GROUP B: THROUGH A COLD WAR LENS
Group B teams include Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece. Stats and team info are courtesy of ESPN.
Nickname: LA ALBACELESTE (White and Blue Sky)
Record: W 33/ D 13/ L 19
Best Performance: Winners in ’78, ’86
Group Stage Schedule:
June 12 vs. Nigeria- Win
June 17 vs. South Korea – Win
June 22 vs. Greece at 2:00 PM ET
Two-time champion Argentina will be making its 10th straight World Cup appearance, its first with the legendary Diego Maradona as Manager. Qualifying was rough, and Group B won’t be easy, but when FIFA World Player of the Year, Lionel Messi, laces up his boots, Football Worldcup 2010 could easily become a return to ’78 and ’86 for LA ALBICELESTE.
During the Cold War, the United States viewed its relationship with Argentina through the lens of its larger Latin American policies, and Argentina used its relationship with the United States to shape its relationships with neighboring countries. This meant fighting Communist and left-wing subversion.
Argentine foreign policy was highly influenced by competing domestic political forces, most notably the military. The military overthrow of populist President Juan Peron in 1955 was crucial to US-Argentine relations. The frostiness of the US relationship with Peron was replaced by friendliness with the military regimes that followed.
The Argentine military led the country through many of the most important periods of the Cold War. Their dictatorships advanced anti-Communist rhetoric as a fundamental tenet of Argentine nationalism, and advanced the protection of the Argentine elite as fundamental to Argentine national security.
Argentina’s foreign policy meshed nicely with US Cold War ideology. US and Argentine strategic interests coincided, resulting in the National Security Doctrine. This set forth shared assumptions and techniques for countering Communist and left-wing subversion.
The US and Argentina were especially cooperative over nuclear policy.
The Second World War and early Cold War tensions were the backdrop for Argentina’s first foray into nuclear power. An Argentine War Ministry decree (No. 22855-45) in 1945 blocked the export of uranium, signaling an early awareness of the strategic importance of nuclear power. A year later, the country debated the nationalization of uranium mines. The nuclear sector emerged as Argentina’s most important area of technological advancement in the Cold War Period.
After a rocky start, the US and Argentina signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in 1953. The accord provided Argentians with information and technology on an Argonaut experimental reactor. In return, the US government had the chance to conduct aerial surveys of Argentinian zones thought to contain uranium-rich deposits.
Negotiations concerning international nuclear policy reflect the true strength of the US-Argentine relationship.
Nickname: THE SUPER EAGLES
Record: W 4/ D 1/ L 6
Best Performance: Round of 16 in ’94, ’98
Group Stage Schedule:
June 12 vs. Argentina – Loss
June 17 vs. Greece – Loss
June 22 vs. Greece at 2:00 PM ET
Nigeria learned to play the beautiful game in friendly matches against its colonial British rulers in the ’50s. But it wasn’t until ’94 that THE SUPER EAGLES showed the world what they had learned by soaring into the Second Round of the World Cup. Football Worldcup 2010 may prove to be their return to form on the back of star midfielder John Obi Mikel.
Throughout the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union were interested in Nigeria because of its size, population, economic and military potential, and, especially for the United States, its oil.
From 1966 to 1977, Nigeria was very cool toward the United States. The two countries took opposing positions over southern African liberation.
Nigerians were angered by pro Biafran propaganda in the United States and by America’s refusal to sell arms to the federation during the civil war. United States involvement was even suspected by Nigeria in the assassination of Murtala Muhammad, the military ruler of Nigeria from 1975 until his assassination in 1976.
In 1977 Jimmy Carter became president, and Nigerian relations with the United States suddenly changed. The United States recognized Nigeria as a stabilizing force in Africa and was willing to consult with Nigeria on African issues.
America and Nigeria appeared to have similar interests in southern Africa. The special relationship had a weak basis, however, depending mostly upon continuing agreement and cooperation over southern African issues. Once Ronald Reagan replaced Carter as president (1981-88), the countries again had divergent interests in southern Africa.
Just as the balance of trade was not expected to shift dramatically with the opening of Eastern Europe so, too, Nigeria’s political position was not expected to change greatly. In a time of shifting world coalitions, a position of nonalignment with a leaning toward the West provided more options for Nigeria than ever.
Events in southern Africa, including Namibia‘s independence and the opening of debate for eliminating apartheid in South Africa, removed the largest obstacles to closer relations with the United States without excluding the Soviet Union or other leading powers. (Courtesy of http://www.country-studies.com/nigeria/foreign-relations.html)
Nickname: TREGUK JEONSA (Treguk Warriors)
Record: W 4/ D 7/ L 13
Best Performance: Fourth Place in ‘o2
Group Stage Schedule:
June 12 vs. Greece – Win
June 17 vs. Argentina – Loss
June 22 vs. Nigeria at 2:00 PM ET
South Korea is making its 7th straight World Cup appearance. As hosts in 2002, the Treguk Warriors broke through to the semifinals under Manager Guus Hiddink. But after an early exit in 2006, South Korea is eager for a return to the knockout stage. 2010 also marks the only time South and North Korea have played in the same World Cup.
