Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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The Mind of Mao

Relevance for Eelam

by Sachi Sri Kantha

When the enemy advances, we retreat;
When the enemy camps, we harass;
When the enemy tires, we attack;
When the enemy retreats, we pursue.

For its metaphorical allure on multiple fronts, as an unusual introduction, I begin with a rather bawdy apocryphal anecdote which delighted us when we were schoolboys in the 1960s. This relates to China's sponsorship of the building of the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo. Following the banquet to fete the visiting Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the Chinese leader Mao had become somewhat inebriated. He moved towards Sirimavo, grabbed her bosom and said smilingly, ‘Now I have whole of Sri Lanka in my hands.’ For this unexpected intrusion, the ever sober Sirimavo nonchalantly reached for Mao’s crotch and countered, ‘Now, I have the essence of China in my hands.’ Mao laughed uproariously and offered to sponsor the building of the BMICH. The Sri Lankan madam’s bosom was a metaphor for her touted image as the first woman prime minister in the world. ‘The essence of China’ was equally an apt metaphor for a virile and erect China, transformed by Mao from its spineless and docile existence for more than a century.

‘The essence of China’ – that’s the most appropriate phrase to describe Mao’s deeds as a military revolutionary. In the post-Industrial Revolution period of global history, none in Asia could stand in parallel with Mao. But it has become fashionable among political paupers (Sri Lankan Presidents and historian wannabes included) in Asian countries to mute Mao’s military deeds, for crumbs of economic handouts from the Western powers who never felt comfortable with Mao when he was living. September 9th marked the thirtieth anniversary of the passing of Mao Ze Dong (1893-1976). Whatever commemorative features which appeared in the Western newsmedia, portrayed Mao as a curio and felt comfortable in ignoring Mao, the military genius. These include,

(1) Jane Macartney’s piece (‘A cigarette is tucked into the statue’s hand. Thirty years after his death, Mao is revered as less than a god but more than a man’. London Times, Sept.9, 2006),

(2) Emma Graham-Harrison’s ephemera (‘Thousands queue to see Mao on anniversary’, Washington Post, Sept.9, 2006), and

(3) Joseph Kahn’s trivial analysis (‘A textbook example of change in China’, International Herald Tribune, Sept.12, 2006).

On the relevance of Mao to the Eelam campaign, I reproduce what I wrote 18 years ago, when the LTTE was battling the Indian army (the so-called IPKF), in a rejoinder to a condescending piece contributed by David Selbourne to the ‘Tamil Times’ in January 1988. To quote,

Mao and N. Shanmugathasan

“The Westminster model of parliamentary democracy could work in the United Kingdom to cater to a single ethnic and single religious constituency. It has failed to take firm root in other countries with multi-ethnic and multi-religious constituencies. So, the younger generation of Tamilians drifted towards the military ideology of Mao Ze Dong, since 1977. One may label it as a reckless move. But it remained as a practical alternative. And among Tamils of Sri Lanka, a small faction led by trade unionist N.Sanmugathasan had espoused this cause, though not with much popular support.

Mao (the foremost tactician of guerrilla warfare) summed up his method in just four lines:

‘When the enemy advances, we retreat;

When the enemy camps, we harass;

When the enemy tires, we attack;

When the enemy retreats, we pursue.’

Mao should have known what he was talking about. In 1930, Chiang Kai Shek’s forces were superior by ten to one, against his raggedy-pants army. Chiang led a 900,000-strong army, formations of 300 bombers and a German General, van Seeckt. Mao’s guerrilla army amounted to only 140,000 poorly-armed men (c.f., the present scene in North and East of Sri Lanka; 50,000-strong Indian Peace Keeping Force with superior artilleries against the LTTE rebels, a cadre of 5000!). The results of Mao’s victory against the combined strength of Chiang’s forces and Japan’s Imperial Army reveals that the great leveler TIME doesn’t put much faith in the numbers and sophisticated weaponry.

How are the chances for a victory for LTTE rebels in a guerrilla war against the IPKF? General Mao has also noted the five requirements for victory in a guerrilla war. These are: (1) support from the masses, (2) party organization, (3) strong guerrilla army, (4) favorable region for military moves, (5) economic self sufficiency. I leave it to the readers to assess, how many of these requirements are satisfied by Tamil rebels at present.

