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John Hay and Russo-Japanese War

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发表于 3-31-2022 15:35:37 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
Peggy Noonan, Same Russia, Different War; The story of Theodore Roosevelt and John Hay proves the aggression didn’t start with Putin in Ukraine, or even with communism. Wall Street Journal, Mar 26, 2022, at page A13.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/sam ... nchuria-11648153913

Note:
(a) Peggy Noonan
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peggy_Noonan
(1950- ; was a primary speechwriter and Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan from 1984 to 1986; presently a WSJ columnist)
(b)
(i) John Hay
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hay   
(1838 – July 1, 1905; graduated from Brown University in 1858 with MA and as a Class Poet; John's uncle "Milton Hay had moved his practice to Springfield, IL,] and John became a clerk in his firm, where he could study law. * * * Lincoln maintained offices next door"/ Secretary of State Sept 30, 1898 – July 1, 1905)

section 6 Secretary of State, section 6.1 McKinley years, section 6.1.1 Open Door Policy: " * * * As Ambassador [to UK 1997-1998 under McKinley, prior to elevation to Secretary of State], he had attempted to forge a common policy with the British * * * In mid-1899, the British inspector of Chinese maritime customs, Alfred Hippisley [Chinese name 贺璧理], visited the United States.

(ii) William McKinley's presidency March 4, 1897 – September 14, 1901 (in his second term of presidency; assassination by an anarchist occurred on Sept 6). Vice President Theodore Roosevelt assumed presidency to complete McKinley's second term, won the 1904 presidential election in his own right. "Roosevelt ultimately decided to stick to his 1904 pledge not to run for a third term" in the 1908 presidential election. en.wikipedia.org for "Theodore Roosevelt."

(c) For Port Arthur, see Lüshunkou District  旅顺口区
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lüshunkou_District
(section 1 Toponymy)
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 楼主| 发表于 3-31-2022 15:36:06 | 显示全部楼层
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John Hay had a warm mind and a cool heart. The secretary of state to presidents William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt (1898-1905) had two baseline gifts necessary for diplomatic achievement but not always seen together, a quick apprehension of the size and meaning of events and a subtlety and sympathy in the reading of human beings. A biographer, John Taliaferro, wrote: “His manners, his mind, and his conduct as a spokesman for a nation finding its voice on the world stage were nonpareil and pitch-perfect.”

As a young man Hay had been literary secretary to Abraham Lincoln; no one had worked closer with him day by day. He was in the White House the night Lincoln was shot and at his bedside the morning he died in the boardinghouse near Ford’s Theatre. In the years afterward he held high Lincoln’s standard in books and speeches, but it wasn’t until the summer of 1905, when Hay himself was dying, that he fully understood what Lincoln had been to him.

He had a dream, he wrote in his diary, that he had been called to the White House for a meeting with Roosevelt, but when he walked in the president was Lincoln. “He was very kind and considerate, and sympathetic about my illness. He said there was little work of importance on hand. He gave me two unimportant letters to answer. I was pleased that this slight order was within my power to obey. I was not in the least surprised at Lincoln’s presence in the White House. But the whole impression of the dream was one of overpowering melancholy.” At what was gone, and surely what Hay had lost.
History is human. We know this but our knowledge gets lost in considering other factors such as landmass, economic strength, weaponry and energy sectors.

Here we get to our subject. In his years as America’s leading diplomat, no country vexed the patient Hay more, no nation drove him more to distraction, than Russia. I went back to Mr. Taliaferro’s excellent 2013 biography, “All the Great Prizes,” to quote some passages, and saw that I’d written in the margins “It didn’t start with communism.” It didn’t start with Vladimir Putin. Russia has long bedeviled.

In the first years of the 20th century the Russians were pushing to expand east, to extend their sphere and dominate trade and rail lines in Chinese Manchuria. They wanted to tax there. They wanted to secure the deepwater port at Port Arthur, where they had a naval base. They were moving to annex Manchuria. Japan felt its interest threatened—if Russia took Manchuria, it would move next on Korea.
When Hay protested Russia’s aggression, Russia responded with hurt feelings—how could you accuse us, we’d never hurt you. In time he told Roosevelt, “Dealing with a government with whom mendacity is a science is an extremely difficult and delicate matter.”

The Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05 was a human disaster, with land battles bigger than Antietam and Gettysburg. Near the end, at the battle of Mukden, an estimated 330,000 Russian troops went up against 270,000 Japanese, with more than 160,000 casualties. Russia lost that battle, as it had most of its fleet at Port Arthur.
America maintained neutrality. “We are not charged with the cure of the Russian soul,” Hay wrote to Roosevelt. But all the way through he communicated with both sides, once comforting the Japanese ambassador, who had burst into tears. Privately Hay was disgusted by Russia’s cavalier aggression, and Roosevelt, who had just taken up jujitsu in his daily workout and felt a special rapport with the Japanese ambassador, was privately rooting for the underdog. He wrote his son Theodore III, “For several years Russia has behaved very badly in the Far East, her attitude toward all nations, including us, but especially toward Japan, being grossly overbearing.”

At one point President Roosevelt was so angry with Russia’s conduct that he was tempted to “go to an extreme.” Hay, who didn’t unload much, unloaded.

“Four years of constant conflict with [the Russians] have shown me that you cannot let up a moment on them without danger to your midriff. The bear that talks like a man is more to be watched than Adam Zad”—a reference to Kipling’s Adam-zad, the bear that walks like a man.

They were both blowing off steam. But Hay never wrote of any other country with the asperity he did of the Russians, and ever after he and Roosevelt called Russia “the bear that walks like a man.”

In the end Japan won and Russia was humiliated.

Here we see our parallels to today, which are obvious. Russia wanted something and went forward alone. A disapproving world expected it to crush little Japan and was shocked when it didn’t. As was Russia, which had overestimated its military and underestimated Japan’s spirit.

More than that, the war changed Russia. It spurred the 1905 revolution, which Lenin later called “the great rehearsal” for 1917. There were huge worker demonstrations, massive strikes, military mutinies. It was bloody. The people, peasants to urban intellectuals, rebelled, and the government almost fell, holding on only through new repressions and promises of reform.

Day by day the people of today’s Russia will come to hear about what has happened in Ukraine, will feel and absorb its consequences, will feel some embarrassment at what has happened on the international stage—all led by a leader who is detached from his people. They aren’t going to like it.

Something else happened in the Russo-Japanese war, and that was Tolstoy, the greatest man of Russia, its genius of literature and moral inquiry. He took to the Times of London for an essay. “Bethink yourselves,” he said to his countrymen. “Again war,” he said. “Again sufferings necessary to nobody, utterly uncalled for; again fraud, again the universal stupefaction and brutalization of men.”

“If there be a God, He will not ask me when I die (which may happen at any moment) whether I retained . . . Port Arthur, or even that conglomeration which is called the Russian Empire, which he did not confide to my care, but He will ask me what I have done with that life which He put at my disposal.” He will ask if I have fulfilled his law and loved my fellow man.

“Yesterday I met a reservist soldier accompanied by his mother and wife. All three were riding in a cart.” The soldier had been drinking, the wife crying. “Goodbye,” called the soldier, “off to the Far East.”
“Art thou going to fight?” Tolstoy asked.

“Well, some one has to fight!”

“No one need fight,” said Tolstoy.

The soldier reflected for a moment. “But . . . where can one escape?”

That, Tolstoy said, is the heart of the matter. What journalists and officials mistake for patriotism—“for the faith, the Czar, the Fatherland”—is simply a spirited admission that one is trapped.
The families of the boys sent to fight, Tolstoy said, will think what he himself thinks: “What do we want with this Manchuria, or whatever it is called? There is sufficient land here.”

We end where we began. Do you know what American Tolstoy revered? Lincoln. Tolstoy thought him the greatest man in history.
Greatness sees greatness. I wonder who will be the Tolstoy, in Russia, of today?
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