC) asserted that the Pol Pot regime should be reinstated, which drew criticisms due to moral and pragmatic reasons.

The Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Han Nian Long alleged that Singapore was involved in a conspiracy to influence the attendees of the Conference to oppose the return of the Pol Pot regime. In response, Dhanabalan disagreed, stating that there was an overwhelming majority that was against this move.

I was surprised to note how keen the U.S. was to accommodate the PRC’s request. I explained to the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State that it was not possible to accede to the PRC’s request as it was wrong and would not get any support from the conference. He ended the meeting by threatening that he would go over my head and take the matter up with Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore.

[…] PM Lee sent a note to the effect that the Foreign Minister represented the Singapore’s government’s position at the conference. It was a real life experience for me that interests and not principles determine the actions of big powers. The International Conference on Cambodia adopted a resolution that reflected ASEAN’s position.

An excerpt from a chapter entitled “Scenes from the Cambodian Drama” by Mr. S. Dhanabalan in “The Little Red Dot: Reflections by Singapore’s Diplomats” by Tommy Koh and Chang Li Lin.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political effectiveness of Singapore’s efforts in response to the Third Indochina War.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Regional Conflicts and Cooperation. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the purpose of Tripoli Agreement - National Unity Notes

What is the purpose of Tripoli Agreement?

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

Learn more about the protracted conflict between the Moro Muslims and the Filipino government. [Video by TRT World]

Historical Background: Moro Muslim separatism
In May 1968, the Muslim Independence Movement (MIM) was formed in the wake of the ‘Corregidor Affair‘, in which the Philippine armed forces was being criticised for causing the killing of Moro Muslim soldiers for a secret operation to take over Sabah. The MIM aimed to lead political activities to create a separate Moro state in southern Philippines.

In October 1972, younger leaders of the MIM formed a splinter group known as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia. They viewed the older Moro elites in the MIM as ineffective.

Conflagration: Martial Law of 1972
On 23 September 1972, President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, claiming that the growing violence between Christians and Muslims and the rise of an illegal separatist movement necessitated the use of authoritarian measures. In response, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) were deployed to suppress the Moro Muslim rebellions.

Within two months after the declaration of martial rule, in November 1972, the Moro National Liberation Front-Bangsa Moro Army (MNLF-BMA) launched a series of coordinated attacks on military outposts and announced to the world the struggle for independence of the Bangsa Moro. It declared the entirety of Mindanao, the Sulu archipelago and Palawan as the ancestral homeland of the Bangsa Moro. Its battlecry: “Victory or to the graveyard!”

An excerpt from “The Minoritization of Indigenous Communities of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago” by Rudy Buhay Rodil.

The MNLF operated from Malaysia and received military aid from abroad, notably Libya and Malaysia. One key figure of the MNLF, Hashim Salamat, made a personal visit to Libya and convinced the government to switch support from the MIM to the MNLF. Over time, more Moro rebels joined the MNLF, leading to the expansion of the separatist movement.

In 1974, the AFP led a major military operation to defeat the MNLF separatists. On the other hand, the MNLF stood their ground, receiving help from its external supporters. For instance, military advisors from Libya helped the MNLF to utilise guerilla tactics to oppose the AFP.

The Tripoli Agreement: An illusory peace?
In July 1975, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) urged the Marcos government to reach a political settlement with the MNLF. The OIC is an inter-governmental organisation founded in 1969 to safeguard Muslim interests around the world and achieve peace and harmony.

On 23 December 1976, the Philippine government and the MNLF signed the Tripoli Agreement. It created the first autonomous region in the southern Philippines, including areas like Basilan, Palawan and Sulu. The Agreement meant to grant the autonomous government to have an executive council, legislative assembly, financial system and special regional security forces.

The Tripoli Agreement also benefited Marcos. The Philippine Armed Forces also badly needed a ceasefire. By approving an agreement which at first appeared to contain substantive concessions on his part, Marcos managed to reduce Islamic Conference pressure and even neutralize the Libyans, the MNLF’s strongest supporters. Moreover, Marcos held the power to implement the agreement as he saw fit.

An excerpt from “The Philippines Reader: A History of Colonialism, Neocolonialism, Dictatorship, and Resistance” by Daniel B. Schirmer and Stephen Rosskamm Shalom.

When the MNLF requested Marcos to implement the Tripoli Agreement by executive order, he submitted it to a referendum within the provinces that would be part of the newly-proposed autonomous region instead. On 17 April 1977, a majority of voters objected the Agreement.

Given that the Agreement failed to create a unified autonomous region led by the MNLF, the leaders ended talks with the Marcos government and rallied its members to resume guerilla attacks and demand complete independence. Notably, MNLF leaders Hashim Salamat and Nur Misuari left the group and established the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). Salamat asserted that the MNLF should have pursued the goal of creating an Islamic nation.

