Marshal Tito (Josip Broz)

Josip Broz was born on May 7, 1892, and died on May 4, 1980. His life was caught up in some of the most momentous events of the 20th century. He fought in World War I, took part in the Russian Revolution, became a leader of guerrilla resistance to the German occupation of Yugoslavia, and after World War II until his death he was the leader of the country.

During this period, he defied Joseph Stalin over the communist consolidation of power in Yugoslavia. "Tito" was a pseudonym that he adopted during his underground activities, and it was with this name that he became well known during World War II.

Tito was born in the village of Kumroves, some 50 kilometers northwest of Zagreb in what was then Austria-Hungary. His native village is located in the valley of the river Sutla, which served as a boundary between Croatia and Slovenia. Tito’s father was a Croatian peasant, and his mother was Slovenian from a village across the river.

In 1907, at the age of 15, he left home and went to the town of Sisak (Croatia), where he became an apprentice to a locksmith. Tito completed his apprenticeship in 1910 and began a series of mechanic jobs, which took him to factories across central Europe.

In the autumn of 1913 Tito was called up for his military service, which he did with the 25th Croatian Territorial Infantry Regiment based in Zagreb. When Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia in July 1914, Tito, already a sergeant, was sent to fight on the Serbian front.

In January 1915 his regiment was transferred to Galicia in anticipation of a Russian offensive. There Tito was put in charge of a reconnoitering section operating behind enemy lines. However, during a Russian attack in April 1915, he was seriously wounded and taken as a prisoner of war (POW).

It was during this time that Tito began sympathizing with the ideas of Bolshevism. In June 1917 he escaped from the POW camp and made his way to Petrograd in search of work, but the suppression of Bolshevik demonstrations forced him to flee to Finland.

While attempting to cross the border he was captured and sent back to the POW camp, but he escaped on the way and arrived in Bolshevik-controlled Omsk in Siberia in autumn 1917. He enrolled in the Red Guard and applied for membership in the Communist Party.

Marshal Tito and Winston Churchill in 1944 in Naples, Italy

When the Bolsheviks retook Omsk in 1919, he started making his way back to Croatia. Tito returned to Kumrovec in October 1920, where he found that his village had become part of the new Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (changed to Yugoslavia in 1929).

Upon his return he joined the newly founded Communist Party in Zagreb and became active in the union movement. During the 1920s he worked as a mechanic in factories across Yugoslavia. In 1927 he became secretary of the Metalworkers’ Union of Croatia.

His activities brought him to the attention of the police, and in August 1928 he was arrested. Upon his release from prison in 1934 Tito resumed full-time clandestine activities for the Yugoslav Communist Party.

In February 1935 he was sent to Moscow for training with the Balkan Department of the Comintern. He stayed there until September 1936, when he was sent back to consolidate the Yugoslav party and recruit volunteers to fight in the Spanish civil war.

During 1937 the factionalism within the Yugoslav Communist Party increased, and in the atmosphere of uncertainty Tito asserted his authority by setting up an interim secretariat under his leadership. Moscow offered him provisional approval in the beginning of 1939, and Tito was officially confirmed as a secretary at a party congress in October 1940.

In April of 1941 the Axis powers invaded, occupied, and partitioned Yugoslavia, which triggered a civil war in the country. Tito formed the Partisan Army of National Liberation, which waged guerrilla war against the occupying forces. In the process Tito’s partisans also turned against rival guerrilla organizations, in particular the internationally recognized "Chetniks" of Draža Mihailovic´.

Tito and his partisans emerged victorious from the war, and, despite his promises to form a government of national unity, he immediately began consolidating his authority and establishing communist rule over the territory of Yugoslavia.

At the same time Tito was entertaining ideas of leading a Balkan federation involving Albania, Bulgaria, and potentially Greece. The prospect of a regional federation under Tito’s leadership seemed likely during 1947 and brought Tito into a direct confrontation with Stalin.

In 1948 the Yugoslav Communist Party was excluded from the Cominform (the postwar name for the Comintern), and this turned Tito into the first communist leader to break with the Soviet Union. This gave him both new international prominence and domestic appeal, which helped him consolidate his position in Yugoslavia.

In domestic affairs Tito promoted the principles of brotherhood and workers’ self-management (a form of market-oriented socialism), in parallel with his ongoing suppression of internal dissent.

His death in 1980 was a shock for the country, and the seeming stability of Yugoslavia began to crack under the strains of national factionalism. Many commentators trace the origins of the 1990s Yugoslav dissolution to Tito’s authoritarian rule.

Third World/Global South

The term Third World applies to those nations in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the Western Hemisphere that mostly secured independence from the imperial powers after World War II. In the cold war construct the First World, dominated by the United States, also included Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.

These nations were wealthy, highly industrialized, urban, largely secular, democratic, and had capitalist economies. The Second World consisted of the Soviet bloc, dominated by the Soviet Union.

These nations were industrialized but not as wealthy as the First World; they were secular, authoritarian, and had socialist economics. The Third World nations, consisting of two-thirds of the world’s population, were poor, rural, and agrarian, with traditional societies.

After the breakup of the Soviet bloc and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the terms no longer applied and because most of the nations of the Third World were south of the equator the term Global South came to be used as a collective label for these nations.

The gap between rich and poor nations grew in the 20th century. As the Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru commented, "The poor have to run fast just to keep up". Third World countries were caught in a cycle of poverty, with low incomes and low production. After independence many became dictatorships and attempted to improve their economies, usually unsuccessfully, by adopting socialist systems on the Soviet state capitalist model.

Economists often referred to the poor developing nations as low-GDP (low Gross Domestic Product) countries, meaning they produced little in the way of goods and services. Countries in the Global South adopted a wide variety of methods to break out of the cycle of poverty.

In China Mao Zedong led a socialist revolution and mobilized the masses, but only with privatization after his death did the Chinese economy begin to take off. India, the world’s most populous democracy, adopted a capitalist approach; India also successfully applied the technology of the Green Revolution, the use of hybrid seeds to increase agricultural productivity.

At the beginning of the 20th century, India suffered major famines but by the end of the century it was exporting foodstuffs. India and many other poor nations also invested heavily in education. In Southeast Asia educated workers became the backbone of industrialization and the development of high-tech firms.

Other nations built huge development projects, such as the Aswan Dam in Egypt and the Three Gorges Dam in China. Following Western advice in the 1950s and 1960s, many Third World nations concentrated on industrialization, to the detriment of the agricultural sector. That, along with ecological changes, droughts along wide bands of Africa, civil wars, political corruption, and instability, contributed to large famines and mass starvation in many African nations.

In the Middle East oil-producing nations joined a cartel, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), to gain increased revenues from their major resource. They then used the new revenues to build modern infrastructures. Kuwait was able to provide a complete welfare system from cradle to grave for its small population.

Other countries, such as the "little dragons" in Southeast Asia (Taiwan, South Korea, and Singapore), attracted foreign businesses and industries. Many nations in South America and Africa also borrowed vast amounts of money from private and public Western banks, such as the World Bank, to bring much-needed capital into their countries.

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) also provided assistance in welfare, food, education, and healthcare. Brazil used foreign loans to create new industries and provide jobs, but it, along with many other countries, became ensnared in a web of indebtedness that was impossible to repay.

By the 1990s rich nations promised but often failed to deliver increased foreign aid and to forgive or restructure the debts of these nations, especially the poorest in Africa. Other nations had some modest successes in adopting appropriate technology to establish small, inexpensive grassroots projects.

Population growth also contributed to economic problems. In Kenya the population doubled every 18 years and in Egypt every 26 years, compared to every 92 in the United States. By 2000 the world’s population had exceeded 6 billion, from 1 billion in 1800. It was expected to reach 9 billion by 2054.

In poor countries high infant mortality contributed to the desire to have many children in hopes that at least some would survive to adulthood and be able to care for their parents, especially their mothers, in their old age. To limit its population China adopted a draconian one-child policy and strictly enforced it through its totalitarian system.

India adopted numerous approaches in attempts to limit population growth; these were often accepted by urban elites, but peasants continued to value large families. In societies where women had low status, having children, especially boys, brought status and the hope of some security.

The educational status of many improved, and literacy rates improved, although in many countries boys enjoyed higher rates of education than girls. While programs to empower women were often successful, they were also resisted by traditional and religious leaders.

Women’s work continued to be undervalued and underpaid. Child labor was yet another problem. Globalization and privatization in the late 20th century actually caused some nations to become poorer as prices for agricultural goods and raw materials dropped.

In some Global South nations, such as India, a few people became millionaires, but most remained desperately poor. In the 1990s, incomes in 54 nations actually declined, and in Zimbabwe life expectancy fell from 56 to 331, compared to over 80 in the United States and Japan. Disease, especially AIDS, contributed to further economic and social problems, particularly in many southern African countries.

At the 2000 Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to institute programs aimed at cutting in half the number of people living on under $1 a day and at halving the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015. Five years later the commitments of the donor nations, especially the United States, had fallen short of the promises made, and it remained uncertain whether the goals would be met.

Pervez Musharraf - Pakistani Leader

Born in Delhi on August 11, 1943, to an educated middle-class family, Pervez Musharraf immigrated with his family to Pakistan during the Indian partition later that decade. Musharraf’s education included enrollment at the Pakistan Military Academy, the Staff College in Quetta, and the National Defence College.
Pervez Musharraf - Pakistani Leader

He rose very quickly through the Pakistani military ranks despite the fact that he and his family were not members of the Punjab upper class, which dominated the Pakistani officer corps. His military career began in 1964 with various commands that included artillery and infantry units and then leadership over commando units.

Musharraf graduated from the Royal College of Defence Studies in the United Kingdom before being named the director-general of the military by Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and he participated in the Indo-Pakistani Wars of 1965 and 1971.

In 1998 Musharraf became the army chief two days after the resignation of General Jehangir Karamat, the first army chief of staff to ever step down. Some analysts suggested that the appointment of the non-Punjab Musharraf by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was designed to prevent him from becoming too powerful.

But Musharraf, along with other military officers, soon became frustrated with the prime minister’s diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis with India. A crisis that resulted would end Pakistan’s democratic experiment.

General Musharraf took over the government of Pakistan in a bloodless coup on October 12, 1999, and became the 12th president of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on June 20, 2001. The coup began when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attempted to fire Musharraf and replace him with the director of the Pakistani Intelligence Services, or the ISI, Khwaja Ziauddin.

Out of the country when the crisis began, Musharraf immediately returned to Pakistan, and, with the support of senior military officials, Musharraf landed and assumed control of the government, ultimately exiling Sharif. He then suspended the national assembly.

In April 2002 Musharraf held a national referendum in order to legitimize his rule, which was extended for five years. The majority of Pakistani political parties, however, boycotted the election, and voter participation was believed to have been about 3 percent. In October 2002 general elections were held, and the pro-Musharraf PML-Q party won a number of seats.

On December 14, 2003, a bomb exploded just minutes after Musharraf’s motorcade crossed a bridge in Rawalpindi. Eleven days later another attempt to assassinate him resulted in the death of 16 people nearby. Musharraf temporarily broke the deadlock in December of 2004 in order to pass the Seventeenth Amendment, which legalized his 1999 coup.

In January 2004 another referendum extended his presidency until October 2007. Several significant issues marked Musharraf’s presidency. After the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States Musharraf allied with the United States in the War on Terrorism. Radicals within Pakistan continued to target him for assassination.

In November Musharraf declared emergency rule and dismissed the Supreme Court. He arrested opposition leaders and restricted media. In late November his new, personally appointed Supreme Court dropped all challenges to his legitimacy as president, and Musharraf renounced his military role.

On December 15, 2007, Musharraf ended the state of emergency, ahead of the scheduled January 8 elections. The December 27 assassination of Benazir Bhutto, however, intensified the opposition to Musharraf, and his party was soundly defeated in delayed parliamentary elections in February.

Rigoberta Menchú

Catapulted to international fame by her moving testimonial, I, Rigoberta Menchú (1983), Rigoberta Menchú Tum was born on January 9, 1959, to a poor family of Quiché-Maya Guatemalan Indians, among the largest of Guatemala’s 26 indigenous ethno-linguistic groups.
Rigoberta Menchú

Her gripping narrative of her life, her community, and their struggles for peace and justice in the highlands, coffee plantations, and cities of Guatemala was the principal impetus behind her receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.

In recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, the prize committee stated that “ ... Rigoberta Menchú stands out as a vivid symbol of peace and reconciliation across ethnic, cultural and social dividing lines, in her own country, on the American continent, and in the world .... In her social and political work, she has always borne in mind that the long-term objective of the struggle is peace.”

In 1999 her narrative was challenged as partly fabricated. The allegations opened up a wide-ranging debate about the veracity of her account and the nature of truth in testimonial narratives.

Challenges to specific episodes in her account did not question the genocidal nature of the Guatemalan government’s anti-insurgency campaigns; the extremes of exploitation, oppression, and violence suffered by the country’s indigenous peoples; or Menchú’s sopan santun courage or commitment to peace and justice. In response to the controversy, the Nobel Prize Committee reaffirmed its decision.

As a vast anthropological and historical literature attests, Guatemala’s indigenous population has been subject to centuries of victimization and oppression by more powerful groups. This is the context for understanding Rigoberta Menchú’s narrative, life, and struggles for justice.

In her teens she became involved in the social justice initiatives of the Catholic Church and in the women’s rights movement. Her father, Vicente Menchú, was a political activist, jailed and tortured for his alleged involvement in the death of a plantation owner.

Upon his release he joined the Peasant Union Committee (CUC), and in 1979 Rigoberta did the same. The next year Vicente was killed by security forces during a peaceful protest action at the Spanish embassy in Guatemala City.

