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Shorts 2: Princess Ivanka, War Games, Trump President for Life, &c

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — if Paula White is Christian, must be the season of the witch ]
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Princess (Jared’s) Bride:

It seems that beauty allied with power can add up to (almost) royalty. Consider Princess Ivanka. From the LA Times, Ivanka Trump: Born to legitimize corruption and make the shoddy look cute:

She has the same magic touch with the multitudes of flesh-and-blood rogues who flock to her for redemption. It’s Ivanka who first brought Gen. Michael “Lied to the FBI” Flynn into the administration, according to the New Yorker; she praised him for his “amazing loyalty” and offered him his choice of positions at a transition-team meeting. One person present said, “It was like Princess Ivanka had laid the sword on Flynn’s shoulders and said, ‘Rise and go forth.'”

The laying on of that princess sword seems to be Ivanka’s favorite pastime. In 2006, when she was 25, she toured Moscow with Felix Sater, who in 1998 pleaded guilty to a $40-million stock fraud scheme run by the Russian mafia. She also collaborated with the Soviet-born businessman Tamir Sapir, whose top aide in 2004 pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy with the Gambino crime family.

Redemption, did you get that?

And what a relief to get back to the Gambinos!

**

War Games:

Sources:

  • NYT, U.S. Banks on Diplomacy With North Korea, but Moves Ahead on Military Plans
  • Twitter, Wargames with @avantgame – at Jewish Community Center
  • Comment:

    Wow, I’m impressed. I’m not quite sure what Dr Jane McGonigal is up to with her war games, but the generals who participated in the table-top exercise in Hawaii simulating a war with North Korea might like to try them.. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, and Gen. Tony Thomas, the head of Special Operations Command.

    **

    Immortal Trump?

    Trump on China’s Xi consolidating power: ‘Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day’

    In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn’t mind making such a maneuver himself.
    “He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

    The remarks, delivered inside the ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago estate during a lunch and fundraiser, were upbeat, lengthy, and peppered with jokes and laughter

    That’s all fun and games. Wait till Xi Jinping goes full Mao:

    Oh, ah — the immortality’s not just for Mao, it’s for all of us. ANd Lifton’s thesis is a meditation on the one and the many!

    Lifton undertook his book to supply an ingredient which he felt was lacking in current accounts of the Cultural Revolution: namely the link between psychological phenomena and historical framework, between the feeling of individuals and the events taking place around them.

    Briefly, Lifton argues that individuals relate to history and to other men by means of symbols. The symbols themselves vary in response to the historical context–different events make different symbols relevant. But their ultimate purpose is to give men a sense of connection with their past and future: to provide a sense of unity with other men and with history–a sense of immortality.

    **

    Christian Today:

    Trump adviser Paula White says send money to her for blessings – or face divine consequences

    >onald Trump’s spiritual adviser Paula White has told people to send her money – ideally their January salary – in order to receive blessings, or face divine consequences. [ .. ]

    ‘Right now I want you to click on that button, and I want you to honour God with his first fruits offering,’ she said in the video.

    ‘If God doesn’t divinely step in and intervene, I don’t know what you’re going to face – he does,’ she said. [ .. ]

    Explaining the theory behind her appeal for cash, she said: ‘January is the beginning of a new year for us in the Western world. Let us give to God what belongs to him: the first hours of our day, the first month of the year, the first of our increase, the first in every area of our life. It’s devoted…The principle of first fruits is that when you give God the first, he governs the rest and redeems in.’

    !!

    **

    By way of explanation?

    When I look over my shoulder What do you think I see?
    Some other cat looking over His shoulder at me
    And he’s strange, very very very strange

    Must be the season of the Witch!

    David Foster Wallace whispers to Mao Zedong

    Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

    [ by Charles Cameron — but Dogen has the last word ]
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    DQ David Foster Wallace & Mao

    — and if Mao’s guerrillas don’t know they’re swimming in the general population, doesn’t even know there is a genpop, whose liberation are they fighting for?

    **

    Ah, but David Foster Wallace and Mao were just the bail I threw around, to reel you into some Dogen Zenji:

    A fish swims in the ocean, and no matter how far it swims there is no end to the water. A bird flies in the sky, and no matter how far it flies there is no end to the air. However, the fish and the bird have never left their elements.

