Chapter 13 – Stalin’s Bazaar

map of interwar europe.jpgSo in case that little map in your head wasn’t fully functional I thought this might help.  Here we see the “little” states of Eastern Europe surrounded by Germany and the USSR.  France and GB are on the other side of everything and though in the end GB is willing to guarantee their safety they have no real mechanism to do so.  This is why, when Poland is invaded in 1939 in the East from the USSR and the West from Germany and France and GB declare “war” it is after not too long dubbed the “phony war” as the soldiers will basically hide behind the Maginot line.  No invasion of Germany.  No defense of Poland.  Nationalism is on the rise and if you haven’t heard the French President Macron today, is warning that it is on the rise again, 100 years after the end of WWI.

So isn’t Stalin’s Bazaar bizarre?  Ha Ha.  I had to.  Sorry.  Stalin here is portrayed as a careful practitioner of Realpolitik . Though Kissinger is careful to be not too kind to Stalin, he does note at the 18th Party Congress in the USSR only 35 of the 2000 delegates remain, the others purged by Stalin, he is awfully admirable of his handling of Hitler.

In the beginning Kissinger makes rather a big deal about Stalin’s reliance on “history”.  It is an important tenet of Communism that the revolution is one of historical inevitability.  The very legitimacy of their government relied on this claim.  The legitimacy of our government relies on democracy and hence popularity to a certain extent.  In the Soviet system it is almost the opposite.  Stalin, and Khrushchev and Brezhnev after him, will help drive the forces of history forward popularity be damned.  It won’t be until Gorbachev in the 80s who will literally say on taking office, “we can’t go on like this”, and usher in the end of the USSR, the greatest tragedy of the 20th century according to Putin.

Stalin’s greatest fear is the unification of the capitalist countries all attacking the Soviet Union.  So despite Hitler’s naked anti-communism he is willing to make a deal with him.  In two years’ time when Hitler will break that deal and launch his attack on the USSR Kissinger will note that for days Stalin will say nothing.  He psychoanalyses Stalin as being depressed.  I don’t think so.  Look at how he set up his Bazaar.  He knew exactly what he was getting into.


Kissinger 12 – the World’s Greatest Defense System


The “World’s Greatest defense system” (cough cough) wasn’t really all that.  Kissinger sneers at the imbecility of France not to extend the Maginot line up through Belgium or at least upon its borders but according to the above article at this point France fears Italy more and furthermore they do plan to extend the defense system along the Belgium border in the next two years.

The Maginot Line being inherently defensive makes an offensive military reaction into German territory simply a non-starter. When Hitler occupies the Rhineland Kissinger points out there are some, or at least one voice in Britain,  Churchill, is warning that something, re-armament, must be done in response, but it is not.

The dreaded word “appeasement” appears here.  I swear when I heard GWBush say we could no longer “appease” Saddam Hussein” I was like “oh, crap, here we go”, and off we went into a military adventure which I would argue has spilled over into the current crises we have today.

But I digress. The relations between France, Russia, GB, Italy etc are all complicated.  How Hitler rises to power, and how the world recognizes the “Illusion” that he would be a “moderate statesman” is the story here.  This is a lengthy chapter but it is worth getting through.  Kissinger’s treatment of the run-up to Munich, the pinnacle of appeasement, is much more nuanced than in your typical textbook.  Kissinger even points out Chamberlain’s decision to re-arm afterwords, and gives a complex treatment on how Wilsonianism had led us to this place.  It appears that he may say that had they simply applied the calculus of “national interest” from the start, it may have been worse.


Spence 21 – Deepening the Revolution

China Cultural Rev

This awesome image is from a website (Thanks Danny Widener!) called the “The Chairman Smiles”.  It’s just great.  Posters from the USSR, from Castro’s Cuba and here from Mao’s China.

The title of this poster is “The Chinese Khrushchev”. The character in the lower left, Liu Shaoqi is literally being painted out of history and compared with the now hated Khrushchev who Mao labelled as a “revisionist”.