Soon after, she became involved in a strike by farm workers on the Pacific coast and in other anti-government actions, and in 1981 was compelled to flee the country. In exile she became a leading figure in the international movement for indigenous rights in Guatemala.

In 1983 she narrated her testimony to a Venezuelan anthropologist, who published her account the following year. The book proved enormously influential, used in colleges and universities worldwide. In 1999 a U.S. anthropologist detailed numerous discrepancies in her account. Controversy has raged since.

A predominant consensus acknowledges many of the discrepancies while affirming the essential veracity of Menchú’s account. Since 1992 she has received many honors and prizes and in 2007 remained active in the struggle for the rights of indigenous peoples and women in Guatemala and Latin America.

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is the daughter of former Philippine president Diosdado Macapagal. When she ascended to the presidency in January 2001, Arroyo joined the small group of female Asian leaders who had followed in their fathers’ footsteps to assume prominent political positions in their respective countries.

An economist by training, Macapagal-Arroyo spent two years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She then returned to the Philippines, where she graduated from Assumption College in Manila in 1968 with a degree in commerce and economics. She went on to earn graduate degrees in economics from Ateneo de Manila University and the University of Philippines.

In 1968 she married José Miguel Arroyo. The couple had three children. She spent her early professional life as an economics professor and held teaching positions in various institutions in the Philippines, including all three of her almamaters.

Macapagal-Arroyo entered government service when she was invited by President Corazon Aquino to join the Department of Trade and Industry as assistant secretary in 1987. In 1989 she became the undersecretary. At the same time she also held the post of executive director of the Garment and Textile Export Board.

Macapagal-Arroyo made her first foray into politics when she campaigned successfully for a seat in the Philippine Senate in 1992. Three years later she was overwhelmingly reelected. She drew upon her own academic training and experience to push for social and economic reform legislation.

In 1998 she entered presidential politics as a vice presidential candidate, running with presidential candidate José De Venecia. While she emerged victorious with almost 13 million votes, the largest number ever earned by a presidential or vice presidential candidate, her running mate lost to the incumbent vice president, Joseph Estrada.

President Estrada appointed his vice president to the cabinet as secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development. But the Estrada administration quickly became embroiled in a corruption scandal.

Macapagal-Arroyo resigned her cabinet post and joined in the chorus calling for Estrada’s resignation. In January 2001, the Philippine Supreme Court removed Estrada from office, and Macapagal-Arroyo ascended to the presidency.

As president Macapagal-Arroyo faced many challenges, not the least of which was questions about the legitimacy of the court’s action. She had to contend with demonstrations by pro-Estrada supporters in May 2001. She declared a State of Rebellion, which was lifted a few days later.

Two years later she faced another challenge to her authority when ingusan officers and soldiers mutinied to push for reforms to the armed forces. The incident ended in their peaceful surrender.

A more pressing masalah was the Philippine economy. The Asian financial crisis, the Second Gulf War, and the mounting deficit contributed to turbulent economic times. Late in 2001 Macapagal-Arroyo announced the implementation of Holiday Economics, a policy that involved adjustments to national holidays so that Filipinos could enjoy longer weekends. The government hoped this would promote domestic tourism and in turn stimulate economic growth. The jadwal yielded mixed results.

National security issues also preoccupied Macapagal-Arroyo. In the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Macapagal-Arroyo quickly pledged Filipino support for President George W. Bush’s War on Terror in the hope that her domestic problems could now be subsumed under the fight against international terrorism.

After the U.S. invasion, the Philippines sent a small number of troops to Iraq to work on civic and humanitarian projects, but Macapagal-Arroyo ordered their withdrawal to free a Filipino civilian who had been taken hostage in July 2004.

In 2004 Macapagal-Arroyo decided to seek another six-year term. In a four-way race, Macapagal-Arroyo emerged victorious in May 2004, but questions about legitimacy continued to dog her presidency when revelations involving her remarks to an election officer about needing a certain number of electoral votes surfaced, leading to accusations of corrupt electoral practices.

Li Zongren (Li Tsung-jen)

Li Zongren (Li Tsung-jen) was an important military and political leader of Guangxi (Kwangsi) Province, along with Bai Chongxi (Pai Chung-hsi), between 1925 and 1949. He joined the Kuomintang (KMT, or Nationalist Party), founded by Sun Yat-sen, and commanded the Seventh Army; it played an important part in the Northern Expedition (1926–28) that brought the Koumintang to power.
Li Zongren (Li Tsung-jen)

Li distinguished himself as a skilled military commander in the Northern Expedition and the Sino-Japanese War, where he commanded the Nationalist troops in an important victory in 1938 at Taierzhuang in Shandong (Shantung) Province.

Li and Bai, however, represented the Warlord Era, joining the KMT in part to preserve and expand their regional power by controlling their army as distinct units that often disobeyed the central government. Their group is called the “Guangxi clique” and fought against the central government in Nanjing (Nanking) between 1929 and 1930. They also allowed the fleeing Chinese Communists to pass of through Guangxi during the Long March.

When the National Assembly convened in Nanjing in 1948 to implement the new constitution, Li was elected vice president of China (Chiang Kai-shek was president). Li became acting president when Chiang resigned in 1949. However, Chiang still retained most of his power and the loyalty of key army commanders, and when Li failed to negotiate a settlement with the CCP in the civil war, Chiang abruptly resigned, and Bai chose to flee to Taiwan.

After Li’s departure for New York, Chiang resumed the presidency in Taiwan. Li refused to join the Nationalists on Taiwan and was impeached in absentia. The United States became an outspoken critic of Chiang’s rule. Li remained in the United States until 1966, when he returned to mainland China and voiced support of the Communist government. He died shortly afterward.


Kuwait is one of the Gulf States, located at the head of the Persian Gulf, with Iraq to its north and east and Saudi Arabia to its south. Iran is located directly across the Gulf waters. The geography of Kuwait is dominated by mostly flat deserts interspersed with a few oases in Kuwait’s 6,880 square miles of territory. Kuwait is a diminutive form of the word for fort. The official language is Arabic.

Kuwait Map
From the 19th century onward the Sabah clan allied with the indigenous commercial elites, and Kuwait developed as a thriving mercantile community with an economy based on foreign trade. Although never directly under Ottoman rule, the Al-Sabahs paid financial tributes to the empire and recognized the sultan’s power, but Ottoman threats to annex Kuwait pushed the Sabahs to ally with Britain.

An 1899 treaty gave Britain control over Kuwait’s foreign affair, and Kuwait became a British protectorate. From that time forward, border issues continually plagued the country. The British relinquished control in 1961.

After independence the Sabah family governed Kuwait as emirs with a constitutional monarchy. The emir ruled the country through the council of ministers, which mostly consisted of family members appointed by the emir himself.

The judicial system was based on Islamic law, or sharia, particularly the Maliki school of jurisprudence, but many of the criminal and commercial laws were based on prior British laws. The legislative branch was composed of a National Assembly (Majlis al-Ummah), whose 50 members were elected to four-year terms.