Like the Ten Commandments, Mao also formulated the following norms of conduct for his army.

1. Speak politely.

2. Pay fairly for what you buy.

3. Return everything you borrow.

4. Pay for anything you damage.

5. Do not hit or swear at people.

6. Do not damage crops.

7. Do not take liberties with women.

8. Do not ill-treat captives.

In the present conflict in Sri Lanka, which side (the IPKF or the LTTE) has abided by these norms of conduct? It is only those who follow these commandments who will win the hearts and minds of Tamil population.

History is also replete with examples of powerful armies winning the battles and then losing the war. In his book, ‘Himalayan Blunder’, a combat participant in the Chinese-Indian border war of 1962, Brigadier J.P.Dalvi, has critically analyzed the debacle of the Indian army. Two interesting paragraphs from that book are worth reproducing for those who are interested in military science.

‘In difficult terrain, be it mountain, jungle or snow-covered steppe, it is sometimes militarily unavoidable to trade space for time. This is a stark military fact. Military history affords many examples to prove this. In war, the primary aim is the destruction of enemy forces. It is not the holding of impossible ground for political reasons or the undertaking of operations to appease an aroused public opinion.

Both in 1812, when Napoleon invaded Russia, and in 1941 when Hitler launched an invasion, the Russians drew the advancing armies deep into Russian territory. They relied on their most formidable weapons – snow in winter and the dreaded spring thaw (facetiously known as Generals January and February) which turns Russia into a vast sea of mud, that brings armies to a grinding halt. In both cases, the Russians sapped the vitality of the advancing army; and on both occasions mighty Russian counter offensives regained all lost territories and destroyed or ejected the invaders.’

So, losing ground for strategic reason is a time-tested design in warfare. Mao employed this sound technique against Japan’s Imperial Army in late 1930s…” [‘Rejoinder to Dr. Selbourne’, Tamil Times, March 1988, pp.14-15].

A sincere tribute to Mao is to study Mao’s military mind. It has been my view for a long time that Eelam Tamils have been too Indo-centric in their world view. Among Eelam Tamils, for three generations, we have had hundreds of armchair experts and politicians who could talk for hours on the liberation ideology of Gandhi and Nehru. But, one can count in two palms the Tamil specialists who have read Mao in-depth (at least in English translation).While nothing is wrong in being comfortable with Indo-centric thinking, it would also help Tamils if we expand our world view beyond the boundaries of India and elicit some interest on India’s neighbor China and its politico-military history of the 20th century, to comprehend what Mahatma Gandhi’s junior contemporary Mao Ze Dong contributed to China’s liberation from her oppressors.

It may not be inappropriate here, if I provide excerpts from a letter of mine captioned ‘Battle for Jaffna’ which appeared in the Asiaweek magazine (Hongkong) of Dec.8, 1995, in which I have noted Pirabhakaran’s use of Mao methods in the battlefield.

“Whenever I see a casualty figure in the proportion of 4:1 in favor of the Sri Lankan armed forces, I'm inclined to believe that it is a spurious statistic emanating from their propaganda desk.

Your statement that ‘As Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and his lieutenants fled Jaffna, they also forced tens of thousands of civilians to leave with them’ implies that the LTTE had lost the fight. Far from it. One should interpret it as a tactical retreat in the guerrilla tradition patented by Mao Zedong. Prabhakaran is an ardent student of Mao's tactics.

In the Tamil language, there is a proverb, "The tiger lies low, not for fear but for aim." If you have some doubt about the aim of the LTTE rebels, you can check with the Indian Peace Keeping Force.”

And isn’t it a bit amusing that General Ashok Mehta (one of the IPKF top rankers, who himself failed in his designated mission in the field, between 1987 and 1990) is now predicting doom for the LTTE, in his new avatar as an armchair military analyst?

