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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.

JC History Tuition Online - What is the significance of the Geneva Accords of 1954 - Vietnam War Notes

What is the significance of the Geneva Accords of 1954?

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)

Find out more about the Geneva Conference of 1954 [Video by Movietone]

Historical Context
From 1946 to 1954, the French colonial power fought against the Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh. The United States backed the French due to fears of Communist expansion in Southeast Asia, given the Communist leanings of the Vietnamese forces.

The decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu in March 1954 ended with the French defeat. As a result, the French withdrew from Vietnam.

The repercussions of Dien Bien Phu were swiftly felt around the world. Charles de Gaulle had always been adamant that the loss of Indochina would spell the end of the French empire.

[…] Nonetheless, Indochina’s nationalists achieved almost all their goals with the Geneva Accords of 21 July 1954. Cambodia and Laos had their independence recognized, while Vietnam was divided along the 17th Parallel. This created a formal ceasefire line, which accepted communist control of the north but not the south. Washington was far from happy with this latter concession. To some, it looked like Korea all over again.

An excerpt from “Dien Bien Phu (Cold War 1945–1991)” by Anthony Tucker-Jones.

The Geneva Conference
On 26 April 1954, the United States, Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China, France and Great Britain gathered in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss the future of Indochina and outstanding matters from the Korean War that ended in an armistice a year ago.

In July, the Geneva Agreement were signed. There were three key takeaway points from the Agreement:

  1. The French withdrew their forces from northern Vietnam
  2. Vietnam would be divided at the 17th Parallel temporarily
  3. Elections to be held within two years to select a president and reunify Vietnam

The Conference declares that, so far as Viet-Nam is concerned, the settlement of political problems, effected on the basis of respect for the principles of independence, unity and territorial integrity, shall permit the Viet-Namese people to enjoy the fundamental freedoms, guaranteed by democratic institutions established as a result of free general elections by secret ballot.

An excerpt from the Geneva Agreements, 20-21 July 1954.

Ho Chi Minh signed the agreement, but not the United States. Some American officials expressed concerns that the election outcome may not be in their favour, given Ho’s popularity. As such, the US government propped up an anti-Communist government in South Vietnam.

In October 1956, the Republic of Vietnam was proclaimed by President Ngo Dinh Diem, who replaced the French-backed puppet Emperor Bao Dai.

Shortly thereafter, the [Eisenhower] administration affirmed its commitment to the containment of communist influence in Southeast Asia by signing the Manila Pact, which provided for the creation of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO). Fatefully, it also began a comprehensive aid program, jointly with the French at first, to prop up the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem in Saigon as a bulwark against communist expansion in Vietnam. Soon Americans were training Diem’s fledgling armed forces and becoming otherwise more directly involved in Indochina.

An excerpt from “Hanoi’s Road to the Vietnam War, 1954-1965” by Pierre Asselin.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that political factors were most significant in influencing the start of the Vietnam War in the 1960s?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Vietnam War, Korean War and Cuban Missile Crisis. 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 Singing Revolution in Estonia - Cold War Notes

What was the Singing Revolution in Estonia?

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 Singing Revolution in Estonia that contributed to the End of the Cold War. [Video by Mr. Beat]

Historical context: Oppression
For centuries, the Baltic Republics like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were under Soviet occupation. Under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed by Hitler and Stalin in 1939, the Soviet Union conquered these Baltic republics. Although there was armed resistance (‘Forest Brothers‘) in the early post-WWII years, the Soviets have successfully put them down by 1953.

People joined the resistance movement not as an indication of social rank, but from a desire to stand up against the foreign power that had conquered their homeland. The young people raised in their own free country refused to accept a future without a free and independent Estonia. Most of the population reacted to the invaders instinctively with resistance.

An excerpt from “War in the Woods: Estonia’s Struggle for Survival, 1944-1956” by Mart Laar and Tina Ets.

From 1950s to the 1970s, Estonia went through a policy a ‘Russification‘, which suppressed Estonian culture. By law, nationalist sentiments were suppressed, including attempts to fly the Estonian flag.

A decade of change: Rise to the occasion
When Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in March 1985, his twin reforms in the form of perestroika and glasnost have created the impetus for Estonians to push for political reforms.

By the mid-1980s, the Estonians have organised themselves and took part in a non-violent movements, demanding for independence. Given that Estonia was known for its culturally rich tradition, the people gathered in large numbers, breaking into song. This was known as the ‘Singing Revolution‘.