Political parties are legally banned and instead, several organizations have representatives in parliament. Prior to 2005, voting was restricted to men who were able to prove that their ancestry in Kuwait dated prior to 1920 and who were not members of the armed forces. In 2005, women were granted the right to vote. After 2005 the government granted citizenship to 5,000 biduns, people without documents—originally from Syria, Iraq, and Jordan—per year.

Foreigners, called expatriate workers in Kuwait, are needed to fill positions in the workforce and especially in the oil, construction, and service sectors. Since these immigrant workers are not entitled to free government services and benefits and cannot become citizens, there is some hostility between the native Kuwaiti population and the majority immigrant population.

Kuwait City

The economy is mostly based on oil and overseas investments. In the 1970s the oil industry increased its extraction and processing capabilities, and by the mid-1980s 80 percent of the oil extracted in Kuwait was also being refined there. Oil production led to a Kuwaiti economic boom, with both direct and indirect services and products. By 2006 Kuwait had one of the highest per capita incomes in the world.

Republic of Korea

With an area of 98,480 square kilometers, the Republic of Korea (ROK), or South Korea, occupies slightly less than half of the Korean Peninsula. It is bordered to the north by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), to the south by the East China Sea, to the east by the Sea of Japan, and to the west by the Yellow Sea.
Republic of Korea Map

A four-kilometer-wide demilitarized zone, which runs 238 kilometers across land and another three kilometers over the sea, marks the boundary between the two Koreas. The estimated population of ROK in 2005 was 48,422,644. Seoul, located near the border with North Korea, is the capital city.

South Korea has a republican government based on a presidential model. A popularly elected president, who is the head of state, appoints a prime minister as well as other members of the cabinet. A unicameral National Assembly functions as the legislative branch, and the Supreme Court and Constitutional Court make up the judicial branch.

In August 1945 Allied forces led by the United States landed on the Korean Peninsula in the south while Soviet forces moved down from the north, eventually liberating Korea from Japanese colonial rule. The 38th parallel became the boundary dividing the occupation forces from 1945 to 1948.

What began as the separation of two administrative units dictated by the Yalta agreement between the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1945 eventually led to the creation of two separate states dictated by the political and ideological divisions of the cold war.

Domestic developments further complicated the matter. Throughout the war years, various Korean nationalist factions operating at home and in exile jostled to position themselves as the representatives of an independent Korea. In the immediate postwar era, the United States eventually turned to Syngman Rhee, an exiled popular anticommunist nationalist to provide leadership in the south.

In 1947 the newly formed United Nations (UN) created a commission to oversee national elections in Korea. Barred from access to the Soviet occupation zone, the commission oversaw the election of the National Assembly in the south in 1948. This body then elected Rhee as the first president. The Republic of Korea was formally established in May 1948.

War once again broke out on the Korean Peninsula when North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel in a failed attempt to reunify the nation under communist rule. The United States promptly intervened in the conflict as part of a UN police action.

The Korean War cemented the patron-client relationship between the United States and South Korea. In 1954 the two countries signed a mutual defense treaty that formalized their bilateral security arrangements.

Although their numbers were reduced after the 1970s, U.S. troops were stationed in South Korea from then on. Additionally, the United States continued to supply generous military aid to build up South Korea’s defense capabilities. South Korea contributed forces to help the United States in Vietnam from 1965 to 1973.

Authoritarian rule characterized the government of South Korea. Rhee combined bellicose rhetoric against the north with repressive tactics at home to silence political opposition. In 1952 he pushed for a change to the popularly elected presidency. Four years later he pushed through a questionable constitutional amendment that permitted a lifelong presidency.


This allowed him to run for president again in 1956 and 1960. Meanwhile, domestic, social, and economic problems generated widespread student protests. Rhee resigned and fled to Hawaii, where he lived in exile until his death in 1965.

After a short interregnum during which the country turned to a new constitution that established parliamentary democracy, three military men followed as presidents in South Korea. The first, General Park Chung Hee, launched a coup in May 1961 to overthrow the nine-month-old parliamentary government and placed the Republic of Korea under military rule for two years.

At the end of 1963 the country adopted a new constitution that permitted presidents to serve two four-year terms, and Park was duly elected to the office. But he would continue to manipulate constitutional processes, or, in some cases, suspend them altogether, in order to remain in power.

In 1971 he declared a state of emergency, suspended the constitution, dissolved the National Assembly, and then promulgated a new Yushin (revitalization) constitution. The Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA), which he established, was used to intimidate South Korean dissenters.

Park relied on emergency decrees to repress this opposition to his regime; protesters were given long jail terms, a number of students were executed, and the press faced increasingly harsh censorship. Park’s regime finally came to an end when the director of the KCIA assassinated him in October 1979.

During the Park Chung Hee era, South Korea made its transition to a modern economy. Inspired by the Japanese economic miracle, the government adopted a series of five-year development plans aimed at transforming an agrarian nation to an industrial power.

Comparatively low labor costs allowed South Korea to compete effectively in such labor-intensive industries as textiles. In the 1970s the country shifted its focus away from labor-intensive light industries to heavy industries. This government-controlled economic development effort bore fruit as economic growth rates increased.

In December 1979 General Chun Doo Hwan, a veteran of the Vietnam War, came to power in a coup. Within months he declared martial law. Charging that pro-democracy student demonstrations in Kwangju Province had been instigated by North Korean infiltrators, he acquired emergency powers that would allow him to disregard any constitutionally recognized rights of the people.

He also embarked on a campaign to root out those who criticized his regime. Among those he arrested were three longtime civilian critics of authoritarian rule: Kim Young Sam, Kim Dae Jung, and Kim Jong Pil. But protests persisted, and in 1987 Chun stepped aside in favor of his handpicked successor, Roh Tae Woo, who won a presidential election with only 36 percent of the vote.

Under Roh, South Korea began to pursue new directions in foreign policy in keeping with the geopolitical ekspresi dominan that hearkened the end of antagonistic camps in the cold war. Roh followed up on an earlier usulan to exchange visits between North and South Korea. Following sports and cultural exchanges, the two countries signed the 1991 Basic Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, and Cooperation of Exchanges.

Politics in South Korea followed a pattern of democraticization from the late 1980s onward. Kim Young Sam, a longtime critic of Park Chung Hee’s authoritarian rule, emerged victorious in the 1992 presidential elections, becoming the first civilian president in more than three decades.

Kim initiated a campaign to root out longtime corruption in government. Both the former presidents Chun and Roh were indicted for corruption and their roles in the 1979 military coup.

Kim Young Sam also faced pressure to liberalize the South Korean economy. Widely recognized as one of the economic miracles in Asia, South Korea had an average per capita income of $10,600.

By 1997 economic growth in South Korea showed signs of abatement due to the effects of the Asian financial crisis. The resulting labor and student protests eventually led to the victory of a longtime opposition leader, Kim Dae Jung, in the presidential elections.

