Home > Analysis, politics > Informal Discussion – the Lessons of Nazi and Japanese Aggressions in WWII

Informal Discussion – the Lessons of Nazi and Japanese Aggressions in WWII

I have not done any research in writing this post, but I hope that does not detract us from having a vigorous and good discussion here.

In our recent Chinese Nationalism thread, Shane9219 started a discussion on a just released movie relating to the Nankin Massacre.

This got people discussing what the lessons of Nazi and Japanese Aggressions in WWII were.

Some like Uln though it was a lesson against “extreme nationalism.” Peoples and cultures are here to stay, Uln noted.  It is a mistake to see the brutalities of the Japanese during WWII as indicative of any shortcomings of the aggressors themselves.

Some have interpreted the lesson of WWII as a lesson against militarism or authoritarianism in general.  The German people were not to blame for WWII and the holocaust, only their leaders (esp. military leaders) were.  If the Germans only had freedom and democracy, bad things would never have happened.

Some would argue that the lesson of WWII was a lesson against world inequity.  The heavy and unjust German war debts radicalized the German populace, paving the way for a leader like Hilter, who promised that he will lead Germany to redress the wrongs imposed upon her, to rise to power.

Some, including Chinese nationalists like me, would argue that the lesson was simple: war is war.  Never let your country become weak again.

Some would counter argue that war cannot just be war; the true lesson of WWII is that a world without universally agreed upon human rights is intolerable. The horrors of the war justified the creation of a new political religion – which has manifested itself in the Univesral Declaration of Human Rights – among others….

What do people think are the true Lessons of WWII?

  1. cephaloless
    March 20th, 2009 at 19:30 | #1

    Recent events led to some individuals writing disturbingly like propaganda from nazi germany.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lebensraum

    Not as obvious is the possible resurrection of the east asia co-prosperity sphere, again led by an agressive country. Nothing wrong with economic cooperation but then there’s the imperial japanese way.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_East_Asia_Co-Prosperity_Sphere

    A lesson from WW2 and other wars in history is how some have justified their actions. I see the axis powers of WW2 as the bad guys so when I hear hints of the same excuses popping up here and there, I can’t help but worry a little.

    BTW, I’d also say “never let your country become weak again” is another dangerous phrase but it’s open to interpretation (strong offense is the best defense, etc) and nothing historical is bubbling to the top of my head for further comments about it.

  2. Raj
    March 20th, 2009 at 19:37 | #2

    Geez, what a can of worms! Ok, I think the lessons of World War 2 are.

    1. War is not always inevitable. Humanity can live in peace if it wants to. There were many opportunities to avoid conflict, but they were missed.

    2. Sometimes you have to take a stand, even if it risks war. Chamberlain’s appeasement of Hitler was misguided, though he was generally supported at the time by the public. He should have realised that he had to draw a line somewhere, but his fear over another world war was too great. Ironically he got what he feared the most. Even if Hitler hadn’t backed down in 1938, chances are he would have lost after being pinned in place by the modern Czech army and smashed by an Anglo-French counterattack.

    3. Nationalism can be very unhealthy. It’s no surprise that both Germany and Japan had very strong nationalist sentiments. Not that it’s always bad, but if people refuse to challenge and stand against intolerance, fear, hate, prejudice and the rest then even things like “patriotism” will be corrupted.

    4. Authoritarianism has no independent oversight. Even if Germans and Japanese had wanted to stop their governments, they had little choice other than revolution. Free and fair elections, civil rights and the rest don’t stop war crimes from happening, but if Germany had been more like the UK or USA I doubt that the Holocaust could have happened, at least to the extent that it did. Similarly the Japanese government might have had trouble with its war in China if the military hadn’t been running the show.

    5. War begats war. Allen suggested that the lesson of WWII is to never let yourself become weak again. Hitler had the same attitude (as did many Germans) after losing WWI. Hitler wasn’t popular because he was committing war crimes, he was popular because he was making Germany “strong” again. Japan also believed that “strength” was the way forward.

    There are other forms of strength that are not measured by military power. There is diplomatic strength, civil strength, economic strength (i.e. standards of living), etc. Europe is not a military superpower – many countries spend less than 2% of GDP on defence. But it is strong because it works together, not through fear and coercion but by consent and democracy.

    Those are the real lessons of WWII. Work with your common man and you can achieve anything. If you work for yourself, suspect others and quarrel with them, eventually you will come into conflict.

  3. cephaloless
    March 20th, 2009 at 19:41 | #3

    That Chinese Nationalism thread is long and devolving into “revenge against japan” a little past post 200. For those who agree with “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth”, that’s one of the causes of WW2 (unjust war debt, forfeited land, …). Learn from how WW2 ended that’s different from any other war that I know of: rebuild your enemy’s nation. How’s that for “turn the other cheek”.

  4. dan
    March 20th, 2009 at 20:53 | #4

    Is it wrong for the Jewish people to say: “Never Again!” after what they had undergone?
    Is it wrong for Chinese people to say :’Never Again!’ after what they had undergone?
    Is is wrong for Americans to say: “These colors don’t Forget!” (R,W &B) after 9/11?

  5. miaka9383
    March 20th, 2009 at 21:56 | #5

    Lessons that we should learn from WW2:
    Extreme nationalism that leads to blind patriotism is definitely a fuel towards war.
    Nationalism is a good thing, but when the government leaders use it to further their ambitions, it leads to extreme nationalism and in a worst form xenophobia. I see it during the Bush Era.

    *side note*
    One of the books that I came across (recommended by my professor) that talks about Japan’s mentality at the time from pre ww2 to post ww2 is The Pacific War by Saburo Ienaga. For the longest time, his books were banned in Japan. He gives detail description of the different mentalities at the time and he uses these descriptions to inform the reader that some of these nationalistic mentalities were wrong. I definitly recommend reading it. It might give you a good insight on how scary too much nationalism is like…

  6. Raj
    March 20th, 2009 at 22:03 | #6

    Is it wrong for the Jewish people to say: “Never Again!” after what they had undergone?

    How do you best ensure that something never happens again. By military might? Or co-operation? The European Union was set up with the phrase “never again” in mind.

  7. wukong
    March 20th, 2009 at 22:38 | #7

    It’s speculation at best and insincere at worst to claim that dissenting voice would’ve stopped Nazi and Japanese aggression, or to infer the wars didn’t enjoy popular domestic support at the start, especially with their spectacular initial victories.

    Even if there were dissenting voices were allowed, would they have made any real difference? US is not a dictatorship, with a free press, “checks and balances” and all the trappings of a democracy, yet it initiated a war against Iraq on false pretense. It took 6 years and a difference administration to move toward ending the war. By the time the Iraq war ends, it will probably take longer than both WWI and WWII combined.

    After WWII, the only countries USSR invade were Hungry and Afghanistan. I can’t say the same for US.

    History of U.S. Military Interventions:
    http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html

  8. Chops
    March 20th, 2009 at 23:34 | #8

    Previously, the PLA never admitted to having aircraft carrier ambitions, and now it’s talking about building one, and soon after they may build some more.

    If that happens, would that be any different from the Japan Navy before WWII and would history repeat again as China claims some disputed islands in Asia?

    “Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely”

  9. Raj
    March 20th, 2009 at 23:37 | #9

    It’s speculation at best and insincere at worst to claim that dissenting voice would’ve stopped Nazi and Japanese aggression, or to infer the wars didn’t enjoy popular domestic support at the start, especially with their spectacular initial victories.

    Who suggested the wars didn’t have domestic support, or that merely having a right to protest would have stopped the war? I said that authoritarianism has no independent oversight and that an open system could have made a difference if not to stop atrocities then limit them.

    Even if there were dissenting voices were allowed, would they have made any real difference? US is not a dictatorship, with a free press, “checks and balances” and all the trappings of a democracy, yet it initiated a war against Iraq on false pretense. It took 6 years and a difference administration to move toward ending the war. By the time the Iraq war ends, it will probably take longer than both WWI and WWII combined.

    You completely miss the point. Do you really think the Abu Ghraib episode would have been exposed so quickly with an authoritarian system? Would Americans have been calling for a withdrawal if the news hushed up what was happening on the ground?

    You can’t compare the Invasion of Iraq to the world wars because they were completely different events. The Coalition wiped out all of Iraq’s power structures and were taking over a country that had already started to fall apart. The war itself was over in weeks.

    Even after the end of World War II, Japan was officially occupied for a further seven years. The American troops still haven’t left. There are still “Allied” troops in Germany.

    Recently the Americans had to negotiate with the Iraqis about how long they would continue to stay – at one point it seemed like they wouldn’t get the deal sorted out with the Iraqi Parliament before the deadline. There was no such negotiation in Germany or Japan.

  10. William Huang
    March 21st, 2009 at 02:41 | #10

    @ Allen

    “Some would argue that the lesson of WWII was a lesson against world inequity. The heavy and unjust German war debts radicalized the German populace, paving the way for a leader like Hilter, who promised that he will lead Germany to redress the wrongs imposed upon her, to rise to power.”

    I am in this camp of thoughts.

    The real cause of WWII is pretty much summarized in the opening chapter of Winston Churchill’s memoir (“The Second World War”). It had a lot to do with Allied Powers’ greed in the treatment of German as the loser, specifically, the Treaty of Versailles. It was designed to permanently placing Germany in a secondary position as a world power both economically and militarily. The worst part is the reparation. Instead of taking whatever German had left after the war, they wanted more. It will take German people decades if not century to pay off. This was not a humiliation and exploitation for a proud people like German could take. You can call it whatever you want (nationalism, patriotism, etc, etc), it’s just there and wouldn’t go away. With or without Hitler and Nazi party, something had to be done.

    If anything we can learn, it’s the economic and military power that sets the rule not reason and logic in the international power play. If you look at the history, human nature has not changed much and it won’t change much for the future. The only thing that changes is the efficiency, effectiveness, and scale of the killing.

  11. scl
    March 21st, 2009 at 04:47 | #11

    The combination of Imperialism and Democracy was bad enough – just think of the European colonization of third world countries. The deadly combination of Imperialism and Fascism, as demonstrated in WWII, was even greater in its destructive power.

    In Germany, Japan and Italy, the indoctrination needed to coax the populace into engaging a war of extermination, to be fought entirely in foreign lands, was much deeper than any high school history book could ever teach. Nationalism or patriotism, which was more or less taught in every nation, was not the cause of WWII. In fact, we cannot deny those who died on the Allied side were patriots.

    China has never exhibited the slightest hint of Imperialism, and she is far from Fascism. The Western media portray of Chinese nationalism is at best confusing historical facts taught in high school text books with propaganda, and at worst it falsely suggests that China is on the way toward Imperialism and Fascism.

