Sunday, November 8, 2015

Otto Von Bismarck

The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood.
- Otto von Bismarck

The man who would prove instrumental in the creation of the German Empire was be the Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck. He was possibly the greatest politician and diplomat of his age.

Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck was born on April 1, 1815, at his family’s estate in the Prussian heartland west of Berlin. 
His mother, Wilhelmine Luise Mencken, came from a family of government ministers. His father was a Prussian Junker (German elite). Otto Von Bismarck was the last Prussian Minister-President and the first German Chancellor.

He was absolutely instrumental in convincing all of the other German states that joining with Prussia would be beneficial, as well as to limit the influence of the Austrian Hapsburg's on their affairs.

The German Empire might not have come into existence without his guiding hand. Even though his dream was realized with the Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War, his work was not completed yet.

He undermined the power of socialists in his new German Empire, rendering them impotent and powerless. He absolutely abhorred Socialists and Communists, and allied with his enemies, the Catholics, as he created a powerful, central monarchy under the control of the Kaiser. The Kaiser was the German Emperor, and was from the Hohenzollern Dynasty.

The administrative practices and internal infrastructure he set up modernized all of Germany and brought the empire into the modern world. Education was instrumental in creating a literate and patriotic society. Bismarck was obsessed with nationalism.

He also had an obsession with the weakening of France, viewing them as the greatest threat to a united Germany. It should be noted that he was once the Prussian ambassador to France. He sought out an alliance with Russia and Great Britain, believing that Germany must always be allied with two of the five great European powers. There powers were Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, Russia, and Great Britain, and this mentality would shape many of his foreign diplomatic efforts.

Bismarck’s successors lacked his foresight and diplomatic skill. But it would have been harder to have a unified Germany without Prussia’s victory in the Franco-Prussian War.

But it all came to an end in 1901. The Kaiser Wilhelm II dismissed Bismarck (or rather, Bismarck knew he was going to be dismissed, and preferred to walk out the door with his dignity intact). He quit his job as chancellor. Bismarck correctly predicted that there would be a great war to 'match no other' soon. And he was correct. This war was known as World War I.

If the world was a novel, then Bismarck would be a dynamic character. Changing from ultraconservative views to a moderately anti-socialist view, from Prussophile to Germanophile, Bismarck makes many improvements. While Bismarck was a conservative, he implemented the first welfare programs in the world by including sickness insurance, accident insurance, disability insurance, and a retirement pension.

Imagine having an illness. In a world without Bismarck, you would be fired, even if the sickness lasted for 2 days. Bismarck has truly caused great benefit to our world.


  1. "Otto Von Bismarck." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.
  2. Pflanze, Otto, Bismarck and the Development of Germany; 3 vols., 1963–90. vol 1 online, Bismarck and the Development of Germany: The Period of Unification, 1815–1871
  3. Steinberg, Jonathan. Bismarck: A Life (Oxford University Press, 2011), 592 pp

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Korean War

Green = South Korea
Red = North Korea, China, and USSR.
When someone's taken your legs and separated them from your body, you try to get them back. Right? But what happens when your legs get their own conscience?

The Korean War was a war between the Republic of Korea (supported primarily by the United States of America and the United Nations) and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea - supported by the People's Republic of China, with military and material aid from the Soviet Union.

The United States, worried about whether Japan would surrender through the threat of more atomic bombs being dropped, argued for a Soviet invasion of Japan and its colonial possessions. The Soviet Union easily agreed, smashing the remnant Kwantung Army that controlled most of the Japanese mainland.

Soon, the Manchuria (northeastern Chinese provinces like northern Inner Mongolia, Heilongjiang, Jilin, and Liaoning) was under Soviet control. The Soviets agreed to stop their advance at the 38th Parallel. Surprisingly, they actually did stop at the 38th Parallel, though many people agree that it was because they believed they could gain more concessions in Europe if they did so - and they cared more about Europe than a small peninsula in the middle of East Asia.

American forces secured South Korea, including several places that were not connected to the South Korean mainland. The People's Republic of Korea had been established with the approval of former Imperial Japanese administrators on September 6, 1945. Since the new nation was strongly Socialist, planning to nationalize the mining, transportation, banking, and communication industries already eight days after its creation, the United States Army Military Government in Korea was formed by arriving American forces.