The campaign for independence was not just political, but born from a desire to protect and promote nationhood through language, culture and music. Estonia, like the other Baltic States, had a long history of song festivals and large open-air concerts, which brought the nation together. In May 1988 an open-air rock concert in the university town of Tartu became the first place where the black, blue and white colours of the previously banned Estonian national flag were waved. Soon, national singing competitions were occasions for spontaneous mass singing of patriotic songs.

An excerpt from “The Cold War: A New Oral History of Life Between East and West” by Bridget Kendall.

In particular, the people sang national songs that were not allowed since the Soviet occupation. In May and June 1988, the singing was led by musicians, who inspired thousands of attendees that joined hands and reciprocated in unison.

In September 1988, nearly 300,000 people attended a large-scale song festival in the capital Tallinn. There were calls for the restoration of Estonian independence.

The tipping point: Declaration of sovereignty
By then, the ruling Communist Party of Estonia also called for greater political autonomy. On 16 November 1988, the government asserted Estonia’s sovereignty, putting an end to the longstanding Soviet occupation in Estonia. The final stage of the Cold War had finally arrived.

On 16 November 1988, the Supreme Soviet of the Estonian Republic adopted a “Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Estonian SSR,” its first major step toward independence. Moscow declared this move unconstitutional but was not prepared to use force to overturn the Estonian government. By the time the Kremlin formally accepted economic autonomy for the Baltic states, in January 1989, public opinion was rapidly shifting towards independence. The autonomy offered by Gorbachev in early 1991, couched in a new Union Treaty, was considered to be fake and a desperate attempt to keep the USSR together.

An excerpt from “Political Parties of Eastern Europe: A Guide to Politics in the Post-communist Era: A Guide to Politics in the Post-communist Era” by Janusz Bugajski.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that popular movements were the main cause of the End of Bipolarity.

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 is the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea

What is the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea?

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)

Historical context: Third Indochina War
In December 1978, Vietnamese forces entered Cambodian territory and toppled the Khmer Rouge regime. Subsequently, the pro-Vietnamese People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) was formed, led by Cambodian politician Heng Samrin.

An ASEAN-backed solution: Enter the Coalition
In 1980, ASEAN and China urged the Khmer Rouge and the royalists to join forces and form a coalition group to prevent the legitimisation of the PRK government. Norodom Sihanouk had set some conditions before returning to politics, such as disarmament to prevent another round of atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge as well as the deployment of peacekeepers after the Vietnamese withdrawal.

Notably, Sihanouk also requested that the country’s official name be changed from Democratic Kampuchea to Cambodia.

Leaders of the political factions Sihanouk, Son Sann and Khieu Samphan attended a summit hosted by Singapore in September 1981. Eventually, a ‘four-points’ agreement was made, which included the formation of a Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK).

With the CGDK being formed, the factions can garner foreign military support for the other two factions besides the Khmer Rouge, particuarly the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (KPNLF) and National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC).

On 22 June 1982, the three leaders signed an agreement to officiate the establishment of the CGDK in Kuala Lumpur. The June agreement stated that the CGDK’s aim was to “mobilize all efforts in the common struggle to liberate Kampuchea from the Vietnamese aggressors”.

More importantly, the three political factions in the coalition group would share power equally and make decisions through consensus.

On June 22, 1982, the three coalition leaders met in Kuala Lumpur to sign an agreement establishing a Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK), on the basis of four principles. Prince Norodom Sihanouk was president, with Son Sann the premier and Khieu Samphan the vice president, in charge of foreign affairs. […] and the new president launched an appeal to all friendly countries to bring aid and support for the “sacred cause”, the restoration of peace in Kampuchea and stability and security in that part of the world.

An excerpt from “Cambodia Confounds the Peacemakers, 1979-1998” by Macalister Brown and Joseph Jermiah Zasloff.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ASEAN played a crucial role in the resolution of the Cambodian Crisis?

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.

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JC History Tuition Online - Why Did the USA Get Involved in the Korean War - Cold War Notes

Why did the USA get involved in the Korean 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 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Learn more about the causes of the Korean War [Video by The Infographics Show]

Historical context: A Divided Korea
After the Japanese surrendered in 2 September 1945, the superpowers (USA and the USSR) agreed to divided the Korean peninsula at the 38th parallel. From 1945 to 1948, the superpowers oversaw the development of the two Koreas.

