Why? China, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan all derive their political cultures primarily from Confucianism, a strongly hierarchical system that modern commentators would probably, if it could be seen undoctored today, describe as a dictatorship. North Korea, a personality cult with similar structure, persists.
At the same time, in the 1980s, nearby Taiwan was also a dictatorship of the Nationalist Chinese army and was also supported if not set up by the US. They stopped off in Burma to grow heroin and prop up a military dictatorship there along the way. In the last few years, the US has basically let the dictators out of prosecution to counter growing regional Chinese influence which was formerly set to dominate the country. Singapore is widely accused of setting up its stock market explicitly to launder the drug revenues, and still has - and indeed probably only exists today - because of major US support.
Vietnam is the only really strong story of the lot, repulsing an attack from China after kicking out the French and Americans and re-asserting its independence, then removing another dictatorship (Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge) from Cambodia in 1978.
And the US military LOVED Saddam Hussein.
The one with most potential is probably Singapore given what they've accomplished in a short time. They just need a cultural shift to get them out of this conformist, nationalist, factory-worker mentality. They could become a hub of not only trustworthy business in Asia but innovation or quality-focused business too. The reactionaries are doing everything they can to prevent that, though, as it will threaten their power.
It may be in the realm of conspiracy theory still, but some would contend that the CIA installed the Lon Nol government and helped oust Norodom Sihanouk as king. Sihanouk himself wrote a book called "My War with the CIA" and as I understand it (haven't read it) his position is that this happened in retaliation for Cambodia remaining neutral in the Vietnam war.
I'm not sure to what extent this is true, or whether or not Sihanouk quietly supported the VC, but Cambodia was absolutely devastated by US bombing and it can only be described as evil. As a personal anecdote, I recently met some Cambodian men who subsisted as children by salvaging unexploded American bombs.
Between 1965 and 1973, the U.S. dropped 2.7 million tons of explosives -- more than the Allies dropped in the entirety of World War II -- on Cambodia, whose population was then smaller than New York City's. Estimates of the number of people killed begin in the low hundreds of thousands and range up from there, but the truth is that no one has any idea.
Note that the US didn't bomb Cambodia until quite late in the war. That probably helped the North Vietnamese more than anything.
Never heard of this but it no doubt pales in comparison to Vietnam's "remove them with a land army" commitment.
I just don't recall it going the way you described with instead them splitting up with one side backing communist imperialists and the other capitalist imperialists. They fell for the games plenty enough but resisted a lot, too.
Any way you look at it Ho Chi Minh was brilliant military tactician and strategist who drew from both ancient Chinese and modern western military philosophy to lead his people to independence. I'd argue that the use of socialism was probably not as significant (versus other options of wartime economies) as commonly thought. It was useful, however, to get diplomatic support and military hardware from allies such as Russia and China. I don't think it greatly shaped Vietnam, which is now very capitalist, just like China and Singapore, two other nominally 'communist' party-led modern Asian nations.
Not unlike WW2 for the Soviets.
>> Never heard of this
It's true right up until the Khmer Rouge marched into Phnom Penh. Then US diplomats and officials were evacuated in helicopters, while the city was left for slaughter.
You forgot Thailand. With the cult of the president and full cooperation of the army, it's pretty much a dictatorship as well.
You say that as if Vietnam did it on their own. They were as supported by China and Russia as Taiwan was by the US.
And now that China is encroaching on Vietnam's sovereignty, who do they cozy up to? The US.
It's all politics.
China allowed Soviet military aid passage through the country, but once the threat of having an American client cf. South Korea was waning (early 70s) repaired relations with the US and invaded Vietnam (1978).
Of course. Actually they have had many invasions and multiple occupations from China over the course of the last 10-20 centuries. They are, long-term historically speaking, essentially a China breakaway, but similarly southward-expansionist state.
Right now there is conflict with China over their Vietnam's territorial waters and the South China Sea. China invaded Vietnam via land as recently as 1979.
> They are, long-term historically speaking, essentially a China breakaway
Hmmm ... China hasn't controlled Vietnam in a very long time, AFAIK; maybe never. Vietnam has a different culture and language.
> similarly southward-expansionist state
South of Vietnam is ocean; what does this comment mean?
China has occupied Vietnam many times. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Vietnam
Vietnam has a different culture and language.
The language is very much a dialect of ancient southern Chinese. In fact, it is used by linguists to reconstruct (along with other languages) ancient Chinese pronunciation. Culturally, Vietnam has Chinese holidays like Chinese New Year, plus Chinese characters (though they are forgetting how to read them after the installation of Romanized script), Confucianism, Taoism, etc.
