November 21st, 2014
(click on above image to see it large in all of its early comic wonderfulness)
That which Truman was most proud of, that we thoroughly defeated our enemies and then helped them rebuild their economies, is the story here, and it almost didn’t happen.
Opposition for the TD/MP was almost universal in the Republican party with the exception of Senator Vandenberg who tells Truman he must “scare the hell” out of the American people. We know how things went of course but what is interesting in the way things might have gone.
What if communists came to power in Greece and Turkey? What would really change. What if communists were elected in Italy? What if the CIA had never been given authority to conduct covert operations?
Ambrose’s little jibe at Truman being disingenuous and losing sleep over his decision is I think miss-placed. I agree Truman had made up his mind as to what to do, but I think he struggled greatly at figuring out how to get it done. How do you take a people that has been traditionally isolationist, and re-enroll them into an international struggle that could turn as ugly as any preceding World War, or even more so, and convince them to join the fray after four long years of devastating warfare?
Hope you enjoyed your break!
November 18th, 2014
So here we have the emergence of what will be called the Cold War. There is no Truman doctrine yet, no containment and no marshal plan.
What there is is a soviet occupation of eastern Europe and Iran and vast disagreement between Uncle Joe and Truman about how to move forward. Did truman really need to talk to Molotov like a Missouri mule driver? Would it have been better to shrug our collective shoulders at Poland and gotten Stalin to join the imf?
Iran had been agreed to at Yalta. Stalin was to remove troops. He didn’t. You should remember this when we get to Iranian coup in 1953. Oh and be cure to compare the to coup in CZ that we’ll read about in next chapter. Stalin hadn’t been involved in the reformation of governments in Belgium or Italy, so why did we think we had a place to negotiate the reformation of governments in territory the Russians occupied?
The question of the straits comes up again and there is an interesting give and take from Molotov on the Suez canal, that again, you’ll want to remember when we get to the dual emergencies of 1956.
November 13th, 2014
Wow. Look at you page numbers. 445. The whole book is 835 pages long. You’re over half way through with Kissinger! Congratulations!
The image above is of course Truman’s famous “Whistle Stop” campaign of 1948, the only election he ran in for the executive office. In 1952, like LBJ in 1968, he would be too unpopular to run, largely because of an increasingly unpopular war in Asia; Korea for Truman, and Vietnam for LBJ.
So this is the start of the Cold War, and I would argue the start of the world as you know it. Was it Molotov’s intransigence as Kissinger argues, that turned America’s good will into the confrontation that would become the Cold War? If this is the case can we / should we lay the blame for the Cold War, and the near annihilation of our population in 1962, on Molotov, or do we lay blame on Stalin who Molotov was so fearful of displeasing?
Or, do we blame Truman? Or Churchill? Why did we really care about free elections in Poland? The “Russian” people, as Stalin called them in his last address as political leader of the USSR, had paid in blood and guts, 40 million, and didn’t they deserve a little security on their borders?
And what about today? For the first time since the end of the Cold War it was announced that Russian bombers would be patrolling very near US airspace in the Gulf of Mexico. Why? Is the Cold War really over or are we just in a new chapter?
November 6th, 2014
Here’s some good old ‘Merican propoganda.
The war in Asia, “Europe was the darling, Asia the step-child” according to Admiral Halsey in Documents we looked at last time. Why? Why 40% of the resources devoted to a map of the planet many times larger than western Europe?
And what of the colonialism thing? Why couldn’t Great Britain just chill and let French Indochina be governed by a control council until it reached independence. Ho Chi Minh (future leader of war against America in Vietnam) is here helping us find downed pilots, singing our praises in the war and even copying our decleartion of independence. Why couldn’t we all just get along?
In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, the roots of our conflict in Vietnam are right here. The roots of our conflict in today’s Middle East are right around the corner in our next unit.
The world you are entering is the way it is because of what has come before. No student of today’s current events, be they social, political military or religious, will make any sense of the way things are, without a serious study of the way things were.
October 27th, 2014
Less than two years.
“Molotov, who had a faculty to irritate far more stable personalities than Hitler,…” I love that line. And please remember the attempt at grandeur and intimidation Hitler set up for Molotov on their meeting when finishing up our film today and witnessing Hynkle and Garbage planing to met Napoloni, Dictator of Bacteria (Italy)
You might want to open up a map when reading about negotiations over Bulgaria, Lithuania, Warsaw and the Curzon line etc etc. One place comes up you probably don’t associate with this time period, the Persian Gulf. Look at a map though and you will see that the USSR has a 1200 mile lone border with Iran and that would be quite the prize for Stalin with its access to oil and the open ocean.
Though it is not named, the Schlieffen plan rears its head again. Sweeping through Belgium and France then, with a rear long delay at potential negotiations, throwing (nearly) all its might at the USSR Germany does.
Also not named is the Battle of Britain, but it should be. After France falls in June 1940, Britain, having declared war in September 1939 with France now “stands alone” in Churchill’s epic phrase for a year against Germany’s barrage. Geography though remained a substantial barrier and Hitler, lacking landing craft, can’t roll his Blitzkrieg across the English Chanel.
In that year of standing alone a fantastic story plays, captured in a recent book by Lynne Olson, “Citizens of London.” Its one of my favorite history books of recent years exploring the story of Edward Murrow and other famous American in London in the time, and how they helped turn American interest into entering the war while being threatened with Nazi bombing raids on a daily basis.
October 23rd, 2014
I know the reading is about Stalin but I couldn’t help come back to our film, “The Great Dictator“. Click on link for original 1940 review of film from 1940. Its VERY interesting.
In regards to Stalin, it should come as no surprise that HK depicts him as an arch practitioner of “Realpolitik” along the lines of Bismarck, Richelieu etc. That he saw no difference between the fascist countries and the capitalists is interesting and it makes sense. He was willing to extract whatever gain he could from whoever he could. He was, after all, guiding inevitable historical forces.
GB meanwhile is handing out unilateral guarantees of peace. Not even bothering with negotiating traditional alliances they go from one extreme to the next.
In the meantime the Soviet ascendency to power had its origins in the ruthless manipulation by “M Stalin”.