Nixon and Mao - Politics Essay Example

Richard Milhous Nixon and Mao Zedong both were the prevailing leaders of their time - Nixon and Mao introduction. Though there approach towards politics was quite different but they were considered as the most influential leader of that time.

Richard Milhous Nixon, born in 1913, grew up in two southern California towns, Yorba Linda and Whittier, both close to Los Angeles, but in those days not of the true periphery.

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The Nixon administration from 1969 to 1974 was a peak of his presidency career that was keen to distinguish the limits of American power in the Cold War Through the support of National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon re-crafted American foreign policy precedences, taking note of the virtual increase in Soviet strategic nuclear power, the economic rebuilding of Asia and Western Europe, the emergent geopolitical importance of China, and the devastating commitment to Southeast Asian security[1]. The “Nixon Doctrine” (Nixon Doctrine is the foreign policy equivalent of outsourcing) consequently focused U.S. foreign policy on a new place of what the president and Kissinger considered being more coherent priorities. Nixon placed the primary area of American interests in what he portrayed as the “northern tier,” a geographic region that included the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Japan, and the Western European community. For all intents and purposes, this “pentagonal approach” was basically a variation of Kennan’s theory concerning key strategic industrial areas of significance to American security twenty years earlier.

However, Nixon’s significant involvement to Kennan’s old model (Kennan model was the basis of Cold War real politic until Nixon’s Ping-Pong Diplomacy initiative moved China as a player in the game) was in his adapting it to fit new Cold War truths. Nixon was fully mindful that Asia, particularly Communist China, had become a considerably significant factor in the global balance of power. Moreover, he was evenly aware that Sino-Soviet relations had weakened substantially on his watch. Military conflicts between the Soviet Union and China were commonplace beside the Siberian border by the late 1960s.

Understanding that a diplomatic accord was probable, both Kissinger and Nixon devoted substantial energy to forging a tie with Peking[2]. Nixon’s famed visit to China in 1972 was the decisive product of this effort, and an occasion which redefined the limitations of the Cold War. In control of an open diplomatic association with mainland China, the United States broke apart the so-called “Communist monolith” and parlayed these new circumstances into leverage against the Soviet Union. It was not a chance that the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) with Moscow followed soon after Nixon’s return from Peking.

In spite of its commitment to a diplomatic rapprochement with the Soviet Union and China, numerous aspects of U.S. foreign policy did not leave the old Cold War model. As wedded to the “northern tier” of nations, the United States did not abandon intrusion in the Third World. American hidden intervention against Chilean leader Salvador Allende in 1973 was more evocative of the Eisenhower administration’s intervention than a new era of detente between the superpowers.

Conversely, this new era of diplomacy did not keep the United States from major strategic overturns in the 1970s. A moderation of superpower relations could not expect the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and a revolution against the Pavlevi regime in Iran. Nor were U.S. policy makers set for the collapse of the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua at the end of the decade. The Soviet incursion into Afghanistan in December 1979 lined American suspicions that Moscow was set to develop Middle East insecurity for its own strategic designs.

By 1980, well beyond the Nixon administration, detente had become the focus of open derision. Throughout the presidential campaign that year, it was construed as sign of strategic weakness and military decline by candidate Ronald Reagan. Indeed, Reagan had launched his critique of American foreign policy two years earlier as part of the debate over the Panama Canal Treaty, portrayed it as a substantial sign of American retreat.

President Nixon, in his own way, destabilized the presidency by the recognition that there were several changes in the communist world, but it was a curtailed recognition. While Nixon and Mao Tsetung toasted each other in Peking, He was not able to draw the right conclusions concerning a changing world and, somewhat like a tragic Shakespearean character reiterating his early experiences, he went off-track, forced a constitutional catastrophe, and precipitated[3] his own collapse. Instead of sending his supposed enemies to prison, he formed an environment in which many members of his own government went there instead.