Sinified Vietnam (ie. the first beginnings of modern Vietnam proper) expanded southward overrunning completely culturally distinct countries such as Champa, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Champa
A question asked in chat just today by a German journalist friend who specialises in Asia and esp the Koreas:
"And im seriously wondering: if there were no americans holding back the sk tyrants of that time, would sk be any better than nk in terms of human rights?"
You can simply look around the world and see that the US has hundreds of military bases in other ostensibly sovereign countries.
You can just look at the basic facts and see that there is more than a touch of imperialism at play here.
1. The US pays for those bases to be there.
2. Host countries want those bases to be there for defensive and economic purposes.
If we look at the basic facts we see this is clearly not imperialism.
Really? Even the closest one to the US at Guantanamo Bay, where Cuba keeps demanding that the US gets off their soil?
The US's foreign base policies are a little more complex than you're suggesting.
The second half of that is pretty spot on, and if I'm not mistaken some of the overseas bases did originate from the use of force.
Currently, the Pax Americana is based on the military preponderance beyond challenge by any combination of powers and projection of power throughout the world's commons—neutral sea, air and space. This projection is coordinated by the Unified Command Plan which divides the world on regional branches controlled by a single command. Integrated with it are global network of military alliances (the Rio Pact, NATO, ANZUS and bilateral alliances with Japan and several other states) coordinated by Washington in a hub-and-spokes system and world-wide network of several hundreds of military bases and installations. Former Security Advisor, Zbignew Brzezinski, drew an expressive summary of the military foundation of Pax Americana shortly after the unipolar moment:
In contrast [to the earlier empires], the scope and pervasiveness of American global power today are unique. Not only does the United States control all the world's oceans, its military legions are firmly perched on the western and eastern extremities of Eurasia... American vassals and tributaries, some yearning to be embraced by even more formal ties to Washington, dot the entire Eurasian continent... American global supremacy is...buttered by an elaborate system of alliances and coalitions that literally span the globe.
Besides the military foundation, there are significant non-military international institutions backed by American financing and diplomacy (like the United Nations and WTO). The United States invested heavily in programs such as the Marshall Plan and in the reconstruction of Japan, economically cementing defense ties that owed increasingly to the establishment of the Iron Curtain/Eastern Bloc and the widening of the Cold War.
Personally, I don't think the US should have intervened in Korea, for all the very good reasons that your founders cautioned against foreign intervention and entanglements.
But the intervention saved millions from enslavement. It was a net benefit to everyone in South Korea, then and now.
Also, if there was no South Korea, then who knows, maybe the "larger" North Korea would just be like China today; kind of terrible but not so terrible.
Arab states use Israel's existence as justification to military dictatorship. Saddam also used the threats from Iran (which were very real).
Meanwhile, Israel managed to develop into an industrial democracy despite being surrounded by enemies from all directions.
I don't think you can be considered a democracy if you are at war with half of the people within your borders.
Was the US a liberal democracy during WWII when it cluster bombed Germany and Japan?
Think about the context here: how South Korea in the 80s was treating its own people.
Israel is a democracy within its local population despite being surrounded by enemies.
Therefore, having an enemy at the border is not a good excuse for a military dictatorship.
Put another way, I'm sure even Pyongyang has some happy citizens. Even dictators usually let some local population live happily. The trick is being part of the right local population.
And the lessons of Nuremberg go unheeded again. Dear God, I hope there's standing for an ACTA claim, since it's damned certain ROK isn't going to try and make this inhumanity right again.
Mind elaborating on that to people (like me) not deeply familiar with European history?
Not everyone was given death penalty in Nürnberg either.
I think the most important fact was they ruled that "just following orders" wasn't a blanket excuse.
That was the breakthrough of the Nuremburg trials. Judges cut through that and established the principle that everyone in the SS could have known they are committing genocide and could have known that a genocide is not covered by the rules of war. That's why you can refuse an illegal order in Western armies now.
The alternative would have been that everyone in the chain of command had claimed duress up to the NSDAP leadership - and those were mostly dead by then.
Post-Nuremburg, everyone knows that you will get punished and the higher your rank, the worse for you if you are part of genocide. Ideally. In reality, a lot of war crimes and genocide still goes without punishment.
South Korean cinema has made movies on it. The South Korean intelligence agency involved even renamed itself and has had some powers stripped because of it (and other reasons).
I guess it's just not that well known in the west.
