The Role of Leadership in WWII, Korea, or Vietnam

The most important element of the political elite of any country is political leadership. By personalizing the system of power and control, political leadership represents the power in the eyes of society or social groups. For centuries, the figures of chiefs, generals, heroes, kings, and legislators have attracted not only the attention of thinkers but also served as the living embodiment of power. Whether they were worshiped, feared, or hated, the rulers were the personified existing political system itself as seen by the public. One of the most representative modern interpretations of political leadership is market theory. According to this theory, the leader acts as some kind of a special goods merchant, and his purpose is to obtain income from the difference between the actual mobilization and expended resources for solving specific problems. To understand the role of leadership in the era of the Second World War it is necessary to identify the main political leaders of that time. They are Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, Emperor Hirohito, Isoroku Yamamoto, Benito Mussolini, and Mao Zedong. There are two types of powerful people in primitive society (“Lecture Class Notes Day 6”). One of them is chieftain, physically more powerful and stronger than others. The other one is a shaman, who has not much power or strength himself, but who gains power from the people projecting on him their hopes and fate. The power of shaman is the real power that he gains from the fact that people recognized him as mystic with supernatural abilities. Thus, all mentioned leaders can be divided into chieftains (Roosevelt, Mussolini, Churchill, Stalin, Yamamoto) and shamans (Hitler, Hirohito, Mao Zedong). As a result – leadership in World War II was closely intertwined with the personality of the leader.
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In 1910-1945, Korea was Japan’s colony. During this period, Korea was dominated by the influence of the Emperor of Japan as a leader. The planned economic development of Korea was carried out by Japan not in the interests of the Korean people. One of such examples was a policy that was carried out at this time by the Japanese colonial administration in relation to the Korean culture and Korean nation itself. In modern historiography, this policy is defined as the policy of destruction of the nation. In 1937, after the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, a decree was issued, banning the use of the Korean language in public institutions. Thus, illiterate Koreans had to use interpreters. Since 1938, the teaching of the Korean language in schools was stopped. To understand the role of leadership in Korea in that period, the leadership in Japan should be analyzed. The belief in the divinity of the Emperor Hirohito was the reason that Japan, a small isolated country with poor resources, successfully waged wars against the world’s leaders and even conquered new territories. The faith in the emperor and Yamamoto had pushed soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army in suicide attacks that undermined the morale of enemy soldiers. Moreover, an example of Hiroo Onoda, who continued to fight a guerrilla war in the Philippines until 1974, was an indication that the Japanese Empire soldiers were ready to fight until the last drop of blood. This pressure of dictatorship of the Leader – Symbol, represented by Emperor Hirohito, was the dominant leadership style in Korea. He ruled with the use of repressions and ideology propaganda. This style of leadership is most ineffective in long-term policy, but it is one of the best ones in a crisis period. After the Second World War, the territory north of the 38th parallel of Korea was under the control of the Soviet Union, and to the south – under the control of the United States of America (“Lecture Class Notes Day 7”). The USSR and the United States had failed to agree on the integration of the country, which led to the formation of two different governments of Korea in 1948 – the northern (pro-Soviet) and the southern (pro-US), each of which claimed to control over the whole Korea. The leader of this state became Kim Il Sung – the author of the Korean ideology of “Juche”. The main direction of its ideological work was the approval of the idea of ​​exclusivity of the Korean nation and its ancient culture. Thus, it could be said that Kim Il Sung was a shaman-leader. He manipulated his people quite effectively, playing on external threats, national ambitions, and repressions. In 1994, the number of deaths because of him reached over 4.5 million people, including famine victims. It should be noted that the role of leadership in the modern history of Korea was a competition between the democratic style of government of South Korea and North Korea’s dictatorship. Rational-legal (Democratic) leadership, which is typical for South Korea, is based on the existing social regulatory framework. This form of leadership is inherited by South Korea from the United States. The charismatic leadership mixed with the dictatorship, characteristic of North Korea, requires exceptional personal qualities of the leader, which has to be attributed to him or to his environment and strongly inflated by the media. The basis of the legitimacy of a charismatic leader is his superiority over others. When on September 7, 1945, General MacArthur announced John Hodge as a US military representative in Korea, the US forces landed in the bay Hoxha at Inchon. