Those Inspiring Communists:

First Thomas Friedman, but he's just a journalist from the New York Times. To someone of that particular distinction, covering up the horrors of Communism must seem like an honorable tradition of the firm.

Now it's someone from the White House.

Chairman Mao is an important figure in military science, and anyone who intends to fight a guerrilla war -- or resist one -- needs to read his writings on the subject.

Ms. Dunn is sketching that position by claiming that she's talking about his thoughts on how to fight war, but that isn't really what she's doing. What she's doing is claiming him to be an inspirational philosopher, because 'he did it his way,' and didn't let others tell him it couldn't be done.

Having listened to her speech, you don't know anything about what his insights into that particular war might have been, or how he differed from Saddam. Yet Saddam, too, 'did it his way' and refused to listen to those who told him it couldn't be done. He had a plan too: a plan to resist conventionally, and a backup guerrilla plan that included massive pre-lain caches and support zones seeded with allied families and tribes. Nevertheless, he ended up being plucked out of a spider hole, and hanged a few years later, having led his movement into disaster.

People who learn only the lesson to 'do it your way, and don't listen to those who raise concerns' are at least as likely to end up badly. To the degree that Mao is worth studying, it's to learn how he defied the odds -- how he developed his plans and used his forces, brought pressures to bear, and sustained his movement to victory.

As for the rest of Mao's "philosophy," it's chiefly worth studying to learn how completely it failed. The "Hundred Flowers" movement, wherein intellectuals were encouraged to speak truth to power? Great idea, very inspirational; led to the slaughter or re-education of China's entire educated class. The "Great Leap Forward," wherein China was going to swap out from an agricultural to an industrial economic base? Wonderful thought, very progressive and bold; led to the starvation of tens of millions.

That's the thing to study, if you're going to look at Mao. The chief, key lesson of his life is the horror and misery he brought to everyone he touched.

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