In 1948, the USA put forth the idea of a vote for all Koreans to decide their futures. After the North refused, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed, helmed by Kim II-Sung. In contrast, the South formed the Republic of Korea (ROK) under the leadership of President Syngman Rhee.

Having blamed the United States for killing Korean reunification and setting up its own satellite state in southern Korea, the USSR then proceeded to approve the establishment of a separate North Korean state only after the South Korean state had been founded on August 15, 1948. Accordingly, elections were held in northern Korea on August 25, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) was proclaimed on September 9, with its capital in Pyongyang.

An excerpt from “The Partition of Korea After World War II: A Global History” by Jongsoo James Lee.

Preparation for War
In 1949 and 1950, Kim visited Stalin in Moscow, seeking the Soviet leader’s support to launch an invasion in Korea. With the help of the Soviets and the Chinese, the North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea on 25 June 1950.

Before the Truman administration took the initiative to lead the United Nations Command (UNC) and repel the invasion, the American President received a document named the National Security Council Paper Number 68 (NSC-68). The document advised Truman to build up the defense industry to counter the danger of global communism.

According to the authors, the Soviet Union was an inherently expansionistic and militaristic power “animated by a new fanatic faith” – communism – that “seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world.

[…] “With the development of increasingly terrifying weapons of mass destruction,” the authors of NSC 68 wrote, “every individual faces the ever-present possibility of annihilation should the conflict enter the phase of total war.” “The issues that face us are momentous,” the authors admonished, “involving the fulfillment or destruction not only of this Republic but of civilization itself.”

An excerpt from “NSC 68 and the Political Economy of the Early Cold War” by Curt Cardwell.

On 27 June 1950, Truman gave a speech, ordering the deployment of American forces to South Korea to counter the North Korea’s attacks. Interestingly, the US intervention was not treated as formal declaration of war against North Korea, but rather a ‘police action’.

American historians have consistently revised their views on the Korean War: called a “police action” in the 1950s, it became the “limited war” in the 1960s, a civil war or “forgotten war” or “unknown war” in the 1970s and ’80s, and in the 1990s new archives in Moscow were used to argue that it was exactly the war Truman said it was at the time: Kremlin aggression, which he rightly resisted.

An excerpt from “The Korean War: A History” by Bruce Cumings.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– To what extent do you agree that the Korean War was a civil conflict?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Korean War and other case studies related to A World Divided by 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.

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JC History Tuition Online - When was the Sovietisation of Eastern Europe - Cold War Notes

When was the Sovietisation of Eastern Europe?

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

Learn more about the Sovietisation of Eastern Europe and its impacts on the outbreak of the Cold War in the 1940s. [Video by The Cold War]

Historical context: Dividing the spoils
As the curtains of the Second World War close, the Allied Powers led by the ‘Big Three’ (USA, Soviet Union and Great Britain) gathered in several meetings to discuss the future of post-war Europe, particularly the Yalta (February 1945) and Potsdam (August 1945). In October 1944, Soviet Premier Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met to sign a secret informal agreement, known as the ‘Percentages agreement’. This agreement gave Stalin control over the Eastern European nations.

The moment was apt for business, so I said [to Stalin], ‘Let us settle about our affairs in the Balkans. Your armies are in Romania and Bulgaria. We have interests, missions, and agents there. Don’t let us get at cross-purposes in small ways. So far as Britain and Russia are concerned, how would it do for you to have ninety percent predominance in Romania, for us to have ninety per cent of the say in Greece, and go fifty-fifty about Yugoslavia?

An excerpt from “Stalin’s Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953” by Geoffrey Roberts.

Strategic considerations: Stalin’s ruminations
During the Second World War, Stalin believed that territorial occupation enables the government to establish its own ‘social system’. Furthermore, the Soviet Premier had anticipated a clash with the capitalist world in the near future, thus necessitating the creation of a pro-Soviet bloc in Eastern Europe.

The Litvinov document was prepared in association with the Yalta Conference and explored the possibility of establishing an agreement about three spheres of influence on the continent. Linked to the Soviet Union would be a zone in the east and north, including Finland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. A second zone would be dominated by Britain and would include the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, and Greece.

An excerpt from “The Cambridge History of the Cold War (Volume 1)” by Melvyn P. Leffler and Odd Arne Westad.

Start of the Sovietisation: Poland
In late July 1944, the Polish National Liberation Committee (PKWN) accompanied Soviet troops into Poland. A pro-Communist Polish national government was formed in Lublin. At the same time, the Soviet forces obliterated resistance linked to the Polish government-in-exile based in London.

