Archive for December, 2011

Fall of the GMD

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Cruelties all around.  Neither the Nationalists nor the communists can claim in these pages to be great humanitarians.  In fact Prof Pickowicz at UCSD claims that the land reform struggles against the land lords that often resulted in murder, orgy like feasts, and then murderous redemption, almost lead to the collapse of the CCP.  Had the CCP not pulled back on the reins of the frustrated peasants in that time, then their support might have collapsed.

Bonus question.  What do the stars stand for?  Extra secret double bonus question.  How do you reconcile the answer to the first question with your understanding of Marxism?

Terms in this chapter that I count;

Guomindang                 CCP                Chiang Kai Shek

Mao Zedong                George Marshall           Lin Biao                       fabi

Deng Xiaoping       PRC                Liu Shaoqi                Zhou Enlai 

So ask yourself, what did Lin Biao do here?  What about Deng Xiaoping and George Marshall?  Keep focused on the terms and their relation to the chapter and you’ll be fine.  Good luck!

China & WWII

Monday, December 12th, 2011

The above image, part of the hagiography of Mao, the Long March, is something referred to again and again, as it was here, in your first chapter of Spence.

A word of advice with Spence.  K.I.S.S.  Is “Suiyuan” one of your terms?  No.  Is Chahar one of your terms?  No.  Don’t sweat them. 

Your terms are, in this chapter;

Guomindang                 CCP                Marco Polo bridge                   Chiang Kai Shek

Long March*               Burma Road     united front                              

“New Fourth Army Incident”                Gen Joseph Stillwell                  “Hongkew”

Mao Zedong                    fabi

So, place each of them in context in the chapter, the fabi is the Chinese currency, part of their nationalism, that the Japanese seek to undermine.  The “united front” is the alliance of the nationalists and the communists against the Japanese which is effectively ended with the “New Fourth Army Incident.”

Keep an eye on those terms.  They should make life easier here.  Questions, comments, confusions?


Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

I love this image and caption.  Those “cheeky” Brits!  The image is, of course, Kim Il Sung’s son, Kim Il Sung II, but it nicely illustrates the isolation that N Korea has endured.

A&B portray the events in Korea a wee bit different than Dr K.  I don’t recall Kissinger painting Truman as needing this crisis in Asia in the same way that A&B insist on.

Also interesting for me here is this little voice going off in my head about the 1950s and “Leave it to Beaver”.  The economic vitality of 1950s America that we can all picture with 3BR 2 Ba houses spreading into suburbia, tailfins on Cadillacs and TVs selling us soap…  well A&B say it shouldn’t have happened. 

If permanent containment was to come, and it did, than America would have a “permanent postponement of the social and economic promises of the New Deal”. (124)

So what’s up?  The economic promises of the New Deal, stability, low unemployment, rising GDP all happened.  Why?  We were spending all our money on defense.  How did everything go so “well”?

As you might have guessed I sort of think the answer is in the question.  We were spending all our money on defense.  If you like things that fly or go fast or are secret or all three read this;

Skunk Works: A Personal Memoir of My Years of Lockheed by Ben R. Rich and Leo Janos (Feb 1, 1996)
one of my favorite books of the era.  The military industrial complex as it has come to be called includes Lockheed, Boeing, and our own General Atomics.  These domestic industries get fed billions of government dollars and those employees go and buy Cadillacs and TV and soap.  Its all connected.
“Why are things so bad today when we’re spending even more billions on defense? “, you might ask.  I don’t know.  Ask Strebler.  I think though, that the economic doldrums of the 1970s and the post 2007 era, haven’t stopped the ever banking up of the GDP.  I frankly worry about the trillions in cuts the govt. is currently discussing because those cuts mean cuts in contracts, cuts in jobs, and less people buying Cadillacs, TVs and Soap.  From an environmentalist standpoint I praise less consumption, but from the desire for a stable economy I’m concerned.
What about you? 

The Dilemma of Containment: Korea

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

So what was MASH about?  One of the rare instances of the derivative being superior to the original.  There was a move that was good, with Elliot Gould, but then the TV show was simplt great.  It was about Korea, nominally, but it was also very much about Vietnam and the futility of war.  Kissinger is doing something similar here.  He’s writing about Korea, but he’s saying a lot about Vietnam.

He brings up Saddam Hussein of course and this is a reference to the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, wherein the US “kicked the Vietnam Syndrome” according to President GHW Bush, and Kissinger is comparing N. Korea and Iraq’s suprise at the US reaction.

They shouldn’t have.  Though in 1950 American planners (like German and Russian planners we saw earlire) were only really planning on the possibility of a general war, that they were able to keep Korea from going general was of course a great thing.  Despite claims that our line of defense did not include the Korean peninsula (look at a map) that was only in relation to a general war, but in this now limitited war, the US and the UN would and do respond.

The struggle between Truman and MacArthur, China and Taiwan, N Korea and Stalin and the USSR all bear some consideration.  Any reference to Indochina/Vietnam should also be noted.  You also know, that N Korea, like Cuba, remain isolated states today, perfect examples of the policy of containment. 

There never was a peace signed in Korea.  Its still a hostile border.  Looking back at my blog from last year I was pointing to the then current event of N Korea shelling S Korea and killing four persons.  That the study of history is very much the study of today has rarely been clearer.