However, on 4 January the Philippine government announced that a referendum would be held in the southern provinces to ascertain which wanted to be autonomous; other areas could have their own referenda, so diluting the Muslim character of the south. Gaddafi did not like the sound of this, and the MNLF flatly rejected the idea of a referendum. To sweeten the pill Marcos promised a conditional amnesty for Muslim rebels in the south and then promulgated new laws for a Muslim court system. The fresh talks in Tripoli collapse, the Marcos envoy returned to Manila, and the MNLF threatened to resume hostilities; by now the Moros were demanding their own flag, their own army, and the incorporation of three Christian provinces (offering offshore oil and good farmland) into the Muslim area.

An excerpt from “Libya: The Struggle for Survival ” by G L Simons and Isaline Bergamaschi.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political reasons that explain the rise of separatism in independent Southeast Asian states.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Approaches to National Unity. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the Free Aceh Movement - National Unity Notes

What is the Free Aceh Movement?

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 how a separatist movement in Indonesia achieved a peaceful resolution with central authorities. [Video by Prof James Ker-Lindsay]

Historical Background
Aceh is located in the north-western tip of Sumatra. Notably, the Acehnese supported the practice of Islam. In the 1950s, Aceh rallied behind the Darul Islam rebellion, which resulted in a partial acceptance by the Sukarno government to grant a ‘special region’ status for Aceh. It was seen as an accommodative response by the government, enabling the Acehnese to manage their own matters relating to religion, education and customary law.

To put an end to the violence, Aceh was granted the status ‘Special Region of Aceh’ (Daerah Istimewa Aceh) in 1959, supposedly having autonomy in matters pertaining to Religion, Education and Customary law. However, most Acehnese claim that this ‘special status’ is a farce because on most occasions, the central government in Jakarta enforces its national laws, even when these laws completely contradict local customs. For example, in the late 1980s when the central government announced a national anti-jilbab (veil) policy – Aceh was also forced to bow down to national policy.

An excerpt from “Gender, Islam, Nationalism and the State in Aceh: The Paradox of Power, Co-optation and Resistance” by Joy Aquino Siapno.

However, problems began to surface due to growing discontent over two reasons. First, the transmigration policy involved the relocation of workers from the overpopulated Java to other islands, including Aceh. Consequently, Javanese immigrants occupied the mountains and industrial zones on the Aceh coast, cutting off Acehnese access to fish and rice for subsistence.

Second, public discontent related to the distribution of Aceh’s natural resource. Although the Aceh supplies thirty percent of Indonesian oil and natural gas by the late 1980s, it was still one of the poorest provinces in the country.

Free Aceh Movement
A former Darul Islam leader Hasan di Tiro formed the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) in December 1976. The separatists aimed to create an independent Islamic state. GAM went through four key phases, the late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s as result of military operations launched by Jakarta. Under Suharto’s New Order, the Indonesian army (Tentera Nasional Indonesia, TNI) mobilised its troops to quell the separatist insurgencies from the late 1970s to 1990s.

Tensions continued to rise, and in 1989, the civil war resumed. Attempts to negotiate a settlement with the Scandinavian-based exiled leadership were halfhearted at best. The war was bloody and very costly for GAM, with several thousand members killed. The TNI increased its presence in the province throughout the 1990s, reaching a peak of thirty thousand troops (the police were part of the army until 1999).

[…] GAM’s fourth phase began in 1999 with a renewed offensive to take advantage of the collapse of the Suharto regime/military-backed government. The system of civilian administration by the military ended, though civil administration was very weak. The military was on the defensive for human rights abuses and its role in keeping Suharto in power, so GAM seized the initiative and launched a wave of attacks. GAM truly believed that Indonesia was on the cusp of being a failed state and that independence was inevitable.

An excerpt from “Forging Peace in Southeast Asia: Insurgencies, Peace Processes, and Reconciliation” by Zachary Abuza.

Peaceful resolution and an unexpected national disaster
In December 2002, GAM and the Indonesian government signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, allowing for temporary ceasefire between the parties. Although the agreement broke down, GAM ceased hostilities after a massive earthquake in the Indian Ocean occurred on 26 December 2004, which caused a tsunami that affected numerous Acehnese. Both the GAM and government focused on providing humanitarian relief to the affected people.

In February 2005, another round of peace talks were held in Finland. Five months later, a peace deal was finally reached, ending the three decade-long insurgency.

The Government of Indonesia (GoI) and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) confirm their commitment to a peaceful, comprehensive and sustainable solution to the conflict in Aceh with dignity for all.

The parties commit themselves to creating conditions within which the government of the Acehnese people can be manifested through a fair and democratic process within the unitary state and constitution of the Republic of Indonesia.

The parties are deeply convinced that only the peaceful settlement of the conflict will enable the rebuilding of Aceh after the tsunami disaster on 26 December 2004 to progress and succeed.

An excerpt from “Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement“, 15 August 2005.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that minority responses were most important in affecting government efforts to forge national unity?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Approaches to National Unity. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.

