Archive for January, 2011

review & mla

Monday, January 31st, 2011

IB Topics

Test Unit 8

Eisenhower Era


Answer one of the following;

1 – Analyse the importance of spheres of influence for ONE of the superpowers in the Cold War.  (1999)

2 – Assess the importance in the development of the Cold War of TWO of the following:  the Yalta Conference, Berlin, the Arms Race; non-alignment; Sout East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).  (1999)

3 – To what extent was Germany the cause of East/West disagreements between 1943 and 1963?  (2000)

4 – In what ways, and to what extent, did Eisenhower’s foreign policy demonstrate the limits of American power in the 1950s? (From Paper III, 2000)

5 – With reference to their aims and actions, examine the foreign policy of one of the following presidents of the US: Truman; Eisenhower; Carter; Reagan.  (From Paper III, 2001)

6 – Compare and contrast the Cold War policies of two of the following US presidents: Harry S Truman (1945-53); Dwight D Eisenhower (1953-61); Ronald Reagan (1981-89)

(2005 Paper III)

7 – Assess the successes and failures of the foreign policies of either Eisenhower (1952-60) or Kennedy (1961-3).  (2006 Paper III)

entry into the morass

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Does Kissinger seem a bit defensive here or is it just me?  Maybe defensive isn’t the right word.  Offensive?  Basically he seems to be shouting ITS NOT MY FAULT and underscoring that if cooler heads had prevailed and used the cold hard calculus of national interests vis-a-vis Palmerston or Richelieu then the US would not have involved itself.  It was not in tune with our interests.  It was against our historic anti-colonial stance.  We let China “fall” in 1948, why not little old Vietnam?

Document after document, NSC 64, NSC 68 assessments by Rusk, and all the presidents though point inexorably to more and more involvement into what will become an intractable situation.  Kissinger is often vilified for his role in Vietnam.  Remember that.  No one would pretend, not even Christopher Hitchens (author of “Trials of Henry Kissinger”) that Henry had anything to do with decisions in SE Asia in the 1950s.  He does certainly bear a great responsibility for America’s conduct in the late 60s and early / mid seventies.  He puts his decisions and actions then, in the context of the history of Diplomacy on the 20th century.

How does he set it up?  How does, why does the US get involved in exactly the way they do?  Answer that question and you’re a long way to “getting” this chapter.

Berlin Wall

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

The casual student of history will often equate the end of WWII with the start of the Cold war and the construction of the wall.  At the end now of our studies of the “Eisenhower Era” we must allude, before in the next chapter retreating, to the era to come.  As one of you commented in your IA the baby boomers of the coming 1960s will have a decidedly different relationship with their government, their world and one another. 

JFK is our first president born in the 20th century.  He comes in as a hard liner, believing Eisenhower has been weak on communism.  Why he may have believed this is the real undercurrent of this chapter which of course culminates in not just the erection of the wall in Berlin, but the closest we ever got to nuclear war, the Cuban Missile Crisis.  If you can elucidate Kissinger’s analysis of why this plays out as it does, than you’ve gone a long way to making sense of this chapter.

Hungary:Upheaval in the Empire

Friday, January 21st, 2011

The uprising photographed above is not Hungary, but Berlin, 1953, reduced to a parenthetical reference in this chapter.   Berlin in 1953, Poland and Hungary in 1956 – what was happening?

In Berlin new policies were being implemented driving prices up, taxes up, quotas up and leaving pay the same, or even reduced if quotas not met.  A mass exodus of the professionals to the west (pre-wall remember) was taking place but the policies also led to a massive worker uprising / strike which was crushed under the treads of Soviet tanks.  The number killed, wounded and arrested remains difficult to say but we can say that there certainly were many. 

Remember the little talk we had about diplomacy and language the other day?  When Khrushchev goes to Poland this is the reason he is not recieved by the official party.  When Eisenhower goes on the air to discuss world developments in Suez, diplomacy is the reason (though maybe mistakenly according to my read of Kissinger) that he says nothing of consequence about events in Hungary.