  12. Wukailong
    March 21st, 2009 at 05:27 | #12

    I tend to agree more with the point William highlights, though all these points all have their validity.

    scl has some points but it is indeed hard to see how nationalism could be particularly innocent when mixed up with feelings of racial superiority that was clearly exhibited in any European thinking only 100 years ago. If there exists some sort of innocent nationalism whose only purpose is to work to make one’s country better, I’m all for it – though I’ve seen too much counter-examples (and indeed, the “we are innocent” line comes up too often).

    It’s a bit sad too that the declaration of human rights is only seen as a religion by some (that is, something impossibly idealistic and even wrong) after what happened in WWII. I often think too much is made of the name, and not the spirit behind it. Nobody claims to be for tyranny, serfdom, aggressive war or any other such horror today, but many still talk about the nonsense of human rights. Of course, when people use it for their own gains you can criticize them for hypocrisy, but why throw out the concept? Should we stop believing in social stability because it can also be used for repression?

  13. yo
    March 21st, 2009 at 05:44 | #13

    What about the American Revolution, wasn’t that a nationalist movement? (depending what the definition was )

  14. Raj
    March 21st, 2009 at 10:54 | #14

    What about the American Revolution, wasn’t that a nationalist movement?

    It may have been in part, but there were a lot of things that caused it. Also it’s a bit different from what we’re talking about here because the colonists were fighting for their own rights, rather than say trying to conquer the United Kingdom.

  15. sv13en
    March 21st, 2009 at 11:07 | #15

    I think the true lesson of WWII and the following decades is that even the worst enemies (some of the European countries had been even arch-enemies for centuries before) can become friends. And that this is the only way to really ensure peace.

    I think a strong example in this respect is the development of the situation between France and Germany. There have been a number of big wars between the two, the French were of course very active wrt. the Versailles treaty after WWI, and even after WWII they tried to influence the policy of the western allies controlling Germany such that Germany would never again rise from the state of a poor peasant nation.

    But soon after WWII, the leading politicians of both countries started to develop personal friendships and deep collaborations (economy, defense(!), students’ exchange, etc.). Many consider the French-German relationship as one of the driving forces in the European integration. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-German_cooperation )

    This era of friendship in Europe has made it possible that central Europe has had peace for 6 decades now – which has rarely happened before in the European history.

    (edit: correct link)

  16. March 21st, 2009 at 13:42 | #16

    @Dan – The phrase was “these colours don’t run”, and I think it has a longer history than that.

  17. dan
    March 21st, 2009 at 15:22 | #17

    #6,
    -How do you best ensure that something never happens again. By military might? Or co-operation?…

    War has been a part of human existence. If there is a solution to avoid it, it would been proposed millenniums ago. So my answer? You just make sure you have enough fire power when it is your turn to ‘play’, and pray for the whole duration that the other actors (soldiers, politicians, citizens) know their roles and are on the same page.

    #16,
    FOARP- you are right. I quoted the variation that I saw on lots of car bumper soon after that date for easy memory access.

  18. Raj
    March 21st, 2009 at 17:38 | #18

    dan

    War has been a part of human existence. If there is a solution to avoid it, it would been proposed millenniums ago.

    War has been avoided many times throughout History! Otherwise the planet would constantly be at war with itself. There is always a way to avoid conflict, even if it requires determination from both sides.

  19. William Huang
    March 21st, 2009 at 18:39 | #19

    According to Carl von Clausewitz, the war is just an extension of politics, a tool, if you will. In other words, war is just a mean to a political end. What’s behind politics? It’s economic and ideological conflict. The economic conflict is easy to resolve but ideology is much harder. If war is avoidable, it’s because some people in power still have the basic reason and logic. When the ideological fanatics are in power – you name it; left-wing, right-wing, religion, anti-religion, whoever, it’s a recipe for war. As long as there is one side who believed that they alone held the absolute truth and with enough firing power, you got a war. So watch out fanatics in any form and shape, especially those zealous crusaders.

    One thing separates us human from the rest of species is that we not only kill for food but also for “principle”. This part human “evolution” has only been developed in less than 2,000 years.

  20. Inst
    March 21st, 2009 at 19:13 | #20

    Raj, if it pleases you, look up Andrew Scobell and the Chinese “Cult of Defense”. It’s not what you think it is and I’m sure it’ll please your prejudices.

    In my case, the core lesson of WW2 is: don’t pick a fight with an enemy you can’t beat. The Germans could do little against both the Soviets and the Americans and would have difficulty fighting only one or the other. The Japanese acted as though they were desperate and tried to destroy the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, but failed. Even if they had succeeded, provided the United States made a proper show of will, they would have still been in trouble.

    Historically speaking, in Europe the powers of military conservatism have always been ascendent. Napoleon failed in his bid for continental hegemony, as did Hitler. But China as a polity is the spawn of Qin Shihuang, and you can ask the French about the Occitans or the English about Scotland or the Japanese about the “Ryukyus”. If backed by sufficient force, wars of conquest can and will succeed. If backed by repressive policy, the locals can be ethnically cleansed or otherwise assimilated. I have no doubt that if Hitler had made the correct accords with Stalin, England would be fascist and European anti-semitism would have purged Europe of its Jews. If the United States hadn’t intervened, the Japanese would have occupied China and destroyed it as an independent civilization.

  21. March 21st, 2009 at 19:33 | #21

    @Inst – Wars of conquest can and will succeed, it is true, but Scotland was never fully conquered by the English – you’re thinking of Wales and Ireland. Scotland was only united with England when the Scottish King James became King of England after the death of Queen Elizabeth, there were wars after this, but these either took the form of a conflict within the British Isles as a whole (the civil wars of the mid 17th century and the rising of 1745) or were local rebellions within Scotland (the highland risings).

  22. stopimperialism
    March 21st, 2009 at 20:19 | #22

    Stop Chinese imperalism and colonialism in Tibet. Lesson from Japanese massacre in China in 1930’s is that China is doing same massacre to Tibetan people in 2009. What a shame.

  23. Raj
    March 21st, 2009 at 22:30 | #23

    Raj, if it pleases you, look up Andrew Scobell and the Chinese “Cult of Defense”.

    Is it something you’d personally recommend to anyone interested in China?

  24. Inst
    March 22nd, 2009 at 05:24 | #24

    It’s IR, Andrew Scobell argues that Chinese elites have a conception that they only fight to defend their assets and that any engagement they’re involved in is purely defensive. According to Prof (iirc) Scobell, the end result is that the Chinese are not particularly reluctant to use force to protect “their” territory and that the Chinese government has a strategic conception of war; if strategic needs are met, then operational victory can be damned. This means that what the West considers to be a military defeat could be construed as a strategic victory inside the Zhongnanhai compound. I’m suggesting this to you because I’m seeing a lot of people going on with the “cult of defense” here.

    The former assertation I have qualms with; for example, the Vietnamese border dispute was settled amicably post ’89, as was the Russian border dispute. The Tibet/India border is pinned on the Indians, who apparently are politically incapable of compromise, as their government will get a truckload of criticism for ceding even an inch of disputed soil.

  25. huaren
    March 22nd, 2009 at 07:15 | #25

    @Raj, #6

    “The European Union was set up with the phrase “never again” in mind.”

    Wow, scum, I agree with you for once.

    @sv13en, #15

    I think the E.U. is providing a great model for Asia. The Asia region is evolving essentially towards that model. China + ASEAN are becoming a free trade zone by 2010 (or 2012 I forgot). Korea and Japan will follow soon after that. They are creating their regional fund like IMF. They are setting up their own disaster relief for the region, etc., etc.. In my mind, they would have achieved EU’s model once visa is not required to travel between them.

    The Chinese leadership need to be thanked for having this wisdom, for they are pursuing long term stability in the region despite Japan not owning up to history. (Don’t forget that during the Yuan dynasty, Japan was near certain annihalation but was saved only by tsunami.)

  26. March 22nd, 2009 at 17:31 | #26

    What do people think are the true Lessons of WWII?
    ——————-
    1. Economic and social unrest make people more susceptible to finding easy solutions and scapegoats to their problems.
    2. Make contingency plans when they start asking you to wear bright yellow stars to identify yourselves.
    3. Cold winters breed tyrants + megalomaniacs?
    4. Young people (Germany, Russia, Communist China, etc) are good, loyal, passionate political “activists”. Tyranny/Cruelty is lacquered with a sheen of “idealism” to make it seem ok to rat on parents, humiliate intellectuals (usually those who will oppose the madness), etc
    5. It sometimes sucks to be a Jew.
    6. I agree with your “war is war”. Get practical. Get strong if you don’t want to be exterminated…..

  27. Shane9219
    March 22nd, 2009 at 22:03 | #27

    @miaka9383 #5

    Japanese cruelty, such as the atrocity of Nanjing (as well as what German did to Jews) has nothing to do with extreme nationalism or blind patriotism as you mentioned.

    It is becasue of Japanese culture and philsophy. it is geat pitilessnese and the lack of humanity when dealing with others.

    German have had their reflection (in certain sense, over-done it). It’s high time for Japanese people to do the same as a whole.

  28. March 22nd, 2009 at 22:28 | #28

    @Jed Yoong – However, nuclear weapons have changed all this – even a relatively small country can inflict horrific damage on an attacker at relatively low cost.

  29. March 22nd, 2009 at 22:41 | #29

    @Shane9219 – However, since the Japanese ‘culture and philosophy’ was virulently nationalistic, and since the pitilessness and lack of humanity stems largely from that, I really cannot see how you can say that Japanese nationalism was not the cause of their wars of conquest.

  30. Shane9219
    March 22nd, 2009 at 23:21 | #30

    @FOARP #29

    Almost every country on the Earth got involved in wars of some kind in their history. We should consider act of wars is a norm for conflict resolution in human history. However, as common as act of wars, there is a big difference between their behaviors in those wars. It is their behavior a display of original culture and philosophy formed over their history, long or short, humane or cruel.

  31. Wukailong
    March 23rd, 2009 at 04:31 | #31

    There’s a lot that can be learned from WWII, but as for this thing about guarding against your own country being weak, the solution is not simply to have a large army and a lot of weapons. The Axis were successful because they utilized new tactics that most people were unaware of at the time.

    As the French and British expected trench warfare like WWI, they were thrown off-guard by blitzkrieg. The Soviet Union, industrialized and with a huge army, was hardly weak (they had recovered from the worst excesses of the Great Purge) but they were not prepared for the tactics of the Wehrmacht. On the other hand, Finland countered the Soviet onslaught by intelligent tactics and making the best of their terrain.

    During the Gulf War, we saw a new paradigm again, though I have to say that Al-Qaeda seems to have figured out countertactics.

    In short, for any country: figure out your strong points, stay on top of technology, be prepared to depend yourself, be realistic and try to make diplomacy work for you.

  32. JXie
    March 23rd, 2009 at 04:48 | #32

    Victor writes history. First, the loser’s narrative doesn’t get to be passed along. Then you have the human tendency that the blemish of a story is gradually airbrushed out while being retold again and again — the perfect example is Jesse Owens w.r.t. the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was brought up a lot around the Beijing Olympics. Most commentators got the story fundamentally wrong.

