Cold War, China, Left's Foe, Germany

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), March 21, 2004 | Go to article overview

Cold War, China, Left's Foe, Germany


Byline: Arnold Beichman, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

One of the most traumatic events during the Cold War was the Hungarian uprising of October 1956. It occurred at almost the same time as the unsuccessful British-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt. The Soviet Red Army succeeded in suppressing the Hungarian revolution despite a dozen U.N. resolutions calling upon the Kremlin to withdraw from Hungary.

Johanna Granville's The First Domino: International Decision Making during the Hungarian Crisis of 1956 (foreword by Raymond L. Garthoff, Texas A & M University Press, $49.95, 323 pages), a pioneering work on East European Cold War history, confirms that when President Eisenhower had his chance to redeem the Republican campaign pledge to "roll back" the Soviet occupation of Hungary, he failed and thus perpetuated that occupation for three more decades.

This is a remarkable study of Cold War history because the author, at home in several Slavic languages as well as the immensely difficult Hungarian, has availed herself of recently opened Soviet and other archives to describe how Hungary became the first "domino" in a process that "resulted ultimately in the Soviet Union's loss of hegemony over Eastern Europe in 1989."

The Hungarian revolt resulted in more than 2,000 deaths and the flight of over 200,000 refugees to the West. It is worth noting that a far smaller group of earlier Hungarian refugees, who fled to America from a Nazi-endangered Europe, helped build the first atomic bomb during World War II.

Chapter 6 of "The First Domino" is the most fascinating, since it explores U.S. psychological warfare and covert activities in Eastern Europe during the 1950s, including broadcasts by Radio Free Europe.

* * *

Relations between China and the United States since Mao Tse-tung's 1949 Communist victory have never been friendlier, despite our annual criticism of China's human rights record, the collision between a Chinese jet fighter and a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane in April 2001, and the 1999 bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.

More and more, as China becomes our biggest trading partner, I am reminded of Montesquieu's insightful statement: "It is almost a general rule that wherever the ways of man are gentle there is commerce; and wherever there is commerce, there the ways of men are gentle."

China's New Nationalism: Pride, Politics, and Diplomacy by Peter Hays Gries (University of California Press, $24.95, 224 pages, illus.) deals with the new Chinese nationalist ethos, a phenomenon that U.S. policy makers should study carefully even if they may disagree with Mr. Gries' policy prescriptions. The author is a critic of the William Kristol-Robert Kagan thesis of deterrence and their warnings about appeasement of China. …

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