In the Moscow Conference in 1945, Korea was to be controlled by a U.S.-Soviet Joint Commission. After five years, Korea would be free. However, most Koreans disliked the idea, including Syngman Rhee. Strikes and civil disobedience spread rapidly around Korea. The Military Government declared martial rule and held an election under UN auspices for independence. The Soviets and Korean Communists disagreed. The Republic of Korea was established on August 15, 1948, with Syngman Rhee becoming President. The Soviets established the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, controlled by Kim Il-Sung.

After the Chinese Civil War, where tens of thousands of North Koreans served with the Communists, Mao pledged aid to the North Koreans if war broke out against the south. Kim Il-Sung asked for Soviet support for an invasion of South Korea as early as March 1949. For the next two years, Stalin provided weapons to North Korea. Finally, in April 1950, Kim received permission to invade the south. The war began on June 25, 1950.

On June 25, 1950, the Korean People's Army (KPA) crossed the 38th Parallel. The South Koreans had no tanks, anti-tank weapons, or heavy artillery to counter Northern tanks and heavy artillery. Most of their soldiers were lost in the first few days. Just two days later, large parts of the South Korean government evacuated Seoul, while the bridge across the Han River was blown up on the next day, June 28. Still, the North Korean army captured Seoul on that same day.

The Soviets, a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC), had boycotted the meetings ever since January 1950 because Taiwan held China's permanent seat on the UNSC, allowing the UNSC to unanimously condemn the North Korean invasion. Resolution 83 was passed encouraging UN member states to send military aid to Korea. The North Koreans were able to push back American-Korean forces to the areas surrounding Pusan, massacring civil servants and intellectuals along the way. General Macarthur commanded an amphibious landing at Incheon on September 15. Seoul was taken quickly on September 25. North Korean troops began dissolving.

Chinese troops secretly crossed the Yalu River (border between China and Korea), UN forces retreated to the Suwon-Wonju-Samcheok line. In 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president. An Armistice was proposed by India, and a ceasefire was established, along with the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), patrolled by most of the belligerents. There was no peace treaty, but functionally, the Korean War is over.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Taiping Rebellion

When everyone's sick of a foreign, oppressive government that's taken over, some people feel that the only way to get rid of the tyrant is by declaring themselves a 'son of heaven' and becoming the king of as much lands as you can.

The Taiping Rebellion was a uprising in which a Chinese 'Christian' (and I use this word very lightly - Hong did not get baptized, nor did he actually know much about the Christian religion) Hong Xiuquan, told the Chinese people to rise against the Manchu or Qing Dynasty, which controlled China. The capital of this rebellion was Nanjing, which Hong renamed 'Tianjing', which means Heaven's Capital or Sky's capital.

Hong Xiuquan had been a failure in the Chinese examination system, unable to get an official position. Having wasted his family's money, he sunk into a deep depression. He was part of the Hakka Han Chinese group - these were people believed to have originally come from northern China who migrated to the south. The 'original inhabitants' had already taken up the best and most fertile lands for themselves, leaving the mountains to the Hakka. The Hakka, impoverished as they were, often rose up against the government.

This was until he got a brochure about Christianity. He claimed that he had previously had a dream where he spoke with somebody who called him 'brother'. Using this link, he argued that he was the brother of Jesus. Considering how many other revolts there were, the Qing officials were too hard-pressed to kill Hong. When Hong finally began fighting the Qing on a large scale, thousands of peasants flocked to Hong. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, founded by the Chinese Christian convert rebel Hong Xiuquan, had over 30 Million people residing in it. 20 million died in the ensuing war.

After Xiuquan died, his son gave up. The Qing Dynasty, with the aid of French, British, and American troops, crushed the rebellion. Historians believe that the Taiping Rebellion was the ultimate reason why the Qing didn't fall - after the crazy Taiping Rebellion, the south lost its will to rebel; it had been sapped out by the Taiping. Revolution would only occur in 1911.
This is a map of the Qing Dynasty and the Taiping Revolution.

Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic of China (the PRC, current-day China), or 中华人民共和国, argued that Hong was a glorious heroic revolutionary.

Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Kuo Min-Tang, the KMT, thought this rebellion was very inspirational in defeating the Qing Dynasty.

Overall, the Qing Dynasty would fall because of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911. After another revolution coming from Guangdong, the Chinese Civil War would begin. 20 Million died in the Taiping Rebellion, but 25 Million people died when the Qing Dynasty took over the Ming, 36 Million during the An Shi Rebellion, 60 Million in the Mongol Conquests, and around 40 Million Chinese people died in World War II: out of 72 Million.