In the 1950s and early 1960s, the United States sought to challenge the Soviet Union's credibility as a champion of decolonization by casting Soviet control of Central Asia, the Baltic republics, and Eastern Europe in imperial terms, or what U.S. officials came to call “Red Colonialism.” Waged in large measure at the United Nations (UN) and other international forums, the Red Colonialism campaign sought to contrast the evolutionary nature of Western colonialism with the seeming permanence of Soviet domination. The campaign underscored the U.S. government's preoccupation with the Soviet threat at a time when much of the developing world was focused on other matters, such as national self-determination, racial equality, and economic development. This article looks at the genesis and nature of the Red Colonialism campaign and explains why a variety of factors ultimately prevented it from gaining much traction at the UN.

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