To refresh ourselves with Mao’s thoughts and tactics for the battlefield, I provide below an article contributed by Colonel Francis Fuller to the ‘Military Affairs’ journal in 1958, on Mao as a military thinker. I reproduce this article in full with all the 37 foot-notes, since I consider it of educational value. Readers are advised to ignore the time-worn, loaded labels such as ‘Communist,’‘Reds’ and ‘brainwashing,’ since this article appeared during the zenith of the American-Soviet Cold War and the author was an American Colonel, identified with a footnote as “a long-time student of Mao Tse Tung and of Chinese military affairs.” For proprietory reasons, I have retained the spelling of Mao’s name (Mao Tse Tung) as it appeared in the original. Also, the words or phrases in italics, as well as dots, wherever they appear, are as in the original.

Mao Tse Tung: Military Thinker

By Francis F.Fuller

[courtesy: Military Affairs, Autumn 1958, vol.22, no.3, pp.139-145]

That Mao Tse Tung is a military genius becomes apparent to one who studies with objectivity his rise to power in China from 1927 to 1945. His military philosophy utilized available forces to fit his power needs and achieve his strategic objectives. To study and be familiar with this neatly tailored philosophy of Mao Tse Tung is vital in this uncertain age of ours – not from an historical standpoint alone but because of its obvious utility in the economy of space-age warfare.

Two decades of Mao Tse Tung’s new and revised ‘guerrilla warfare’1 laid the foundation of his power and formed the pivot upon which China was to swing from the Nationalists to the Reds. Ever keeping his eye on the grand strategy of total victory, Mao left the details of tactics to his subordinates. No one man in modern times, not even Lenin, can be credited with doing so much with so little. This ‘scholar-soldier’2, this man of intelligence, patience, strength, and faith in himself put his end-justifies-the-means philosophy to work without scruples, morals, or ethics and strove steadily for power. Without Mao Tse Tung there would have been no Communist conquest of China.

Mao Tse Tung’s military philosophy with its political and psychological aspects and implications has its origins in his deep understanding of and appreciation for that ancient Chinese military philosopher, Sun Wutzu. Clausewitz, indirectly through Lenin, also influenced Mao’s military thinking. But practical experience gained in several years’ work both inside and outside the Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party was crucial in the development of Mao’s philosophy and his subsequent rise to power. For it was during these years that Mao Tse Tung concluded rightly that whoever gained leadership over the masses, restless and close to spontaneous eruption as they were, would hold the key to power in China.

The Communist conquest of China may be divided into three phases.

(1) Kremlin-directed strategy (1921-1926)

(2) Mao-directed guerrilla warfare (1927-1945, the primary concern of this paper), and

(3) Conventional-type warfare (1946-1949)

With the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921 the Kremlin attempted to gain control over China through the political and military advisers and the financial help they (the Russians) sent to the Kuomintang.3 Simultaneously Chinese Communist Party members infiltrated the Kuomintang and gained key positions in preparation for an attempt to take over through a coup d’etat.4

But Chiang Kai-shek was alerted to the Red plan when he intercepted a cable from Stalin to the Chinese Communist leaders. Chiang immediately took steps to eliminate the traitors in his midst.

Birth of Mao’s Guerrilla Warfare

Until Chiang Kai-shek’s purge Mao Tse Tung had occupied dual high positions in the Propaganda and Peasants’ departments, openly in the Kuomintang but secretly, of course, in the Chinese Communist Party. Now Mao stepped in as leader of the demoralized Communists who had escaped to the Chingkanshan mountain stronghold on the Hunan-Kiangsi border.

From this point on, the path of the Chinese Communists diverged from that originally prescribed for them by the Kremlin.5 Mao was convinced that an armed force was an absolute necessity. And he set about to create it. Its nucleus, a band of outlaws, was augmented by captured and converted Nationalist soldiers. Eventually masses of peasants were incorporated to make it a full-bodied and strong Chinese Red Army.