    When their activity is large their field is large. When their need is small their field is small. Thus, each of them totally covers its full range, and each of them totally experiences its realm. If the bird leaves the air it will die at once. If the fish leaves the water it will die at once.

    Know that water is life and air is life. The bird is life and the fish is life. Life must be the bird and life must be the fish.

    The Chinese Strategic Tradition: A Research Program (I)

    Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

    [By T. Greer]
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    We’re honored and delighted to announce that blog-friend and commenter T Greer has accepted Zen’s invitation to join us as a member of the Zenpundit team, and trust the following post in two parts will stir fruitful conversation not only here at ZP but across several related blogs.. — Charles Cameron, ZP managing editor

    ____________________________________________________________________________________

    Mao Zedong writing On Protracted Warfare (Yan’an, 1938)
    Source: Wikimedia.

    This essay was originally published at The Scholar’s Stage on 26 May, 2015. Because of its length it has been divided into two posts, both lengthy in their own right. This–the first of these two posts–is republished here at Zenpundit with little alteration. The second half of the essay shall be posted here later this week.

    INTRODUCTION


    Last fall I wrote a popular series of posts outlining the history of the eight decade war waged between the Chinese Han Dynasty and the Xiongnu (old style: Hsiung-nu) nomadic empire. My posts were a response to a prominent American strategic theorist who misunderstood the history of the Han-Xiongnu relations in his search for enduring patterns in China’s military and diplomatic history relevant to China’s foreign relations today. Unfortunately, this experience was not a singular event. It seems that every month some new book or article is published pushing a misleading version of Chinese history or a strained interpretation of classical Chinese political thought to shore up a new theory of what makes China tick. I could devote this blog solely to refuting these poorly sourced theories and never run out of things to write about.

    Despite these errors, I have a great deal of sympathy for those who pen them. They face a nearly insurmountable problem: many of the thinkers, strategists, and conflicts most important to the Chinese strategic tradition have next to nothing in English written about them. Critical works have yet to be translated, translated works have yet to be analyzed, histories of important wars and figures have yet to be written, and what has been written is often scattered in obscure books and journals accessible only to experienced Sinologists. English speakers simply do not have access to the information they need to study the Chinese strategic tradition.

    This needs to change. It needs to change both for the sake of strategic theory as a discipline, which has essentially ignored the insights and observations gleaned from 3,000 years of study and experience, and for understanding the intentions of our rivals and allies in East Asia, who draw upon this tradition to decide their own political and strategic priorities. But in order to make these necessary changes we need a clear picture of where we are now. This essay attempts to provide this picture. It is not a bibliographic essay per say, for I will freely admit that I have not read all of the books and research articles I will mention below. Some titles I have only read in part; others I have not read at all. However, the goal of this post is not to review the results and conclusions of all these works, but to outline where research has been done and where more research is needed. For this purpose awareness suffices when more intimate knowledge is lacking.

    Mastering 3,000 years of intellectual and military history is a gargantuan task. But in order to find the answers to some of the questions inherent in the study the Chinese strategic tradition, it must be done. I make no such claim of mastery. My expertise is uneven; I am most familiar with both the strategic thought and the actual events of the China’s classical period (Warring States through the Three Kingdoms era, c. 475 BC-280 AD), and am probably weakest when discussing the first two decades of the 20th century, a time critical to the development of the tradition but difficult to master because of the number of political actors involved, the complexity of their relations, and the great intellectual variety of the era. Despite these weaknesses I know enough to chart out the broad outlines of current scholarship, a charge most specialists in strategic theory cannot attempt and most Sinologists would not desire. These biases and proclivities have kept the two disciplines far apart; there is an urgent need for these two scholarly bodies to draw together. If this essay–which is addressed primarily to the first group but should be accessible to second–helps in some small way to bring this to pass I shall consider it a grand success.

    This essay shall have three parts divided over two posts. The final section is a list of recommendations on how to establish and develop the study of the Chinese strategic tradition as an academic sub-field, as well as some thoughts on where individual Anglophone scholars might focus their research. The two earlier sections will review what has been published in English about the Chinese strategic tradition already. The term “the Chinese strategic tradition” is usually used in reference to the thinkers and the theorists of Chinese history, not the commanders and ministers who actually implemented policy. In the West this is almost always how the topic is discussed. Texts like Sun-tzu’s Art of War (hereafter, the Sunzi) are dissected with little reference to the way its thought was consciously implemented by those who studied it most carefully. This is a mistake. Most of the pressing questions in this field can only be answered by looking at how Chinese soldiers and statesmen actually behaved, and most of the errors common to Western punditry can be sourced to this tendency to ignore actual events in favor of theory. [1] In the case of ancient histories–whose account of events were highly stylized and moralizing–this distinction blurs. However, for the sake of organization I shall maintain the distinction between strategic thought (a subset of intellectual history) and strategic practice (a subset of diplomatic, political, and military history), covering each in turn.