    The grandest lesson of the WW2 to me is, the WHOLE human race walked to the edge of the cliff, looked down, and decided the old path was simply leading the humanity to a dead-end.

    Hitler admired the US and the UK. He wanted to duplicate what the US and the UK had accomplished via colonialism, slavery, etc., toward the lesser people. A part of the SS training film footage was how relatively few British soldiers were able to overtake and control India, and how the white settlers in the US were able to push westward and gain the living space from the Native Americans. To Hitler, the answer was to the east, the vast land where the Slavs live. If you think about it, the Third Reich was different from the British empire building and the US expansion only at the time scale, and that flair of, in this case sickening, German engineering proficiency. Had Hitler been a less daft and more patient military leader, what is to say a century later, there wouldn’t be Slavic History Month in the great Third Reich? Jews in Europe though, would have gone the way of some Native American tribes, unfortunately.

    Japan was angry at the established world. It was a winner in the Russo-Japanese war, and the WW1, yet it only got a junior role in the 5:5:3 Washington Naval Treaty. Once the industrial revolution started in its earnest in Japan, it needed oversea resources and outward expansion, yet both were severely hampered by the US and the UK. Even for eastward emigration, Japan much like China, was shut out of North America for no other reason but overt racism, which then was the acceptable and fully understood norm. In its own mind, Japan was the leader of Great East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, only under which the Chinese through being the willful subjects of the Japanese Emperor, could stand up to the West and truly be strong.

  33. Wukailong
    March 23rd, 2009 at 06:33 | #33

    @JXie: Great post! I agree with every word.

  34. March 23rd, 2009 at 07:40 | #34

    This conversation has got a bit too complicated. Just 2 comments:

    1- There are obviously many lessons to draw from the WW2 but for me the clearest one is that nationalism, (=regarding your race/nation as more important than any human values) is very dangerous and it is easily used by politicians to manipulate their people.

    2- I am surprised by how many readers here still think war is a necessary means or a normal way to solve political conflict. I am guessing this must be a usual point of view in America (most users here are from USA), but as a European I find it shocking. (Deleted for profanity)

    It is precisely because some people think that war is necessary that war is necessary. It is not a law of nature, the same way as many habits of past human societies (like keeping little boys to have sex with, or deliberately wrecking women’s feet) have been abandoned today. Of course, it was always the people who thought these things were “unchangeable” who did their best to ensure they remained so.

  35. huaren
    March 23rd, 2009 at 07:54 | #35

    @JXie, #32
    Agreed – great post!

  36. shan2406
    March 23rd, 2009 at 11:36 | #36

    I think any rules are weak against human nature

    With great power and greedy heart you can do anything

    Just like America invade Iraq.

  37. March 23rd, 2009 at 11:57 | #37

    @JXie – Adolf Hitler’s first and foremost objective was to reunite the German people (sound familiar?) The war in Europe started due to this, the German invasion of Poland was done to retake traditional German territory containing ethnic Germans which was handed over at the end of WWI due to the (unequal?) Versailles treaty – he may have seen Germany’s eventual destiny as being that of a world-bestriding empire, but his immediate objective was to gather the world’s Germans under one flag.

  38. JXie
    March 23rd, 2009 at 15:38 | #38

    @Uln 34, you dropped the key word “extreme”, with which personally tend to agree with you. Extreme forms of a lot of things, including extreme democracy or human rights advocacy, can be dangerous. You can make a good case that China’s nationalism is a whole lot less intense than in many other countries including many European ones. For instance, you don’t see organized attack on foreigners (rich or poor) in China. It’s understandably a legitimate concern of the Western world that if China is catching up the Western world on a per capita basis, China may turn into a fire-spitting dragon and is hellbent to right the past “wrongs”. Given China’s size, that image in itself is scary enough. However to me how the future would shape out depends on our actions today. It’s a two-way street, you know…

    @FOARP, if you imply the similarity based on China’s Taiwan stand, honestly I think the connection is spurious at best. For starter, there is no intellectual work (so to speak) backing such as the likes of Mein Kampf. China isn’t claiming Mongolia or Singapore, which both are not out of the reign of somewhat distorted rationality, with the former being the Qing territory and the latter being a place resided by majority Chinese. Taiwan is significant _only_ because its roles in the recent Chinese history. It was “lost” to Japan after the first Sino-Japanese war and “regained” after the second Sino-Japanese war.

  39. Steve
    March 23rd, 2009 at 16:23 | #39

    @ JXie #38: How did you get from Nazi Germany to Taiwan? Everything FOARP said about Germany and Hitler’s rationale was accurate. He didn’t imply anything, and to imply that he did is the actual definition of “spurious”.

  40. JXie
    March 23rd, 2009 at 16:39 | #40

    Steve, maybe I mis-read FOARP’s seemingly rhetorical question, “sound familiar?” Given the context, at least to me it’s easy to link it to a school of thought comparing China’s Taiwan stand to Nazi Germany’s initial expansion.

    If that indeed was a misread, you are absolutely correct that my implication would be spurious. Only FOARP knows his contention…

  41. neutrino
    March 23rd, 2009 at 20:02 | #41

    @ Steve 39

    FOARP obviously implied something, IMHO, and I think to suggest JXie to imply FOAR did is being “spurious” is strange. FORAP’s rhetorical question “sound familiar ” (to subject xxx) is an obvious link and comparison between the nazi expansion to this subject xxx. The only question is what is this subject xxx. JXie’s understanding is an educated guess, and not a bad one, if i may add. I, and possibly you, might believe such link is ill-founded or even preposteous. Yet I don’t see FOARP will have any problem with it, and anyone “accusing” of him doing that, for that matter.

  42. March 23rd, 2009 at 20:28 | #42

    @JXie – We should distinguish between the great amounts which were written after the war about Nazi philosophy and what was actually said at the time. The Germans did not excuse their expansive projects on the world stage using plans of racial identity – these were kept within the Nazi party and not openly confessed as anything more than ‘aspirations’ outside of it. Nazi comparisons to the US and the UK were merely a fig leaf designed to placate the consciousnesses of their own people – to use an exaggerated version of the history of Germany’s adversaries to excuse German brutality. Hence SS officers using allegations of British ‘atrocities’ in Ireland as a defence when questioned on the subject by Allied interrogators – in one particular incident an SS officer said that what Germany had done to the Jews was no worse than what Britain had done in Ireland, and when his interrogator replied that he was an officer in the Irish Guards (that is, a volunteer from the Republic of Ireland) the SS man refused to believe him. At the time, the Germans argued that they were entitled to reoccupy the Rhineland, to annex the Sudetenland and Austria, and to invade Poland and reclaim the Danzig corridor by dint of their cultural connection to the people of these regions, the assumed desire of these people for unification, and by the unfair and unequal nature of the treaties by which they were separated. Such were the excuses used in negotiations, and to the foreign media.

    Now compare this to the current rhetoric heard both inside and outside China – remembering of course that China remains a society more closed politically and socially than even Germany was per-1939. Do people call for the return of Mongolia? Well, this demand is often heard from nationalists, and even Allen and has said that he would like it to happen. Taiwan? This we do not even need to discuss. Do people use racial language? Well, the phrase ‘traitor to the Han’ is a common usage directed at any ethnic Chinese person who criticises the CCP, so yes. Do people describe China as a historical victim of ‘unfair’ treaties? Yes. Does the current Chinese government claim to represent all Chinese people? Well, the fact that ‘overseas Chinese’ are represented at China’s various rubber-stamp bodies would suggest so. The main difference is this: Chinese nationalism lacks a unitary leader or philosophy, and is mainly a plaything of the CCP rather than its master.

    The true lesson of WWII is not the inevitability of war, or the jungle nature of the human psyche, but that there should be no compromise of essential ideals in the face of dictatorship. The Versailles treaty created a mechanism by which peace could have been maintained in Europe if the will power existed to implement it. At the time of the invasion of the Rhineland, Britain and France could have defeated Hitler without even mobilising their reserves, at the time of the Austrian Anschluss, an alliance with Italy would have brought about the collapse of the Germans without even a shot being fired, at the time of Munich, one season’s campaigning would have brought the Reich to its knees. Instead the Allied powers, on who Europe depended to keep the peace, decided that the Versailles treaty, which had cost so much blood and treasure to obtain, was unfair and not worth defending, and a second war was inevitable.

    The same is true in Asia today, a mechanism exists to preserve peace – the defensive alliances between the US and her NATO allies and the Asian nations surrounding China, as well as the UN security council. Compromises threatening these alliances should be avoided, and no unreasonable arguments as to the ‘unfairness’ of these assurances or that of the world system as it currently stands should be brooked.

  43. Steve
    March 23rd, 2009 at 20:32 | #43

    @ Neutrino & JXie: My point wasn’t to jump on anyone for the possibility of FOARP implying it, my point was to not assume that he did. What is so difficult in asking him whether that’s what he meant? If so, then jump on him all you want, but to assume an implication and then answer it isn’t fair to FOARP or anyone else caught in a similar situation, including either of you if someone assumed you inferred something you did not.

  44. Raj
    March 23rd, 2009 at 21:05 | #44

    42 should be highlighted. Good post.

  45. March 23rd, 2009 at 21:06 | #45

    @Steve – Since it was exactly what I did mean, I don’t think there is any unfairness in it. However, if you follow Oli’s reasoning, comparing situations which appear similar but involve comparing China to other countries:

    “smacks not only of ignorance, but also of an unimaginative mind that is incapable of breaking free of it’s own hubris and socio-political conditioning to see the wider perspective in more detail”

  46. March 23rd, 2009 at 21:59 | #46

    Thanks for everyone’s thoughts thus far. I do want to follow up on a point Raj made in #2, and that has been echoed by several throughout. Raj wrote:

    There are other forms of strength that are not measured by military power. There is diplomatic strength, civil strength, economic strength (i.e. standards of living), etc. Europe is not a military superpower – many countries spend less than 2% of GDP on defence. But it is strong because it works together, not through fear and coercion but by consent and democracy.

    Many people from Europe like to point out to the years of peace and prosperity in Western Europe since WWII as proof of some sort of new universalism for the way forward. They like to point out that unilateralism, economic integration, freedom, democracy, continental communalism rather than militarism or nationalism is the way forward.

    I’ve always wondered whether the peace in Western Europe gained in the last 60 or so years is really qualitatively different from the past – and not just another militarily imposed sort of truce … or another intermittent truce of a people tired of war, catching a breadth from the last great war.

    Before jumping to conclusions, it may be useful to review the current breakdown of world military spending. In the following graphics, you will see the U.S. + EU/NATO far outspends everyone else. (Graphics from World Military Spending article on Global Issues)

    U.S./EU/NATO is the Roman Empire of the late 20th century/early 21st century. They have enforced a world order that is currently relatively stable.

