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Forum LockedRoots of the Cold War

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DukeC View Drop Down
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    Posted: 13-Jun-2009 at 19:26

Kim Il-sungs' terms would have been nearly identical to Stalin's just as North Korea is the closest thing still left on earth to a Stalinist state. North Korea never would have invaded the south without Soviet assistance and blessing and was a key linchpin of the Cold War. And while there was discontent in the south, that had as much to do with the relative openess availabe under the American tutelage as it did with a wish for people to accept communism. Few got a say in the north under the Soviet imposed system and the return of many communist cadres from the Soviet Union and China after WW II.

Part of the Cold War rhetoric had to do with Soviet support for de-colonailization, but how genuine was that? We know now that Stalin and his succesors turned Eastern European countries into defacto colonies and didn't hesitate to use armed force to prop up unpopular communist regimes there. Hungary and Czheckoslovakia are prime examples.
 


Edited by DukeC - 13-Jun-2009 at 20:39
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 10:28
Originally posted by DukeC

Science does best in an environment of free sharing of ideas and little control on direction, something I think that was basically lacking in the U.S.S.R. Soviet scientists did well considering the limitations they were under, but I think many went into military R&D, something that also happened in the U.S. to a lesser degree due to domestic demand for technology and a more open society.

Actually the Russians have done some insane stuff, especially in both Engineering and Physics. Some of that stuff still isn't widely known in the west, well, outside Russia. I'm not sure I agree with you when you say science does best in an environment of free sharing of ideas and little control on direction. The best research in Engineering in the last 60 years has come out of the Russian and US Defence departments. Where the requirement for secrecy means that doesn't apply. If anything a strong direction and good funding is advantageous, especially if you support spin offs.

"O Byzantines! If success is your desire and if you seek right guidance and want your empire to remain then give the pledge to this Prophet"
~ Heraclius, Roman Emperor
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Post Options Post Options   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 17:15
Originally posted by DukeC

Kim Il-sungs' terms would have been nearly identical to Stalin's just as North Korea is the closest thing still left on earth to a Stalinist state. North Korea never would have invaded the south without Soviet assistance and blessing and was a key linchpin of the Cold War. And while there was discontent in the south, that had as much to do with the relative openess availabe under the American tutelage as it did with a wish for people to accept communism. Few got a say in the north under the Soviet imposed system and the return of many communist cadres from the Soviet Union and China after WW II.

Part of the Cold War rhetoric had to do with Soviet support for de-colonailization, but how genuine was that? We know now that Stalin and his succesors turned Eastern European countries into defacto colonies and didn't hesitate to use armed force to prop up unpopular communist regimes there. Hungary and Czheckoslovakia are prime examples.
 
 
This summation is of interest because it assigns to the Soviets a role that completely ignores the geo-political concerns of China at a very crucial period. Recall, it was not Russian troops that moved across the Yalu in response to McArthur's UN offensive in 1950.
For Mao Zedong's China, the move into Manchuria by McArthur constituted a serious threat to the Chinese government, which had just consolidated power as the PRC in 1949. In Mao's own words:
   The Chinese and Korean comrades should unite as closely as brothers, go through thick and thin together, stick together in life and death and fight to the end to defeat their common enemy. The Chinese comrades must consider Korea's cause as their own and the commanders and fighters must be instructed to cherish every hill, every river, every tree and every blade of grass in Korea and take not a single needle or a single thread from the Korean people, just the way we feel about our own country and treat our own people. This is the political basis for winning victory. So long as we act this way, final victory will be assured.
 
 
Was China a tool of Soviet foreign policy?  I do not think so since there were sufficient Chinese reasons to prevent large military concentrations along its borders. Likewise, assigning the full panoply of the Cold War solely to Russian international pretensions does obscure the complexity of United States objectives in an identical direction.
 
By the way, Soviet foreign policy was a johnny-come-lately to decolonization, which in all actuality was one of the lynch-pins in the world-view of the Roosevelt administration in World War II as the latest gasp of the old Wilsonian "self-determination" of peoples.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14-Jun-2009 at 18:00
Duke C: 

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In re:  “North Korea never would have invaded the south without Soviet assistance and blessing and was a key linchpin of the Cold War.”

 

North Korea had been waging guerrilla warfare in the South since 1947, and they did so again in 1968. I agree that North Korea would not have invaded the South when they did (June 1950) without a promise of Soviet assistance. It was Soviet logistical assistance and training that kept the Nork and Chinese Armies in the field until 27 July 1953, enabling them to overcome the effects of massive U.N. bombing of their logistical networks.

 

 Also in re:  “And while there was discontent in the south, that had as much to do with the relative openess availabe under the American tutelage as it did with a wish for people to accept communism.”  

