107 - Asia From Irkutsk

irkutsk.jpg 


\n

How delicious is this: obviously a sister-map to the one in posting #103 (‘Europe From Moscow’), but this time applying an unusual perspective to the Cold War situation in Asia in the early nineteen fifties. The map, found here at the University of San Diego and originally published in Time Magazine in 1952, visualises the communist threat as it existed at that time.

\n

To contemporary anti-communists, it must have seemed like an unstoppable wave poring over the continent, a feeling exacerbated by the perspective of this map. Russia obviously already was communist before the World War, as was Mongolia (a Russian vassal since 1911 and a communist one since 1924).

\n

With the victory of Mao Zedong’s Chinese communists, the ‘red’ wave reached parts of the old Chinese Empire that had more or less escaped its grasp. Formerly independent or autonomous areas such as Tibet, Sinkiang and Manchuria are marked separately, but also in the Chinese tint of communist red – underlining the expansionist threat of Chinese communism. Red-shaded areas bordering China but outside of the country itself are North Korea and part of what was to become North Vietnam, clearly stressing China’s influence.

\n

The swathe of land separating communist-held territory in Tibet from the Indian Ocean seems precariously thin, thereby threatening to landlock a large part of non-communist Asia – a threat only contained by the height of the Himalaya mountains.

\n

As the previous one was centred on Moscow, this map is centred on Irkutsk, a large Soviet city close to China, as if to indicate that this was the ‘nerve centre’ of communist expansion in Asia. I have no idea of how realistic such a notion would have been, but at that time, Soviets and Chinese were still on the same page.

\n

Soon afterwards, ideological and other differences caused a rupture between China and the Soviet Union, providing some relief to the other side in the Cold War. But not much: communist expansion in Korea and South-East Asia (and the military reaction to it, at least half successful in Korea but eventually a total failure in Vietnam) dominated world politics for decades to come, and proved extremely costly in lives lost on both sides. 

\n

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

What’s behind our appetite for self-destruction?

Is it "perverseness," the "death drive," or something else?

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Each new year, people vow to put an end to self-destructive habits like smoking, overeating or overspending.

Keep reading Show less

Physicists puzzled by strange numbers that could explain reality

Eight-dimensional octonions may hold the clues to solve fundamental mysteries.

Surprising Science
  • Physicists discover complex numbers called octonions that work in 8 dimensions.
  • The numbers have been found linked to fundamental forces of reality.
  • Understanding octonions can lead to a new model of physics.
Keep reading Show less

Douglas Rushkoff – It’s not the technology’s fault

It's up to us humans to re-humanize our world. An economy that prioritizes growth and profits over humanity has led to digital platforms that "strip the topsoil" of human behavior, whole industries, and the planet, giving less and less back. And only we can save us.

Think Again Podcasts
  • It's an all-hands-on-deck moment in the arc of civilization.
  • Everyone has a choice: Do you want to try to earn enough money to insulate yourself from the world you're creating— or do you want to make the world a place you don't have to insulate yourself from?
Keep reading Show less