JC History Tuition Online - What role did Boris Yeltsin play in the collapse of the Soviet Union

What role did Boris Yeltsin play in the collapse of the Soviet Union?

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 [Collapse of the USSR and the end of the Cold War]

Find out what happened on 19 August 1991 when Russian leader Boris Yeltsin opposed the coup attempt by the ‘Gang of Eight’ [Video by Simon Marks Reporting]

Cracks within the political system: A failed last ditch attempt
Since 1988, Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev embarked on ambitious reforms, namely the perestroika and glasnost that reshaped the Soviet system. However, Gorbachev was faced with a problem. Soviet republics began to break away from the USSR, threatening its very existence.

In response, the Soviet leader proposed the New Union Treaty, which was submitted to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on 23 November 1990. Yet, six of the fifteen Soviet republics (Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) were determined to declare independence. The remaining nine republics comprised of Russia, Byelorussia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenia, and Uzbekistan.

Meanwhile, within the Soviet government, Gorbachev faced a bigger threat. Hardline politicians and military officials have begun to lose confidence in Gorbachev’s leadership, thinking that he was on the verge of bringing the Soviet Union to utter ruin. Notably, President Boris Yeltsin commented that the Soviet leader was not working fast enough.

From the outset, members of the elite had held different views about the reforms, with no one sure of the consequences of what they were doing, but some unutterably opposed. By 1989, that elite was split in three ways. […] Another, more conservative group opposed the course of reform. Some of these believed that all sorts of change were wrong, others accepted that some changes was needed but argued that the changes espoused by Gorbachev went too far too fast. […] The third group was headed by Boris Yeltsin, and believed that Gorbachev’s reforms went neither far enough nor fast enough.

An excerpt from “Building an Authoritarian Polity: Russia in Post-Soviet Times” by Graeme Gill.

The August Coup: Yeltsin’s resistance
On 18 August 1991, high-ranking officials that were hard-liners within the government placed Gorbachev under house arrest in Crimea. Although he was pressured to resign, Gorbachev declined to do so. Former vice president Gennady Yanayev came up with an excuse that Gorbachev was ‘ill’, so a state of emergency was declared. Then, the coup leaders (also known as the ‘Gang of Eight’) tried to take control of the government.

The following is a translated excerpt of Yeltsin’s speech in front of the parliament building, in which he denounced the coup and called for a general strike.

Citizens of Russia: On the night of 18-19 August 1991, the legally elected president of the country was removed from power.

Regardless of the reasons given for his removal, we are dealing with a rightist, reactionary, anti-constitutional coup. Despite all the difficulties and severe trials being experienced by the people, the democratic process in the country is acquiring an increasingly broad sweep and an irreversible character.

The peoples of Russia are becoming masters of their destiny. The uncontrolled powers of unconstitutional organs have been considerably limited, and this includes party organs.

An excerpt from President of the Russian republic Boris Yeltsin’s address to the Russian people, 19 August 1991.

In view of these shocking events, Yeltsin stepped up and called on the Russian civilians to oppose the coup. In a historic moment, Yeltsin climbed aboard a tank and spoke through a megaphone. He called the coup a ‘new reign of terror’ and even convinced some of the soldiers to join hands with the civilians to protest the coup. In three days’ time, the coup finally came to an end. Gorbachev was released.

The rise of Yeltsin: A new Russia
On 8 December 1991, Boris Yeltsin, as well as the Presidents of Ukraine and Belarus (Leonid Kravchuk and Stanislav Shushkevich) met to sign an agreement for the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Instead, a new entity known as the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS) would form the Russian federation. From then on, Yeltsin would legally become the de facto leader.

The news about Yeltsin’s speech on the top of a tank on the Red Square broke around the world. […] His rival Mikhail Gorbachev returned to his position of President of the weakened Union. But the power was already in the hands of Boris Yeltsin as President of the Russian Republic. He knew how to use power in order to eliminate his rivals. […] However, the better option for Yeltsin would be to dissolve it. The dissolution of the Soviet Union would immediately imply the elimination of the position of the President of the Union and thus the political death of the incumbent Mikhail Gorbachev.

An excerpt from “Global Trends in Eastern Europe” by Nikolai Genov.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the political factors that have caused the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the End of the Cold War. The H2 and H1 History Tuition feature online discussion and writing practices to enhance your knowledge application skills. Get useful study notes and clarify your doubts on the subject with the tutor. You can also follow our Telegram Channel to get useful updates.

We have other JC tuition classes, such as GP TuitionEconomics Tuition, JC Chemistry Tuition, JC Math Tuition and China Studies in English Tuition. For Secondary Tuition, we provide Lower Secondary English Tuition, Secondary English Tuition, Secondary Math tuition, Secondary Chemistry Tuition and Secondary Economics Tuition. For Primary Tuition, we have Primary English Tuition. Call 9658 5789 to find out more.