 

There was discontent throughout Korea, but that in the South had little to do with “relative” American “openness”. Its causes were rooted in a Japanese colonial experience that had been economically beneficial, but socially detrimental to Korea. To their credit, the Americans did their best, but the idea that Korea would be governed for ten years or longer by an interim U.S. nominated government ran head-on into Korean aspirations for self-government dating back to 1895. Korean political discontent, the developing Cold War, and political developments in the North, forced the Americans to scrap their original plans and agree to the earlier formation of the Republic of Korea. Since Kim Koo had been killed off, that left them with Syngman Rhee, whose autocratic views they despised. To the naïve, the young Kim Il-sung appeared the better candidate. And in the eyes of many Koreans, his 12 years of guerrilla experience against the Japanese Army in Manchuria gave him stronger nationalist credentials.

 

As for North Korea being “Stalinist”, Dr. Andrei Lankov lays out his arguments as to why it is not at:  http://www.nbr.org/publications/asia_policy/pdf/ap1-lankov.pdf

 

 

 


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Post Options Post Options   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 20:45
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim


Actually the Russians have done some insane stuff, especially in both Engineering and Physics. Some of that stuff still isn't widely known in the west, well, outside Russia. I'm not sure I agree with you when you say science does best in an environment of free sharing of ideas and little control on direction. The best research in Engineering in the last 60 years has come out of the Russian and US Defence departments. Where the requirement for secrecy means that doesn't apply. If anything a strong direction and good funding is advantageous, especially if you support spin offs.
 
I think the really blue sky stuff that leads to fundamental breakthroughs does best in an open environment, the kind of directed R&D that has grown up around east and west defence industries can produce impressive results but it can also lead to an intellectual dead end.


Edited by DukeC - 15-Jun-2009 at 20:46
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15-Jun-2009 at 21:05
Originally posted by drgonzaga

 
This summation is of interest because it assigns to the Soviets a role that completely ignores the geo-political concerns of China at a very crucial period. Recall, it was not Russian troops that moved across the Yalu in response to McArthur's UN offensive in 1950.
For Mao Zedong's China, the move into Manchuria by McArthur constituted a serious threat to the Chinese government, which had just consolidated power as the PRC in 1949. In Mao's own words:
   The Chinese and Korean comrades should unite as closely as brothers, go through thick and thin together, stick together in life and death and fight to the end to defeat their common enemy. The Chinese comrades must consider Korea's cause as their own and the commanders and fighters must be instructed to cherish every hill, every river, every tree and every blade of grass in Korea and take not a single needle or a single thread from the Korean people, just the way we feel about our own country and treat our own people. This is the political basis for winning victory. So long as we act this way, final victory will be assured.
 
It had already been agreed apon by Stalin and Mao before the NK invasion that Russia wouldn't commit ground troops to maintain an appearance of non-interference, if needed the chinese would commit their forces in support of the north. The Soviets had been aiding the communists in China since the end of WW II and facilitated their takeover of the mainland. Soviet advisors, technicians and air units were active in China just as they were in North Korea. I don't think it's possible to separate the different nations into separate factions at this point due to dominance of the Soviets in that region after the war.
 
Was China a tool of Soviet foreign policy?  I do not think so since there were sufficient Chinese reasons to prevent large military concentrations along its borders. Likewise, assigning the full panoply of the Cold War solely to Russian international pretensions does obscure the complexity of United States objectives in an identical direction.
 
Yes, to a degree and when Mao decided to take China his own way it led to a deep rift between the two nations.
 
I don't assign all blame to the Soviets, I'm pointing out Stalin and his mentality as the prime architect of the post war tensions leading to the Cold War. I think there was much more desire in the west for an open and responsible economic and political system in the world(re the Atlantic Charter) than there was in a regime that was xenophobic and brutally oppresive to its' own people already.
 
By the way, Soviet foreign policy was a johnny-come-lately to decolonization, which in all actuality was one of the lynch-pins in the world-view of the Roosevelt administration in World War II as the latest gasp of the old Wilsonian "self-determination" of peoples.
 
Yes, direct confrontation with the west wasn't going to cut it so the Soviets tried the back door and supported violent revolution anywhere it would hurt the west. Like I said, if Roosevelts's Atlantic Charter philosophy had been given a chance the world would be a much different place today. But that kind of thinking doesn't allow for the kind of people Stalin, Mao were to be in charge of dominant nations. The kind of egalitarian and responsible society so much espoused by the communists only existed in fantasy in their countries, it came much closer to reality in western nations that had more or less universal sufferage.


Edited by DukeC - 15-Jun-2009 at 21:08
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Post Options Post Options   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jun-2009 at 04:46
Duke, Stalin as the "Black Beast" might have given Nikita K. a leg-up in the hallways of the Kremlin, but the part of "advisor and mentor" to Mao--in the context of the Cold War--is a bit hard to swallow. After all, Mao himself asserted that any Soviet aid was like "taking meat from the mouth of the tiger". The stripping of Manchuria's industrial infrastructure by the Soviets in 1945 and 1946 stuck in Mao's craw for the rest of the decade. Not that Mao had any aversion at playing the Soviet "card" against the West when from the parapets of the Forbidden City he hailed the Georgian "as the teacher of the world revolution and best friend of the Chinese people". As for Stalin himself in the years 1935-1947, he had consistently supported Chiang and the Nationalists. Now, I am not among the revisionists who wish to paint the Chairman as Stalin redivivus, but I am also unwilling to place the roots of the Cold War in the paltry grave his successors prepared for him. In terms of historiography one can see the problems of the subject by juxtaposing these two tomes and their theses:
 
Geoffrey Roberts. Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War 1939-1953 (Yale University Press, 2007)
 
John L. Gaddis. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Oxford University Press, 1998)


Edited by drgonzaga - 16-Jun-2009 at 04:47
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Post Options Post Options   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16-Jun-2009 at 19:33
Dr G:  " As for Stalin himself in the years 1935-1947, he had consistently supported Chiang and the Nationalists."