The early period in the Chingkanshan mountains was the most critical test of Mao’s military leadership. Had he failed here it is doubtful that the Communists could have gone on to the victories they eventually achieved. Here it was that Mao forged his primary weapon: the armed guerrilla force. His task was merely to create this force out of seeming nothingness. He had a small group of men with even fewer weapons. Some were armed only with spears or sticks and stones. He received no tangible aid from Russia. And from the local populace even less, for they looked on his men as bandits.6 The only thing that held them together at this point was the price put on their heads by the Nationalists – and of course Mao’s personal leadership and strong conviction that the strategy and tactics of his evolving guerrilla warfare would, over a protracted period of time, lead to victory for the Communists: victory over an enemy rich in equipment and numbers but poor in understanding the needs, hopes, aspirations of the masses who could and would win in the end.

Let us take a look at Mao Tse Tung’s basic principle of war: ‘To preserve oneself and to annihilate the enemy.’7 What did Mao mean by ‘annihilate’? He meant ‘to disarm him or ‘to deprive him of his power to resistance’ and not to annihilate him completely in a physical sense.’8 Thus Mao Tse Tung drew very heavily upon his enemy for trained manpower and weapons, strengthening his own forces while at the same time directly weakening his enemy. Mao combined the old guerrilla-partisan warfare with modern concepts of psychological and total war. ‘Since the guerrilla units’, Mao said, ‘generally grow out of nothing and expand from a small force to a big one, they should not only preserve themselves but also expand their forces.’9 This is the core of Mao’s strategy of guerrilla warfare. Few military and political leaders realize how extensively Mao’s umbrella of guerrilla warfare covers his paramilitary and psychological operations. Indeed it would be less misleading to call his guerrilla warfare parasitic cannibalism.

Mao states: ‘Every communist must grasp the truth: Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.’10. And in order to make the best use of the few guns he had, he advised the study of military science, strategy and tactics which he said was the core of everything.

With his enemy well supplied and his own force practically empty-handed what could have been any simpler or more direct than to take his enemy’s guns for his own? Mao’s first significant military success came in February 192911 when his guerrilla band in a frenzy of desperation surprised and defeated a division of Nationalist troops, capturing men and taking over arms in the first noteworthy example of his strategy of parasitic cannibalism.

Not only were badly needed weapons and ammunition, food and clothing put to use but the captured soldiers were absorbed into Mao’s rapidly armed force. Once consolidated and reorganized, Mao boldly advanced on another nearby Nationalist division. His men wore the uniforms and flew the banners and flags of the annihilated division, and they completely surprised and engulfed this sister division in the same fashion they had the first.12

Mao Tse Tung was now a power to be reckoned with. The Nationalists stepped up their campaigns against him. But Mao’s tactics of ‘ten against one’ supported his overall strategy of ‘one against ten’13 and all but the last were desolate failures. Instead of reducing Mao’s strength, these campaigns served to increase it and to feed his evergrowing Army. Instead of hitting his vital bases, the Nationalists were misled into chasing him over the countryside.14 Mao said the Red Army ‘draws upon the enemy for almost all of its supplies…Not only are our losses compensated but our troops are strengthened.’15

But the Fifth Anti-Communist Campaign the now desperate Nationalists planned and conducted so effectively that the Chinese Communists were forced to abandon Kiangsi and on 16 October 1934 began their Long March, a strategic retreat into northwest China. With this blow Mao Tse Tung’s armed force was reduced from the 100,000 rifles16 he had gained primarily from defeated Nationalist forces to the comparatively few arms the survivors of the Fifth Campaign could carry with them on the 6,000 mile year-long trek to the Shensi Province.

Guerrilla Warfare Psychologically Waged

On their arrival in Yenan in 1935 Mao Tse Tung’s fighting forces were so weak that Chiang Kai-shek no longer considered the Reds much of a threat.17 How disastrously he underestimated his enemy! Red intelligence had discovered the Nationalist vulnerabilities. Under cover of guerrilla warfare tactics, Mao put into effect the basic law with which he was to constantly best his enemy: ‘Know the enemy and know yourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.’18 He shifted from the use of the gun to the battle field of psychological disintegration, attacking thus the former Manchurian Army under the leadership of General Chang Hsuehliang (also known as the Young Marshal).