Nixon had dazzled the world with his extravagant journeys to China and Russia, actually dispelling some of the animosity that had distinguished relations between the United States as well as the two Communist superpowers for more than twenty five years. In the short run, at least, these moves toward détente more than realized Nixon and Kissinger’s hopes that they would draw the Soviet Union and Communist China into checking each other, and would put to an overall lessening of international tensions. After the opening to China, the Russians became much more approachable to American initiatives for restraining the nuclear arms race. Even after Nixon had taken the apparently reckless step of mining Haiphong harbor in North Vietnam in April 1972, the following month the Russians keenly welcomed the American president to Moscow to conclude a groundwork nuclear arms limitation agreement. Subsequent to the nuclear arms treaty was signed, the Russians helped influence the North Vietnamese to accept a compromise settlement with the United States. In 1973 the Soviet Union pulled back from a potentially treacherous confrontation with the United States in the Middle East at the time of the Yom Kippur War. [4]

Nixon’s foreign policy legacy was a significantly transformed worldwide geopolitical landscape. Relations had been opened with the mainland Chinese. Negotiations were ongoing with the Russians for further limits on nuclear arms and for improvement of outstanding differences. Soviet influence in the Middle East had been very much reduced. World affairs appeared developed for further constructive change. Whether these potential for change would be realized–and whether they were actual or rested on illusions–remained to be experienced.

As president, Nixon customized some of these beliefs, and sometimes acted contrary to some that he sustained to hold. But not as much as is now usually supposed. Nixon went to China not since he believed the inner nature of the Chinese Communist regime had changed, or as he had decided that the United States must cooperate with the Communist superpowers to move on the general good of mankind, but since he had concluded that the Chinese Communist government was not going to be extricated and was too vital a power, whatever its nature or goals, to be unnoticed, and as he hoped that the interests of the Chinese might lead them to facilitate block the aggressive tendencies of the Soviet Union[5]. He established a cooperation truce in Vietnam not because he expected the Communists to remain the peace but as he was convinced that continuation of direct American military association in Vietnam, with its disruptive effects at home, no longer served America’s national interest[6].

He signed the nuclear arms limitation agreement with the Russians partially because he believed it to some extent would reduce the prospect of a nuclear holocaust (which would provide everybody’s national interest, as well as the common interest of the human race), but also as he hoped that it would help sustain an acceptable balance of forces between the United States and the Soviet Union. He dealt strictly with Salvador Allende, Fidel Castro, the Syrians, and the neutralist Palme government in Sweden as he believed that these represented antagonist forces with which it was not essential for the United States to come to terms[7].

However, incase of China, in the twentieth century, it confronted the familiar challenge of a backward, agricultural nation struggling with overpopulation in an age of rapid technological transform and economic development. The problem was entrenched in Chinese history and the inheritance of imperialism, which had reduced the once proud Chinese Empire to the rank of a slave state at the understanding of foreign, and in Chinese eyes, barbarian conquerors. China’s mortifying defeat throughout the Opium War of 1839-42, the burning of the Summer Palace by an Anglo-French expeditionary force in 1860, and the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 at the hands of the Europeans chronicled the decline of the realm, as did China’s military defeat at the hands of a more rationalized and westernized Japan in 1895. By the end of the nineteenth century it had become obvious that if China were to succeed in defending its people from the yoke of foreign power and the threat of military antagonism, it would have to renew its institutional structures and rally the nation’s resources to better serve the whole population. What remained at issue, though, was whether China could endure such a transformation without experiencing the invasive, weakening effects of westernization[8].

As relations with the outer world continued to worsen, so too did the political and social conditions within China. Contender warlords ruled at will in the dearth of any central authority. The revolt’s anti-traditional impulses and the popular fervor it unleashed were also significant in the formation of a new “iconoclastic intelligentsia,” which challenged the recognized assumptions of Chinese society and culture and covered the way for the emergence of more fundamental twentieth-century political movements. The combination of this “cultural iconoclasm” and Chinese nationalism led to an entire rejection of the cultural past and to Mao call for an “absolute cultural and moral transformation” of Chinese society[9]. It also formed a truly “remarkable and illustrious” instance of a revolutionary intelligentsia, which was capable by the sheer dint of its will and determination to put up a powerful state in the shadow of socioeconomic failure and stagnation.

Thus at that time Mao Zedong drive a revolution. He was born on December 26, 1893, in Hunan province, Mao Zedong was a product of rural China.

