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Views of the Cuban Communist Party on the Collapse of Soviet and Eastern European Socialism
In Cuba Was Different, Even Sandvik Underlid explores the views of Cuban authorities, official press, and Party members as they reflect back on the collapse of Soviet and Eastern European socialism. In so doing, he contributes to a better understanding as to why the Cuban system – often associated with Fidel Castro’s leadership – did not itself collapse. Despite the loss of its most important allies, key ideological referents, and even most of its foreign trade, Cuba did not embrace capitalism.

The author critically examines and analyzes the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe as reported in the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma, both as they unfolded and subsequently through the lens of additional interviews with individual Party members. This focus on Cuba’s Communist Party provides new perspectives on how these events were seen from Cuba and on the notable resilience of many party members.
Volume Editors: Boris Barth and Rolf Hobson
The civilizing mission associated with nineteenth-century colonialism became harder to justify after the First World War. In an increasingly anti-imperialist culture, elites reformulated schemes for the “improvement” of “inferior” societies. Nation building, social engineering, humanitarianism, modernization or the spread of democracy were used to justify outside interventions and the top-down transformation of non-western, international or even domestic societies.

The contributions in Civilizing Missions in the Twentieth Century discuss how these justifications influenced Polish nation building, Scandinavian disarmament proposals and technocratic social policies in the interwar years. Treatment of the second half of the century covers the changing cultural context of European humanitarianism, as well as the influence of American social science on US foreign policy, more particularly democracy promotion.

Contributors are: Boris Barth, Rolf Hobson, Jürgen Osterhammel, Frank Ninkovich, Bianka Pietrow-Ennker, Karen Gram-Skjoldager, Esther Moeller, and Jost Dülffer.
In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
Author: Sunwoo Lee

Abstract

Chi Ki-ch’ŏl’s story reveals a man not driven by ideology, but buffeted by it. He began adulthood as a Korean exile in Manchuria, where the Japanese occupation army conscripted him. After Japan’s defeat in August 1945, he joined a Korean contingent of the Chinese Communist Army and fought in the Chinese Civil War. His unit later repatriated to North Korea, where it joined the invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950. When U.S.-led forces of the United Nations shattered that invasion in September, he quickly arranged to surrender to U.S. troops. While in custody, Chi worked with Republic of Korea (rok) intelligence to organize prisoner of war (pow) resistance to their being returned to North Korea after the impending armistice. He enjoyed privileges as an anti-Communist in the pow camps, and hoped it would continue. Although an active anti-Communist, Chi judged that he would not be able to live in South Korea as an ex-pow. After refusing repatriation to North Korea, he also rejected staying in South Korea. But Chi would survive elsewhere. He relocated to India, where he thrived as a businessman. He chose the space of neutrality to succeed as an anti-Communist, where life nevertheless reflected the contentious energy of the Cold War. Chi’s decision demonstrated how ideology, despite its importance to him, was not sufficient to translate his rejection of Communist North Korea into a commitment to South Korea.

In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations

Abstract

At the end of the Korean War, 76 Korean and 12 Chinese prisoners of war (pows) refused to return to either side of their divided countries. Instead, they sought asylum in neutral nations that were yet to be determined. Situating this theme issue’s three articles in the larger Korean War historiography, this introduction provides a chronology of major events that culminated in the 88 pows’ departure from Korea and voyage to India on 9 February 1954. Emphasizing that these 88 men were not fundamentally different from the other 150,000 Korean and 21,000 Chinese pows, this paper underscores the fact that these 88 pows, having survived battles and captivity, risked their lives to escaped from their compound leaders and sought neutral nations’ protection. The stories of the 88 prisoners “choosing” neutral nations were in fact tales of survival and escape.

In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
Author: Jung Byung Joon

Abstract

Under the terms of the Korean War armistice, prisoners of war (pow s) could reject repatriation. The vast majority of non-repatriates went to either of the Koreas, China, or Taiwan. But a small group consisting of 76 Korean and twelve Chinese pow s exercised their option to go to neutral nations instead. This article examines how South Korean discourse about these outlier pow s shifted over the decades. An early assumption was that they had made a principled, ideological decision to reject both blocs of a global Cold War. But their choice of neutral countries was a more personal than ideological one. Their anti-communism appeared muted, since they also eschewed the other side. This interpretation contained little direct knowledge of the pow s themselves; it owed more to how the South Korean public saw the war that devastated their peninsula. There also was the influence of “The Square” in the Korean intellectual society and the mass media in their understanding of these Korean prisoners. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, South Koreans became more confident about the rivalry with North Korea. This led to a reengagement with the memory of the pow s who had spurned both Koreas, making rejection of Communist North Korea more convincing and their refusal to remain in South Korea was less problematic.

In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
Author: Jung Keun Sik

Abstract

This article reconstructs the life history of Korean War prisoner Im Kwan-taek and analyzes his strategy for survival. Im, a North Korean who forces of the United Nations Command (unc) captured, refused repatriation to North Korea and decided to go to a neutral country. After two years in India, he finally settled in Brazil. This study examines his prisoner of war (pow) interrogation reports and the results of two oral history interviews to understand Im’s experiences and survival strategies. Born in Ch’ungch’ŏng Province, Im grew up in southern Korea. However, in 1946, he moved to northern Korea with the support of his deceased father’s comrades from the anti-Japanese movement in China. With the start of the Korean War on 25 June 1950, Im became an officer in the Korean People’s Army (kpa). As a pow, he concealed his identity as much as possible to ensure his survival, and these efforts continued in neutral countries. After the Republic of Korea awarded Im’s father the South Korean Patriotic Medal in 2001, his “secret survivalism” strategy relaxed and he began organizing communication and networks between surviving former pows.

In: Journal of American-East Asian Relations
Author: Boris Barth

This article deals with several varieties of the civilizing mission in the interwar years of the 20th century. As a result of World War I, in all European countries technocratic elites reached powerful positions in the respective bureaucracies and started programs to – as they defined it – improve their populations. Planning and social engineering, often combined with social Darwinist concepts, became part of utopian designs for the improvement of societies. All these ideas had in common that they gave up the individualist and liberal ideas of the 19th century. Many programs were independent of regime type, even if the realization of technocratic utopias was easier in the Soviet Union or in fascist dictatorships than in democracies. Typical was also an ongoing global exchange of ideas across ideological boundaries despite highly nationalist rhetoric. The article deals with attempts to improve the organization of labor and workforces both in the “West” and in the Soviet Union. It goes on to describe newly developed forms of population control and population exchange, which climaxed in the infamous Treaty of Lausanne. The final section analyzes the international eugenics movement, comprising intellectual and political elites who claimed to represent the spearhead of progress. The main problem with these programs was the lack of democratic or parliamentary control. However, it is impossible to write the history of the welfare state without taking these technocratic visions into account.

In: Civilizing Missions in the Twentieth Century
Author: Rolf Hobson

At the end of the Cold War, American neoconservatives posed as the conscious inheritors of the civilizing mission of 19th century liberalism and the British Empire. They advocated the use of force, if necessary, to export democracy and free markets to those areas of the world which were cut off from the benefits of globalization. Although a tightly knit group mostly comprised of defense intellectuals, the neocons could draw on strong, cross-party currents in US political culture, as well as historical interpretations and fashionable social science theories, to buttress their arguments. Meanwhile, the dominant strategic concept of the 1990s, the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs, held out the promise that regime change was a feasible, even facile task for the US military. The unacknowledged American nationalism underlying the various strands of this programme blinded its proponents, and public opinion, to the resistance it would engender.

In: Civilizing Missions in the Twentieth Century