Psychological disintegration was not new to Mao Tse Tung. He had employed it successfully before on a small scale in the encouragement of defections to his camp. For Mao Tse Tung did not believe in the ‘purely military viewpoint.’19 Unlike the Nationalist Army, the Red Army was trained in more than one way to fight. Their missions in addition to ‘merely fighting’20 Mao insisted would pay even greater dividends. The first of these was to arouse the masses of people through agitation and propaganda on a person-to-person basis, using violence if necessary. A second was to organize these aroused masses. A third: to disintegrate the enemy, dissolve his old loyalties, destory his organizations, and demoralize, confuse and reduce him to general ineffectiveness. These three missions combined to produce the psychological disintegration Mao sought.21

The Japanese attack on China became the overt target for much of the Chinese Red propaganda. On the Long March, Mao Tse Tung deceived the people along his route into thinking the Red Army was on the march to fight the Japanese despite Nationalist determination to keep them from it. Mao officially declared war on Japan in 1932.22 But his covert aim was always the disintegration of the Nationalist forces.

The framework within which the Red soldiers worked was always one of fear.23 Like Genghis Khan, they made sure that their reputation preceded them. The uncertainty and insecurity thus engendered in the people made them receptive to the propaganda of the Red soldiers. Then the initially decent treatment caught them by surprise and made them even more open to Red influence and deception.

Organizing was not done haphazardly. The Red plan called the complete mobilization of the populace, utilizing local leaders but with top control always remaining in Communist hands. Thus they could boast of total mass protracted resistance.24 Not until they had firm control could they afford to drop the mask.

Though military and police forces were the primary targets in their attempts to disintegrate the enemy, any vulnerability that advanced the power of Mao Tse Tung and weakened the enemy was exploited. Nationalist armed forces were trained technically and militarily but they were not prepared for a psychological-ideological battle. And this was the battlefield Mao chose for his main effort.

Why should Mao fight costly conventional military battles against an enemy who in numbers, training, arms and logistics was superior to him? Who could inflict great losses on him? Why, when he could by cheaper though slower means disintegrate the enemy’s will to fight? This way he could not only win the battle but take over trained and armed soldiers and, rather than destroy them, use them against their former allies.

Chiang Kai-shek made a grave error in assigning ex-Manchurian troops to the mission of containing the Reds, a mission they considered insignificant in comparison with fighting the Japanese who had forced them out of their homeland. It was not long before Chinese Communists dressed in the uniform of Chang’s army were giving the Manchurian instructions in guerrilla warfare techniques for use against the Japanese.

At the top level the Chinese Communists also had super-secret dealings with the Commander, General Chang, again without Chiang Kai-shek’s full knowledge. The Communists convinced Chang of their patriotism, saying they only wished Chiang Kai-shek would stop his fight with them so they could join together under his leadership to fight the Japanese. Mao’s ‘persuasive reasoning’25 with Chang brought results: Chang kidnapped Chiang Kai-shek (when the latter flew up to plan a final campaign against the Communists) and tried to convince him to join the Reds in an Anti-Japanese United Front Alliance.

Initially meeting with failure, Chang called in his Communist mentors to finish the job they had started with the idea Chang had taken for his own. Chou En-lai, seemingly an angel in disguise, won Chiang Kai-shek’s confidence by saving him from a people’s court and securing his release. Thus, in the Sian Incident the Communists won favor by appearing to rescue a person (in this case none other than Chiang Kai-shek) from the very danger they had plotted against him in the first place. The Communists had devised a new way to make something out of nothing.

Mao Tse Tung used the haphazard alliance of the Anti-Japanese United Front as an almost perfect cover for his work of parasitic cannibalism of the Nationalist forces. Though Chiang entered into the alliance in good faith, Mao’s duplicity had secured legal sanction for the Communists. Now legally Mao could cover his secret preparations for seizure of power from the Nationalists (with the unwitting help of the Japanese).