Aside from the regular military authorities, Serov proceeded to divide Poland into districts, each of which was overseen by NKVD units whose job it was to destroy the opponents of the Soviet Union. He himself led the effort to infiltrate AK units, arrest those members who refused to leave the underground and turn over their weapons, and torture and brutalize those captured, ferreting out information about other resistance members and their units. According to Soviet figures, by the end of the war, some twenty-five thousand Poles, mostly AK fighters, were in NKVD camps; thousands more had been killed in a series of coordinated “actions” or in outright battles between the Soviet police units and the AK.

An excerpt from “Stalin and the Fate of Europe: The Postwar Struggle for Sovereignty” by Norman M. Naimark.

From the American and British perspectives, the Sovietisation of Eastern Europe was a worrying development. For the former, the Truman administration had derived a response to counter the expansionist policies, also known as the Truman Doctrine.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Sovietisation of Eastern Europe was the main cause of the outbreak of the Cold War?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Emergence 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 - When did the Chinese get involved in the Korean War - Cold War Notes

When did the Chinese get involved in the Korean 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 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: The Korean War (1950)

Learn more about the Chinese intervention during the Korean War. [Video by Kings and Generals]

Historical context: Miscalculations
In September 1950, the United Nations Command (UNC) led by American General Douglas MacArthur repelled the North Korean invasion, liberating the South. As MacArthur brought the troops into the North to initiate a roll back against the pro-Communist forces, US President Truman had expressed reservations due to fears of Chinese retaliation.

Truman instructed MacArthur not to approach the Yalu River, which demarcated the border between North Korea and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to avoid Chinese intervention. Yet, the general held the perception that PRC would not fight against a nuclear power. Also, he agreed with the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) view that it was unlikely that the Chinse would launch a full-scale intervention in Korea.

When the Chinese or Soviet forces did not intervene at Incheon, at the crossing of the 38th Parallel or when UN forces reached the Yalu, the CIA appeared to adopt the assumption that they would not do so at all. The repeated failure to recognize such a possibility would to some extent explain the CIA’s insistent assumption in the estimates that the Chinese could not take a decisive part in the war without inevitably pushing themselves and the Soviet Union into a world war.

An excerpt from “Korean War – Chinese Invasion: People’s Liberation Army Crosses the Yalu, October 1950–March 1951” by Gerry van Tonder.

The Battle of Chosin and The Big Bugout
On 24 November 1950, MacArthur led an offensive to push the North Korean forces right up to the Yalu River. The overconfident general informed Major General John Coulter that when the American-led UNC forces approached Yalu River, they are “going home” to “eat Christmas dinner”.

In response, 180,000-strong People’s Volunteer Army (PVA) crossed the Yalu River and entered North Korea, driving the UNC forces back.

It was enough to make your hair stand on end… When the bugles died away we heard a voice through a megaphone and then the blast of a police whistle. I was plenty scared, but who wasn’t? I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them in the moonlight. It was like the snow coming to life, and they were shouting and shaking their fists – just raising hell… The Chinese didn’t come at us by fire and maneuver… they came in a rush like a pack of mad dogs. Even thought I was ready it was a terrible shock.

An excerpt from “Breakout: The Chosin Reservoir Campaign, Korea 1950” by Martin Russ.

The above quote was obtain from a personal encounter by Corporal Arthur Koch, a squad leader in the 5th Marine Regiment. The Chosin battle was a catastrophe for the UNC, which retreated to the 38th parallel by end December.

Following the retreat, the UNC suffered 13,000 casualties and its ground forces were in disarray.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Korean War was dictated by external powers?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Cold War, including the causes and consequences of the Korean 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 - Sipadan and Ligitan dispute Revisited

Sipadan and Ligitan dispute: Revisited

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 claims
Malaysia and Indonesia had competing claims to the Sipadan and Ligitan islands. These islands were situated in the northeastern coast of Sabah in the Celebes Sea.

Indonesia’s stake was based on the 1891 Anglo-Dutch Convention. Since the two islands were formerly under the Dutch colonial occupation, Indonesia’s attainment of independence had meant that the same islands should belong to them.

In contrast, Malaysia referred to the 1878 Treaty between the Sultan of Sulu and the British North Borneo Company. The British had ceded the North Borneo territory (Sabah) to Malaysia. As such, the two contested islands were under Malaysia’s control.