    However, as we have learned from history, order by itself is never permanent. Eventually, even Rome fell.

    I point this out not necessarily to refute the thesis that the West has discovered a new paradigm of polity that is not based on military might but rather based on a set of universal, humanitarian values that offer the best way forward for the world, but simply to point out the simple proposition that the basis of stability in Europe, the West, and the world at large can still rely very much on hard national, military power…

    P.S. this chart is just for one year. If you add up cumulatively the military spending differences over the years, the advantage is even more one-sided for the West.

  47. HongKonger
    March 23rd, 2009 at 22:28 | #47

    So very Well said Oli, “smacks not only of ignorance, but also of an unimaginative mind that is incapable of breaking free of it’s own hubris and socio-political conditioning to see the wider perspective in more detail”

    # 46

    Thank You, Allen.

  48. Steve
    March 23rd, 2009 at 22:43 | #48

    Nice post, Allen~

    Neutrino & JXie: Seems like it’s open season on FOARP, now that he’s confirmed his position. Good hunting! 😛

  49. March 23rd, 2009 at 22:51 | #49

    @Steve,

    I guess it’s open season FOARP!

    However I may disagree with FOARP on many issues, I do agree that nationalism can be manipulated for “evil” and be turned to cause massive suffering.

    For me though, this does not mean that nationalism cannot also be a source for national liberation and empowerment.

    In my mind – it’s sort of like religion. While religion can be abused to cause oppression and violence, it can also be used as a platform for liberation and empowerment.

    In my mind, I think the same thing can be said for any sort of ideology – including authoritarianism, democracy, freedom, etc. Depending on the circumstances, each be used as a force for liberation as well as a force for oppression.

    But now I am probably saying too much!

    P.S. How can democracy and freedom be a force for oppression??? As I mentioned in a discussion with you some time ago, they can be so by becoming the “mass opiate” of society (by lulling people into a focusing on how democratic their gov’t is rather than how well their gov’t is serving them). You had corrected me that the more politically correct term is “eye candy” (or something to that effect) not “mass opiate”! 😉

  50. neutrino
    March 23rd, 2009 at 23:32 | #50

    @RAJ 2

    There are other forms of strength that are not measured by military power. There is diplomatic strength, civil strength, economic strength (i.e. standards of living), etc.

    ______________________________________________

    You don’t think these other forms of strength are guaranteed by either her own military power, or alliance with other military powers (say US)?

    @ FORAP 42

    Perfect example of “evil” is in eyes of the beholder. Where do I start? Let’s see. In FORAP’s enumeration of the similarities between NAZI expansion and taiwan, he cites “the phrase ‘traitor to the Han’ is a common usage directed at any ethnic Chinese person who criticises the CCP” as the kind of racial language NAZI used. Well, this is just beyond me. Plenty of people criticizes the CCP within or outside china (including me), while according to FORAP, I would have been called “traitor to the HAN” multiple times. Sorry, I never had that honor. It seems that either FORAP lived in a world surrounded by a strange circle of friends, or he has a very good set of filtering lenses. Taiwan issue is constantly debated within the Chinese community nowadays, and that’s a testament to the fact that China is now morphing into a more open society, not the contrary.

    The lesson I hope people would draw from WWII would be that the world order is still not perfect, as it was after WWI. The current world order avoided nuclear war, and largely maintained peace in western europe. However, that’s not to deny the fact that tens of millions of people have died in other parts of the world as a result of either civil war, proxy wars, or foreign invasion, a lot of which, may I add, are direct results of this US-dominated world order, and were often fought in the name of democracy and freedom. IMHO, the lesson is that the world order is not perfect, and it needs to be changed to accommodate the changing reality. The danger is to resist the change and instead try to preserve an imperfect system.

  51. HongKonger
    March 23rd, 2009 at 23:35 | #51

    Allen,

    ” How can democracy and freedom be a force for oppression???

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/opinion/22rich.html

  52. Steve
    March 23rd, 2009 at 23:44 | #52

    FOARP brought up an interesting point: “Chinese nationalism lacks a unitary leader or philosophy, and is mainly a plaything of the CCP rather than its master.”

    I’d phrase it differently but I’d like to use this thought to comment on this whole “west vs. east” argument. Communism is inherently a western concept. The CPC is built around Marxist/Leninist theory. Yes, it’s been modified somewhat but the primary structure is from the west. You can no longer separate west from east; they have blended over the years. The China of today has very little in common with the China of 100 years ago.

    So let’s look at Communist political theory. The party doesn’t serve the people, the people serve the party. The media serves the party. The army serves the party. Nationalism serves the party. Decisions are made by the party. The entire structure is organized around a one party authoritarian system. This isn’t anything new and certainly not unique to China, it’s straight out of Marxist/Leninist doctrine. I agree with Oli that you cannot compare different countries since each country develops under its own set of circumstances. However, you can compare government structure.

    The closest government structure to China’s was Franco’s Spain. It was a one party authoritarian dictatorship which enjoyed economic success under a capitalist system for a long period of time, but there are still huge differences between the situation there and the one in China. The Nazi party was a ten year aberration with a dictator that was mentally ill. There is no comparison between it and China.

    To say that westerners cannot understand China makes no sense. China seems to understand the west well enough to engage in massive trade. Chinese people don’t seem to have many problems emigrating to western countries or studying at their universities. Are you saying that only Chinese can figure out others but it cannot work the opposite way? Understanding isn’t the same as experiencing. I can’t experience childbirth, but I can develop a pretty good understanding of what’s involved. I can never experience a lifetime of being raised in China but I can develop a good understanding of the life that my friends led there while growing up, from their descriptions, their behavior and their general attitude concerning life. However, I cannot develop much of an understanding if I just read about a culture or if I live there and only associate with others from my country or race. It always takes an effort to achieve any real understanding.

    Western Europe achieved mass production in the 19th century, allowing its people to have access to luxuries that were only available to the very wealthy before that time. China is just achieving its own industrial revolution where people have access to material goods on a nationwide scale. The ability to produce in massive quantities at a low price is a western concept, and one that China is utilizing to an enormous extent at the present time. There’s nothing “Chinese” about it at all.

    Shanghai is the only city in the world that reminds me of New York City, whose suburbs are where I’m originally from. You don’t think there’s a western influence at work there? Shanghai’s very existence is due to western influences.

    Chinese eat western foods, listen to western music, wear western clothing, go to western movies. There is no such thing these days as an independent culture, unless you want to talk about the aborigines in Namibia’s Kalahari Desert.

    The opinions I read on these pages from people of Chinese ancestry living in western countries are nothing like the opinions I heard from Chinese themselves living in China. The mainland Chinese had a wide diversity of opinions, exactly as neutrino said, while here it seems to be very monolithic.

    What are the lessons of WWII?

    1. Countries that move from a feudal to an industrial economy without a corresponding political revolution (Japan) tend to become overly nationalistic, xenophobic and develop feelings of racial superiority.
    2. Countries mired in deep recessions (Germany & Italy) are vulnerable to charismatic populist dictators.
    3. The most effective political slogan (Fascism) during economic chaos is to preach order, stability and economic progress.
    4. The quickest way to turn around a flat economy and put people to work is with a huge military buildup.
    5. People will accept war as long as it doesn’t interfere with their personal lifestyles.
    6. Never bomb civilian populations if you want to turn them against their leader. (Germany & Japan)
    7. Never fight a two front war. (Germany)
    8. Don’t declare war against a country with a far more developed economy than yours, especially if you are too distant to destroy their economic might. (Japan)
    9. Ultra large countries cannot be conquered, only a part of them can be occupied for a period of time. (China & USSR)
    10. If you bleed a country after a victorious war, you will eventually have to fight them again. (Germany)
    11. If you have colonies, they will revolt and declare independence after the war is over and your military is spent. (England, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, USA, the Netherlands)
    12. E=MC2 (Kaboom!) 😛

  53. HongKonger
    March 23rd, 2009 at 23:45 | #53

    neutrino :
    “Plenty of people criticizes the CCP within or outside china (including me)” [ = ]
    ““traitor to the HAN” multiple times. Sorry, I never had that honor. ”

    LOL. How so very true.

    OTH, America is a haven for loud mouths, anyone can criticize….hence drowning out the “good prophets, ” with valid admonitions …

    http://www.arthurmag.com/2009/03/16/let-it-die-rushkoff-on-the-economy/

  54. HongKonger
    March 23rd, 2009 at 23:55 | #54

    Steve,
    How are you?
    I found this great singer: Chicago Blues man, N.Barron

    1) Devil Dog
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RLsXrr0fQo&feature=channel

    “I don’t believe in the devil but….”

    2) – Spaghetti

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAA0-S5k9OA&NR=1

    …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    I got this in my email from, methinks, a smart American. Do you think a future US popularist grassroots movement is plausible? An actual effective third party? Gandhi politics?

    “Obama et al are arresting our long-standing slide into utter kleptocracy which in and of itself is quite a task.”

    ” I believe the best way to reverse course is for folks to put their hopes apart from Obama’s Admin, while at the same time focusing more on the good that they are facilitating as it is not without consequence for the US’s system as a whole to shift in some of the directions that Obama is leading it twds. ”

    “My hope is that we’ll soon have a populist grass/nets-roots movement to incorporate the use of proportional representation into our state house of representative legislative elections so as to stymie the ability of either of the two main parties to dominate state and our national government, which in turn will enable the proliferation of 500 plus local third parties that will focus on contesting local elections and otherwise employ the politics of Gandhi, including in voting strategically in larger single-member elections.”

  55. HongKonger
    March 24th, 2009 at 00:19 | #55

    “Are you saying that only Chinese can figure out others but it cannot work the opposite way?”

    Obviously everyone could – if only they care to and are open-minded.

    The fact is, due to the cause and effect of modern history, a lot more Asian people as subjugated and re-culturized human beings, understand the West much better than the other way around. Steve, you are but among the tiny tiny minority because, I think, one, you have good genetic dispositions/attitudes and two, which as a result of that quality, allows you the experiences that further widen the perspectives due to your openmindedness, as you so rightly answered your own introductory question, “It always takes an effort to achieve any real understanding.”

    Very good post. Thanks, Steve.

  56. March 24th, 2009 at 00:32 | #56

    @Neutrino – All I can go on is the number of times I’ve been called ‘Han Jian’ on Chinese chat sites, and the number of people who have used the phrase in front of me, as well as phrases like “fake foreign devil” to describe overseas Chinese who don’t agree with the mainland govt. Apart from that, of course none of my friends would call me a ‘han jian’ because 1) I’m not Han and 2) they’re not racist idiots.

    @Allen – Obviously US military spending is historically high, but you know what it is being spent on – Iraq and Afghanistan. There are no mysteries.

