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A puppet government is a government, though notionally of the same culture as the governed people - owes its existence (or other major debt) to being installed, supported or controlled by a more powerful entity, typically a foreign power. Such a government is known as a puppet régime.
The term is partisan and prone to semantic disputes, used almost exclusively by detractors of such governments, whether or not the majority of citizens affected acknowledge the characterization, or object to that kind of government. Often a proclaimed puppet government faces a rival government which uses the puppet government term to weaken the legitimacy of that government. Also usually implied is the government's lack of legitimacy, in the view of those using the term.
For example, each of the two Korean governments has throughout its history often used the rhetoric that it is in fact the only true ruler of the peninsula, and that the other government is merely a "puppet" of the US/Soviets.
A vassal state may be instituted as the result of a military defeat when the winner has not enough military power to fully control the defeated or enough population to colonize the new acquisitions. The tribute is an compromise for both the victor and the defeated state.
Recent examples of puppet governments
Some other examples of states sometimes labelled "puppet governments" are:
US puppet states
- Afghanistan (2001-present) after US military intervention in 2001.
- the Dominican Republic (1916-1924 and 1965-1978)
- Grenada (1983-1984) – interim government led by Sir Nicholas Brathwaite .
- Haiti (1915-1934 and 2004-present)
- Iraq under the interim government established after the 2003 invasion.
- Panama (1903-1968) – the appointed Governor of the Panama Canal Zone was said to have more power than the elected head of state.
- South Vietnam (1954-1975)
Soviet puppet states
See also Soviet Empire:
- The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (1975-1990)
- Warsaw Pact satellite states: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, East Germany (1945-1989).
- Communist Cuba, supported by the Soviet Union (substantially after the Cuban Missile Crisis) (1959-1991)
- the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (1979-1990)
- Angola under the MPLA, supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba (1975-1991)
- Mozambique under FRELIMO, supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba (1975-1991)
- the Far Eastern Republic, set up by the Bolsheviks 1920-1923 in the Russian Far East
Puppet states in Axis-occupied Europe
Most of the West-European governments under the domination of Nazi Germany during World War II are now and then called puppet régimes, not the least in Allied literature, and particularly the fascist-leaning:
- Belgium (1939-1945) - The violent Rexist movement had achieved some electoral success in the 1930s and many of its members assisted the Nazi occupation during World War II.
- Slovakia under the Slovak People's Party (1939-1944) - The Slovak People's Party was a quasi-fascist nationalist movement associated with the Roman Catholic Church. Monsignor Jozef Tiso became the Nazis' quisling in a nominally independent Slovakia.
- The Vichy régime of Philippe Pétain (1940-1944)
- The Independent State of Croatia under the Ustasha (1941-1945)
- Norway (1943-1945) - Vidkun Quisling had already during the German invasion on April 9th, 1940, attempted a coup d'état, but was appointed to head a government first from February 1st, 1943. His party had never had any substantial support in Norway.
- The Italian Social Republic (1943-1945) - After the Badoglio government withdrew from the Axis Powers, the Germans occupied Italy, and founded the Italian Social Republic, a puppet Fascist state.
- Albania (1939-1944) puppet of Italy during the rule of King Zog and the subsequent invasion.
- The Arrow Cross regime of Ferenc Szálasi in Hungary (1944-1945)
Other examples since 1900 include:
- the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (on territory occupied by the armed forces of Turkey in 1974)
- the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (controlled by Pakistan before 1998, then controlled by Al-Qaeda)
- Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to opponents of that government, is effectively ruled by Western countries in general through the unelected international high representative, who has the power to dismiss state officials and strike down policy decisions of the elected authorities.
- the Central African Republic after the Chadian-sponsored coup in 2003.
- Lebanon (1976- ) under de facto rule of Syria.
- Venezuela (2002) during the counter-revolutionary coup (probably helped by the United States) which fell after one day.
- Katanga (1960-1963), backed by the United States, Belgium, and mercenaries.
- Cyprus during the short-lived Greek-installed government of 1974.
- Comoros was for a long time ruled by French mercenary Bob Denard.
- the nominally independent "Bantustans" of apartheid-era South Africa.
- Namibia, which continued to be controlled by South Africa even after the United Nations dissolved its trust territory (1966-1990).
- Nauru (2001- ) since Australia established immigration detention centres and gained control of state institutions as part of the "Pacific Solution."
- Solomon Islands since the 2003 Australian invasion.
- Seychelles (1977-1985) whose government was installed and influenced heavily by Tanzania.
- the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (1976- ) financed and supplied by Algeria.
- Japanese states in China:
- Iraq (1932-1958) and Transjordan (1921-1951), ruled by British-installed Hashemite kings
- the Kingdom of Poland 1916-1918, controlled by the German Empire
Historic puppet states
Examples from earlier centuries include:
- the Kingdom of Poland, controlled by Imperial Russia
- the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, controlled by Napoleonic France
- the Kingdom of Holland, controlled by Napoleonic France
- the Batavian Republic, controlled by Revolutionary France
- the principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, controlled by the Ottoman Empire, who kept their Christian culture and population.
- the imperial government of Mexico under Maximilian (1864-1867) installed by France.
- Nicaragua under William Walker, backed by American and Nicaraguan business interests.
- the kingdom of Granada during the late phase of Reconquista, a vassal of Castile that channeled African gold into Europe.
- Honduras under the de facto control of Guatemala during 1876-1891.
- Herodian Judea, vassal of the Roman Empire
- Armenia, vassal of the Roman Empire
- Macedon, vassal of the Persian Empire
- Nubia, controlled by Ancient Egypt
Governments which take power after foreign military intervention, or the threat thereof, are often accused by their opponents of being puppet governments, for example the government of Hamid Karzai in post-Taliban Afghanistan or the Diem government of South Vietnam, supported by the United States. Indeed, such accusations are commonly used to destabilize governments, encouraging and justifing coup d'états.
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