There is so much more here.  The “Cult of Mao”.  Do you remember criticism of Obama and his “Cult of personality”?  Some were comparing, do compare, Obama to Mao and Castro and Hitler and other single party leaders who have earned their loyalties to a careful crafting of their public image into a sort of hero who was above everything and everyone. I think some are making same claim today about Trump, the he is trying to create a “cult” following.  The little red book is something you can google if you want to find some pithy Mao quotes.

The death of Lin Biao shook the peasants in a way  that the other deaths and purges didn’t.  I have heard Biao was upset about Mao’s opening to the west and Nixon which was secretly being planned around this time.  I have also heard Lin Biao’s. “order number 1” didn’t sit too well with Mao. Regardless the complications of the cultural revolution left few untouched.  Enjoy.  Tomorrow after quiz be ready to work.  Work on IA proposal, terms or study for test.


Spence 20 – Planning the New Society




Mao Quote


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?

Spence 19 – Birth of the PRC


In 2009 they celebrated the 60th birthday of the PRC.  Is it the same PRC it was in 1949?  Certainly not.  Just as you are not the same as when you were born.  However when you were born no doubt there were certain expectations of what you would be like.  You were likely to have brown eyes maybe, or a proclivity for dance.  Maybe you were expected to be very intelligent or athletic.

What were the expectations of the PRC at its birth?  How does it hold up now in 2016?  Is it what Mao would have expected?  Is it what the West would have expected?

The birth of the PRC. Several interesting things to note here.

In the Korean conflict here we see several new things.  For one, prior to the conflict Mao has a ton of troops stationed off of Formosa apparently ready to invade, yet they don’t, which Spence speculates on.  Secondly we have Truman stating publicly that the US will not aid Formosa and the state department goes so far (though no one knew this) as to draft a statement they would issue once Formosa/Taiwan had “fallen”.  Maybe you can see now why North Korea thought no one would notice or care if they invaded the south.

Here you also see Spence claiming, unlike Ambrose, that the war in Korea helps further align PRC and Soviet interests.   Furthermore the war cements US PRC animosity that will not begin to thaw for at least a decade and unleashes China’s own version of a McCarthy witch hunt.

how does the PRC establish itself? How does land reform work? What of the three anti and five anti campaign? What about women’s rights. Why was this at all successful?

a couple new people in your terms. Liu Shaoqi and Zhou Enlai. Who are they and what are they up to?

Spence 18 – Fall of the Guomindang

chinese flag.jpg

So on this latest re-read I am struck by parallels to Europe at the same time.  Isn’t this what was feared?  Confusion and disorder and the rise of a radical communist revolution.  Where were the Truman Doctrine and Marshall plan in China?  In Europe Marshall said “the patient is sinking while the Dr’s deliberate”.  Where were the Dr.s in China?  Of course Marshall himself goes to China and desperately tries to get the CCP and the GMD to co-operate but fails. Why?

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 (again)               Chiang Kai Shek (again)

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!

Spence 17 WWII

china war our war.jpg

How was “China’s War” our war?  You’ve been here before.  This is WWII.  How is that we have posters such as these seeking relief for the Chinese?

There was another one I couldn’t save that showed a portrait of a Chinese soldier saying “This man is your friend.  He fights for your freedom.”  So what’s up with all these English language relief posters for China?

First off, get your players straight.  Chiang Kai-Shek is head of the Guomindang (GMD) or nationalist government.  We’ll watch a video that will help with the background here.  The Japanese are the Japanese, and Mao Zedong leads the communist party (CCP) which was technically aligned with the GMD during WWII in the “united front” against Japan, but which was really in the thick of a civil war with the GMD for control of China.

One thing that struck me on this latest re-read is how Spence portrays the the Japanese occupation of China, as not so much of an occupation in Chinese eyes, at least not one with any perceived permanence.  The Chinese are waiting to see, who in the end, will rule China, the communists or the nationalists.

The role of Germany, briefly mentioned, is also very interesting to me.  Chiang lost his “finest German trained troops” is his tragic assault on Shanghai.  But Germany of course is aligned with Japan, and the USSR with China, at least at some point.  This flipping of alliances would be a really interesting study I think.

There is lots of great stuff in this chapter.  If you feel lost try to focus only on the terms.  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.”

There are other things that you should catch just because of context or humor.   What was Stillwell’s nickname for Chiang?  Hysterical.

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

help china.jpg