Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Coldest Winter, Continued

As I read more of  David Halberstam's The Coldest Winter, I'm struck by the parallels between Korea and Iraq, especially the events surrounding Douglas MacArthur's disastrous decision to invade North Korea and push to the Manchurian border. This brought the Chinese into the war and created the bloody stalemate fought out for more than three years.
  • Republican politicians taunted Democrats as appeasers
  • Americans by and large believed that the Chinese people wanted nothing so much as to live in an American-style democracy. (In fact, the Chinese generally regarded Americans as part of the western colonialism that had exploited their nation for over a hundred years.)
  • American politicians backed Chiang Kai-Shek, whom -- like Chalabi in Iraq -- they mistakenly believed to represent the mass of Chinese people
  • MacArthur's desire to invade the north and his certainty that the Chinese would not intervene resulted in cooked intelligence to support his position
  • The utter failure of American decision-makers in both parties to understand the nature of their Communist adversaries in Moscow and Beijing, who were motivated as much or more by nationalism than ideology
Halberstam also digs up the roots of post-War conservative foreign policy. It was driven, of course, by a rabid anti-Communism coupled with a by-and-large successful effort to paint Democrats as soft appeasers. It's a fascinating look at a political movement that has become hoist on its own petard. 

Modern conservatives have attempted to redirect the politics of fear against terrorists and immigrants, but it has proved self-defeating: Hispanic voters turned against Republicans, and the application of militarism has failed dismally in Iraq and Afghanistan. The door is open to the enlightened internationalism advocated by Barack Obama...

Hendrik Hertzberg ("...a real jerk," sez Newtie) flays Bill-o wide open and leaves him out to dry in the hot sun...

Mesmerizing, Brilliant, and Beautiful Dept: Don't miss this incredible performance by the Pilobolus Dance Theatre on Renegade Eye's blog. The sequence between 4:30 and 6:00 especially blew my mind, but the entire dance is a wonder...

4 comments:

mouse (aka kimy) said...

halberstam has brilliant insights, I will have to find this book and perhaps give it to my f as a holiday gift! if it isn't handmade, it's a book or music when it comes to gifts!

Renegade Eye said...

I read Halliday's biography of Mao. He says Mao wanted the Korean War, as a means of pressuring Stalin, into handing over to Mao, some nuclear weaponry.

Thank you for the plug. You should see Pilobulos live if it comes to town.

K. said...

According to Halberstam, Mao had to persuade a reluctant Chinese politburo and military into entering the war once the UN crossed the 38th parallel. Halberstam hasn't (yet) said anything about nuclear weapons from Stalin -- it's more about countering a threat to Chinese border security and about standing up to the western colonial powers that had made life so miserable for the Chinese. Halberstam writes that there was serious internal debate as to weather the Red Army could handle seasoned American forces; at the beginning, Mao was almost alone in believing that it could. From what I can tell so far, the early success of the Red Army in Korea was a major milestone in the formation of the cult of Mao.

Pilobolus is coming to Bellingham in February. Premium T. and I will be there. That video just blew me away, and I know next to nothing about modern dance.

K. said...

Mouse, have you read Great Expectations? One of the characters referred to his f as the "Aged P"...