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Causes of Post-WWII colonial independence

leaders of independence movements were usually charismatic individuals educated in Western universities; the cost of maintaining colonies in far-flung empires was too much for European countries economically devastated by WWII

Proxy wars – Vietnam/Afghanistan



proxy wars were fought around the world during the Cold War; the U.S. and Soviet Union did not confront one another directly on the battlefield (partly because they both feared worldwide nuclear destruction), but supported or fought alongside others in regional conflicts; in Vietnam, the U.S. – using the domino theory of trying to not allow one country to fall to communism for fear that neighboring countries would soon also fall like dominos to communism – tried to prevent the spread of communism from North to South Vietnam (and was ultimately unsuccessful); in Afghanistan, the U.S. smuggled modern weaponry to Afghanistan’s mujahedin (Muslim religious warriors) as they fought off the invading Soviet Union; in both Vietnam and Afghanistan, the superpowers (U.S. and Soviet Union) became involved in unsuccessful quagmires that reduced morale at home

Iron Curtain


metaphor first used in a speech by Winston Churchill in 1946, referring to the countries in Eastern Europe occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of WWII; those nations had become puppets of the Soviets, sealed off behind an “iron curtain” from the free and democratic West



reform initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev, who came to power in the Soviet Union in 1985; he wanted to bring more “openness” the USSR by ending censorship and encouraging people to discuss the nation’s problems without fear of repercussion



another Gorbachev reform that restructured the government and economy; to improve efficiency, he reduced the size of the Soviet bureaucracy and backed limited private enterprise and less central planning … moving away from the Soviet government’s tradition of making economic decisions to letting supply and demand dictate those decisions, as in the U.S.; Gorbachev’s policies were meant to save the Soviet Union but they led to the collapse of communism and the end to the Cold War

Nuclear Weapons


by the early 1950s, the U.S. and then the Soviet Union had developed hydrogen bombs, which were far more destructive than the atomic bombs dropped on Japan; mutual assured destruction (M.A.D.) meant U.S. and USSR both wanted to avoid an all-out nuclear war

Great Leap Forward


launched by Mao Zedong, this was a program in China (1958-1960) to increase agricultural and industrial production; created rural farming communes and small-scale “backyard” industries to produce steel and other products; because it removed incentives for individuals, proved to be a tragic failure, leading to famine that killed 50 million Chinese

Chapter 31 New Nations Emerge

Creation of Israel


worldwide support for a Jewish homeland materialized after the Holocaust; the United Nations drew up a plan in 1947 to divide Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state; Jews accepted the plan but Arabs rejected it; when Britain withdrew from Palestine in 1948, Jews proclaimed the independent State of Israel, then had to fight and win a series of wars against neighboring Arab states

Israeli-Palestinian conflict:


refugee problems created by border disputes involving the new Israeli state embittered both sides, as Palestinian Arabs fled their homes in Israeli territory and Jews living in Arab lands were driven from their homes



the source of the ongoing conflict is that both Jews and Muslims consider the same land as holy to their distinct faiths, and thus rightfully theirs; for decades, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), headed by Yasir Arafat, led the struggle against Israel, gaining world attention with airplane hijackings and the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics; by the early 2000s, the U.S., European Union, Russia and the UN supported a two-state solution (including the creation of a stable, democratic Palestinian state) to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis … but Iran and radical Islamist groups reject it, calling for the destruction of Israel.

Chapter 32 Regional Conflicts



the Balkans broke apart in the 1990s with the fall of communism and the breakup of the Soviet Union and its satellite nation of Yugoslavia; the multi-ethnic, multi-religious region encompassed by Yugoslavia eventually became seven new independent nations: Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo; violent civil wars involving ethnic cleansing marked the transition

Impact of Ethnic Cleansing


ethnic cleansing is the killing of people of other ethnic groups or forcibly removing them from their homes to create ethnically “pure” areas; in the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Bosnian Serbs did this against Muslim Bosniaks and Croats, killing tens of thousands of people

World’s response to Ethnic Cleansing


in the end, all sides in Bosnia committed atrocities against the others … which led to NATO air strikes against the Bosnian Serb military, forcing the warring parties to the peace table; the Dayton Accords ended the war in 1995 and an international force of UN peacekeepers maintained the fragile peace; NATO forces also launched air strikes against Serbia in the late 1990s after Slobodan Milosevic pursued ethnic cleansing against Kosovo Albanians

Chapter 33 The Developing World

Tiananmen Square


as communism collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1989, thousands of protesters (many of them students) demanding similar democratic reforms in China gathered in Tiananmen Square in Beijing; in stark contrast to the events in Europe, China’s communist government cracked down hard on the protest by sending in troops and tanks, killing or wounding thousands, imprisoning and torturing many others

