11 October 2006
North Korea & the Cold War: case still open
Let's take this nice and slowly. Ollie Kamm argues that the background to the Korean War "was a controversial subject," as many people held the view that South Korea had started it. Well, that may have been the line, but no bugger actually swallowed the hook that was on the end. Other than in the minds of a few old tankies, the fact that North Korea started the Korean Civil War is fairly well established.
However, Ollie has to create, and then demolish, this Aunt Sally, because his main theme is that:
The Soviet Union was a state of repression and penury, but also of expansionist designs against the West and its allies. The Korean War was a case of direct Communist aggression, in which Stalin was deeply implicated. Contrary to the revisionist historians, the fundamental reason for the Cold War was the character and intentions of the Soviet Union.
OK, got that? Especially the "direct communist aggression" bit? Good, because that is not what the source that Ollie links to actually says. The basic run-down here is that:
1. Kim Il-Sung, the North korean leader, met Stalin in April 1950 and suggested that N. Korea could overrun the South in three days. Stalin replied that he would go along with the idea if the Chinese could be brought in: "If you should get kicked in the teeth, I shall not lift a finger. You have to ask Mao for all the help," said the great pipesman
2. Kim then trots along to Peking and leaves the Chinese with the impression that the USSR is rather more in favour of the idea than was actually the case.
3. When the attack does take place, and when the North fails to subjugate the South in three days, the USSR first promises air cover if the Chinese get stuck in, then withdraws the offer when they do, then changes its mind again and provides limited air support.
So, what do we have? Well, we have a quite wonderful fuck-up, in which everyone is dancing to Kim Il-Sung's tune at the start and then trying to figure out what to do next when they realised that he has made monkeys of them.
However, what we do not have is a Moscow organised conspiracy that can be used as a case study to argue that the USSR was an aggressive state that started the Cold war.
Ollie, if you read this - get back with Stan, 'cos you fucking well need his help.