Struggle in the Rimlands: Southeast Asia, 1945–46

  • Scott L. Bills


As the Council of Foreign Ministers began discussing the course of post-war Europe, first in London and then later in Paris, the sessions became a prototype for marathon diplomacy which tested the skill and stamina of all participants. The public and private jousting, the jostling and posturing, the numbing task of trying to string together disparate agreements which set boundaries, delimited reparations, redistributed military and economic assets, debated provisional governance, and considered options for colonial trusteeships — all this steadily bled the international forum of credibility and hope. ‘Let not us who fought on freedom’s side forget how near the shadows we came’, said Secretary Byrnes at the Paris Peace Conference. ‘We must never accept any disagreement as final.’ Only through ‘great co-operative effort’, he said, could the nations assembled stamp out the virus of ‘militant totalitarian nationalism’, a stubborn organism which could still breed in a culture of ‘famine, disease, and social disruption’.1 Such phrases, while sonorous, played to inattentive heads by the time they were spoken in the summer of 1946. Who, after all, had fought on freedom’s side? Surely not everyone. Was one totalitarian dictatorship as systemically distorted and dangerous as another? Was one capitalist system as exploitative, grasping and hegemonic as another? Disputes and stereotypes multiplied exponentially: naive Americans, weary and cynical Europeans, machine-like Soviet apparatchiks.


Nationalist Movement 16th Parallel British Troop Lieutenant Colonel Colonial Territory 
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Copyright information

© Scott L. Bills 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Scott L. Bills
    • 1
  1. 1.Stephen F. Austin State UniversityUSA

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