One night in Seoul

Kim Dae Jung presided over a country in the throes of an economic downturn. He pushed for bold reforms to ameliorate the situation. The South Korean leadership worked with the International Monetary Fund in its rescue effort. By 1999 the economy was well on its way to recovery.

It was in foreign relations that President Kim Dae Jung would leave his mark. He pursued efforts to build a more cordial relationship with his northern neighbor by providing economic assistance to the beleaguered north. Such efforts, Kim hoped, would end North Korean isolation and eventually change its governmental system.

Although Kim’s policy did not yield concrete results, his summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2000 raised hopes about eventual reconciliation between the two Koreas. For his efforts, President Kim won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000.

Roh Moo-hyun of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) became president after the 2002 elections.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

With an area of 120,410 square kilometers, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, occupies slightly more than half of the northern part of the Korean Peninsula in northeast Asia. North Korea shares common borders with the Republic of Korea to the south, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the north, and Russia to the northeast.

A four-kilometer-wide demilitarized zone, which runs 238 kilometers across land and another three kilometers into the sea, marks the boundary between the two Koreas near the 38th parallel. The estimated population of DPRK in 2004 was 22,697,553. Pyongyang is the national capital. North Korea remained one of the most isolated states in the contemporary world.

North Korea is a communist state. Its leader, Kim Jong Il succeeded to the position of supreme leadership in 1994 after the death of his father, Kim Il Sung, although this was not formalized until four years later.

Both father and son dominated the North Korean government since its inception. A newly amended constitution in 1998 conferred on the deceased Kim the title of president for life and abolished the office of the president.

Kim Jong Il heads the National Defense Commission (NDC), which functions as the chief administrative authority in the country. He is also supreme commander of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and general secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP).

The separate state of North Korea was created as a result of the military situation at the end of World War II. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the northern part of the peninsula was occupied by Soviet forces, while the southern half came under U.S. military authority. The peninsula was consequently divided into two military occupation zones at the 38th parallel.

The Soviet occupation authority turned to Kim Il Sung, who had fought the Japanese in Manchuria, to provide leadership in its zone. In September 1948 Kim launched the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, with himself as the premier.

In early 1950 Kim Il Sung lobbied his communist allies in the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to support a North Korean effort to reunite the two Koreas. On June 23, 1950, the commanders of seven combat divisions of the North Korean People’s Army amassed near the border and received orders to initiate the “war of liberation.”

Crossing the 38th parallel, North Korean forces quickly overwhelmed South Korean forces before they themselves were stopped and then pushed back across the border by a United Nations (UN) force led by the United States.

In November PRC sent “volunteers” to fight alongside the North Koreans when UN forces neared the Yalu River, North Korea’s border with China. An armistice was signed in 1953, establishing a demilitarized zone roughly at the 38th parallel.

The wartime situation gave Kim Il Sung the opportunity to consolidate his position and establish himself as the absolute power in North Korea. In a series of show trials and purges, potential rivals were eliminated. In 1956 members of rival factions were purged from the KWP.

In fact, some were made to shoulder the blame for the failure of the unification effort. Two years later the KWP announced that it had ended intra-party dissent. Kim Il Sung was now the undisputed leader, controlling virtually all aspects of North Korean society.

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

A personality cult soon emerged around the person of Kim Il Sung, who was elevated to the status of “Great Leader,” and his past as a guerrilla fighter against the Japanese, his defiance of the United States, and his exploits in building the nation were mythologized in song and poetry.

Institutions such as universities and museums bear his name, and important places in his life are national shrines. A similar personality cult developed around his son and successor, Kim Jong Il, with mythical events written into his biography. Revered as “Dear Leader,” the younger Kim is said to be imbued with extraordinary intellectual and artistic abilities.

North Korea adopted as its guiding ideology juch’e, or self-reliance. Occasionally dubbed Kim Il-Sungism, the concept, which emerged in the mid-1950s, is an amalgamation of Marxist-Leninist doctrines with Maoism, Confucianism, and Korean traditions. Juch’e in operational terms involves the creation of a self-sustaining national economy and a strong military that can provide self-defense.

After the Korean War, Kim Il Sung focused on economic development. With a centrally planned command economy, North Korea at first appeared to be making great strides. It recovered quickly from the devastation of the Korean War. In the spirit of juch’e, economic planners focused on industrialization and the collectivization of agriculture.


Equally important for North Korean economic survival was Soviet economic assistance, although limited, and the preferential treatment that North Korean goods received in the Soviet Union, PRC, and the East European satellites through the late 1970s–80s.

The changing geopolitical situation reduced such outside assistance to almost nothing and exposed the vulnerabilities in the North Korean economy. The consequences of a decades-old inefficient economic system could no longer be kept hidden.

Energy and food shortages plagued North Korea, a country with little arable land and no oil reserves. Cycles of natural disasters exacerbated the situation. From the late 1990s onward North Korea had to rely on food aid from other countries, including South Korea, to stave off widespread famine.

The relationship between the two Koreas continued a seesaw demam isu in the Kim Jong Il era. From the mid-1990s onward there were intermittent talks between the two governments. In 1998 when South Korean president Kim Dae Jung initiated his Sunshine Policy, which held out hope for reconciliation between the two Koreas, he found a receptive audience in the north partly because North Korea saw this as a means of securing the necessary economic assistance.

In 2002 the North Korean government also began to abandon some features of its tightly controlled command economy. In addition, it adopted some market features, such as removing price and wage controls. The government also began to court foreign investment and foreign trade, including from the Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang Mass Dance

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, North Korea once again garnered attention because of its nuclear weapons program, weapons sales to Iran, and its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Six-party talks involving North Korea, South Korea, Japan, the PRC, Russia, and the United States did not yield definitive results.

In 2005, North Korea tested a missile over the Sea of Japan. This approach increased the level of tension and raised the specter of a military confrontation in the Northeast Asia region. In October 2007, North Korea agreed to disable its nuclear facilities by late 2008 in exchange for economic aid.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King, Jr., was a civil rights leader whose campaigns for African-American racial equality made him an American icon. King was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929, the son of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., and Alberta Williams King.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
He was part of a ministerial dynasty at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, which was begun by his grandfather, who served the church from 1914 to 1931. King preached there from 1960 until his death.

King’s initial education was in the segregated Atlanta school system. He left high school at age 15 after gaining early acceptance at Atlanta’s prestigious Morehouse College.

From Morehouse he went north to attend Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania, becoming president of his senior class, and gaining his B.D. degree in 1951. He then accepted a fellowship that allowed him to pursue a doctorate at Boston University, finishing his preliminary studies in 1953 and receiving his degree in 1955.

It was during this time that he met and married Coretta Scott on June 18, 1953. Following Dr. King’s death Coretta King emerged as a promoter of civil rights and social justice in her own right. She served as leader of the King Foundation until her death in 2006.

