Explain the relationships between nationalism, colonialism/anti-colonialism, and Cold War politics in the following instances: Vietnam and Cuba.

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While Cuba was an independent nation, it was subject to constant intervention by the United States. Fulgencio Batista was the US-backed dictator who maintained American interests on the island, making the country a colony in everything but name. Many Cubans considered Fidel Castro a hero for speaking out against the rightist dictator and for fighting a guerrilla war against him. Castro later literally embraced communist dictator Nikita Khrushchev as he received aid from the Soviet Union in return for allowing the Soviets to use Cuba for a missile base. After the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviets were not as closely allied with Castro's regime, though Castro maintained a strong anti-American stance and communism. Castro also established iron-handed rule on the island, as he killed and detained most of the political dissenters.

After World War II, Vietnam sought to rid itself of French colonial rule. Vietnam was able to push out the French after the siege of Dien Bien Phu. A United Nations committee agreed to divide the country into a communist North, backed by the Soviet Union and China, and a Western-backed South. The leader of North Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, had a reputation throughout the country as a Vietnamese nationalist who had fought the Japanese and the French for his country. The leader of South Vietnam, Ngo Diem, was largely viewed as an American-backed puppet who did not embrace Vietnamese culture. Diem suspended the elections which were supposed to unify the country because he claimed that Minh would cheat. The United States, fearing communist expansion, believed Diem, even though Diem had committed many human rights violations. Diem's assassination in 1963 marked the beginning of Ho Chi Minh's forces actively trying to unify the nation with Soviet help. As the United States sent advisers and eventually military personnel to fight the communist North, the Soviet Union pumped more aid into the country. Most of the air defense and air force of North Vietnam was supplied by Moscow. The United States fought a proxy war with the Soviets in Vietnam, only to pull out in 1973 due to pressure at home by war protesters. South Vietnamese leaders proved unable to maintain the fight against the communist North, with the country being unified under communist leadership in 1975.

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