Superpowers involved during colonialism



It seems that colonialism will never become extinct because the superpowers are still engaging in it. Even now, one can witness how the United States has its presence in many countries such Iraq and Iran, among other countries. In the book ‘All the Shah’s Men’ by Stephen Kinzer, information is provided concerning colonialism efforts by super powers in third world countries. Furthermore, he proves that the United States is the reason behind colonialism in the modern world.

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This paper seeks to give an analysis on whether the superpowers were involved in colonization during the Cold War. Also, it seeks to give a comparison regarding the 1800s and 1900’s colonial interventions.

Analysis of the Cold War in terms of the superpowers colonialism efforts

There was a lot of intervention by the superpowers in various third world countries. The latter is referred to as colonialism that was furthered by the superpowers during the Cold War. In the year 1954, there was an increase of support towards the Egyptian Gamal Nasser’s government. Economic and military support by the superpowers was offered to Egypt. The Middle East became the target of the western superpowers in a bid to have dominance over the region (Gamal Nasser, 20011. 19). It also ensured that the superpowers had strategic control and presence in the countries they took over. For example, the soviets helped the Middle Eastern Arabs in their fight against the Israelis (Kinzer, 2004. 67). The Suez Canal is a key element that attracted the French and British to try and colonize Egypt.

Another element is the Aswan Dam that needed to be constructed in order to benefit the Egyptians. The need to prevent the Egyptian military from gaining power in the year 1956 is another reason why the superpowers were concerned. Since the soviet advocated for the Arabs against the Israelis, it won the 1956 Suez War (Kinzer, 2004. 67). It had garnered the support of Egyptians who wanted to ensure that they were not colonized. This victory also took place in Iraq whereby, through a coup d’etat the government that was pro western became defeated. Through the formation of a Central Treaty Organization known as the Baghdad pact all this became possible (Baghdad Pact, 2011. 18).

On the other hand, Iraq, Syria and Egypt were viewed as countries subjected to Western Imperialism. According to Kinzer, they were regimes that were extremely progressive and were oriented as socio, economic socialist countries. The need to ensure that they were not colonized made the three countries be against western colonialism. In turn, they ensured that a United Nations Trusteeship Council was formed in order to act in their favor. It wanted western colonialism to be eradicated through all means possible. The Soviet Union was better off in matters concerning colonialism when compared to the United Nations (United Nations Partition Proposal, 2011. 13). In Cuba, Fidel Castro wanted to have a political system that was socio-economical based on the Marxist-Leninist theories. In turn, it obtained help from Russia in order to gain advantage over the United States (Kinzer, 2004. 69). Colonialism was felt in most African states such as Congo, Guinea, Ghana, and Mali. The latter had a connection with the colonial powers that ruled them. The disadvantage was that the relations were extremely strained. This is because they wanted to be independent without the help of the colonial powers. For example Patrice Lumumba, the Congo Prime Minister did not succeed in obtaining help from the soviets. The help took the form of military aid which that was prohibited by the United Nations. The latter ensured that people would not enter Congo easily as it closed the airports found in Congo.

Various similarities existed between the 1800’s and 1900’s colonial interventions by the superpowers. According to Keinzer, (P.69) most of the leaders of the modern regimes who have evaded colonialism are being targeted. For example, the leaders of Iran have been viewed as fanatics and heroes by different people. In turn, it made the people of Afghanistan form the Taliban. The result is that terrorism is continuously threatening people’s lives all over the world. Furthermore, American presidents have been accused of enforcing colonialism in many Middle Eastern countries. They always seem to be part of the crisis that has taken place and that, which is taking place (Kinzer, 2004. 72). Also, there is a difference between the 1800’s and the 1900’s colonialism. In the 1800’s the colonized countries were not as active as the today. The super powers were not as brutal as they are today and they used negotiation tactics as compared to scare tactics of the 1900’s. An example, of a scare tactic is through terrorism whereby people and buildings are often bombed (Bombing of the King David Hotel, 2011.12). During the cold war, superpowers set to make their territories known in a direct way as opposed to that which is today through force.


In conclusion, the superpowers played a vital in colonizing the third world. This is because they intervened through many ways in order to make their power known. The Cold war assisted tremendously in colonization as it gave a mandate to the superpowers to acquire territories. Indeed, the Cold war is a vital part of history that seeks to be known and the role it played in colonization.


Work Cited

Kinzer, Stephen. All the Shah’s Men. New York: Wiley John, 2004.Print.

Middle East, PowerPoint Class Notes. Slide 1-26. 2011. Print.

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