Thursday, March 31, 2011

Well, there *was* that one time he killed a million peasants ....

Jay Taylor has penned a revisionist biography of Chiang Kai-Shek, but hey, Chiang had his flaws:
Taylor points out that Chiang did many bad things, and not always for reasons that made sense. He aligned himself with Shanghai gangster boss Du Yuesheng, who brutally massacred the communists and labor activists in Shanghai. He raised funds by taxing rather than suppressing the opium trade, unleashed an enormous flood that killed millions of peasants by breaking the dikes of the Yellow River in order to slow the Japanese advance, tolerated corruption among his military officers and his wife’s relatives, oversaw assassinations and kidnappings and torture by his security people as part of a series of ruthless political wars, and intervened unwisely in the tactical operations of his generals in the field.
Uh, could we rewind to the part where Chiang "killed millions of peasants"?
Waters flooded into Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu. The floods covered and destroyed thousands of square kilometers of farmland and shifted the mouth of the Yellow River hundreds of miles to the south. Thousands of villages were inundated or destroyed and several million villagers driven from their homes and made refugees. An official Nationalist post-war commission estimated that 800,000 were drowned, which may be a low figure.
Oh, well, maybe only a million or so.

Much like the Allies' own efforts at deliberately killing thousands of civilians, the military efficacy of this 1938 Yellow River Flood has been questioned.

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