Korea (like Germany) was jointly occupied by Soviet and American forces at the end of World War II, more by accident than design. The US ended up in the south, the USSR in the north.
Moscow and Washington were able to agree without difficulty that the 38th parallel, which split the peninsula in half, would serve as a line of demarcation pending the creation of a single Korean government and the subsequent withdrawal of occupation forces.
The Americans and Soviets left Korea in 1948-49, but there was no agreement on who would run the country. It remained divided with the American supported Republic of Korea in control of the south by virtue of an election sanctioned by the United Nations.
The Soviet supported Democratic Republic of Korea ruled the north where elections were not held.
The only thing unifying the country was a civil war, with each side claiming to be the legitimate government and threatening to invade the other.
Neither side could do this without superpower support, so the spasmodic skirmishes between North and South Korean troops did not raise much alarm.
Stalin eventually became convinced that the US would not fight in Korea, so he gave the “green light” to Kim-Il sung, the leader of North Korea, to invade the south.
The invasion of South Korea on June 25,1950, came as a complete surprise to Washington even though a CIA report in March had predicted an invasion in June. It took the Truman administration only hours to decide that the US would come to the defense of South Korea under the authority of the United Nations.
The situation became more complicated in November 1950 when some 300,000 Chinese entered the war.
Syngman Rhee, the President of South Korea, was a staunch anticommunist and he adamantly opposed the 1953 armistice that left his country divided.
Rhee did not succeed in scrapping the armistice, but he did signal the Eisenhower administration that being a dependent ally would not necessarily make him an obedient ally.
Rhee’s most effective argument (according to Gaddis) was that if the US did not support him and the repressive regime he was imposing on South Korea that country would collapse, and the Americans would be in worse shape on the Korean peninsula than if they assisted him.
Rhee got a bilateral security treaty, together with a commitment from Washington to keep America in South Korea for as long as they were needed to ensure that country’s safety.
Rhee’s Cold War blackmail left the US defending an authoritarian regime. Interestingly, approximately 28,550 American troops are still based on the Korean peninsula.
Nickname: THE PIRATE SHIP
Record: W 0/ D 0/ L 3
Best Performance: Group Stage in ’94
Group Stage Schedule:
June 12 vs. South Korea – Loss
June 17 vs. Nigeria – Win
June 22 vs. Argentina at 2:00 PM ET
Despite being founded in the early 1900s, the Greek soccer team is a newcomer to international success. Its first international title in 2004 established THE PIRATE SHIP as a force to be reckoned with. Striker Theofanis Gekas and Manager King Otto want to add to this success as they attempt to steer Greece to the top of Group B in Football Worldcup 2010.
In October 1944, in the famous “percentages” agreement, Churchill and Stalin agreed that the British would have authority in Greece. But in early 1947 the British government announced that it could no longer bear the cost of supporting that nation.
The US had little choice but to involve itself in the eastern Mediterranean.
On the morning of March 12, 1947, President Harry S. Truman appeared before Congress to ask for $400 million of aid to Greece and Turkey.
Truman forcefully presented a clear picture of the ideological struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union. His articulation of that struggle became known as the “Truman Doctrine.”
Although based on a simplistic analysis of internal strife in Greece and Turkey, it became the single dominating influence over U.S. policy until at least the Vietnam War.
Truman’s Doctrine called on the United States to “support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”
The President’s speech had a tremendous effect. The anti-communist feelings that had just begun to hatch in the U.S. were given a great boost, and a silenced Congress voted overwhelmingly in approval of aid. From then on, the US actively engaged any communist threats anywhere in the globe, brandishing its role as the leader of the “free world.” Meanwhile, the Soviet Union brandished its position as the leader of the “progressive” and “anti-imperialist” camp.
In many ways, the Truman Doctrine marked the formal declaration of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union — it also solidified the United States’ position regarding containment.
The Soviets accepted the Truman Doctrine’s “two rival worlds” idea. It went along with the notion of a world divided into two hostile camps — one capitalist, the other communist. For Stalin, a final class struggle would mean certain Soviet victory. For more on the “two camps” see our earlier post.
To further contain the spread of communism, in June 1947 newly appointed Secretary of State George C. Marshall announced the comprehensive program of financial assistance that came to bear his name: The Marshall Plan. But it’s important to remember, that just like the Olympics, American Cold War policy was cemented in Greece.