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Puppet State

A “puppet state” is a country that claims to be independent, but is actually controlled by an outside state or other foreign power.

Origin of “Puppet State”

The name is derived from the metaphorical image of a puppeteer manipulating a puppet by strings.

In the context of a puppet state, the puppeteer would be the controlling power, while the puppet represents the supposedly independent state.

A puppet state lacks autonomy and functions largely according to the dictates of the controlling or “puppeteer” state.

This control can extend to various aspects of the puppet state’s internal and external affairs, such as its political direction, economic policies, diplomatic relations, military operations, and sometimes even cultural expressions.

The controlling power may influence or directly dictate the puppet state’s actions through various means, including economic pressures, military force, political manipulation, or a combination of these.

One of the key characteristics of a puppet state is its nominal sovereignty.

Despite being under the control of an external power, a puppet state often maintains its own governmental structures and institutions, complete with its own head of state, military, and flag.

However, these are typically subject to manipulation, control, or oversight by the puppeteer state.

The puppet state might appear as an independent entity on the international stage, but its freedom to act independently is severely constrained.

It’s important to note that puppet states are usually established for the benefit of the puppeteer state.

The controlling power may exploit the puppet state’s resources, use its territory for strategic purposes, or employ it as a buffer against potential threats.

The establishment of puppet states has been a common tactic in periods of geopolitical conflict or expansion, such as during the colonial era, the two World Wars, and the Cold War.

Examples of puppet states include countries that were under the Soviet bloc, like Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Mongolia. Some puppet governments are implemented through military force, like Vichy France in WWII.

Many colonized countries in Africa and Asia would become puppet states controlled by their colonizers. Examples of this are pre-1960s Vietnam, India, and the Congo.

Use of “puppet state” in a sentence:

  • Following the war, the victorious power installed a new government in the defeated nation, effectively turning it into a puppet state that served its strategic and economic interests.
  • Critics argue that the small republic has become a puppet state of its powerful neighbor, with key decisions being influenced by foreign interests rather than the needs and desires of its own citizens.
  • The history of colonialism is rife with examples of puppet states, where colonial powers maintained control by manipulating local governments and exploiting their resources.