The Beginnings of a 'Cold War' in Southeast Asia: British and Australian Perceptions

By Wade, Geoff | Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, October 2009 | Go to article overview

The Beginnings of a 'Cold War' in Southeast Asia: British and Australian Perceptions


Wade, Geoff, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies


1. Introduction

When did the 'Cold War' begin in Southeast Asia and how was this beginning manifested? As with all other investigations, definitions are key. The 'Cold War' itself remains an enigmatic category. The global contention between the superpowers constituted by the Soviet Union and the United States seems to be an accepted generic aspect of the Cold War. Was this the only, or a necessary, aspect of the 'Cold War' as manifested or created in Southeast Asia? Odd Arne Westad suggests that it was at least the major aspect. To his well-known work The global Cold War, (1) Westad assigns the subtitle 'Third World interventions and the making of our times', suggesting that a key element of the Cold War was great power rivalry through intervention in Third World countries. It is of course Westad's aim to take the history of the Cold War beyond that of the usual Euro-American great power rivalries and to examine how this global contention through the second half of the twentieth century was to be manifested in the less powerful polities of the globe, but the structure is still premised on bipolar rivalry between the superpowers. He suggests both that 'the United States and the Soviet Union were driven to intervene in the Third World by the ideologies inherent in their politics', (2) and that 'the Cold War was a continuation of colonialism through slightly different means'. (3)

But there are of course other angles from which to view the political events which marked the period of contention we know as the Cold War. In the study below, the views of two of the lesser global players in the Cold War period--Great Britain and its appendage (which grew increasingly independent during this period) Australia--will be examined as to what sort of 'Cold War' they observed and participated in in Southeast Asia during the period 1945 to 1950. This is a region where, during this period, American involvement was fairly minimal, and the degree of Soviet 'intervention' remains moot. It is hoped therefore to observe how the beginnings of the Cold War in Southeast Asia were manifested without discrete superpower involvement.

When and how, then, did Great Britain and Australia (only beginning post-WWII to play any substantial role in international affairs) view the 'Cold War' and its relationship with the armed violence occurring throughout Southeast Asia during the period 1945-50? And how did this affect the policies of Great Britain, which was committed to decolonising its Southeast Asian territories, and Australia, which was stepping into the breech left by this decolonisation through new engagement with the region, in some respects as the representative of Western interests?

2. British and Australian views of the Cold War in Southeast Asia

The Japanese occupation of British territories and other parts of Southeast Asia from December 1941 to August 1945 saw the representatives of 'Western' interests either driven away from Southeast Asia or incarcerated therein. It was not long after the beginning of the Japanese occupation, however, that the British began planning for the post-war reoccupation of the territories they had controlled pre-war. Less than a year into the Pacific War there were cabinet level discussions on post-hostilities arrangements, with it being recorded in September 1942, following a British cabinet meeting that: 'Mr Eden said that the special features of the Far East was that besides the British there was a group of the leading countries in the Far East: The United States, China, Holland and to some extent Russia; whereas they had no such interest, for instance in Africa.' 'Mr Eden stressed that our aim was to secure collective defence in the Far East.' (4) Here then, when Mr Eden spoke in 1942 of collective defence arrangement in post-war Asia, Russia was mentioned simply as a country which had some interests in the Far East, but with no implication of Soviet threat to, or rivalry with, Western powers in the area. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Beginnings of a 'Cold War' in Southeast Asia: British and Australian Perceptions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.