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea sent a delegation to meet with the three interpreters, but they were not accepted by the US military authorities. The management of the country was in the hands of the military forces. The Japanese officials continued to work in the country until 1946. At the same time, the Soviet civil administration was established in North Korea in August 1945. In February 1946, a provisional government controlled by Kim Il Sung was formed. The Soviet forces left the peninsula in 1948. Thus, it should be noted that North and South Korea were the disciples of the leadership traditions of the countries that had occupied them – the USSR and the USA. As demonstrated by the long-term prospect, the democratic leadership style had turned out to be a more effective political and economic system than the Soviet Union’s model of the dictatorship style of leadership. Nguyen Ai Quoc (Ho Chi Minh) founded the Communist Party of Vietnam on February 3, 1930. In 1930, with the initiative of the National Party of Vietnam, which was created following the model of the Chinese National Party, the Yen Bai began armed uprising in the north-west of Hanoi. Having suppressed the resistance movement of the National Party of Vietnam, the Communist Party of Indochina headed the rebellion. After the capitulation of France in September 22, 1940, French Indochina was occupied by the Japanese troops (“Lecture Class Notes Day 7”). During this period, the Vietnamese communists made several attempts to raise a rebellion. The results of World War II were the appearance of the national leader-liberator – Ho Chi Mihn. His personality and leaders abilities were the force that had formed Vietnam. The war in Vietnam was one of the largest military conflicts of the second half of the 20th century. It left an imprint on the culture and occupied a significant place in the modern history of Vietnam as well as the USA. The war began as a civil war in southern Vietnam. Later, North Vietnam was involved in the war, and it received the support of China and the Soviet Union. At the same time, the USA and allies were involved on the side of South Vietnam. As events unfolded, the war intertwined with the parallel civil wars in Laos and Cambodia. All combat operations in Southeast Asia, which took place from the late 1950s until 1975, were known as the Second Indochina War. This brief summary of the history of the Vietnamese conflict is necessary for the understanding of leadership styles in Vietnam. On the one hand, a democratic style of the United States and France, which attempted to go to the republican form of plutocracy, was directed not at rescuing and preservation of peace but at controlling the territory of separate states. During the Vietnam War, it became clear that the decisions of the state leadership in the face of Lyndon Johnson had no social approval. However, a great and civilized country has been drawn into a military conflict for the interests of the military elite. On the other hand, the leadership system of the Communist dictatorship was presented by Ho Chi Minh. It was based on the people’s liberation movement and it had a special power over the role of the leader who focused on the most urgent, burning social problems, urgent demands of the moment. His actions were determined by the situation. The clash of these leadership styles ended in victory for the Soviet dictatorship, who won thanks to the mistakes made by the leaders of the opposing countries. Thus, the US democratic style of leadership needed the support of citizens through the legality of actions. In the context of the conflict, the level of legality of actions was questionable even for the US citizens. For France, the mistake was that France had violated the agreements and tried to keep their colonial possessions in any way. Lies and hypocrisy are not welcomed by rational-legal type of leadership. As a result, a large percentage of suicide cases among the survived US soldiers were registered in the postwar period. The reason was the lack of support for their sacrifice from the side of the American people. In conclusion, it should be said that in various countries, great deal of attention is given to issue of leadership development. This is most clearly expressed, of course, in the US policy. Political leadership is different from the leadership in other areas, particularly in the economy, and it is a form and the mechanism of realization of the political power. The functions of a political leader are a set of roles that leader performs in relation to his followers and they are defined the essential qualities of political power. The most important political leader features are diagnostic, political, prognostic, organization and management, mobilization, communication, value-regulatory, control, educational, representative. In the public mind, there appears a certain image of a political leader, which is based on myths and tales about a leader’s background. It can occur spontaneously, without any special efforts from the side of the political figure or his supporters. Often, the image is created by a targeted policy efforts and supporting groups. At the same time, it draws attention to the qualities of the person, which corresponds to the expectations of the masses, and it is masked by those features that can be perceived negatively. Thus, the leadership style creates an image that plays a role of a symbol of power. This symbol has a huge power over masses, encouraging them for risky actions and for dangerous activity.