  57. March 24th, 2009 at 00:42 | #57

    @FOARP #56,

    I don’t think US military spending is historically high compared with the rest of the world.

    Here is a chart of US military spending as a % of world military spending going back to 1988.

    Click here for source of chart.

    Data originally from SIPRI is the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

    Here is a table from same source:

    Year

    US

    World

    US as
    percent
    of world

    1988

    426.8

    910

    46.9

    1989

    422.1

    906

    46.6

    1990

    403.7

    884

    45.7

    1991

    354.3

    844

    n/a

    1992

    374.4

    785

    47.7

    1993

    354.8

    762

    46.6

    1994

    334.5

    740

    45.2

    1995

    315.1

    707

    44.6

    1996

    298.1

    691

    43.1

    1997

    296.5

    696

    42.6

    1998

    289.7

    690

    42.0

    1999

    290.5

    696

    41.7

    2000

    301.7

    723

    41.7

    2001

    304.1

    741

    41.0

    2002

    335.7

    784

    42.8

  58. March 24th, 2009 at 00:54 | #58

    @Steve #52,

    You wrote:

    So let’s look at Communist political theory. The party doesn’t serve the people, the people serve the party. The media serves the party. The army serves the party. Nationalism serves the party.

    Is this right?

    I’ve always thought that in theory at least, the Communist Party exist to serve the people. That’s what the communist liberation is all about, after all.

    Now – it’s true that to serve the people, it is necessary for the Party to lead the people … but that’s not the same as the people existing to serve the party.

    Am I gravely mistaken here?

  59. Steve
    March 24th, 2009 at 00:57 | #59

    @ HongKonger: Wow, I never heard of Nicholas Barron but he’s really good! I have a friend of mine who is putting together a Sunday morning music podcast that keeps things mellow to recover from that Saturday night hangover, so heavy on blues, gospel, jazz, etc. but all pretty subdued. I’m definitely going to point him in Barron’s direction, since it would fit the format.

    Speaking of the blues, have you heard Keb’ Mo’? Here’s one of his songs called City Boy.

    Thanks for the compliments. 🙂 Before my first overseas trip to Chile back in 1989, the guy I went down there with told me the secret to travel was to “never compare cultures”, just accept them for what they are and you’ll always have a great time. If you compare, you’ll always be disappointed. I believe that was the point Oli was also trying to make. Even historical situations are so complex that comparisons are fraught with danger. When you don’t compare, everything is interesting because your mind is more open and you are not trying to assign meaning based on your past experiences. Rather than assume what something means, I’d just ask whoever I was with to explain it and usually the perspective was not what I would have conceived in my own mind. Even the China I knew doesn’t exist anymore, since the pace of change is so rapid. I’ve only been back once in the last seven years so I’m getting rusty. 😉

    I also think it’s possible to get caught in the opposite trap. Mainland Chinese people think they understand the people from Taiwan and vice versa, but in my experience they do not. The cultures are different but by assuming they are the same, they can fall into the same trap as the westerner in China. That trap is even trickier when you have some similarities in common, so you just assume you have almost everything in common. There are always people in every culture who achieve some understanding while others cannot. I guess it’s all in the attitude they have.

    I’ve been told by ABC that most of the mainland Chinese students at American universities stick together and don’t socialize with non-Chinese, not even ABC. So I guess it’s a universal trait. HongKonger, maybe your generation was the last one that felt subjugated and re-culturalized? Do you think this generation has more confidence in themselves and their culture, so less likely to absorb outside influences?

  60. Steve
    March 24th, 2009 at 01:19 | #60

    @ Allen #58: I believe you are gravely mistaken. Communist political theory is based on party control. Only party members can vote. Party membership is traditionally limited. In fact, until recently business people could not join the Party and there are still elements in the Party that are against letting them in. They see them as a corruptive influence. Party membership was by theory relegated to the workers only, and never to the owners. A party of the people would consist of universal membership. Even today in China, the Party singles out top students from the best universities for membership. One of my close friends in Shanghai was approached several times by the Party to join, since she was an elite student and very active in her university leadership.

    Now comes the tricky part. In today’s China, Party membership is open to capitalists so there has been changes to the structure but are those changes helpful to the people or helpful to the capitalist party members? Or helpful to both?

    In Communism, the party structure is very rigid and difficult under the system to reform. Factional government is not the same as government with multiple political parties. The lines are harder to define. Decisions are made behind closed doors. Major national decisions are made by a very small group. Local decisions are not made by administrators, whether appointed or elected. They are made by appointed party members. In that way, any deficiencies can be blamed on the administrators and not on the Party, since the Party is above criticism. Again, that is basic Communist political theory.

    In Communist doctrine, the Party doesn’t represent the people, the Party IS the people. The people identify themselves as a group through the Party. To say the Communist party exists to serve the people is a liberal democratic concept that indicates a separation. Under Communism, the Party in theory has overcome the separation to achieve oneness with the people.

    Does that make sense? It’s hard to sum up Marxist/Leninist theory in a few paragraphs. Though the theory in China has evolved in some aspects, the core structure hasn’t changed.

  61. Steve
    March 24th, 2009 at 01:42 | #61

    @ HongKonger #54: Oops, forget to address your question…

    “Do you think a future US popularist grassroots movement is plausible? An actual effective third party? Gandhi politics?”

    A grassroots movement is definitely plausible, since the Republicans are discredited and the Democrats are getting there quickly. A third party can effectively hurt the Democrats in the beginning but to achieve long term success, they would have to become larger than the Democrats and eventually replace them. Under the current election laws, especially for President, only two parties can be effective unless the Electoral College was eliminated. But that could create a series of parties that could then form coalitions and a small percentage could have an undue influence, as Shas exerts over Israeli politics and as New Komeito exerts in Japan. As multiple parties split the vote, either the country would be governed by a minority party or if a 50% +1 was instituted, then you’d have a runoff system and probable coalition government. It’d be a huge change from the present system and probably not popular.

    “Obama et al are arresting our long-standing slide into utter kleptocracy which in and of itself is quite a task.”

    So far, Obama’s administration has been handing out money like water with very little oversight. He is still personally popular but the Democrats are rapidly losing support. He needs to govern based on what he is saying, not saying one thing and letting his people do another. He needs to rein in some of his economic advisors.

    ” I believe the best way to reverse course is for folks to put their hopes apart from Obama’s Admin, while at the same time focusing more on the good that they are facilitating as it is not without consequence for the US’s system as a whole to shift in some of the directions that Obama is leading it twds. ”

    I’m not sure what other options we have right now besides the Obama administration. Congress is a mess, the Republicans are even a bigger mess so Obama seems to be the only game in town right now.

    “My hope is that we’ll soon have a populist grass/nets-roots movement to incorporate the use of proportional representation into our state house of representative legislative elections so as to stymie the ability of either of the two main parties to dominate state and our national government, which in turn will enable the proliferation of 500 plus local third parties that will focus on contesting local elections and otherwise employ the politics of Gandhi, including in voting strategically in larger single-member elections.”

    I’m not sure what he’s referring to when he talks about the politics of Gandhi. Gandhi’s brand of politics was involved in an independence movement. After that independence was achieved, he was assassinated. Personally, I hate proportional representation. Look at the yahoos who were elected in Taiwan with proportional representation; gangsters, TV anchors, gadflies. It may sound good in theory but I’m not impressed with how it works in practice. Taiwan has had to change the way they elect their congressmen and that change has been to go to single district winner take all elections.

  62. HongKonger
    March 24th, 2009 at 02:17 | #62

    Steve,

    I am glad you like N.Barron. He has a MySpace link. He used to bask in the subways of Chicago. Played up to 12 hours some days. He has been a musician for 22 years. He sounds like BB King, at times reminds me of Robert Cray – even occassionally Barry White….

    “Do you think this generation has more confidence in themselves and their culture, so less likely to absorb outside influences?”

    My thoughts, actually, they are your words: “Shanghai is the only city in the world that reminds me of New York City,[ …] Shanghai’s very existence is due to western influences.”

    The western moon is rounder is what many here believes. I am talking – a very large population here who thinks that. The problem is that they can’t afford yet to see that foreign moon for themselves in order to form their own valid opinions. Many Asians on FM live in the west – I see them as quite well informed, & more balanced having had real life experience overseas, especially they being totally Bi-lingual and all. Many perhaps learning of their own countries’ shortcomings – as they become more and more fluent in western cultures and languages, be they students, professionals or business people living in Europe or elsewhere.

    Needless to say, the knowledge and impression of their adopted countries hinges on their social circles, personal observation and reading habits. In any case, these Asians in foreign lands convey a lot of information back home. So, let’s not short sell or look upon the untraveled folks of Mainland China as ignorant baffoons – They may not be as vocal, but when it comes to their own country, survival needs, instincts, cultural relevance, government – they know a lot better than the West care to give them credits for. But even worse are the ubiquitous China-bashing knuckleheads’ gleeful misrepresentations. Their opinions mostly are merely validated by their excursionary experiences in China, coming in the first place with their entitlement attitides, and priviledged status – I am writing with my fingers on the keyboard, not pointing any fingers, so, cool it, all ya (over) educated halfwits out there . You and I know who you are. So, either humble thyself and repent or …um, Steve, Oli, Huran, Allen, even WKL etc…will kick your uptight asses to kickstart your near-dead brains.. Haha… 🙂 Just kidding folks.

    Expose your foolishness all you want. FM is here for that with the hope that the effluent of prejudices and putrid flow of ignorance around it may diminish into the ground at its foothill, and pebbles be displaced – not entirely, though- for in thinking such blasphemous thoughts is tantamount to asking the god who confused the people of Babel – for a reason – to repent~!

    Like I said before, I love all cultures. That is why I only watch CCTV these days. They have great cultural shows, travelogue, international dialogs, rediscovering China, etc …I grew up on bad, fear-mongering News..it is refreshing to hear good news.. Well, for bad news, there’s always MSM, of which HK media is among the worst. My Canadian friend in HK got so fed up with western and HK MSM that he mainly watches Al Jezzira News these days. Good move, methinks.

  63. HongKonger
    March 24th, 2009 at 02:27 | #63

    # 61,

    THANK YOU so much for your reply !
    Now I am going to sound like I know what I am talking about in reply to my aforementioned smart American friend . (On second thought, I should just refer him to FM..) Cheers. 🙂

  64. Steve
    March 24th, 2009 at 05:54 | #64

    @ HongKonger #62: I’m listening to N. Barron’s MySpace page right now and his song “No Space” reminds me a little of early Springsteen, circa “The Wild, the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle”.

    What did you think of that Keb’ Mo’ song? Had you heard of him before?