True, but he also supported Mao, and ordered the CCP to raise the Northeast Asia Anti Japanese United Army, which operated in Manchuria, and included ethnic Koreans and Jurchens as well as Chinese, who were the majority. It was within the AJUA, under Chinese leadership, that Kim Il-sung commanded an "Army" of two to three hundred partisans up until 1941. when he fled into the USSR with a handful of survivors. There, he was placed in a detention camp, until Operation Barbarossa (22 June 1941), when the Stalin decided that he needed a cross-border reconnaissance capability to keep tabs on the Japanese while he fought the Germans. That was when the late Kim senior was plucked from obscurity and commissioned a Captain in the Soviet Army.

One wonders why Stalin chose to continue supporting the Nationalists while they were fighting the Japanese. There was no Soviet-Japanese non-Aggression pact, until March or April 1941, that as a result of an earlier border clash. I don't know how much real support he gave the Nationalists during the period 1941-45, but suspect it was minimal given the fact that the German Front was where Soviet survival was at stake. Most of China's foreign war material came from the Americans, and some Nationalist units were still using equipment left over from the German military advisory days. The Japanese lived up to their end of the 1941 Non-Aggression Pact, and Stalin ended it with a surprise offensive into Manchuria and on down to Korea on 9 August 1945.


Edited by lirelou - 16-Jun-2009 at 19:35
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jun-2009 at 17:56
Originally posted by drgonzaga

Duke, Stalin as the "Black Beast" might have given Nikita K. a leg-up in the hallways of the Kremlin, but the part of "advisor and mentor" to Mao--in the context of the Cold War--is a bit hard to swallow. After all, Mao himself asserted that any Soviet aid was like "taking meat from the mouth of the tiger". The stripping of Manchuria's industrial infrastructure by the Soviets in 1945 and 1946 stuck in Mao's craw for the rest of the decade. Not that Mao had any aversion at playing the Soviet "card" against the West when from the parapets of the Forbidden City he hailed the Georgian "as the teacher of the world revolution and best friend of the Chinese people". As for Stalin himself in the years 1935-1947, he had consistently supported Chiang and the Nationalists. Now, I am not among the revisionists who wish to paint the Chairman as Stalin redivivus, but I am also unwilling to place the roots of the Cold War in the paltry grave his successors prepared for him. In terms of historiography one can see the problems of the subject by juxtaposing these two tomes and their theses:
 
Geoffrey Roberts. Stalin's Wars: From World War to Cold War 1939-1953 (Yale University Press, 2007)
 
John L. Gaddis. We Now Know: Rethinking Cold War History (Oxford University Press, 1998)
 
Soviet control of Manchuria did give the CCP a secure base to go about seizing control of mainland China and there was close co-operation at least in the early years between the Chinese communist government and Stalin. This even included transfer of nuclear technology that was terminated as Mao increasingly refused to take an inferior role to Stalin.
 
The dream of the communists was a united front against "imperialism" but it broke down under the reality of the personalities involved at the highest levels both in China and the U.S.S.R.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jun-2009 at 18:17
Mao succeeded not as a consequence of Soviet (or Stalin's) assistance but as a result of forces and pressures internal to China itself. In fact, one of the great misconceptions on much of the analyses on China in the years 1926-1946 stems from the nonsense over an international communist conspiracy. To be honest if one looks in on China you will find that Mao more than Chiang deserved the description of "nationalist", while the latter stood forth as representative of all that had disrupted Chinese society throughout the length and breadth of the 19th century! General Stilwell and not Harry Truman and the wonks of the State Department got it right back in 1945-46. Well, the various Internationals are long gone and none but the hopelessly Romantic still speak of "world revolution", so then how does one explain present day tensions and dilemmas: Havana and Pyonyang as the bulwarks of the new millennium?  If one researches the archives of both the US and Russia the only solid conclusion possible is just how silly the conspiratorial can become.

Edited by drgonzaga - 17-Jun-2009 at 18:19
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Post Options Post Options   Quote DukeC Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17-Jun-2009 at 18:25

Having the largest communist nation in the world at his back was a great advantage to Mao as was the limited Soviet military assistance and large transfer of technology. Mao was definitely more focused than Chiang, but the excesses of his regime later on bring into question his credibility as a real representative of the Chinese people. Like Stalin he was more than capable of eating his young.

 
Were Lenin and Khrushchev hopeless romantics?


Edited by DukeC - 17-Jun-2009 at 18:25
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