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DBQ – Decolonization

Answering a document based question on how nations decolonized.

Decolonization can be best defined as a specific territory, such as a colony, escaping the grasps of foreign rule and become its own independent nation and arriving at its most vital goal…self-government. During the course of the 20th century, many nations were suppressed by foreign powers and some nations were living the high life, due to the fact of their colonial possessions. Some nations didn’t have much of a problem achieving independence while others did. This adds to the numerous factors of why the 20th century was such an imperialistic period, because foreign countries were always looking to claim colonies to represent their power & world dominance, and increase their prestige. Eventually the majority of subordinated colonies finally received independence one way or another. Some reached independence through peace and non-violent acts, while some did the exact opposite. One other possible way that the colonies could have achieved ultimate independence was through militaristic intervention and their appealing to a mass liking.

When analyzing the documents, the documents which present peaceful means of gaining independence are: 1, and 3. Document 1 is a timeline from the year of 1899 when the Philippines are annexed to the time the United States grants them independence in the year if 1946. When reviewing the events in between there is no violent action occurring but rather America encouraging the Philippines to accept independence. For example, in 1931 the “U.S. President says Philippines need economic independence.” However, this does present a bias because we are not able to tell if the president is reliable in the fact that the Philippines is not affecting America negatively. Document 3 presents speech by Dmytro Pavtychko which blatantly expresses his will to receive independence peacefully. “But I think we must move towards this independence through the slow, peaceful progress of parliamentary struggles.” Pavtychko reiterates that it is extremely important that this process is gradual and explains that if this process isn’t carried out gently and with care, “it would provoke a harsh, chauvinistic reaction, and blood would flow.”

On a radically diverse note, not ALL decolonization occurs with much ease and peacefulness. Many colonies work hard to achieve their independence through much fighting, and total brute force. Documents that express violent acts in order to emerge as the victor for independence are: Documents 2, 6, and 7. In document 2, Aung San, a Burmese nationalist and military leader, first talks of peaceful solutions in order gain independence, however it is all leaded up to one ultimate campaign, and that is guerilla warfare…clearly a way of achieving independence by violent means. Aung San states, “…to be supported by developing guerilla action against military and civil and police outposts, lines of communication, etc. leading finally to complete paralysis of the British administration in Burma..” However, a bias can be presented here because it is indeterminable to recognize the immediate change of Aung San’s peaceful to violent actions. In the first couple words in Document 6, spoken by Amilcar Cabral, you read, “The armed liberation struggle.” This blatantly implies that Cabral is ready to go into some type of battle in order to finally achieve independence or Guinea and Cape Verde. Clearly, going into battle with the colonial possessors, is not the most peaceful way of achieving national independence. Similar to the peaceful-violent means of thinking of Aung San, Revernd Sithole possessed the same thoughts (Doc. 7). Pulled directly from Document 7, Sithole states, “Where nonviolence failed, nationalists resorted to violence.” Sithole claims that the resorting to of violence, was only by desperate means…implying that his way of thinking, primarily shifted to the violent nature of order.

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