    My experience of the “untraveled folks of Mainland China”, or at least the ones I knew, was that they were pretty well informed about the outside world with one exception; they believed what they saw in Hollywood movies. They were shocked when they found out I didn’t own a gun, thought the streets were always getting shot up and that every American had sex with virtual strangers at the drop of a hat, just like my mom was surprised when my parents visited China and no one was wearing Mao jackets, the buildings were modern, people were super friendly and nothing was gloomy. Everyone has stereotypes in their mind about other places but once you get there, those stereotypes disappear pretty quickly.

    It’s common for people who emigrate to other countries to then remember their native land more idealistically than when they used to live there. That’s natural for everyone. Though I read the news religiously, I didn’t realize what a mess the Bush administration was making of things until I got home and had a chance to experience it rather than read about it. You lose the FEEL of a country when you don’t live there, and miss many of the subtle changes.

    I also worry when people form their impressions by the opinions of others. As an example, on our first trip to Europe, we flew into Frankfurt and were originally going to leave from there, but since the first flight was from Frankfurt to Paris, we decided to switch things around (we were traveling on our own so we had flexibility) and fly out of Paris so we could check out the Eiffel Tower, etc.

    We hadn’t met any Americans until we stayed at this hotel up in the mountains of Switzerland, just before we were going to Paris, and all the Americans there said that Paris was great but the Parisians were jerks and very rude, except for one guy who said they were just fine. So we didn’t know what to expect but when we got there, people could not have been nicer. Our opinion of Paris was fortunately based on our reality but if we had flown out of Frankfurt, we probably would have had the more negative impression.

    My wife’s best friend who is originally from Taiwan goes back and forth to Beijing where her husband owns a factory. She and her husband are very nice, elegant, cultured people whom I like very much. But all her friends in Beijing are from Taiwan. Her opinions about China have definitely been influenced by her friends’ negative views (especially of Chinese women) but I must fault her for not reaching out beyond that small circle into the rest of Beijing society.

    My wife and I were having dinner once with three people here in San Diego. All three had met in Shanghai where they had formerly lived. One was American, one Australian and one Mexican. I happened to ask them what percentage of Chinese food they ate while they lived there. The answer? 10%. I was flummoxed! How can you live in China and only eat Chinese food 10% of the time? They lived in China but they didn’t LIVE in China. They had built a wall between themselves and the culture. I knew that if the food was at 10%, so was everything else.

    I see the same with some Chinese who have emigrated to the States. All their friends are Chinese. They eat nothing but Chinese food. The women watch Chinese soap operas at home. They speak Chinese 95% of the time. They shop at the 99 Supermarket. They go out to Chinese restaurants. They are doing here what those three people did in Shanghai. They don’t have a clue what the States are really like, as those three didn’t have a clue as to the true nature of China. But both groups would swear they knew everything about their new cultures if you asked them.

    My hope with FM is that people get rid of knee jerk philosophies (China is perfect; China is a gulag) and realize that China shouldn’t be judged as good or bad, but a country charting its own course in today’s world, shaking off three centuries of torpor and rejoining the rest of the world on her own terms and in her own way. China will be modern yet traditional, spiritual but not religious, economically liberal yet politically conservative, open yet wary, but hopefully successful in the long run. Everything is being tried on a massive scale, with massive results that can be either massively good or massively bad.

    I don’t agree with some here that this is a win/lose scenario; I see it more as a win/win or lose/lose. I don’t see other countries trying to keep China down, and I also don’t take the starry eyed view that China is run by a benevolent, enlightened, non-aggressive Party. I hear words and I then see actions, and they don’t always agree. I don’t expect them to. No government walks the talk 100% of the time so I don’t expect China to do so either.

    I’m not convinced this government structure can bring China to where she needs to go without some major reform and though I’m hopeful those reforms can take place, I’m not sure they will. Unlike Allen and some others here, I have more confidence in China’s people than I do in her government. Maybe I’m wrong. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me and I enjoy reading others opinions even when the are the opposite of mine, as long as they are backed up with intelligent reasoning. None of us know what the future has in store, so let’s not pretend we do. And there’s never a good reason to insult someone only because their opinion is different from ours. It’s impossible to influence people when you are busy insulting them. Don’t pretend China has no virtues; don’t pretend China has no warts.

    I consider Zhu Rongji to be China’s greatest administrator since Deng, but almost never hear his name mentioned on FM. I haven’t been impressed with either Hu or Wen’s performance, though Wen seems pretty likable. I don’t know much about the next generation of leaders or how smoothly that transition will go, since these will be the first that weren’t handpicked by Deng. There’s a lot to discuss but I feel privileged that I’m living in an era of history where I can see the development of China firsthand.

    When I was a kid, China was totally closed to the outside world and a great mystery. All I was able to read were Edgar Snow’s “Red Star Over China”, Pearl S. Buck’s “The Good Earth” and John K. Fairbank’s textbooks. Now there are hundreds of books at Borders or Barnes & Noble to choose from. Though government deliberations are secret, there is rampant speculation on what takes place. Rapid changes are happening everyday. These are exciting times we live in, so let’s enjoy them and enjoy each others opinions.

    Well, that’s my rant for tonight. 😀

  65. Wukailong
    March 24th, 2009 at 06:20 | #65

    @Steve: “I consider Zhu Rongji to be China’s greatest administrator since Deng, but almost never hear his name mentioned on FM. I haven’t been impressed with either Hu or Wen’s performance, though Wen seems pretty likable.”

    I’m curious about how you assess the Hu-Wen team. Certainly Zhu Rongji was very likable and a great speaker (as well as very good at handling Western journalists) but are there any specific policies and/or results you have in mind when you discuss the present leaders?

    I have to admit I don’t find Hu Jintao that inspiring, and I think he’s more of an administrator than a creative politician, but it’s hard to deny his and Wen’s exemplary handling of the earthquake.

  66. HongKonger
    March 24th, 2009 at 07:05 | #66

    Nice rant, 🙂 Steve.

    I remember months ago we mostly agreed on FM that people are people, basically act, react and make do similarly under similar conditions.

    LOL. I dare say no one would be so ignorant as to think China as perfect. Not even Chinese officials nor the media. Switch on the CCTV anyday, listen to the voices of the ppl on the street, workplaces, homes, articles on newspapers, etc. The real feel of the sentiments of the society is generally missed by those who speak no, or are semi fluent, or even those who are fluent but are far from being near-native levels in the local languages.

    In China, I often find myself acting as a translator, sth I am more and more inclined to decline. I’ve witnessed so much misunderstanding between two people who didn’t share the same culture and language. The worse ones are foreigners (including Asian foreigners) and or locals — are those who either knew some Chinese or in the case of the locals, some English — unfortunately just enough to totally misinterpret lingua-cultural nuances. LOL.

  67. March 24th, 2009 at 07:24 | #67

    @Steve #60,

    I am not sure if you are being completely fair in #60.

    Your pointing out that the party has traditionally limited membership is only evidence that the party may be elitist but not necessarily evidence that the party is exclusive and beholden only to dictatorship or the ruling elit.

    If you look to the ideology, the rhetoric, and I might even add – the spirit – of the communist revolution – I’d still argue that the party is to serve the people through creation of a flat, communist – perhaps Utopian – society.

    In other words: The revolution is meant to serve the people; the party is meant to lead the revolution.

    My disagreement is not whether communism is good or bad – or whether China is communist or not.

    Our deeper, more fundamental disagreement I think is whether a gov’t not by the people can be for the people. I tend think so – but I don’t think you do….?

  68. huaren
    March 24th, 2009 at 08:20 | #68

    @Steve, #64

    That’s a rant with enough goodwill in my book. 🙂

  69. cephaloless
    March 24th, 2009 at 10:52 | #69

    @ Allen
    “Our deeper, more fundamental disagreement I think is whether a gov’t not by the people can be for the people. I tend think so – but I don’t think you do….?”

    This should lead to an interesting discussion. I think it boils down to man being inherently good or bad. I guess the prevailing governing philosophy in western governments is that man is bad so there are checks and balances from the top of the government down to the individual citizen. The communist style government not by the people has little or no checks and balances and is staffed by men who are expected to be good. I’m of the school of “man is born bad” so I wouldn’t expect any group of people to do good things unless they’re forced to. That also includes transparency so they can’t do bad things in secret. I’m not saying it’s impossible for such a government to do good, there are plenty of good monarchs recorded in history. I’m just saying there’s nobody there to force the not so good ones to follow the good example.

    Don’t be too trusting, it might get you old motor oil in your engine 😛

  70. Chops
    March 24th, 2009 at 11:19 | #70

    IHT: How democracy produced a monster

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/03/opinion/edkershaw.php

    “Hitler came to power in a democracy with a highly liberal constitution, and in part by using democratic freedoms to undermine and then destroy democracy itself. That democracy, established in 1919, was a product of defeat in war and revolution and was never accepted by most of the German elites, notably the military, large landholders and big industry.

    Troubled by irreconcilable political, social and cultural divisions from the beginning, the new democracy survived serious threats in the early postwar years and found a semblance of stability from 1924 to 1928, only to be submerged by the collapse of the economy after the Wall Street crash of 1929.

    The Nazis’ surge in popular support (2.6 percent of the vote in the 1928 legislative elections, 18.3 percent in 1930, 37.4 percent in July 1932) reflected the anger, frustration and resentment – but also hope – that Hitler was able to tap among millions of Germans. Democracy had failed them, they felt. Their country was divided, impoverished and humiliated. Scapegoats were needed.”

    So democracy does’nt always prevent a country from going ballistic, e.g. US and the Iraq WMD fiasco

  71. cephaloless
    March 24th, 2009 at 13:11 | #71

    National Socialist German Workers’ Party did have a party militia that threatened to enforce it’s views should the democratic process fail them. (no need to pound me, this is just an opinion based on little research)

  72. March 24th, 2009 at 13:41 | #72

    @Steve – A friend of mine’s Taiwanese in-laws live in Australia, and since Australian law has made voting mandatory they do it, but they can barely speak English, have no real knowledge of Australian history or culture, refer to white Australians as ‘laowai’, and barely know the city they live in outside of the East Asian majority area despite having been there for years. I have known expats who were almost exactly the same. Now, there is no requirement for people who visit a country for a few months to bother themselves overly with exploring it, but anyone working for an extended period owes it to themselves and to their host country to try to learn something of it. The spectacle of, for example, a British middle-manager I knew in Taipei who had lived there for eight years but still could barely speak a single word of Chinese and didn’t even know that more than one dialect of Chinese was spoken on the island, tells you a lot about the close-minded and incurious approach some people take to life.

    All the same, this does not mean that it is impossible or unproductive to compare one country to another, to compare one point in history to another, especially where those situations are similar. There is nothing “ignorant” or “unimaginative” in doing so.

  73. March 24th, 2009 at 13:44 | #73

    @Chops – But, as has been discussed before, Hitler still needed to establish a dictatorship after being elected, and did so through underhand means. It is quite possible for a democracy to become a sham, a review of the history of Southern and Eastern Europe over the last 20 years shows as much.