What is described here is worse that what happened behind the Iron Curtain at the same time, in terms of numbers at least (more people tortured).
North Koreans have probably heard this story.
Here's a bunch of interesting stuff:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwangju_Uprising is a key point in history.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHu39FEFIks is a recent politically-charged South Korean pop song. It's (intentionally paradoxically) interpreted by a young girl, but it was penned by an older, male composer. The lyrics are superficially waxing nostalgic about the Sogyeokdong district of Seoul, however during the times shown in flashbacks in the video, this used to be the location of the HQ of the Korean Defense Command, which ran a "School Greening Project" arresting and interrogating students believed to be activists in the democratization movement, and trying to turn them into informants. Several died. So when the girl sings "Do you remember Sogyeokdong? It hasn't changed at all ..." it's biting sarcasm. The music video directly features related events, including the haunting, eerie curfew sirens and government broadcasts about the SGP.
If you want to do some serious learning, this is a very good book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Park-Chung-Hee-Transformation/dp/0...
Disclaimer: I'm a German citizen living in Seoul, and I enjoy life here very much and am crazy-fond of the country and many of its people. Yet it's a very complicated place, in particular its 20th century history.
[The Brothers Home, a mountainside
institution] got government subsidies
based on its number of inmates, so it
pushed police to round up more vagrants,
the early probe found. And police officers
were often promoted depending on how many
vagrants they picked up.
It's a movement.
It's graphic, shocking, and makes you wish you didn't read it.
I don't know what else to say.
Unfortunately, during president Kim-Dae-Joong's period, people twisted history and defamed the previous dictators with propaganda.
This president was the person who won Korea's first novel peace prize for funding North Korea with billions of dollars. This money was eventually used for building the nuclear bombs. Yet, many people still think of this as a great feat.
In truth, it is shameful.
Dictator Rhee Syngman was a fine murder who left us with, among other atrocities, this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodo_League_massacre
Dictator Park Chung-hee was killed by his own aide (Kim Jae-gyu), while drinking with his servants, when Kim somehow snapped and decided Park should no longer live, for the sake of the country. Another aide (Cha Ji-cheol), also killed by Kim, reportedly remarked shortly before the shooting:
> "캄보디아에 서는 300만 명 정도를 죽이고도 까딱 없었는데 우리도 데모대원 1∼200만 명 정도 죽인다고 까딱 있겠읍니까?" (Cambodia was fine after killing 3 millions. What's the problem if we kill a million or two of those demonstrators?)
Oh, years before he became a dictator, Park was also a member of the Southern Labor Party (남조선로동당), a secret communist organization that worked toward a Marxist revolution in South Korea. Make of that what you will.
Dictator Chun Doo-whan came to power by shooting his own people: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwangju_Uprising
Among his other crimes, he's also credited with Samchung Educational Camp (삼청교육대), which basically committed the same crimes reported in the "Brothers Home" in the article, but in a national scale.
Oh, by the way, Kim Young-Sam, who was a president (from a conservative party) before Kim Dae-joong, spent 3.2 billion dollars on North Korea... due to an international agreement (including the US and Japan) on building nuclear reactors in North Korea in exchange of NK giving up its nuclear arsenals. See: https://ko.wikipedia.org/wiki/%EC%A1%B0%EC%84%A0%EB%AF%BC%EC...
> 재원분담협상 결과 대한민국은 실 공사비의 70 %를 원화로 기여(46억 달러 기준으로 3조 5,420억원)하고 ...
Apparently, the difference from Kim Dae-jung's "Sunshine policy" is that under conservative governments, we only do the paying, and let the US decide everything on how to handle the situation. It's supposed to make us feel more secure.
In 1973, Park Chung-hee also tried to murder Kim Dae-jung, then a prominent opposition leader. Korean government agents kidnapped Kim in Japan (which predictably blew up into a big diplomatic scandal), and dragged him into a boat, blindfolded and bound, ready to throw him into water once they're far enough from the shore.
But somehow a ship or an airplane intervened. (It seems there are many conflicting accounts. Some say it was a ship from Japanese coast guards; Kim apparently remembers that the crew cried "There's an airplane!") Several sources say that CIA discovered Kim's kidnapping and alerted the Japanese government.
So, most likely CIA saved Kim Dae-jung from being murdered by Park. I'm usually not a fan of American foreign policy, but in this one case, I'm thoroughly grateful.
* It seems there's uncertainty on whether Park ordered the murder, or if it was planned by some overzealous officer. Well, they're all dead now, so we'll never know...