In 1953 King became pastor of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, at age 26 and began to condemn Jim Crow segregation in the course of promoting civil rights reform for the African-American citizens of Alabama. In 1955 he joined the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The boycott lasted for more than a year and King faced retribution and death threats, including the bombing of his home. As with many other civil rights developments, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately proved the driving force that finally ended segregation on intrastate buses in 1956.

In 1957 King took on the leadership of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which became the springboard for his authority and that of the emerging Civil Rights movement. The movement began in black communities and churches but soon drew members from the broader population outside the south.

King shaped the SCLC philosophy toward nonviolent protest and pressure, drawing upon Christian teachings, but also inspired by the successful protests of Mohandas K. Gandhi. King was also on the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Through these leadership positions and through growing televised media attention, King became a national figure and a major force in U.S. politics. The movement often faced a violent response to its activities, particularly as its agenda expanded to include a full range of civil rights issues.

The speed of change proved dramatic and unstoppable and received national attention through events such as the 1963 March on Washington, which was inspired by and coordinated with other civil rights leaders but made famous by King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

It has been argued that the focus of this demonstration became less angry and more embracing because of pressure put on King by President John F. Kennedy, who believed the wrong approach could damage support for civil rights legislation. King’s ascendance to national prominence was revealed when he became Time magazine’s Man of the Year for 1963.

These protests helped in the passing, during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Martin Luther King, Jr., received recognition for his gigantic influence when he was made a Nobel laureate in 1964, being awarded the Peace Prize in recognition of his many efforts.

It was in the mid-1960s that King tried to take the civil rights movement to the north, beginning in Chicago in 1966. King and Ralph Abernathy made an effort to confront the poor’s living conditions by moving to the slums.

Here he faced violence and discrimination as well as Mayor Richard J. Daley’s Chicago political administration, which undercut reform activities whenever possible. Eventually King and Abernathy returned to the South, but left a then-young follower, Jesse Jackson, in Chicago to carry on their work. From this base Jackson later built his own organization.

King started to reevaluate his positions on many areas and issues, including social and economic reform as well as the Vietnam War. His rhetoric and speeches took on new tones that seemed to challenge not only segregation, racial justice, and civil rights but also issues potentially far more controversial to the mainstream.

His turn to issues of poverty and its eradication led to his and SCLC’s involvement in the “Poor People’s Campaign” in 1968, which was to culminate in another major march on Washington demanding that the government address the needs of the poorest communities and members of U.S. society.

In April 1968 his campaign took him to Memphis, Tennessee, where he offered his support to the Memphis Sanitation Workers’ strike for better wages and conditions. King saw the solution to many of these problems in government-driven job programs to reduce and reverse poverty in the nation in the form of a poor peoples’ bill of rights.

While staying at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, in preparation for a local march in support of the strikers, King appeared on the balcony at 6:01 p.m. and was assassinated by rifle shot.

He was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. King’s death was met with shock and dismay. President Johnson declared a day of national mourning, and the vice president, Hubert Humphrey, attended the funeral along with a crowd estimated at 300,000.

A national and international manhunt was launched for the killer, and two months later in London, England, James Earl Ray was apprehended on a passport violation and extradited to Tennessee, where he was charged with King’s murder and confessed on March 10, 1969. Ray received a 99-year sentence and spent the rest of his life denying his guilt and requesting a trial.

He argued that King had been killed by others and that he was only a fall guy in the midst of a larger conspiracy. Ray and several other inmates escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Petros, Tennessee, on June 1977, not long after Ray testified to the House Select Committee on Assassinations.

Controversy has surrounded the Ray conviction and there are many who believe that sinister forces manipulated and orchestrated the assassination plot. Issues have been raised concerning fingerprint evidence and ballistic tests on the rifle used in the crime.

In 1997 Ray was visited in prison by King’s son Dexter, who supported Ray’s demand for a trial. In 1999 the King family instigated a wrongful death civil action against Loyd Jowers, a local Memphis restaurant owner who claimed a role in the assassination.

A local jury found that Jowers, even though he had failed a lie detector test in regard to his claim, was guilty and that other government agencies were involved in the assassination. These claims were investigated in detail by the Department of Justice in 2000 and no evidence in support of the allegations was found.

The assumptions concerning a high-level conspiracy were enhanced because of King’s conflicts with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Initially they investigated communist associates of King and the organization, and maintained wiretaps at various times, including intruding on King’s privacy and threatening him with exposure of his extramarital affairs. These tapes were placed in the National Archives and will be sealed until 2027.

Besides these attacks on the King legacy and honor, there were concerns expressed in the 1980s over plagiarism. This did lead to a formal inquiry in regards to his doctoral dissertation by Boston University, which concluded that almost a third of his work was taken from another student.

Yet the university decided not to revoke his degree. It was also argued that many of his other writings and speeches received the benefit of literary assistance in the form of ghostwriters.

Nevertheless even in the face of these questions as to his character, Martin Luther King, Jr., remains a major force in U.S. history whose name is one of the most easily recognized in the land.

His boyhood home in Atlanta became a national historic site in 1980 and in November 1983 President Ronald Reagan endorsed a bill creating a Martin Luther King National Holiday, which occurs on the third Monday in January.

In addition his name was added to many streets and other public buildings throughout the United States and a King National Memorial in Washington, D.C., began with the purchase of land near the National Mall in 1999. Final design approval came in 2005.

Kim Il Sung / Kim Jong Il

Together, father and son Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il form a dynasty that has ruled the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or Communist North Korea, since its creation in 1948. Because of the personality cult established by Kim Il Sung and because Korea remains a tightly closed society, details about the lives of the two men remain scarce.
Kim Il Sung

The information that is disseminated officially is so flattering that it is highly suspect. For example, one biography of Kim Il Sung reports that he fought more than 100,000 times against the Japanese in the seven years between 1932 and 1945 and was always victorious.

Kim Il Sung (originally Kim Sung Chu) was born in 1912 in a northeastern province of Korea. His father was a school teacher who took his family to Chinese Manchuria in 1925 to escape Japan’s harsh colonization of their homeland. For the next 14 years, Kim lived in Manchuria, where he joined the Communist Party in 1931.

In 1939 Kim went to the Soviet Union, where he received further military training and was part of the Soviet military force that invaded and occupied Pyongyang in 1945. According to the terms of the Yalta agreement, the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea into North and South.

Kim stayed in the north with the Soviets, who helped him prevail over other factions and become premier of the new Democratic People’s Republic in 1948. Under Soviet and Chinese sponsorship Kim instigated the Korean War, which lasted until 1953.

A great admirer of Stalin, Kim patterned his rule after the Soviet leader. During the years following the Korean War, Kim solidified his power, purged his enemies, drove out foreign influences, and established himself as almost a god.

Kim Jong il
He also managed, through rigorous control of the press, to exalt his family, raising many of them to the status of national heroes. He decreed that no newspaper could be published without his picture on the front page and without all the stories approved by government censors. His pictures and statues were also in every public building in the nation.