Remember the last elections in Iran?  People in the Iranian government said, and probably still say that all the agitation was caused by the west (by the US).  Obama was very careful in his language to try to show that the US was entirely hands off in the actions of the Iranian people and I think similarly here Eisenhower did not want there to be any semblence of a possibility that someone would believe the Hungarians were being aided by the US lest there be a discrediting of the movement and an excuse for the Soviets to treat the uprising as an international provocation.  Of course it turns out the Soviets needed no such excuse.

It is interesting to note as well that Kissinger points out from the days of the Tsar, to the Soviets to the post Cold-War world Russians have treated bordering states similarly, or at least tried to.  He was writing 15 years ago before the events in Chechnya.

So why did things go differently in Poland than in Hungary? Why did Soviet tanks turn around in Poland and why were leaders executed in Hungary?  How might Eisenhower or the UN played things differently here?  Please remember all of this when we get to “Prague Spring” of 1968 and the Solidarity movement in Poland in 1980.



Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The crsises of 1956 weren’t all about civil rights.  In October, a month before the US presidential election, two world events exploded on the map and each, in its own way, helped set the stage for the Cold War in the 60s and 70s as well as the US role in the middle east.  The first treated here is the Suez, the second will be Hungary.

Look at the chapter first of all, “Leapfrogging Containment”.  Who is “leapfrogging” what?  Compare to cordon sanitaire and you should figure it out.  C’mon.  I know you can.

The big question here for Kissinger and for us is the extent to which the US should have stood by France and GB in their scheme to regain control of the canal?  We didn’t, and things played out as they did.  The question may be asked here though; who won?  Remember Kissinger assesses the USSR as being the big loser in Korea.  Who was the loser here?  Did we “win” by not creating a wider war?

Tomorrow you will be under the capable hands of Ms. Jones while I put together our district application for “Big History”.  After quiz you’ll be watching a very tight movie from the period directed by the same genius who made 12 angry men. Be expcted to do an OPVL on my return.

Kissinger 20

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Googling around for pics for the blog I ran into this image.  “Stalin’s race car”.  Sorry for my predilection for motor-head paraphernalia.  I’m sure you get tired of it, but I like to think that I am at least consistent while also modeling that an interest in nearly anything, from cars to music to movies to fashion to trains, can be a really fun way to cleave into the past.

So; “Stalin’s race car”.  Was he really seriously considering going up against the Ferraris, the Alfas, the Renaults and the Jaguars?  Was the international sports car arena going to be another field of propaganda points like the Olympics and the space race?  If so, what happened to it?

Well, for one thing of course Stalin died.  If you really want to follow the course of the chapter you are really looking at the last years of Stalin’s life and most especially, the Peace Note.  Kissinger dismisses the Note rather nonchalantly.  I’m not so sure.  Maybe it was a bona fide opportunity lost.  Look at it in comparison to the disengagement scheme.  Was it possibly our fear of worldwide communist domination that led to the Cold War as we know it.  Did we take too literally the lesson of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and apply that to the Communist Manifesto and convince ourselves that anything resembling appeasement would tempt worldwide communist domination?  I’m afraid we might have.

On a side note, Beria is executed in 1953.  I can’t remember where I read it but somewhere I saw a first hand account, it might be in one of those old life magazines, of someone traveling the through the USSR shortly after his death.  They made some casual inquiry about him, an old poster with his likeness had been left somewhere. The inquiry met a stony reception.  Beria was an un-person.  Not just a traitor, not another Benedict Arnold, but he not only no longer existed, he never did.  Another source confirmed for me that an encyclopedia published in ’53 had an usually long entry under “Bergund” or some such name, noting t he editors had undoubtedly rushed to fill the space where Beria had been deleted.

You really have to read Orwell’s 1984.

Maybe our fears were well founded after all.

From Hungary to Suez and Cuba

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

“The overwhelming first impression of American foreign policy from 1956 to 1961 was one of unrelieved failure”  I have been waiting 10 years for a student to use that damning quote effectively in an essay.  Maybe you will be the first.

So what were the failures?   The revolution in Hungary, as you will read or have read, as far as it has anything to do with America and USFP, was a travesty (some would say).  It laid bare the naked truth that the US would not confront the Soviets directly and the promises of liberation were empty.