The change of name designating the Red Army as the Nationalist Eighth Route Army served but to deceive the Nationalists. Though the uniform and insignia were changed, Mao still had supreme command in fact, giving only lip service to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek as commander-in-chief. But all of this gave to Mao Tse Tung a de facto legal status in the eyes of the masses. He did not need a de jure status to carry out his strategy of utilizing the enemy’s laws and customs to advance his own power. So important was this legal sanction that only a year after the initiation of the Anti-Japanese Alliance, Mao could report that the Chinese Communist Party had stepped out of its narrow confines and become a major party, national in scope.26

Mao Tse Tung’s secret instructions to his top leaders now put into effect the following policy: 70% of the Chinese Communist effort was to be devoted to expansion, 20% to dealing with the Kuomintang (i.e. the Nationalists), and a mere 10% would take care of fighting the Japanese.27 The total strength of the Eighth Route Army together with his New Fourth Army in 1937 was about 40,000 men. By 1945, when Japan surrendered, these armies had expanded to over 1,000,000 men.28

Mao’s principle of victory29 and his adherence to the advice of Sun Wu-tzu30 show him to be a conservative, cautious man. The totality with which he studied his enemy and learned about himself might be considered Mao Tse Tung’s hallmark of genius. He then was careful to use this carefully garnered information to counter the enemy’s efforts to gain intelligence and even to mislead and confuse him.31 Intelligence and counter-intelligence were missions assigned not just to Mao’s five major groups of trained spies32 but to all members of his armed force and to literally all people under Red control. Much of the 70% of effort Mao assigned to expansion went in this direction.

For Mao the 20% of his effort allotted to the Nationalists was ‘lip service’. Mao was more than willing to build up Chiang Kai-shek in order to mislead him into thinking the Reds had really accepted him as their leader and commander-in-chief. The Communists made many special concessions and compromises in order to hold together the fiction of the Anti-Japanese United Front so long as it was expedient for them to do so. For a time Mao was even able to draw funds from the Nationalists. Money intended for the fight against the Japanese was used instead to finance Communist subversive agent operations against the Nationalists themselves.33 Materials and supplies were stockpiled for use at a later date against the Nationalists who had provided them in the first place. Chiang Kai-shek writes with feeling: ‘Communists…always seek to make use of their enemy and in the meantiem take care not to be used by him.’34

Mao was ever alert to new movements, to join them and gain leadership over their people under the pretext of helping them get what they wanted. Thus did Mao use the peasants. So too the students. Mao’s ‘professional students’, on Nationalist-awarded scholarships, subverted students at the universities and gained the leadership Mao needed to win.35

As for the 10% of effort consigned to fighting the Japanese, news releases put out by the Chinese Communists would have one believe that they and they alone, with their guerrilla warfare, were winning the war against Japan. For the Communists took advantage of the situation to propagandize when it was not possible to check the validity of their statements. In actuality, the Chinese Reds did little fighting. They preferred to do what Mao accused others of doing: ‘Sit on top of a mountain to watch the tigers fight.’36 Then, when both sides were worn out they would come down to carry off the spoils.

An official United States document sums up the Chinese Communists’ guerrilla warfare against Japan: ‘The art of playing two opponents against each other, subjecting them both to spurious losses while building one’s own strength, was practised more effectively by Chinese Communism than by any other country or group in the Second World War.’37


Mao Tse Tung’s genius as a military thinker lies in the fields of total and para-military warfare, psychologically waged. His underdog strategy of one against ten (one Communist against ten unorganized and unsuspecting foes) and his tactics of ten against one (ten organized Communists overwhelming one enemy) sum up his basic philosophy for gaining victory. Mao’s principle of war, to ‘preserve oneself and annihilate the enemy,’ indicates the absoluteness with which he aims to conquer his enemies ultimately. Alliances, neutrality, truces, and co-existence are but temporary conditions permitting consolidation of gains and preparation for complete victory over that segment of the enemy he has isolated and marked out for annihilation. The philosophy behind this principle of Mao’s is that he can preserve himself only by the annihilation (i.e., destruction of his will and/or power to resist) of his enemy.

Parasitic cannibalism is the logical extension of this philosophy of annihilation. Here Mao uses his unwitting enemy as quartermaster and employment agency!