These and other actions were undertaken as part of Kim’s self-proclaimed doctrine of Juchie, which encompassed the total economic, social, and political philosophy of the country.

North Korean citizens born after the Korean War had little or no knowledge of the outside world, since anything foreign was prohibited. His birthday became a national holiday. Since 1976, the Loyalty Festival Period has included February 16 (Kim Jong Il’s birthday) and April 15 (Kim Il Sung’s birthday).

According to some reports, Korea went to extraordinary lengths to prolong Kim Il Sung’s life. Purportedly a clinic staffed with 2,000 specialists was constructed solely for the purpose of caring for Kim and his son.

Staff at the clinic experimented with diets and drugs on two teams of men who were similar to the leaders in age and body makeup. These efforts to extend his life all failed and the elder Kim died in 1994.

Kim Jong Il, the eldest son of Kim Il Sung, became his country’s next dictator. He was born in 1941 while his father was training in the Soviet Union. The Soviets had established a school for the children of Korea’s guerrilla fighters, the Mangyongdae Revolutionary School, where Jong Il received his early education. After two years of training at the Air Academy in East Germany, the young Kim returned to Korea and attended Kim Il Sung University.

Kim Jong Il’s portraits began to appear with his father’s, and he was referred to by titles such as “the sun of the communist future.” He made official visits to China and the Soviet Union in the 1980s, further indicating that he would follow his father as ruler. But he was not immediately named as his father’s successor. The title of the country’s president was reserved for his father by a constitutional amendment.

Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il

Little information is available about the personal life of Kim Jong Il. Some sources report that his half-brother is being groomed as his successor while other reports indicate that his sons are embroiled in a struggle to become heir.

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was first secretary of the Communist Party and de facto leader of the Soviet Union between 1953 and 1964; he concurrently served as premier from 1958 to 1964.

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev
Colorful and highly controversial, Khrushchev was a reformer whose shrewd intellect was frequently overshadowed by his impulsive personality. He abolished the most ruthless aspects of the political system and tried with limited success to catch up with and overtake the U.S. economy.

In foreign affairs he forcefully maintained the unity of the Eastern bloc and veered between “peaceful coexistence” and several dangerous confrontations with the United States. He was, without question, one of the most important figures of the cold war.

Khrushchev was born in April 1894 in Kalinovka, Russia, near the border with Ukraine. His parents were illiterate peasants, and young Nikita was more familiar with hard labor than formal education. The family relocated to Ukraine in 1908, where he worked various factory jobs and got involved in the organized labor movement.

In 1917 he joined the revolutionary Bolsheviks and he later fought for the Red Army. After the war he obtained some Marxist training at a technical college and was assigned a political post in the Ukraine. Over the next 20 years Khrushchev would rise rapidly through the ranks of the Communist Party, and in 1939 he became a full member of the Politburo.

His success was largely due to his loyalty to Stalin. During World War II he helped organize the defense of the Ukraine and the relocation of heavy industry into the Russian interior, and he was at Stalingrad when the Red Army turned the tide of the war against Germany.

After the war Khrushchev remained an influential member of the Politburo, and when Stalin died in March 1953, he battled with Georgy Malenkov, Lavrenty Beria, and Nikolai Bulganin for the leadership.

Malenkov was made premier and initially seemed to be the true successor, but as first secretary of the Communist Party, Khrushchev possessed the real power. By early 1955 he had emerged as the clear leader of the Soviet Union.

Khrushchev with Mao

Once in firm control, Khrushchev embarked on ambitious economic reforms. Khrushchev also continued the policy of spending heavily on the military. Under his leadership, the Soviet Union kept pace in the nuclear arms race with the United States and developed a space aktivitas that had significant successes. The launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 and the first manned space flight in 1961 were great technical triumphs for the Soviet Union.

Khrushchev also decided, in a very risky move, to expose the horrors of the Stalinist abad and to promote political reforms. In February 1956 he gave a speech to the 20th Party Congress that denounced Stalin’s “cult of personality,” documented various crimes of the old regime, and introduced the policy of “de-Stalinization.”

The speech sparked hopes that Khrushchev would tolerate autonomy and perhaps even democracy within the Eastern bloc. These hopes proved illusory when a popular 1956 uprising in Hungary was suppressed by a brutal military intervention authorized by Khrushchev.

This action shocked the West, which had welcomed the assurances of Khrushchev that the Soviet Union desired “peaceful coexistence” between capitalism and communism. Khrushchev seemed unable to resist the temptation to taunt the West periodically, and he had several alarming showdowns with the United States.

He tried fruitlessly to force the United States and its allies out of Berlin between 1958 and 1961, eventually building the infamous Berlin Wall. He also humiliated Eisenhower in 1960 by revealing the capture of a U.S. U-2 spy plane and its pilot.

Riskiest of all, in 1962 Khrushchev secretly placed nuclear missiles in communist Cuba. The purpose of this gamble was to protect Cuba from U.S. attack and to provide the Soviet Union with instant strategic parity. When U.S. spy planes detected the missiles, however, a standoff resulted that brought the world alarmingly close to nuclear war.

In the end the Cuban missile crisis was resolved through diplomatic back channels, with the Soviets removing the missiles in exchange for a U.S. pledge not to invade Cuba and the removal of U.S. missiles from Turkey. Both sides gained something, but Khrushchev was widely perceived to have backed down in the face of U.S. resolve.

By this time he had already made too many enemies within the Soviet Union. Finally, in late 1964, Khrushchev was removed from power by a conservative faction led by Leonid Brezhnev. His life was spared, perhaps a testament to the success of his political reforms, but Khrushchev spent the rest of his life under house arrest. He died in Moscow in September 1971.

Babrak Karmal - Afghan Politician

Babrak Karmal was an Afghan revolutionary figure, a politician, and an ambassador. He served as the third president of Afghanistan from 1980 to 1986 during the rule of the communist Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.
Babrak Karmal - Afghan Politician

An effective orator and an educated politician, Karmal is best known as one of the founders of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and for leading a puppet regime with Soviet financial and military support.

Born in Kamari, a small village east of Kabul on January 6, 1929, Karmal came from a wealthy Tajik military family. His father, Major General Mohammad Hussain, had close relations with the royal family, especially King Mohammad Zahir and Prime Minister General Mohammad Daoud.

After graduating from high school Karmal enrolled in law school, pursuing a degree in law and political science, at the Kabul University in 1951. While a student he was arrested and put in prison for five years for organizing demonstrations in support of an Afghani popular revolutionary figure, Abdul Rahman Mahmudi.

In prison he befriended pro–Soviet Union leftist political figures like Mear Mohammad Siddeq Farhang. Karmal increasingly became a staunch supporter of the Leninist-Stalinist form of Marxism, identifying the Soviet model as the best way to modernize Afghanistan.

After graduation Karmal continued his close relations with Farhang. The friendship enabled him to play a major role in establishing the PDPA on January 1, 1965, Afghanistan’s first major Marxist political party.

