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AP World History

Unit 8: c. 1900-Present

Cold War and Decolonization

Main Ideas of the Unit:

  • The World Wars diminished the power & influence of Western Europe → Allowed US & USSR to emerge as global superpowers

  • Diminishing European power after the World Wars → Nearly all colonies declared independence

Content Overview

  • Start of the Cold War

  • Proxy Wars in the Cold War

  • Decline of the East Bloc

  • Fall of the USSR (1991)

  • Causes of Decolonization

  • Partition of India & African Independence

  • Chinese Civil War

  • Developments in the Middle East

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • The global balance of power shifted from Western Europe to a bipolar system of US vs USSR

  • While the US's democracy competed with the communism of the USSR, many groups promoted nonalignment (not allying with the US or USSR)

  • The Cold War created new military alliances (NATO & Warsaw Pact), led to a nuclear race & space race, and also caused many proxy wars throughout the world

  • Advances in US military, USSR's failed invasion of Afghanistan, and discontent with economic weakness of USSR after 2 failed reform movements → USSR's collapse

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • Internal tension & Japanese aggression allowed Chinese communists to gain support of the Chinese population & seize power, controlling the economy with strict measures

  • Many postcolonial states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America had movement to redistribute land & other resources, often advocating communism or socialism

  • Colonial desire for self-determination was unfulfilled after WW1; however, after WW2, increasing anti-imperialist sentiment → Collapse of empires & colonial independence

  • Nationalist leaders in colonies sought independence, and some negotiated their independence, while others got independence through armed conflict

  • After colonies got independence, regional movements challenged central rule & often advocated for autonomy, leading to the creation of additional new states

  • Governments took a strong role in the economy in newly independent states to promote economic development

  • Many former colonists migrated to the capitals of their colonizers → Maintained cultural & economic ties between the colony & colonizer

Main Ideas of the Topic

  • While conflict dominated most of the 20th century, some individuals and militarized states sought to intensify this conflict to expand their influence

  • While conflict dominated most of the 20th century, some individuals used nonviolence to bring political change

  • Some movements used violence against civilians to achieve their political aims

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