In 1948, at a time of severe economic austerity, the British Labour government committed itself to a costly and protracted campaign against a Communist foe in the Far East, despite not having any U.S. support for the endeavor. Clement Attlee's government in Britain argued that the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960) was necessary to counter Soviet attempts to use the local Communist party in support of Moscow's expansionist designs. Subsequently, many commentators and historians accepted this judgment, at least to some degree. In reality, the rebellion, far from being carefully coordinated or meticulously organized, was inadequately planned and poorly executed. The 1948 insurrection cannot be understood without recognizing the influence of indigenous pressures and internal developments, which were more crucial than the external Cold War dimension.

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