As Mao continued to grow politically, he soon revealed the world of newspapers. He even admitted to having been betrothed as a student in some of his own “muddled” exercises in political journalism[10]. Impulsively attuned to the politics of his time, he was extremely moved by the outbreak of the 1911 revolution and fixed the ranks of the revolutionary army, which enabled him, under observably exceptional circumstances, to relish the excitement of a military conflict and further his political education. The revolution thrived in overthrowing the Manchu reign and establishing a Chinese Republic with Sun Yat-Sen as president in 1912.[11]

Mao’s revolutionary ideas also formed a new social and intellectual reconfiguration amongst China’s educated elite. By challenging the exact intellectual assumptions of the past, it initiated a new cultural phenomenon wherein many of “the educated men” of China, who had always sought “to rise above the people,” were now willing “to share their knowledge with the shady masses'” and in some cases “even idealize them.”  [12]

Mao often exhibited his own enduring contempt for the foreigners, who normally humiliated the Chinese people and impolitely posted signs such as the one outside a park in Shanghai that read “Chinese and dogs not allowed.” In his yearning to wage a campaign against foreign domination and utilization, Mao passionately embraced Moscow’s policy of a “united front” and authorized the attempt to encourage cooperation between communist and nationalist forces.[13]

Though Mao’s early organizational efforts imitated his innovative, structurally creative nature, it would be a fault to conclude that he had already embarked on his own course of radical Marxism.

As Stuart Schram observed, “Mao power had crystallized in practice.” But no one could doubt his “revolutionary passion [and] energy”. [14]

As a modernist he sought to root out all forms of fallacy and social conventions that held the peasants back. As an advocate of direct peasant ground-breaking action and the leading author of an early Draft Resolution on the Land Question custom-built by the Kuomintang, Mao championed the exclusion of all land from adverse elements of the “gentry, corrupt officials, militarists as well as all counter-revolutionary elements in the villages.” But the antagonism to the revolution amongst military commanders and officials, who required protecting their own landed interests within the Kuomintang, made it unattainable to realize the terms of the declaration.[15]

All through the 1960s Mao fought to affect the “validity” of the revolution and the need to encourage revolutionary struggles in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. On the home front, he instigated the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966 to combat revisionism and bring back the revolutionary fervor of the people. Regrettably, his last revolutionary act would also establish to be his utmost political failure. As he had in the past, he began by turning to the peasants in the countryside to wage war against a class-conscious urban culture as well as the overpowering influence of institutional bureaucracies. In his own words, he did not desire China to “change color” or alter its revolutionary character. To battle this tendency, he gets on a campaign to imbue Chinese youth with the heroic forfeits of the Civil War and secure China’s “role as the forerunner of the world revolution.” In addition to his need to affect the original purity and zeal of the revolution, Mao also hoped to build a testimonial to his own role as the living architect of that revolution[16].

Begun under Mao and later productively implemented by the miniature, yet quite resilient, Deng Xiaoping, the new period of realistic alternatives affected China’s affairs both at home and abroad. The most remarkable breakthrough occurred in the area of foreign policy, while in the wake of ping-pong diplomacy (a series of ping pong matches between the United Staes and China) an unexpected and totally startling improvement occurred in U.S.-Chinese relations, ending in President Richard Nixon’s visit to China and his meeting with an ambitious, though physically incapacitated, Chairman Mao in 1972. For China and the United States, the diplomatic rapprochement symbolized a “tactical accommodation” on both sides to a common Soviet threat. For Mao, though, Nixon’s visit should have also represented an outstanding success for his personal brand of political dialectics, a victory he was certainly competent to savor, even if only briefly. Through his body ravaged by Parkinson’s disease, he mostly spent the next four years in privacy until his death on September 9, 1976.

Under Deng the new expediency included initiatives to expose Mao’s historical presence and lessen his political stature as the Great Helmsman. But the assignment was by no means easy, given Mao’s fame, patriotism, and international status, as well as his unique standing as “both the Lenin and Stalin of the Chinese Revolution,” the originator of a new China, and the heroic possessor of Chinese nationalism. Moreover, the new reformist leadership required to proceed vigilantly because of Mao’s significance in setting up their own political legality and ties to the revolution. With these significant political considerations in mind, Deng focused much of his consideration on domestic policy issues and the prologue of a more systematic, incremental approach to resolving China’s agricultural and developed problems based upon production incentives, as continuing to practice better diplomatic and commercial relations with the West[17].

