History’s Turning Points: America’s Chinese Obsession II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider one of history’s great turning points – America’s Chiang Kai-Shek obsession.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In a 1927 match made in Chinese political heaven, ambitious General Chiang Kai-Shek, one of the founders of the Kuomintang, the Chinese nationalist party, married Soong May-ling, the sister-in-law of Revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen. Soong was a Christian and was educated in the United States. She attended boarding school in Georgia and Wellesley College. Her personal ties to many Americans, stated inclination toward democratic institutions, and Chiang’s alleged conversion to Christianity won for them extraordinary support in the United States in the 1930s and during World War II. This was despite the clear corruption of his regime and the on-going struggle with the Chinese Communist Party for control. This power couple seemed for many Americans a formidable bulwark in favor of democracy and Christianity and against international Bolshevism and fascist Japan.

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History’s Turning Points: America’s Chinese Obsession I

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Consider one of history’s turning points – America’s Chiang Kai-shek obsession.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the most fascinating diplomatic and personal alliances of the twentieth century was that between the people and government of the United States and Chinese strongman Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and his fourth wife Soong May-ling.

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Japan Opens to the West III

Lead: In the summer of 1853, a reluctant Japan opened its doors to trade with the rest of the world.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Matthew Calbraith Perry was 59 years of age in the year he led the expedition to Japan. He suffered from arthritis and spent much of the voyage in his cabin. He was the brother of Oliver Hazard Perry whose defeat of the British fleet secured Lake Erie for the United States in the War of 1812. Matthew's career included transportation of freed slaves to Africa after the founding of Liberia and combat command during the Mexican War. He had a regal bearing and was a very serious person. This formality stood him well in dealing with the traditionalist Japanese who were reluctant to give up their policy of non-involvement with the outside world.

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Japan Opens to the West II

Lead: For centuries Japan had kept itself isolated from the rest of the world. That changed on a summer day in 1853.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: For nearly half a century American clipper ships had dominated the oceans of the world. These fast, sleek, and graceful vessels had helped U.S. shippers maintain their lead in transport, but a clipper ship was merely the perfection of a very ancient technology and the Industrial Revolution had created a new source of power and made possible a more efficient way of shipping goods. By the 1840s British-built coal fired steamships were taking the lead from the American clipper ships on the Atlantic ferry.

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Japan Opens to the West I

Lead: On July 14, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry landed at Kirihama new Edo Wan, now known as Tokyo Bay. The Tokugawa Shogunate had taken the fateful step of opening Japan to the West.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In its long history one of the major themes of Japanese life has been the interaction between native and foreign influence. In Japan's early history, the dominance of Chinese language, culture, religion and government was undeniable, but as the centuries passed Japan adapted, modified or discarded many aspects of Chinese civilization. However, it retained a lingering suspicion of foreigners. By 1200 Japan's emperor was a highly revered, near-religious figure, with little practical power. That was held by shogun, the emperor's supreme military commander. He received his title from the emperor, but in reality, for the most part, the shogun controlled the monarch. One of the primary goals of the shogunate was to suppress regional warfare and achieve political stability. Foreign influence was seen by many Japanese as a threat to the stability of the nation.

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Soviet Coup, 1991 IV

Lead: With the world holding its breath, hard-line Communists led by the KGB, in late summer 1991 arrested Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, and tried to take over the government. A man of courage climbed onto an armored vehicle and stopped them dead.

Intro. A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As Muscovites headed to work on Monday August 19th, they had to deal with troops and tanks lining the streets. The coup leaders who called themselves the Extraordinary Commission had banned all demonstrations, political parties, and newspapers not associated with their movement, but did not have in custody all their opponents. The President of the Russian Republic, Boris Yeltsin, a former ally of Gorbachev who broke with him because his reforms did not go far enough, after initial hesitation, went to the Russian Parliament Building to oppose the coup. Finally, assured that at least some of the military units in the Moscow region would back him, just after noon he climbed onto an armored vehicle, pronounced the coup illegal and unconstitutional, and called for a general strike and for the return of Gorbachev. By the next morning 150,000 Russians stood outside the Parliament Building and several army units had joined the countercoup. By Tuesday evening it was clear that to succeed the Extraordinary Commission would need to use deadly force and this the leaders hesitated to do. That night, a small scuffle between protesters and a tank produced the only three deaths in their attempt to seize power. On Wednesday the coup collapsed. That night Gorbachev was back in Moscow.

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Soviet Coup, 1991 III

Lead: In the late summer of 1991, the KGB attempted to take over the Soviet government. For a time, it appeared it would succeed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Frustrated with the reforms of President Mikhail Gorbachev which were undermining Communist control of Soviet national life and sensing his weakness in the face of deteriorating economic, social and political conditions, hard-line members of the KGB and the military began to plot to get rid of him. The catalyst for the attempted coup was a series of treaties between the various constituent republics of the Soviet Union. The republics were to have more independence which meant even less power and cohesion for the Soviet Union.

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Soviet Coup, 1991 II

Lead: Frustrated as reality and the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev dismantled their system of control, hard-line Communists led by the KGB attempted to hold back the march of events with a coup d'etat in the summer of 1991.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Since 1985 Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev had pressed the nation away from totalitarianism toward openness and democracy. He had been less successful in reforming the economy. Gorbachev had come to power through the ranks of the Communist Party and was reluctant to jettison the main outlines of the old regime. He was a temporizer who rejected the command economy and the Stalinism that was required to keep it operating but as it crumbled, he was unable or unwilling to create a free market to take its place.

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