The end of the Second World War led to the situation where all the powers of Europe, which had for the past hundreds of years enjoyed the position of supremacy, became secondary states. This decline of the states saw an external overthrow of the European colonial rule. The dislodging of this colonial authority as well as the pressure from the leaders who were protesting European domination led to the occurrences which are now termed by the historians as the process of decolonization.
The voice of the leaders from these countries was strengthened by the acceptance from United States, the country which emerged to be a world power post the Second World War, displacing all other countries. American support was required by many of the European country for their economic growth so these countries started a process of selective decolonization. This process however, did not start precisely after the war had ended, on the contrary many of the nation-states to be decolonized were already decided for instance India by Britain, France and Dutch.
Some of the colonies were automatically freed up when Japan lost in the Second World War and had lot of post-war obligations (Christie, 1998). The problems started when the United States slowly backed out from its erstwhile position on complete decolonization because it feared that many of the newly created states could be anti-US in nature. European countries too did not look very keep to dispose off their colonies chiefly in the Southeast Asia because they had to sustain the damages of the war.
For instance Britain was reluctant to let go of the military strength as well as labor force from India. Hence, many of the nation-states had severe and violent revolutions for gain their independence despite earlier promises from their colonial heads. Hence many of the countries in South East Asia like Korea etc. had wars to liberate from the rule of their colonial heads (Betts, 2004). Imperial control or colonial control in the Middle East was relatively transient and the decolonization process started in the inter war years itself.
By the end of the Second World War countries like Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq were all formally independent. However, the process of decolonization after this became violent after this. There were problems with Palestine which had a Jewish-Palestine conflict, Algeria where France stubbornly refused to let go, South Yemen which Britain considered as a strategic acquisition, and Arabia which finally gained independence from Britain in the late1960s. However, the release from decolonization itself did not promise these areas the peace they wanted unlike the countries in the Southeast Asia.
The countries in this regions still have too much of internal conflicts amongst fellow states as well as with the European powers and with the United States. The countries in the Middle East were also severely affected by the Cold War. One main reasons for the powerful western influence in the countries of the Middle East can be due to the fact that unlike South East Asia, which was culturally very far and distant from the Colonial countries, the middle eastern culture was more closer, and the countries proved to be an immediate threat should they be released from colonialism (Pappe, 2006).
Hence, many of the countries sought from active involvement in the affairs of these countries even after the decolonization process was competed The process of decolonization did not always mean that the countries were free from their erstwhile colonial heads. For instance when Thailand became free from Britain, and started on a self-modernization course, the majority of its goods were still exported at lower costs to Britain. Hence, the era of decolonization was succeeded both in the Middle East as well as Southeast Asia by the pseudo-colonization by these countries.
It is only after these countries became economically stronger and started to leverage the low-cost aspects of their economies, that they were able to use the countries in the west for exporting their goods and earn foreign exchange. Most of the countries in Southeast Asia still follow the principles of outsourcing labors as well as exporting of low cost products as the source of their economic strength. For the Middle Eastern countries this source of economic strength was brought by oil and petroleum reserves (Pappe, 2006).
Politically most of the Southeast Asian countries saw a state of initial turmoil before they turned towards the democratic style or communistic of government. However, the countries in Middle East differ as they follow the religious autocratic style of governance in their countries. The effects of this have been far reaching. Due to the autocratic rule, many of the Middle East countries have been seen to be in continuous conflicts while the Southeast Asian countries though are not completely free from the conflicts are relatively more peaceful and faster in the process of nation building (Betts, 2004).
One of the chief legacies of the European and American colonialism is the in Southeast Asia and Middle east as well has other parts of the world like Africa and Latin America is the creation of borders generally made through the agreements between the colonizers which often divided the ethnic groups. This led to the creation of ethnic majorities and minorities in the region. As the process of decolonization spread and the colonies became nation-states, the inclusion or consolidation of these minorities became a part of the nation building process, which can be seen in the countries of these regions even to this day (Christie, 1998).