A puppet state is a state whose 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. Some puppet states must pay tribute to the controlling power - these are known as vassal states.
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.
Examples of puppet states
Some other examples of states sometimes labelled "puppet states" are:
- the interim government of Iraq after the US led invasion.
- the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (controlled by Pakistan before 1998, then controlled by Al-Qaida)
- the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (on territory occupied in 1974)
- The People's Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, supported by the Soviet Union (1975-1990)
- Soviet satellite states: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria (1945-1989). (See also Soviet Empire)
- the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, controlled by the Soviet Union (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)
- many Central and South American anti-Communist military dictatorships, supported by the U.S.
- the Greek Regime of the Colonels 1967-1974, supported by the U.S.
- Kasavubuist and Mobutuist Democratic Republic of the Congo, later Zaire, supported by the U.S. (1960-1991)
- Communist Cuba, supported by the Soviet Union (substantially after the Cuban Missile Crisis) (1959-1991)
- South Vietnam 1954-1975, backed by the U.S.
- Iran under the Shah, supported by the U.S. and Britain (1953-1979)
- Manchukuo, set up in Manchuria by Japan in the 1930s
- Mengjiang, similar to Manchukuo but in Inner Mongolia
- Wang Jingwei's Nationalist government in Nanjing 1940-1944 detached from the Kuomintang, supported by Japan
- the Far Eastern Republic, set up by the Bolsheviks 1920-1923 in the Russian Far East
- Iraq (1932-1958) and Transjordan (1921-1951), ruled by British-installed Hashemite kings
- the Kingdom of Poland 1916-1918, controlled by the German Empire
- Pre-Castro Cuba, backed by the U.S. (1902-1959)
- Panama, separated from Colombia by the USA in 1903 to build and control the Panama Canal
- 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
- 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.
Axis puppet states in World War II
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: