AHC: US willing to back left-leaning Nationalists

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Milo, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Milo Posh Geordie Donor

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    Lots of the classic communist roster in the Cold War where primarily Nationalists with left wing leanings for example Castro who had Communist support during the revolution but wasn't himself or Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. Your challenge is to make the State Department see early on in 40's/50's its worth backing these sorts of groups as if they don't the USSR will and as a nation with anti-colonial history lots of these leaders have strong positive images of the US.
     
  2. Raferty Well-Known Member

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    Many US backed groups in the Cold War had left wing components.

    Savimbi and UNITA got their start as Maoists. The Contras were actually composed mostly of former opponents to Somozsa, including some former Sandinistas, but who disagreed with the Ortega regime's heavy handedness.

    The State Department (foolishly in my view) backed Nasser in the Suez Crisis. The same applied to the left wing Khmer Rouge, and for that matter, the Maoist side in the Sino-Soviet split. US relations with Romania and Albania for example were much better than with the rest of the Eastern Bloc.

    And Solidarity in Poland was also a movement arguably on the left in fiscal matters as am independent trade union.
     
  3. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    It changes the entire cold war. For starters, we don’t support coups in Iran ‘53 and Guatemala ‘54.

    And just to show that it’s not all kumbaya and goody-two shoes, let’s say we also ramp up conventional forces in Western Europe.
     
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  4. OurSacredWar Meri of Ethiopia

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    Have the US support the 1974 Revolution in Ethiopia more than it did IOTL and attempt to assist more moderate left-wing nationalists come to the forefront of the new government. If there’s a less brutal leading figure like Tafari Benti who commits less atrocities and is generally not as totalitarian, it could definitely happen.
     
  5. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    Castro fucked up.

    Or, maybe there was no way he could say no to Khrushchev and do anything other than accept the missiles.
     
  6. Gukpard hominem populist

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    And mostly important, Brazil in 1964.
     
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  7. Expat Well-Known Member

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    We could keep going: the Lyuh in Korea; Ho in Vietnam; Allende in Chile; Nkrumah in Ghana; Lumumba in Congo; everywhere in Central America at one time or another, except Costa Rica, maybe.
     
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  8. Arcavius Arms and the Man I Sing

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    Have Eisenhower veto Ajax as he initially wanted to OTL and instead have the US extend a line of credit to Iran and arbite the dispute with Britain. This butterflies Guatemala and in turn many other interventions.
     
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  9. Tehshudge Well-Known Member

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    Actually, Castro basically went on record saying Cold War brinksmanship was a mistake (he really mellowed out by the end of his life, which makes sense considering he lived to be about 500).
     
  10. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    In El Salvador, I think we'd have to go all the way back to the 1940s to find a left-leaning government, and in Guatemala, to the '50s.

    Now, a number of these countries have had rebel armies, which I don't support because it feeds into the dominant narrative and it gives the government the perfect cover to do what it's planning to do anyway.

    I think only in Nicaragua did a rebel government take power during the cold war days (excluding Cuba of course, which I'm counting as part of the Caribbean and not Central America)
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2019
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  11. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    He was very much the junior partner. The Soviets may have communicated more or less directly that if he didn't allow the placement of missiles, they would be happy to remove him and put in place a leader who would.

    I don't think we know.

    No one likes being in a low-power position and admitting they did something because they basically didn't have a choice. So, if it was this, Castro probably would have practiced good politics and said something very much like the above.
     
  12. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    Lol no. Castro was very eager.
     
  13. David T Well-Known Member

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    Hi Chi Minh was not a "left-leaning nationalist" who just happened to be a Communist. He had been part of the world Communist movement since he had helped to found the French Communist Party in 1920. He never wavered in his loyalty to Leninism, which means that to him, national liberation, however important, was only the first step to building socialism and crushing capitalism and imperialism. This doesn't mean that in 1945 he wasn't open to compromise with France and the United States. But so, at that time, was Stalin!

    For two attacks on the theory of Ho as "more nationalist than communist" see

    (1) The views of Pierre Asselin https://www.wilsoncenter.org/person/pierre-asselin have been summarized as follows:

    "Professor Asselin (Ideology, The Vietnamese Communist Revolution, and the Origins of the American War in Vietnam) looks at the American War in Vietnam through the perspective of North Vietnam. His paper highlights the importance of ideology and explains how Marxism-Leninism and the influence of Mao and Stalin helped shape North Vietnamese domestic and foreign policies, from 1954 to 1960, which “effectively set Hanoi on an irreversible collision course with the United States.” While the bulk of the paper focus on those “six years period,” it lays a valuable foundation for understanding the causes of the war and Hanoi’s determination “to fight to the end, regardless of the sacrifice required. . . [until] final victory.”

    "The author faults “American standard accounts” of the war and American historians, with “limited language skill,” for “long understating or ignoring [communist] ideology as a motive force of the Vietnamese effort against Western intrusion,” therefore, leading to the mistaken conclusion that North Vietnamese leaders may be “avowed communists [but] they were really nationalists.” For him, Ho Chi Minh is not a nationalist, but a true communist who, together with his comrades, incited “class struggle” to reinvent society immediately upon gaining control of the north after the 1954 Geneva Accords. He points out that, as the first president of an independent Vietnam in 1945, Ho was “chiefly responsible for popularizing Marxism-Leninism in Vietnam,” and that “No single person played a more important role than Ho in adapting communist thought to Vietnamese circumstances and in spreading its ideas.” To the communists, national liberation is not as important as communist revolution.

    "Professor Asselin maintains that, for them, defeating the Americans and their collaborators in South Vietnam was necessary “less for the sake of the people of South Vietnam” than for the ultimate goal of “annihilating imperialism and capitalism” and to fulfill Vietnam’s “moral obligation” before the “international Communist movement.”..." http://vietusactivities.com/remarks/nguyen-manh-hung-s-comments.html

    (2) Ton That Thien's "Was Ho Chi Minh a Nationalist? Ho Chi Minh and the Comintern" http://www.tonthatthien.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/1990-Was-Ho-Chi-Minh-A-Nationalist.pdf Yes, of course he was biased https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tôn_Thất_Thiện but he still brings out many facts on the primacy of Communism over nationalism to Ho. As he notes, Ho's line in 1939-45 (and especially after 1941--"waving high the flag of national independence, postponement of the social revolution, carefully concealing the Communist aims of the Party, broad national united front, etc."--far from being a deviation from the Comintern line was exactly what the Comintern wanted.

    "Another widespread view about Ho is that in 1945-1946, Ho pursued a moderate and conciliatory policy toward France. They cited as concrete manifestation of this attitude Ho's agreement of March 6, 1946 by which he accepted for Vietnam the status of Free State - instead of independent state - member of the Indochinese Federation and the French Union. Jean Sainteny, the French representative who negotiated this agreement with Ho, asserted that Ho sincerely wanted friendly relations with France, and even liked the idea of being vice-president of the French Union..." But again this was completely in accord with Soviet policy, which wanted a friendly France (the Communists were after all participating in the French government):

    "The CPF, which the CPI had always considered a senior party since the days of its foundation, warned the Vietnamese to make sure that their actions met the criteria of the current Soviet line and avoid any "premature adventures". Maurice Thorez stressed in 1946 that "under no circumstances" the CPF wished to be considered as "the eventual liquidator of the French position in Indochina".89 And in April 1946 he told a stunned Sainteny that the March 6, 1946 agreement was "very satisfactory" and if the Vietnamese did not respect it "we know what necessary measures to take, make the cannons talk if need be”.90

    "...Ho knew perfectly what Soviet policy at the time was, and he had to conform to it. This, and not the weakness of his government alone at the time, explains his seeming moderation towards the French in 1945-1946, and well until the end of 1947. But in 1947 the situation changed. In May, the French communist ministers were out of the French government, and in September, in Poland, Zhdanov, on behalf of Stalin, announced a new policy: that of confrontation with the West. In Indochina, full war had already developed, and Ho did not have to make any turnaround to meet the demands of Moscow...

    "...in the first week of January 1950 Ho went secretly to Moscow to have a meeting with Stalin. Khrushchev has said in his memoirs that Ho had a meeting with Stalin while the latter was alive, but gave no specifics.94 We now know, from Hoang van Hoan’s memoirs, that in the first days of January 1950, three weeks before China’s recognition of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and one month before that of the Soviet Union, Ho made a secret visit to Peking to discuss Chinese recognition and aid. At this meeting with the Chinese leaders, Liu Shao-chi suggested that he went to see Stalin also. The Soviet ambassador, Nikolai Roschin, was asked to send a message to Stalin. The Soviet leader agreed, and two days later Ho flew to Moscow to request Soviet aid. At the Stalin-Ho meeting, the Chinese ambassador, Wanh Jia-hsiang, was present, and he told Hoan afterwards that at that meeting it was agreed that the main task of aiding Ho's government would be shouldered by China.95

    "Ho had definitely chosen side. This was one month before the United States recognised the State of Vietnam, two months before it gave economic aid to the Saigon government, and six months before President Truman decided to give full military aid to the French for their war in Indochina following the outbreak of the Korean War. The prevalent view in current literature on the Vietnam War is that June 1950 marked the American involvement in Indochina, and was the start of the train of events leading to Vietnam being dragged into the cold war and to America's woes in the following years. That view must be abandoned today, because it is undisputable that it was Ho who has plunged Vietnam into the East-West confrontation by being the first to choose side...

    "Paul Mus, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Mus the greatest admirer and apologist of Ho Chi Minh, has said that Ho Chi Minh could not be considered "a marginal, operational communist, a nationalist dressed in red". To hold such an opinion, "one would have to forget the proofs that he has given of his devotion to the leadership of the Communist International". Mus cited as example Ho's acceptance of the Geneva agreement which better served the immediate interests of world communism than those of his Vietnamese fatherland. "Such gestures would remove any doubt, if this were necessary, concerning his deep-rooted and conscious membership of Ho Chi Minh to the communist movement..."
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2019
  14. Expat Well-Known Member

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    Whatever his place on the left side of the spectrum, America worked with him then abandoned him.
     
  15. David T Well-Known Member

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    You could also say that America worked with Stalin and then abandoned him...
     
  16. Expat Well-Known Member

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    It's the Cold War strategy no one saw coming: back Uncle Joe!
     
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  17. ShadowSpeaker Well-Known Member

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    Well, the US state Department would need to adopt a Tito like policy for these left leaning movements.
     
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  18. David T Well-Known Member

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    Remember that it was Stalin who broke with Tito, not vice versa. And the break was certainly not the result of any US attempt to woo Tito and detach him from Stalin; US-Yugoslav relations were bad after World War II and only really improved in 1949--after the break.
     
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  19. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure he welcomed the early defensive military assistance from the Soviet Union, but then, it's kind of like going into business with the mob. At first, you think you're lucky and welcome the business, but then you find that you're stuck and it's very difficult to say no or even to take it in a slightly different direction.

    The nuclear missiles made Cuba a lightening rod.

    Yeah, the Soviet Union wanted some forward-position missiles, just like we had some forward-position missiles in Germany and Turkey. But how in the heck did that benefit Cuba? I don't think it did.
     
  20. GeographyDude Well-Known Member

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    Be that as it may, Vietnam intervened to stop the Cambodian genocide, and for that I think they should get a lot of credit.

    And they did it because Khmer Rouge soldiers were crossing the border and attacking Vietnamese villages and killing Vietnamese citizens. That's fine, they militarily intervened for other than super noble reasons. Just like we defeated the Nazis in WWII for reasons other than stopping the genocide, and we also deserve credit.

    So, the number one military intervention to stop genocide in the 20th century is almost certainly the Allies defeating the Nazis in World War II. But the number two military intervention may be Vietnam invading Cambodia on Dec. 25, 1978.
     
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