One-child policy


in China in the 1980s a policy of limiting urban families to just a single child (two children were allowed in rural areas) was designed to limit population growth in the world’s most populous nation; although widely condemned (and long thought to have led to widespread female infanticide), the policy did limit population growth, and now India is projected to surpass China as the world’s most populous nation in the next 15 years

Impact of AIDS in Africa


in some African countries, like South Africa and Botswana, up to one-third of adults became infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS; more than 11 million African children have been orphaned by the AIDS epidemic; losing so many potential workers has hurt the African economy

Chapter 34 The World Today



the process by which national economies, politics, cultures and societies become integrated with those of other nations around the world; arguably began with the age of European exploration 500 years ago but has accelerated sharply with the Information Age of digital communication



the practice of companies sending jobs to the developing world (to countries like India, Russia, China or the Philippines) in order to save money or increase efficiency; made possible with improved digital communication technologies



the use of tariffs (taxes on imports from other countries) and other restrictions that protect a country’s home industries against foreign competitors; opposed by the World Trade Organization, which favors free trade policies



development that balances people’s needs today while preserving the environment for future generations; a key concern for those in the anti-globalization movement



the use of violence by groups of extremists trying to achieve political goals; most notable modern example was the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. by the terrorist group al Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden; the U.S. and its NATO allies then went to war in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was being sheltered by the Taliban

Chemical Warfare


the use of chemical weapons (such as poison gas) during war; long outlawed by the Geneva Protocol but remains a concern that rogue states or terrorist groups will use them in violation of international law



Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries; made up of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Venezuela and several small states along the Persian Gulf; formed in 1960 to end the power of Western oil companies and determine production quotas and prices for oil; OPEC triggered a worldwide recession in 1973 by stopping oil shipments (which caused oil and gasoline prices to soar) to countries that had supported Israel in the Yom Kippur War

Impact of Satellites


artificial satellites for communication, observation and navigation orbit the Earth; they have revolutionized global communications by enabling international phone transmissions, better television, cell phones, and near instant digital data transfer

General Terms from Exam Blueprint

Iran-Iraq War


fought to a stalemate from 1980 to 1988; started after Saddam Hussein took advantage of turmoil in neighboring Iran following its Islamic revolution by seizing a disputed border region; during the war, Hussein used poison gas against Iranians and an uprising of Kurds within his own borders

Green Revolution


the move to high-yield crops, chemical fertilizers and better irrigation techniques that produced massive new quantities of food in developing countries like India and Mexico; benefited large agricultural enterprises but put small-scale farmers out of business because their crops cost more to produce

Cambodian Genocide


the Khmer Rouge, a force of communist guerrilla fighters, overthrew the Cambodian government in 1975; its brutal dictator Pol Pot, trying to rid the country of all Western influences, slaughtered, starved or worked to death more than a million Cambodians – one-third of the country’s population

Rwanda Genocide


at least 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were slaughtered after extremist Hutu leaders urged Rwandans to massacre their Tutsi neighbors; this happened in the small central African nation of Rwanda following a suspicious 1984 plane crash killed the presidents of Rwanda and neighboring Burundi



in 2004 government-backed Arab militias applied ethnic cleansing to slaughter civilians and drive farmers off their land in the western region of Sudan, called Darfur; the U.S. and other nations took action to stop it by sending humanitarian aid, and the International Criminal Court charged Sudan’s president with war crimes

European Union


a group of European nations that attempt to work together to promote a freer flow of capital, labor, services and goods by, for example, adopting a single currency (the euro) and passport; goal is to better compete against giant economic competitors like the U.S. and China



North American Free Trade Agreement (1994); international free-trade agreement signed by the U.S., Canada and Mexico, aimed at increasing commerce among the countries by reducing tariffs and other trade barriers



began in the 1970s when the U.S. government and scientists in several American universities led efforts to link computer systems together via cables and satellites; eventually revolutionized information technology by allowing people to access massive stores of knowledge and communicate instantly around the world

Genetic Engineering


the scientific manipulation of genetic material (genetics is the study of genes and heredity) to produce specific results such as modified foods or new drugs; has raised ethical concerns about the role of science in creating and changing life (such as with cloning)



the rigid policy of racial segregation in South Africa designed to keep the minority white population in political control; ended after F.W. de Klerk lifted the ban on the African National Congress and freed from prison Nelson Mandela; South Africans of every race were allowed to vote for the first time in 1994

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