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Please explain the different experiences of the European colonial powers when it came...

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user7593919 | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 16, 2013 at 11:07 PM via web

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Please explain the different experiences of the European colonial powers when it came time to decolonize?

 

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kipling2448 | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 17, 2013 at 12:22 AM (Answer #1)

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Each of the European colonial powers experienced difficult and often protracted struggles against independence movements in their respective colonies.  It is wrong to suggest that the process of decolonization went more smoothly for the French than for others.  In fact, the French experienced two of the more bloody and protracted processes by which colonies became independent.  The British, while fighting to hold some colonies, like those that became the United States of America and Northern Ireland, relinquished control of its most prized colonial asset, India, with relative ease.  [This is not to suggest that the history of Indian independence did not have violent episodes.  Such episodes did occur, but India achieved independence without the kind of costly protracted war that was the case elsewhere.

The French experience includes two of the most costly and bloody independence campaigns of the 20th Century: Vietnam and Algeria.  In both cases, France fought tenaciously for many years in efforts at maintaining their hold on those territories.  The defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in northeastern Vietnam in 1954 marked the end of French colonialism in Southeast Asia.  Similarly, from 1954 to 1962, French military forces fought an intense campaign against an Algerian independence movement.  In the end, France walked away, leaving many French-Alglerians and French nationalists extremely upset.

Other countries also fought to maintain their hold on colonies, including the Portuguese in Angola and Mozambique, the post-independence phases of which involved a great deal of conflict among guerrilla armies vying for leadership of the newly independent nations.  

To extent that the process went smoother for most British colonies, it was a product of the British practice of establishing modern bureaucratic structures to run the country involving native peoples.  Consequently, when the British left, there were trained, educated people to help run their countries.

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