  74. Shane9219
    March 24th, 2009 at 17:14 | #74

    Hi everyone on this thread:

    Wars have many causes and expose different historical contexts. No two wars are the same. It takes many books just to discuss causes and context of a single war. As much as we dislike wars, act of wars will continue in our life times. No single country, human being and religious belief can prevent that from happening. This point has been thoroughly proven by our history.

    The most important thing, in my humble opinion, is to minimize the damage to civilian population and native culture from a war. From this perspective, we can discuss all wars, past and present, on an equal footing. Let’s exam behavior of wars, and how that demonstrated different culture and philosophy of individual countries.

  75. zepplin
    March 24th, 2009 at 17:24 | #75

    There are some obvious lessons:

    Two front wars are bad: preemptive strike is overrated.

    Even if you are a crazy political leader, try to listen to your military commanders a bit more.

  76. William Huang
    March 24th, 2009 at 18:05 | #76

    @ FOARP #42

    “The Germans did not excuse their expansive projects on the world stage using plans of racial identity – these were kept within the Nazi party and not openly confessed as anything more than ‘aspirations’ outside of it.”

    What you said here is not true. The very idea of Germany nationalism formalized by Nazi party was based on racial identity and about German’s “living space” and the “historic destiny” as justification for aggression and invasion not German unification. It was well elaborated in “Mein Kampf” (pub. 1926). Everything Hitler did up until the last day of his life was clearly lied out in “Mein Kampf”. This whole idea of German as the “master race” went into all works of lives not just as a political rhetoric by Nazi party members but went deep into general population. For example, it went into even the scientific community, a last place you would expect for such idea to propagate. Enough prominent scientists went so far as to promot “German Science”. In additoin, anti-Semitism and racial identity had its historical roots in German history and it’snot Hitler’s invention. He just pushed it to extreme and the whole country followed.

    ”At the time of the invasion of the Rhineland, Britain and France could have defeated Hitler without even mobilising their reserves, at the time of the Austrian Anschluss, an alliance with Italy would have brought about the collapse of the Germans without even a shot being fired, at the time of Munich, one season’s campaigning would have brought the Reich to its knees.”

    If Britain and France could brought the collapse of Germans without a shot being fired, could German brought collapse of Austrian and Czechoslovakia without firing a shot? This was exactly what Hitler did. You used military strength as possible wining justification in one instance while diplomatic campaign in another. But historical fact remains, Hitler played both games and he won. There was no way for Britain and France leaders to know what Hitler’s real intention was. Analogous to your analysis, I could have won last week’s million dollar lottery if I know the wining number in advance through time-travel machine.

    BTW, Rhineland is an area inside German, not an independent country. The issue was about militarizing the place (forbidding by Versailles treaty). Rhineland had no real the military significance in WWII but a test case for Hitler to see if he could bluff. It was nerve-racking for him to bluff but not for Britain and France. There was no “invasion” going on there.

    “The same is true in Asia today, a mechanism exists to preserve peace – the defensive alliances between the US and her NATO allies and the Asian nations surrounding China, as well as the UN security council. Compromises threatening these alliances should be avoided, and no unreasonable arguments as to the ‘unfairness’ of these assurances or that of the world system as it currently stands should be brooked.”

    What China has anything to do with NATO? If you imply that China is public enemy number one in the world today, please by all means. BTW, fear of “communism” was another excuse for Hitler’s aggression. So here is another leasson from WWII – watch out the banner with “anti-communism” written on and could be fascism and “master race” hidden behind.

    If tomorrow, a bomb exploited in London subway, you can be sure it has nothing to do with Chinese.

  77. March 24th, 2009 at 19:13 | #77

    @William Huang – But German officials did not quote from Mein Kampf during negotiations, or use it in speeches to the press – and much of what you describe took place mainly during the war. Go back and read the newspapers from the 30’s, you will see German officials denying anti-semitism, denying euthansia of the mentally disabled, denying any plans of aggression. Adolf Hitler himself said that the Sudetenland was his final request and that he had no aspirations beyond that.

    “This was exactly what Hitler did. You used military strength as possible wining justification in one instance while diplomatic campaign in another. But historical fact remains, Hitler played both games and he won. There was no way for Britain and France leaders to know what Hitler’s real intention was.”

    The whole point of Versailles was that the victors, acting with the League of Nations, would act to check any and all acts of aggression from Germany. To make this possible the Rhineland was to be permanently demilitarised, Czechoslovakia was granted the Sudentenland as a buffer zone, and Austrian unification with Germany (which was requested at Versailles) was to be prevented. Furthermore, a cordon sanitaire was to be established to prevent aggression on the part of Soviet Russia, and a strong Poland with access to the sea via the Danzig corridor was central to this. So long as it was clear that the Allied powers would guarantee this system, no aggression could be contemplated, however, once Anglo-French unwillingness to enforce it became clear, Germany took full advantage. So yes, the threat of aggression in the cause of peace would have guaranteed peace.

    The essential point you have missed is this – Britain and France refused to enforce the agreement because they were afraid of war they knew that war might be the result of enforcing it – but those in charge were seemingly blind to the fact that they were rewarding aggression. Neville Chamberlain himself started the British re-armament project, so he must have been aware that war was likely whatever he did.

    “BTW, Rhineland is an area inside German, not an independent country. The issue was about militarizing the place (forbidding by Versailles treaty). Rhineland had no real the military significance in WWII but a test case for Hitler to see if he could bluff. It was nerve-racking for him to bluff but not for Britain and France. There was no “invasion” going on there.”

    This is a common misconception, the term ‘invade’ means simply to enter forcefully, hence allied forces invaded France during the D-Day landings, British forces involved in Operation Corporate invaded the Falkland islands, etc. Using the word ‘invade’ does not mean that the territory invaded doesn’t belong to you. For your reference:

    –verb (used with object)
    1. to enter forcefully as an enemy; go into with hostile intent: Germany invaded Poland in 1939.
    2. to enter like an enemy: Locusts invaded the fields.
    3. to enter as if to take possession: to invade a neighbor’s home.
    4. to enter and affect injuriously or destructively, as disease: viruses that invade the bloodstream.
    5. to intrude upon: to invade the privacy of a family.
    6. to encroach or infringe upon: to invade the rights of citizens.
    7. to permeate: The smell of baking invades the house.
    8. to penetrate; spread into or over: The population boom has caused city dwellers to invade the suburbs.
    –verb (used without object)
    9. to make an invasion: troops awaiting the signal to invade.
    Origin:
    1485–95; < L invādere, equiv. to in- in- 2 + vādere to go;

    As for the significance of the Rhineland, without a German army established in this area, which was and is Germany’s industrial heartland, no wars of aggression could be contemplated in the east – it was for this very reason that it was demilitarised.

    “What China has anything to do with NATO?”

    The NATO and ANZUS alliances would support the US in a conflict with China.

    “fear of “communism” was another excuse for Hitler’s aggression.”

    Given the actions of the Soviets and their proxies in the Caucasus, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, South Korea and South East Asia, fear of communist aggression was wholly justified.

  78. Shane9219
    March 24th, 2009 at 19:29 | #78

    Chinese Plan for a Nanjing Memorial to ‘the Good Nazi’ Reopens War Wounds

    By Peter Goff

    http://japanfocus.org/-Peter-Goff/1643

    “Reopens War Wounds” ? Give me a break, Mr. Goff. It is Japanese should they re-open their WWII memory. No need to bring up atom bombing every time when WWII topic was brought up. One wrong can not be concealed by another, especially when Japan was the aggressor.

  79. Shane9219
    March 24th, 2009 at 19:31 | #79

    http://japanfocus.org/-Peter-Goff/1643

    “Last week, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, cancelled a summit with Mr Koizumi because “Japan won’t own up correctly to its history”. ”

    Two thumbs up! Mr. Premeir Wen

  80. March 24th, 2009 at 19:36 | #80

    @Shane9219 – The obvious question, the question you do not even seem bothered to ask yourself – to what degree has the PRC government “Owned up correctly to its history”?

  81. Shane9219
    March 24th, 2009 at 19:46 | #81

    http://japanfocus.org/-Peter-Goff/1643

    “He and his family lived in abject poverty, surviving on occasional care packages posted to him by the grateful people of Nanjing. He died of a stroke in 1950 at the age of 68.

    “The people of China will never forget the good German John Rabe, and the other foreigners who helped him,” said Ma Guoliang, an 89-year-old woman whose parents were killed by the Japanese. “He saved so many people and yet at any time he could easily have been killed himself. He could have left, but he stayed with us. We called him the living Buddha of Nanking.”

    That is a display of humanity from average Chinese people

  82. Shane9219
    March 24th, 2009 at 19:47 | #82

    @FOARP #80

    Don’t mix things up. You asked an irrelevant question

  83. William Huang
    March 24th, 2009 at 20:17 | #83

    @ FOARP #74

    “But German officials did not quote from Mein Kampf during negotiations, or use it in speeches to the press – and much of what you describe took place mainly during the war. Go back and read the newspapers from the 30’s, you will see German officials denying anti-semitism, denying euthansia of the mentally disabled, denying any plans of aggression. Adolf Hitler himself said that the Sudetenland was his final request and that he had no aspirations beyond that.”

    Do you really believe that Nazi German was stupid enough to tell outside world their real intentions? German people (in addition to Nazi party members) including military, intellectuals, etc, etc fully supported all aggressions far beyond Sudetenland based on ideology such as German “living space” and “destiny”.

    “So long as it was clear that the Allied powers would guarantee this system, no aggression could be contemplated, however, once Anglo-French unwillingness to enforce it became clear, Germany took full advantage. So yes, the threat of aggression in the cause of peace would have guaranteed peace.”

    Don’t you think if Britain and France would have done exactly that if they could? You analysis is based on a bunch of “if”s only hindsight can offer which was not available 70 years ago. Therefore, it’s meaningless to argue what they “should” have done based on todays’ information.

    “This is a common misconception, the term ‘invade’ means simply to enter forcefully…”

    There was no force required for Hitler to send troops into Rhineland. The troops simply marched into the area. As for the references (1-9) for the definition of the word “invade”, none of them applies to militarizing Rhineland.

    “As for the significance of the Rhineland, without a German army established in this area, which was and is Germany’s industrial heartland, no wars of aggression could be contemplated in the east – it was for this very reason that it was demilitarised.”

    Your statement can only be true if invasion of Poland (not a military power house) has any strategic significance. Britain and France did nothing to help Poland. It was the battle of the west (invasion of France), that started the collapse of Britain and France defense, which eventually led to the whole Europe.

    “The NATO and ANZUS alliances would support the US in a conflict with China.”

    If so, why didn’t France and other NATO countries send troops to Iraq?

    “Given the actions of the Soviets and their proxies in the Caucasus, the Baltics, Eastern Europe, South Korea and South East Asia, fear of communist aggression was wholly justified.”

