How British Nation-Building Colonialism Inspired the United States
This chapter analyzes American responses to Britain’s nation-building policies in Malaya during the British campaign against the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), a struggle that London dubbed the Malayan Emergency. It shows that as U.S. policymakers cast about for how to deal with the challenges of decolonization and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, they drew special inspiration from the British nation-building colonialism. To preserve its imperial influence in Southeast Asia, Britain had cultivated Malaya’s anticommunist nationalists and together they forged a popular multiracial political alliance that undermined the mostly Chinese MCP’s appeal to Malaya’s hundreds and thousands of ethnic Chinese. When Malaya gained independence in 1957, its relative stability and leaders’ determination to side with the West was received by U.S. leaders as a notch on the belt.
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