The former territory of North Borneo was ceded or leased in perpetuity to the British in January 1878 by an agreement signed between the then Sultanate of Sulu and two British commercial agents, namely Alfred Dent and Baron von Overbeck of the British North Borneo Company, in return for payment of 5000 Malayan dollars per year. The sum was increased to 5,300 dollars when the lease was extended to include islands along the coast of North Borneo.

An excerpt from “Sultan of Sulu’s Sabah Claim: A Case of ‘Long-Lost’ Sovereignty?” by Mohd Hazmi bin Mohd Rusli and Muhamad Azim bin Mazlan.

Militarisation of a territorial dispute
The situation appeared tense when both parties turned to their naval forces to address the contestation of islands in the early 1990s.

For example, in 1993, the former Malaysian Armed Forces General, Yaacob Mohd. Zain, that military action was the only answer to unsolved territorial disputes. A typical Indonesian response was an Indonesian naval spokesperson’s announcement that its forces would continue patrolling the islands because they “belong to us and we will defend them.” The crisis reached its peak in 1994 when Malaysian Defence Minister, Najib Tun Razak, visited Sipadan Island. Although the visit did not give rise to any incident, the military situation remained tense. Several subsequent stand-offs between the armed forces of both countries were reported to have taken place in the following years.

An excerpt from “Dispute Resolution through Third Party Mediation: Malaysia and Indonesia” by Asri Salleh.

In July 1982, Malaysia deployed troops to Sipadan and Ligitan islands. Likewise, Indonesian forces have landed in Sipadan island in 1993. Tensions were high when Indonesia accused Malaysia of conducting a military exercise in September 1994 to take over the two islands. In response, Indonesia held a naval exercise, while emphasising that it was not related to that dispute.

In July 1982, Malaysia occupied the two islands to the chagrin of its neighbour. As was the case with Swallow Reef, Malaysia began to develop the island for tourism. By early 1991 Indonesia started to protest the change in the status quo of the islands. Malaysian fishermen came eyeball to eyeball with the Indonesian Navy in July 1991 after which a joint commission was established. Even so, Malaysia claimed that Indonesian armed forces actually landed on Sipadan several times in 1993 and in 1994 the Indonesia Navy staged large-scale exercise involving 40 vessels and 7,000 troops in the vicinity.

An excerpt from “Non-Traditional Security Issues and the South China Sea: Shaping a New Framework for Cooperation” by Shicun Wu and Keyuan Zou.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that the Sipadan and Ligitan dispute has strained Indonesia-Malaysia relations in the post-independence period?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about territorial disputes in the theme of Regional Conflicts and Co-operation. 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 United Nations Malaysia Mission of 1963

What was the United Nations Malaysia Mission of 1963?

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

Historical context: A proposed merger and a political backlash
On 27 May 1961, the first Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman announced the proposal to form a ‘Mighty Malaysia’ that included the Borneo territories (Sabah and Sarawak), Brunei and Singapore. The merger would lead to the formation of a Malaysian Federation.

However, Sukarno of Indonesia had opposed the proposed Federation of Malaysia after the Brunei Revolt. In December 1962, the North Kalimantan National Army (Tentera Nasional Kalimantan Utara) fought for independence, rejecting the plan to join the Federation. In response, the British sent troops from Singapore to Brunei to crush to revolt. A month later, Sukarno’s chief architect announced the Confrontation (Konfrontasi) policy.

Throughout the Brunei rebellion, Radio Jakarta had broadcast a series of inflammatory statements designed to destabilize British influence in the region and then on 20 January 1963 Foreign Minister Dr Subandrio declared that Malaya represented the ‘accomplices of neo-colonists and neo-imperialist forces that were hostile to Indonesia’ and from henceforth Indonesia would adopt a policy of konfrontasi. Konfrontasi, literally translated as confrontation, had been widely used in Indonesia for years as a term to refer to the diametrically opposed differences between conservative traditional and liberal modern modes of thought and cultural expression.

An excerpt from The Brunei Revolt: 1962-1963 by Nicholas van der Bijl

Attempts at defusal of tensions: The United Nations Malaysia Mission
In May 1963, Sukarno and the Tunku met to hold talks on how to resolve their differences over the Federation. Sukarno claimed that Indonesia would not oppose the Tunku should the people of North Borneo agree to join the Federation.

On 31 July 1963, Malaya, Indonesia and the Philippines signed the Manila Accord, signifying the mutual consensus to ascertain the wishes of the people in North Borneo whether to join the Malaysian Federation. The Accord was drafted in accordance to the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 1541 (XV).