Circumstances forced Mao Tse Tung to economize on costs. But he made capital of the idea. The least expensive areas for Mao to attack were also vital ones in which the enemy was unprepared. Why should Mao use expensive and hard-to-get bullets when less costly ways were more effective in the long run even though they were sneered at by conventional military leaders? Why should Mao physically destroy an enemy that could be persuaded to join his own forces, strengthening them and directly weakening his enemy? Here we see Mao Tse Tung’s strategy of warfare, psychologically waged. It does not preclude the use of armed force, violence, fear, and shock. Rather, these are the basis for Mao’s formula for persuasive reasoning.

Mao repudiated the ‘purely military viewpoint’. His first requisite was ‘iron-clad political training’ – complete brainwashing as to the justness of Mao’s struggle which was, at the peasant level, for food, land, security (with no mention of Communist ideology) and the unjustness of the enemy cause. With this hope for security held continually before them and the assurance of victory in the end, Mao’s men were ideologically prepared to fight to the finish if necessary.

Mao Tse Tung trained his officers and men to agitate, propagandize, organize, disintegrate, and act as intelligence and counterintelligence agents, as well as to fight. Analysis of Mao’s conquest of China during the vital guerrilla warfare phase (1927-1945), the umbrella for his overt paramilitary operations, bears out Chiang Kai-shek’s after-action report of 20% fighting and 80% intelligence, propaganda and psychological stratagems.

International Law and Conventions of War have been ignored by Mao Tse Tung except when he could apply them against others. Strength is the only thing Mao respects – strength in all the elements of military preparedness (political, economic, psychological, social, ideological) with emphasis on the will of men as well as the technical excellence of machines.

Now while we still have moral and physical strength we must recognize, study and learn to combat Mao Tse Tung’s secret weapon: psychological disintegration.

Foot Notes

1. Mao Tse Tung, Selected Works, I, II, III, IV (New York: International Publishers Co., Inc., 1954).

2. Robert Payne, Mao Tse Tung: Ruler of Red China (London: Secker and Warburg, 1951), pp.272f.

3. Most recent example of this technique: Soviet dealings with Nasser.

4. Chiang Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China; A Summing Up at Seventy (New York: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1957), p.362.

5. Edgar Snow, Battle for Asia (New York: Random House, 1941), p.290 states, ‘Mao was twice expelled from the party for alleged violations of the Comintern line.’

See Benjamin X.Schwartz, Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1951), pp.5, 135f, 155. See also, Robert C.North, Moscow and Chinese Communists (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1953), pp.170-78.

6. See M.N.Roy, Revolution and Counter-Revolution in China (Calcutta: Renaissance Publishers, 1946), pp.616ff. where Roy quotes from the Military Bulletin of the Central Communist Party of China, January 15, 1930.

7. See Mao Tse Tung, Selected Works, II, p.121 (‘Strategic problems in the Anti-Japanese Guerrilla War’). See also, Stefan T. Possony, A Century of Conflict (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1953), p.383, for an excellent summary and comparison of Western and Communist military principles.

8. Mao Tse Tung, ‘On protracted war’, Selected Works, II, p.205.

9. Mao Tse Tung, ‘Strategic problems in the Anti-Japanese Guerrilla War’, Selected Works, II, p.122.

10. Mao Tse Tung, ‘Problems of War and Strategy’, Selected Works, II, p.272.

11. Roy, Revolution and Counter-Revolution, pp.618ff.

12. Charles R.Shepard, A Nation Betrayed: Communism in China (New York: Exposition Press, 1954), pp.73f.

13. See Mao Tse Tung, ‘Strategic Problems of China’s Revolutionary War’, Selected Works, I, pp.238f: “The Chinese Red Army, a small and weak force, has…surprised the world…Our strategy is ‘to pit one against ten’, while our tactic is ‘to pit ten against one’ – this is one of the fundamental principles on which we beat the enemy.”

14. Others beside Chiang Kai-shek were misled. See US Congress, House, Document 154, Part 3, Supplement III, Communism in China, pp.12f: ‘They had no such thing as a base of vital importance. Their logistics were so simple and rudimentary…the Communists were free of dependence on any fixed base.’

15. Mao Tse Tung, ‘Strategic Problems of China’s Revolutionary War’, Selected Works, I, p.252. See also p.253: ‘Our basic directive is to rely on the war industries of the imperialist countries and of our enemy at home. We have a claim on the output of the arsenals of London as well as of Hanyang, and, what is more, it is to be delivered to use by the enemy’s own transport corps. This is the sober truth, not a joke.’

16. Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China (New York: Random House, 1938), pp.173f.

17. Chiang Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China, p.65.

18. Mao Tse Tung, ‘On Contradiction’, Selected Works, II, p.27.

19. Mao Tse Tung, ‘On the Rectification of Incorrect Ideas in the Party’, Selected Works, I, p.106.

20. Ibid

21. Ferreus, ‘The Menace of Communist Psychological Warfare’, Orbis, vol.1, no.1, April 1957, pp.97-121. See also Eudacio Ravines, The Yenan Way (New York: Scribner, 1931), pp.148-61.

22. As one expert who called their propaganda ‘masterly’ put it: the people were ‘persuaded by force and held by fear’. Father Raymond J.DeJaegher and Irene Corbally Kuhn, The Enemy Within: An Eyewitness Account of the Communist Conquest of China (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co, 1953), pp.181, 183.

23. V.A.Yakhontoff, The Chinese Soviets (New York: Coward-McCann, 1934), pp.236-38.

24. Snow, Red Star Over China, pp.343ff.

25. Mao, in ‘Oppose the Party ‘Eight-Legged Essay’, Selected Works, IV, p.49, describes persuasive reasoning: ‘In [persuasive] reasoning we must begin by administering a shock and shouting at the patient, ‘You are ill!’ so that he is frightened into a sweat, and then we tell him gently that he needs treatment.’

26. Mao Tse Tung, ‘Introductory Remarks to the Communist’, Selected Works, III, p.53.

Chiang Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China, p.85.

27. Chiang Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China, p.85.

28. Mao Tse Tung, ‘Strategic Problems in the Anti-Japanese Guerrilla War’, Selected Works, II, p.119.

29. ‘We do not fight unless we are sure of victory; we must on no account fight without preparation and without certainty of the outcome.’ (Mao Tse Tung, ‘Questions of Tactics in the Present Anti-Japanese United Front’, Selected Works, III, p.199.)

30. ‘Know the enemy and know yourself, and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster.’ See Mao Tse Tung, ‘On Contradiction’, Selected Works, II, p.27.

31. Mao Tse Tung, ‘On the Protracted War’, Selected Works, II, p.217, says: ‘In order to win victory we must try our best to seal the eyes and the ears of the enemy, making him blind and deaf, and to create confusion in the minds of the enemy commanders, driving them distracted.’

32. See Payne, Mao Tse Tung, p.105: ‘The first group consisted of ‘native spies’, men who knew the terrain well; then there were ‘inside spies’, who knew the highest secrets of the enemy; then there were ‘spies in reverse’, who were in fact fighting for you, but were unknowingly employed by the enemy; then there were ‘dumb spies’, poor creatures who were fed with knowledge which they unconsciously gave to the enemy; finally there were ‘daring spies’, who went over to the enemy lines and discovered military secrets at great risk to themselves. To survive, Mao had to use all five kinds of spies.’

33. Chiang Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China, p.120.

34. Ibid, p.291. See US Department of State, Publication 3573, Far East Series 30, US Relations with China (Washington DC, 1949), p.86, which states that General Chu The tried to get twenty million dollars ($20,000,000) from the United States to use to encourage defections of men and arms to their side and for sabotage purposes.

35. DeJaegher and Kuhn, The Enemy Within, p.143.

36. Mao Tse Tung, ‘The Unity between the Interests of the Soviet Union and the Interests of Mankind’, Selected Works, III, p.46.

37. US Congress, House, Document No.154, Part 3, Supplement III, Communism in China, p.27.


See also William Benton, ‘How Strong is Russia? And How Weak?’, in the New York Times Magazine, 10 June 1956, p.70: “I startled some of my colleagues in the US Senate when I argued on the Senate floor that Red China fell to Red Propaganda rather than to the Red Army. I shall never forget a statement I heard General Marshall make early in 1947, shortly after he returned from China. He said, ‘China might have been saved by the massive use of radio and motion pictures, on a scale hitherto undreamed of.’”

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