Celebrated at home and abroad as an inspiring revolutionary figure, a heroic military leader, and a utopian creative thinker, Mao’s political stature and historical legacy are obviously enormous[18]. By stressing the requirement for direct contact between the people and the government, he authored a new people-centered approach to determining China’s problem of agrarian transformation. But unlike Stalin, who deserted the peasants in favor of rapid industrialization, Mao embraced the peasantry and stressed the importance of mass psychic concern in recasting China’s economy.[19]

His policies did, though, suffer from certain widespread inconsistencies, as he frequently dithered between the more customary methods of government experts and the more eccentric contribution of peasants in the countryside. His approach, however, was truly significant in that it enabled the Chinese people to draw upon their own resources and initiative in quest of an industrial breakthrough with only minimum help or assistance from the outside world. [20]

By placing the peasantry at the center of the radical process and challenging the Leninist influence and that of other revolutionary Marxists the peasants occupied a  position similar to that of the industrial proletariat within the revolution.  Mao struck at both the restricted assumptions of Leninism and the bureaucratic egotism of Stalinism. Coupled with his assertion that the revolution should always combat revisionism and never cut it off from the masses, these ideological differences distinct the fundamental differences separating Maoism and Leninism. The same can be said for differences in military stratagem. Mao, for instance, allied with the peasants to win over the countryside, surround the cities, and seize the political victory, while Lenin expectant the urban industrial proletariat to clutch the cities, fashion a revolutionary army, and expand the revolution to the countryside. [21]

Thus, in conclusion, I must say that Nixon was a leader whose administration symbolized the center-right point of view that Nixon had held while he took office and that he maintained with little change all through his presidency. Nixon’s opening to China and his move toward détente with the Soviet Union uttered a shift in operational strategy. But his basic world view and his premeditated goals did not greatly alter. His failure to give American foreign policy much positive content perhaps resulted from limitations intrinsic in his ideology, and pointed to problems that would have to be dealt with by his successors.

On the other hand, in originating his own political thought, Mao was also competent to disseminate a revolutionary political principle, which originated from within one of the most diffident corners of the world. His role as the originator of a people’s war of liberation, which shared social revolution and a extended national struggle against foreign oppression, spread all through Asia, as was graphically demonstrated by the Vietnam War. It is significant to note, however, that China later attacked Vietnam when changes in Southeast Asia and the two-sided conflict with Moscow changed China’s geopolitical interests in the region. But of all his contributions, the one that can persist longer is his thought of total revolution, of the need to reconstruct the individual as a whole and instill that individual with a complete, unconditional revolutionary vision, stranded in personal sacrifice and total ideological obligation.

Bibliography:

Lee, Oliver M. “A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China & about Face A History of America’s Curious Relationship with China, from Nixon to Clinton.” China Review International 8.2 (2001): 541.

Robert Dallek- Partners In Power (Nixon And Kissinger) Harper Collins Publishers 2007.

Rana Mitter; Seize the Hour: When Nixon Met Mao History Today, Vol. 57, January 2007.

Leon Friedman and William F. Levantrosser. Cold War Patriot and Statesman, Richard M. Nixon. Ed. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Chan, Alfred L. “Mao: A Super Monster?” Pacific Affairs 79.1 (2006): 97.

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday- The Unknown Story ( MAO) published by Anchor books, a division of random house, New York November 2006.

Stuart Schram, Mao Tse-tung ( Baltimore, Md.: Penguin, 1967), p. 23.

Michael Lynch; Mao Zedong: Liberator or Oppressor of China? Michael Lynch Introduces the Controversial Career of a Gargantuan Figure in Chinese and Modern World History, History Review, 2002.

Buckley, William F. “The Nixon Precedent in China.” National Review 3 Aug. 1998: 58.

Pye, Lucian W. Mao Tse-Tung: The Man in the Leader. New York: Basic Books, 1976.

[1] (Lee, Oliver M, 2001)
[2] (Robert Dallek, 2007).
[3] (Rana Mitter, 2007)
[4] (Rana Mitter, 2007)
[5] (Leon Friedman and William F. Levantrosser, 1993)
[6] (Leon Friedman and William F. Levantrosser, 1993)

[7] (Leon Friedman and William F. Levantrosser, 1993)

[8] (Chan, Alfred, 2007)
[9] (Chan, Alfred, 2007)
[10] (Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, 2006)
[11] (Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, 2006)
[12] (Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, 2006)
[13] (Michael Lynch, 2002)
[14] (Stuart Schram, 1967, p. 23)
[15] (Stuart Schram, 1967)
[16] (Michael Lynch, 2002)
[17] (Buckley, William, 1998)
[18] (Pye, Lucian, 1976).
[19] (Pye, Lucian, 1976)
[20] (Buckley, William, 1998)
[21] (Pye, Lucian, 1976)

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