    I hope you don’t mean Hitler’s invasion of Soviet Union is morally justified.

  84. March 24th, 2009 at 22:04 | #84

    “Do you really believe that Nazi German was stupid enough to tell outside world their real intentions?

    I believe that was my point.

    “Don’t you think if Britain and France would have done exactly that if they could?”

    Their ability to do so at the time is undeniable – read Churchill’s “One Step At A Time”, a collection of newspaper editorials written during the era of appeasement, where he advocated exactly the course of action outlined.

    “There was no force required for Hitler to send troops into Rhineland.”

    However, he did enter in force into an area where he was not permitted, which fits the definition. My main point is that when people talk about China ‘invading Tibet’ or ‘invading Taiwan’ this does not strictly imply that these places are not part of China – I have had so many arguments about this.

    Britain and France did nothing to help Poland

    . . . because, amongst other things, by this time a strong line of defence had been constructed on the Rhine.

    “If so, why didn’t France and other NATO countries send troops to Iraq?”

    NATO relies on unanimity in its decision making, and unanimity was lacking. Anyway, there was no actual appeal to NATO per se for forces for the invasion, only for the ‘defence’ of Turkey in case of war. The guarantee of support for wars of defence within the NATO area, however, remains.

    “I hope you don’t mean Hitler’s invasion of Soviet Union is morally justified.”

    I do mean that Stalin’s invasions of Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Georgia were not in any sense justified, nor was the elimination of independent governance in Eastern Europe during the 40’s/50’s. Neither was Kim’s invasion of South Korea or Giap’s invasion of South Vietnam.

  85. March 24th, 2009 at 22:05 | #85

    @Shane –

    “You asked an irrelevant question”

    It is an entirely appropriate question for a Japanese minister to ask Wen in response, and an obvious one.

  86. March 24th, 2009 at 22:56 | #86

    @FOARP #84,

    You wrote:

    My main point is that when people talk about China ‘invading Tibet’ or ‘invading Taiwan’ this does not strictly imply that these places are not part of China – I have had so many arguments about this.

    I still don’t understand this.

    I know you gave several semantics lessons on the meaning of “invade.” But when people use the term “invade” as you quoted – surely there is an inescapable connotation that these places are not part of China.

    When national guards were sent to L.A. in the aftermath of Rodney King riots or when guards were sent to New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, I don’t think the proper description was that guards were sent to invade these regions…

  87. William Huang
    March 24th, 2009 at 23:40 | #87

    @ FOARP #84

    “I believe that was my point.”

    If it was your point, then your example of SS man refuse to believe that the officer was in Irish Guard would have been pointless. Your point was about what Nazi government’s excuse of invasion for German people supported by your own example. But now you argue about something else.

    “Their ability to do so at the time is undeniable – read Churchill’s “One Step At A Time”, a collection of newspaper editorials written during the era of appeasement, where he advocated exactly the course of action outlined.”

    When the west invasion started (1940), Churchill was already the prime minster and if he got German all figured out, then how did defense of France collapsed? Mind you that this was a year after Britain and France had declared war on Germany without any battle in the between. And yet, the whole German military campaign concluded in less than two weeks of time. If Britain and France couldn’t do anything in 1940, what makes you think they could do in 1939 and 1938? In the hindsight, the mistake Britain and France made was that they underestimated German military strength (not be confused with Nazi government) which did not rely on the quantities but qualities such as new technology and new military strategy/tactics.

    “”Britain and France did nothing to help Poland” – . . . because, amongst other things, by this time a strong line of defence had been constructed on the Rhine.”

    What you said here contradicts to your previous statement about the significance of Rhineland which I cut and paste below (note that Poland is on the east side of Germany):

    “As for the significance of the Rhineland, without a German army established in this area, which was and is Germany’s industrial heartland, no wars of aggression could be contemplated in the east – it was for this very reason that it was demilitarised.”

    “NATO relies on unanimity in its decision making, and unanimity was lacking. Anyway, there was no actual appeal to NATO per se for forces for the invasion, only for the ‘defence’ of Turkey in case of war. The guarantee of support for wars of defence within the NATO area, however, remains.”

    I agree but your word was “conflict” between US and China not Chinese invasion on US or Europe. Your point was that NATO and surrounding countries around China should keep China in its “place” in Asia. So, what’s the point to bring NATO in?

    ““I hope you don’t mean Hitler’s invasion of Soviet Union is morally justified.”- I do mean that Stalin’s invasions of Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and Georgia were not in any sense justified, nor was the elimination of independent governance in Eastern Europe during the 40’s/50’s. Neither was Kim’s invasion of South Korea or Giap’s invasion of South Vietnam.”

    I suppose it’s very hard for you to say that Hitler’s invasion on Soviet Union is not justified.

  88. Steve
    March 25th, 2009 at 00:03 | #88

    @ William: Don’t mean to break into your ‘back and forth’ with FOARP, but I’d like to clarify one point you mentioned. Militarily, Germany was still pretty weak in 1938 as the war machine was just beginning to churn out massive amounts of weapons. In the mid 1930s, they actually had war games using cardboard tanks and horse drawn field guns. For what I felt was a very good account of that side of things, you may want to read The Arms of Krupp by William Manchester. He gives a very thorough explanation of the weapons manufacturing buildup in Germany at the time, since Krupp was Germany’s #1 arms manufacturer during the war.

    The first battle to involve “blitzkrieg” was not the invasion of Poland. Actually, it was the Battle of Khalkhin Gol between the Soviet army commanded by General Zhukov and the Japanese Kwantung Army, so the Russians beat the Germans to it.

  89. history_repeat
    March 25th, 2009 at 00:07 | #89

    @27

    Chinese cruelty, such as the atrocity of Tibet(as well as what German did to Jews) has nothing to do with extreme nationalism or blind patriotism as you mentioned.

    It is becasue of Chinese culture and philsophy. it is geat pitilessnese and the lack of humanity when dealing with others.

    German have had their reflection (in certain sense, over-done it). It’s high time for Chinese people to do the same as a whole.

  90. March 25th, 2009 at 00:13 | #90

    @William Huang – You have to distinguish between what was said after 1939 and before, the incident I wrote about happened in 1944. Winston Churchill became Prime Minister on the 10th of May 1940, the day of the attack, and the conquest of France was not completed until July. Yes the Rhineland is the the west of Germany this is exactly why its demilitarisation made wars in the east impossible if France sought to intervene as was required under the French-Polish treaty, as France could easily invade Germany across an undefended Rhine, read Churchill on this.

    Support from the NATO countries and almost certainly the NATO alliance as a whole would be forthcoming in the event of a conflict involving Chinese aggression against South Korea, Japan, or Taiwan.

    @Allen – The only strict implication is that China did not control those regions – something which no-one disputes. Were they invasions? Since they involved the forceful entry of Chinese soldiers, most definitely they were.

  91. Shane9219
    March 25th, 2009 at 00:14 | #91

    @history_repeat #89

    “Chinese cruelty”

    Shame on you, to even make such a post. Tibet population increased over I million in last 50 years. 14th DL’s old Tibet was a hell, if your ignorant knew how average Tibetan’s living condition back then.

  92. huaren
    March 25th, 2009 at 01:03 | #92

    I completely agree with Allen, #86 on the use of the word “invasion.”

    I saw this raised by someone from the Chinese Consulate in U.K. against a BBC reporter. That BBC reporter acknowledged that the BBC’s use of invasion is wrong. (We are talking about within the context of Tibet.)

    Forgot where I saw this – if someone has info on what came of this, that’d be great.

  93. Steve
    March 25th, 2009 at 01:14 | #93

    @ FOARP, Huaren & Allen: I looked up the definition of the word “invasion” and in the meanings I found, I’d also agree with Allen and Huaren that you cannot invade your own territory so in the case of the Ruhr, you could not call it an invasion. I’d think that in the case of Tibet, the use of the word would indicate whether you buy the Chinese version or the TGIE version.

    Even if there are some other meanings that didn’t appear in the dictionaries I consulted, I’d still say the generally accepted meaning of the word would still back Allen and Huaren. FOARP, I’m not doubting your definition; I just don’t think it appears over here. I looked at several dictionaries online and they all talked about foreign territory. Words that kept popping up were “warlike, hostile, conquest, plunder, forcible, foreign, enemy”.

  94. William Huang
    March 25th, 2009 at 02:24 | #94

    @ FOARP #90

    “You have to distinguish between what was said after 1939 and before, the incident I wrote about happened in 1944.”

    There was no difference of what was said by Hitler and Nazi government between the before and after 1939 as far as German’s “master race”, “living space”, “destiny” and associated aggression was concerned. It never was about unification of German-speaking people as the point you were driving at (your “sounds familiar?” staement) in comparison to China today.

    “Winston Churchill became Prime Minister on the 10th of May 1940, the day of the attack, and the conquest of France was not completed until July.”

    Yes, that’s the official day but Churchill’s influence in government had gained significantly right after the invasion of Poland. The conquest of France completed until July not because British and French put up a good fight but it was somehow Hitler ordered a halt on the troop advancement (for unknown reason) which allowed BEF to escape from Dunkirk. Historians today are still debating the explanation as why he did that. Also, it is Churchill’s view that it was the Versailles treaty to cause the WWII. In other words, because the way Versailles treaty was designed, it just extended WWI with 20 years of cease fire in between instead of ended it. Your view is definitely not in agreement with Churchill’s.

    “this is exactly why its demilitarisation made wars in the east impossible if France sought to intervene as was required under the French-Polish treaty, as France could easily invade Germany across an undefended Rhine”

    Re-militarizing Rhineland was in 1936 and invasion of Poland was in 1939. Are you saying that German troops needed 3 years of time to build a defense in Rhineland? We are talking about a military force that destroyed all major British and French combat units in two weeks of time and on French soil. Does that make any sense to you? Historians brought up the subject often only because it could have provided a very good excuse for France and Britain to invade German which would have in turn destroyed Hitler’s political career and Nazi government’s credibility. And we also know now that Hitler was bluffing. Again, it’s only clear in the hindsight after a devastating war. Few back then might have different views. But was it obvious back then to most people but only the top leaders screwed up due to lack of will? You have no evidence to support that.

    “Support from the NATO countries and almost certainly the NATO alliance as a whole would be forthcoming in the event of a conflict involving Chinese aggression against South Korea, Japan, or Taiwan.”

    You can say the same thing about US aggression against Iraq. So again, NATO or not, it’s irrelevant.

  95. laugh
    March 28th, 2009 at 22:53 | #95

    I have to laugh everytime I come to this website, so much ignorant posts! I think chinese people know NOTHING of Tibetan history (ancient or contemporary), yet they have so many opinions…

  96. Mike
    April 18th, 2009 at 13:34 | #96

    Shane9219… you ever been to Tibet or the culturally Tibetan parts of China? Just curious.

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