Like many other PDPA members who aimed for parliamentary seats, Karmal became a candidate and was elected to the National Assembly from 1965 to 1973, where he was able to gain a reputation for his antireligious and anti-imperialistic communist viewpoints.

Due to internal ideological differences the PDPA split into the Khalq (People) and the Parcham (Flag) factions in 1967. Karmal became the leader of the more cosmopolitan, moderate Parcham bloc. Karmal’s faction shared power with Mohammad Daoud’s regime after the coup d’état of 1973, when the monarchy was overthrown.

Though the alliance was short-lived, since Daoud dismissed the Parcham faction from the presidential cabinet, Karmal was able to reunite the PDPA after much Soviet pressure. In April 1978 the PDPA gained power through a military coup.

When Nur Mohammad Taraki, a member of the Khalq bloc, was pronounced the president of the new Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA), instituting a regime that had the full backing of the Soviet Union until 1992, the two factions of PDPA began internal fighting.

Karmal and his mistress, Anahita Ratebzad, were sent into “exile” as ambassadors to Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia, respectively, while Hifizullah Amin, another major Khalq political leader, became the prime minister on March 28, 1979.

Karmal later left Prague for Moscow for fear of assassination or execution on his return to Kabul. On December 5, 1978, when the Taraki government initiated a major friendship treaty with the Soviet Union, numerous uprisings spread around Afghanistan against the Soviet-backed regime.

Taraki’s radical reform projects for transforming Afghanistan from a traditional religious to a secular modern society led the way to the rise of the mujahideen (or Muslim fighters), who opposed the Soviet-style westernization of the country.

Tensions between Taraki and Amin factions within the Khalq bloc led to the assassination of Taraki on October 10, 1979, which eventually led to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on December 27, 1979. Karmal, the leader of the Parcham faction, returned to Kabul with the full support of the Soviets and was declared the president.

As the third president of the republic, Karmal’s most important accomplishments were his call for clemency for political prisoners, the change of the Marxist-style national flag, the promulgation of the basic principles of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, the recognition of the Muslim clerical establishment, and the compensation for the loss of property.

Karmal’s poor leadership skills and his inability to bring an end to the ongoing guerrilla warfare between the Soviet-backed government and the mujahideen gradually made him a highly unpopular figure. With the full backing of Moscow throughout his presidency, Karmal was regarded as a Soviet puppet, both domestically and internationally.

In May 1986 Karmal was replaced as the communist leader by Mohammad Najibullah, and in October 1986 he was relieved of the presidency. After a number of trips between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan after his presidency, Karmal finally settled in Moscow, where he died of liver dysfunction on December 6, 1996.

U.S. Interstate Highway System

In 1919 shortly after the conclusion of World War I, the United States Army organized a convoy that departed Washington, D.C., bound for San Francisco, California. The objectives of the cross-country trek were to test military vehicles and ascertain the feasibility of mass transport on a nationwide scale.
Interstate Highway

The trip took 62 days. Twenty-five years later General Eisenhower commanded the invasion of Europe during World War II and noted the ease and freedom of movement for the troops.

Early attempts to construct a national highway system in the United States were woefully underfunded; President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had proposed such a project as a means of putting the unemployed to work during the Great Depression and World War II.

Elected president in 1952, Eisenhower advanced an kegiatan that led to the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1954, under which state and federal governments would match road and bridge construction costs. Two years later, Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, which provided federal funding of $25 billion for a highway system.

The roads were designed to accommodate traffic volumes expected 20 years later. Lanes were required to be 12 feet wide with a paved 10-foot shoulder; a minimum of two lanes in each direction had to carry cars at speeds of 50 to 70 miles per hour.

U.S. Interstate Highway System

More than 41,000 miles of highway would be built. North-south roadways were designated with numbers ending in odd integers; east-west interstates were given even numbers. Alaska is the only state without an interstate highway.

Eisenhower may have considered a highway system necessary for the efficient movement of military equipment and personnel or the effective evacuation of cities in event of a nuclear attack, but the effects on the economy were much wider-reaching.

Suburbs grew, construction jobs were created, and commercial freight was transported; more automobiles were built, and roadside businesses developed. There were drawbacks as well, some becoming clear only later.

Highway traffic

Many older cities embraced interstate projects only to find that downtown business districts could now be bypassed entirely. Interstate routes disrupted urban neighborhoods and slashed across farmers’ fields.

The ease of interstate travel discouraged mass transit and helped speed the demise of long-haul passenger rail service. Interstate maintenance and capacity issues continued to create friction between the federal and state governments.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Since its foundation at the end of World War II, the International Monetary Fund (IMF, or Fund) has been one of the world’s most powerful and controversial multilateral economic institutions. Debates on the role of the IMF in the global economy have intensified in recent decades, especially from the 1990s.

Like its “sister institution,” the World Bank, the IMF was conceived at the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 and formally established the following year, its official mandate “to promote international monetary cooperation ... to facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade ... to promote exchange stability ... to assist in . . . the elimination of foreign exchange restrictions which hamper the growth of world trade ... to give confidence to members by making the general resources of the Fund temporarily available to them ... ” (Article I, Purposes, Articles of Agreement of the IMF).

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., since its foundation, in 2007 it had 184 member countries, with a staff of 2,716 in 165 countries. In pursuit of its mandate, the IMF purports to engage in three principal activities:
  1. surveillance through the “monitoring of economic and financial developments”;
  2. providing loans; and
  3. providing technical assistance.
It is governed by its Board of Governors, one from each member country. The Executive Board, comprised of 24 directors, is responsible for its daily operation.

Eight of these 24 Executive Board members are appointed by the IMF’s largest “quota holders” (the United States, Japan, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom). A member’s quota “is broadly determined by its economic position relative to other members.”

Opposition to IMF policies
In 2007 the United States had the largest quota, based on “special drawing rights” (SDRs), with SDR 37.1 billion (equivalent to $55.1 billion). In essence, the IMF’s largest contributors wield the most power within the institution.

Critics charge that the IMF and the “neoliberal” economic paradigm that it promotes locks underdeveloped countries into positions of structural subordination within the global capitalist system.

Especially controversial are IMF policy prescriptions for “austerity measures” and “structural adjustment” that include privatization of state-run entities, reduced public expenditures, and radically curtailed intervention of national governments in their national economies.

Opposition to IMF policies and their underlying rationales has intensified in recent decades, as evidenced in part by the rise of left-leaning neo-populist regimes in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and elsewhere in Latin America from the 1990s.

Denouncing IMF policies as unjust, immoral, corporate welfare, and a major contributor to poverty, unemployment, and human misery worldwide, critics characterize the IMF and associated multilateral institutions and treaties (the World Bank, the G-7, the World Trade Organization [WTO], NAFTA, and many others) as instruments of the wealthy and powerful and major obstacles to social justice, economic well-being, and political rights among the world’s poor. As economic globalization accelerates in the 21st century, debates on the role of the IMF are likely to intensify.