Some might counter with the assertion though that possibly in the most dangerous of times Eisenhower succeeded.  If we had confronted the Soviets in Hungary, as we will confront them five years hence in Cuba, would we have unleashed nuclear war?  Maybe Eisenhower and his advisors knew that the cost of that even mere possibility was too great.  It has long been said that no one hates war more than a member of the military.  No one else sees the cost of war so thoroughly.  Eisenhower had seen plenty of war.  Maybe that “first impression” of failure in Hungary, in Cuba, in the Suez Canal crisis gives way to a more complete realization that there was some success.  We avoided war in a time when war had become more dangerous than ever, when decisions made by just a few men (men) could have kept you and I from being here and could have plummeted humamity into some dark Cormac McCarthy book.  Maybe we did succeed after all, if at least for that moment.

Eisenhower, Dulles and the Irreconcialable Conflict

Monday, January 10th, 2011

The 1950s was the glory years of the CIA.  Give 3-5 facts to support this statement and you’ve gone a long way to understanding this gleeful bit from Ambrose and Brinkley.

Deepening the Revolution

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

From the end of  the Great Leap Forward to the death of Lin Biao here you have a topsy turvy ride for China and Mao as he, at once, resigns from the front lines and then, reasserts himself into the phase of the “Cult of Mao”, the little red book, and a role of primacy almost unequaled.

Regarding the death of Lin Biao I read somewhere back when I took the course with Pickowicz, that Mao’s attack on Lin Biao came from his “Arrogance”,  as Spence points out, “order number 1″ was issued by Lin Biao suugesting a brand new era, but also because Lin was a fierce critic of what he heard was Mao’s intention to meet with Nixon, in the Kissinger handled “opening of China”.  Thats not here but worth looking up.

FYI here are your 7 review questions if you want to strt looking over them early.  Quiz tomorrow, 15 minutes to finish up vid then review.

1 – Evaluate the successes and failures one ruler of a single-party state.


2 To what extent was the rise to power of either Hitler or Mao due to personal appeal and ability?


3 – Explain the successes and failures of either Mao in China or Perón in Argentina. (2002)

4 – In what ways, and for what reasons did China develop its own brand of Marxism/Communism under Mao Zedong?  (1999)

5 – Analyse the methods used and the conditions which helped in the rise to power of one ruler of a single party state.

.  (2005)

6 – “Promises of improved social and economic conditions win more support for would be single party rulers than ideological pronouncements.”  How far do you agree with this claim?  (01)

7 – Identify the main principles of Communism and assess how far these principles were put into effect by one Communist ruler between 1900 and 1990.  (00)

 Does everybody remember IAs are due on the 13th?  Good.

planning the new society

Monday, January 3rd, 2011

Figuring out who these two guys are (look at the guy’s smile on the right) would help you go a long way into figuring out the significance of events here in Chapter 20, “Planning the New Society”.

Terms from the chapter are;

first five year plan                        Tibet                        John Foster Dulles

Vietminh                        Han Chinese                        PLA                        100 Flowers movement

and there are more, like “Zhou Enlai” that I haven’t bothered to repeat.  stick to those seven terms, + repeats and you’re good for the quiz.

What is striking to me on the re-read of this chapter, is the extent to which China is swayed by international events that, I’m afraid, you haven’t read about yet.  Khrushchev’s speech in 1956 denouncing Stalin, and revolts in Poland and Hungary, also in 1956.  This all leads into what is often called the 100 flowers campaign, Mao’s desire to open up criticism from the intellectual community that remains in the PRC, much of which has its origins in the Nationalist party era or before.

You will have a question on your review that goes something like, “If we have criticism to our policies we are not afraid of them” or something like that from Mao.  Many students (unadvisedly) try to answer that entire question based up on the 100 flowers campaign.  Spence will come right out at the start of the next chapter and say the 100 flowers campaign was NOT a plot by Mao to reveal hidden rightists.  He honestly wanted some critics to stand up.  If that so, why did so many, like Ding Ling with her Stalin prize in hand, end up in permanent exile?

Happy Holidays.