Then, the United Nations Secretary-General U Thant led a mission to facilitate the referendum in North Borneo. However, on 29 August 1963, the Tunku announced that the Federation of Malaysia would be established on 16 September. This unilateral decision had angered Sukarno, who viewed Tunku’s action as a violation of their initial agreements.

During the course of the inquiry, the date of 16 September 1963 was announced by the Government of the Federation of Malaya with the concurrence of the British Government, the Singapore Government and the Governments of Sabah and Sarawak, for the establishment of the Federation of Malaysia. This has led to misunderstanding, confusion, and even resentment among other parties to the Manila agreement, which could have been avoided if the date could have been fixed after my conclusions had been reached and made known.

An excerpt from the ‘Final Conclusions of the Secretary-General regarding Malaysia‘, 13 September 1963.

As described by U Thant, the announcement was perceived to be a premature decision made by the Tunku which Thant thought should have been undertaken only after the completion of the UN mission. Nevertheless, the mission reported stated that the peoples of North Borneo were in favour of joining Malaysia, thus legitimising the Tunku’s plan. Excerpt for Brunei, Singapore, North Borneo and Malaya merged to form the Federation was planned on 16 September.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– How far do you agree that ideology was the main reason for the Indonesian Confrontation of 1963?

Join our JC History Tuition to learn more about the Indonesian Confrontation and other causes of inter-state tensions. 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 Kennedy's quarantine speech

What was the purpose of Kennedy’s quarantine speech?

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 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

Find out more about the US President Kennedy’s address on 22 October 1962. [Video by The Associated Press (AP) Archive]

Historical Context: A crisis in the making
Before the historic address made by the American President John F. Kennedy, the United States government had discovered the construction of medium-range missile bases in Cuba on 14 October 1962. Alarmed by the prospect of an imminent security threat, Kennedy called for an emergency meeting with his advisors (later known as the Executive Committee, ExComm in short).

During the meeting, there were four proposed courses of action:

  • Actual invasion of Cuba
  • An air strike to destroy the Soviet missile sites in Cuba
  • A naval quarantine to block the delivery of Soviet missiles to Cuba
  • Diplomatic pressure

Hawkish advisors like Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara had proposed an attack on the Soviet Union should Cuba initiated any form of aggression against the USA, but opponents within the Committee feared the outbreak of war. In particular, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy was strongly against American attempts to undermine Cuban security.

Bundy nevertheless reminded his colleagues that an attack on Cuba could quickly escalate to an all-out war: “The political advantages are very strong, it seems to me, of the small strike. It corresponds to ‘the punishment fits the crime in political terms. We are doing only what we warned repeatedly and publicly we would have to do. You know, we are not generalizing the attack.” “One thing that I would still cling to,” Bundy avowed, “is that he’s [Khrushchev] not likely likely to give Fidel Castro nuclear warheads. I don’t believe that has happened or is likely to happen.”

An excerpt from “The Cuban Missile Crisis in American Memory: Myths versus Reality” by Sheldon M. Stern.

Eventually, Kennedy had opted for the use of a naval quarantine. The ExComm had agreed that the US government should demand all missile sites and bases to be dismantled in Cuba.

The Speech: Prelude to the October Crisis
On 22 October 1962, Kennedy made a televised address to the American citizens that the government had identified Soviet missile bases in Cuba. In response, the American President had announced seven steps to be taken so that the possible conflict can be averted.

One of such steps include the imposition of a naval quarantine to prevent the delivery of cargoes containing ‘offensive weapons’. Notably, Kennedy called upon his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev to de-escalate tensions and restore world peace. He stressed clearly that any act of aggression against nations in the Western Hemisphere would be deemed as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, thus justifying retaliation.

This Government, as promised, has maintained the closest surveillance of the Soviet military buildup on the island of Cuba. Within the past week, unmistakable evidence has established the fact that a series of offensive missile sites is now in preparation on that imprisoned island. The purpose of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere.

[…] I call upon Chairman Khrushchev to halt and eliminate this clandestine, reckless, and provocative threat to world peace and to stable relations between our two nations. I call upon him further to abandon this course of world domination, and to join in an historic effort to end the perilous arms race and to transform the history of man.

An excerpt from US President John F. Kennedy’s speech Announcing the Quarantine Against Cuba, 22 October 1962.

What can we learn from this article?
Consider the following question:
– Assess the view that the Soviet Union was responsible for the outbreak of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Join our JC History Tuition to revise relevant topics within the Cold War theme. 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.