    (more…)

    Gestures

    Monday, December 9th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — I got caught in a cascade of images, swept away — and then, Mao ]
    .

    This gesture seems to me to have the quality of a caress…

    in which case a caress in Kyiv is not so different from piano music in that same city…

    or, as it might be, cello music in Sarajevo…

    or for that matter, simply standing motionless in Tienanmen Square…

    or planting flowers in Washington, DC…

    Caresses, music, stillness, flowers… there’s a kinship there.

    **

    But then again, maybe these gestures are too idealistic for the realist’s “real world” — and to quote Chairman Mao in refutation of that last image:

    Every Communist must grasp the truth, “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

    **

    I keep coming back to that first image — stunning!

    The thing about it — to my eye — the humanity is clearly visible on both sides…

    “The Galula Doctrine”

    Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

    Small Wars Journal has published another edition of the excellent COIN interview series conducted by Octavian Manea. Here he interviews A.A. Cohen, author of Galula: The Life and Writings of the French Officer who Defined the Art of Counterinsurgency 

    The Galula Doctrine: An Interview with Galula’s Biographer A.A. Cohen

    OM: Which were the role of Mao and the exposure to Chinese civil war in Galula’s story? It seems to be his decisive formative lab experience like Russia was for George Kennan.

    AAC: Unquestionably, of all the influences exerted on Galula’s treatise, Mao and the Chinese Civil were the greatest. Galula had a strong intellectual admiration for Maoist revolutionaries, despite being very opposed to what they stood for. Before the Chinese Civil War, Galula had no interest in insurgency or counterinsurgency. He had not fought as a Partisan during WW2; he had no experience or interest in these fields until he was exposed to China as of late 1945, in the thick of its civil war. There, his analytical penchant led him to see himself as the decipherer of Mao, intent on getting to the bottom of what the revolutionaries were fundamentally about. Galula cut through the egalitarian propaganda and all that surrounding the People’s revolution. Above all, he wanted to understand why these guys were gaining momentum as they were despite the unfavorable odds. When he figured it out, he reverse-engineered their methods to arrive at a counter-process to revolution and insurgency. His embrace of Chinese dialectics, and with these, the notion of unity of opposites or yin and yang, was helpful in achieving this.

    Is counterinsurgency to Galula more of a strategy or  more of a technique and a methodology?

    What Galula offers, first and foremost, is a doctrine – not a strategy. His doctrine is underpinned by an important theory about people and what motivates them to take up arms, or to side with those who do. The theory goes that in times of danger (war), the majority of people will be motivated primarily by a fundamental need for security. Galula is adamant about this. But he also recognizes that there will be a minority of people – the instigators at the core of a movement – that will be ideologically, or even fanatically motivated. These are the true believers. He makes no qualms about prescribing that this is the group that the counterinsurgent or counterterrorist will need to find and neutralize, while protecting the rest of the population that aspires to a normal, if not better life. If you buy into this theory, Galula’s doctrine offers a multi-step framework for operations; in other words, a method to counterinsurgency. His famous eight steps are there to provide some logical linearity to what is otherwise a very nonlinear form of warfare. Within that framework, you have the flexibility to formulate your strategy and to conduct your operations to achieve your objectives.

    Read the rest here.

    I agree that Galula was not offering a strategy. Even more strongly, I think Cohen is correct about the historical importance of China’s long period of disorder, from the overthrow of the Q’ing dynasty to Mao ZeDong’s declaration of the People’s Republic, for Galula. However, not just for him but for anyone interested in questions of war and statecraft where insurgency, warlordism, state failure, state-building, foreign intervention, balance-of-power politics, ideological mass-movements, 4GW, revolution and total war coexisted and co-evolved.

    The best comparison in our lifetime to China in this period would have been Lebanon  in the 1980’s, except that China’s polycentric conflict was even more complex and on an epic scale.


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