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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

More Mao

Continuing my read of Mao: the Untold Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday;
Mao is known to have run the classic insurgency. His tactics were Soviet in origin. The Communists would rile up local peasants to commit terrible acts in response to false propaganda about the local land owners or government leaders. This would lead to essentially turning the locals and their families into criminals on the run, with no other outlet other than to join Mao and the revolution.

Once Nationalist troops began to apply pressure, Zhu [Mao's Lieutenant] had to run, and thousands of civilians went with him: the families of the activists who had done the burning and the killing, who had no where else to go. This was what Moscow had intended: peasants must be coerced into doing things that left no way back to a normal life. To "get them to join the revolution," the party had decree, "there is only one way: use Red terror to prod them into doing things that leave them with no chance to make compromises later with the gentry and the bourgeoisie. One man from Leiyang recounted: "I had suppressed [i.e., killed] counter-revolutionaries, so I could not live peacefully now. I had to go all the way so I burned my own house with my own hands and left [to join the Revolution].

This strategy turned traditional Chinese culture upside down, which is what Mao wanted. It's interesting to note that the same tactic was applied by the Viet Cong in the mid 1960s. (The Vietcong were advised by both the Soviets and the Chinese). The U.S. however, failed at the time to understand what was going on and did not properly fight the VietCong insurgency. Many today argue that if the U.S. Military would have engaged in a wider "enclave strategy" sooner in South Vietnam, the local population would have fully supported the South Vietnamese government by 1968. Even though the VietCong became a non-threat after 1968, it was too late.

In Iraq, it appears that an "enclave strategy" was applied right away starting in late 2003. This strategy has lead to the commonly heard 15 out of 19 provinces being free of violence. Perhaps the U.S. military is learning from history. However, it is also true that there is no "Soviet Union" to provide the insurgents in Iraq with "revolutionary support." This is a fact the critics, who like to call Iraq the next Vietnam, often forget.

Blogger Air Marshall said...

You note that there is no Soviet Union around anymore to add fuel to the fire. What you don't note is that part of the reason there is no longer a Soviet Union is in fact the Vietnam war. Simple fact was, we could afford the support we gave, they could not. It was really the start of their economic colapse.

10:12 AM, October 30, 2005  

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