Oil and Ideology: The Cultural Creation of the American Petroleum Industry / Edition 1

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Traditional accounts of John D. Rockefeller and the Standard Oil Company, as well as recent best-selling books on the subject, still accept without question charges of unethical and anti-competitive behavior by the American oil industry. In this pathbreaking synthesis of cultural, business, gender, and intellectual history, Roger and Diana Davids Olien explore how this negative image of the petroleum industry was created—and how this image in turn helped shape policy toward the industry in ways that were sometimes at odds with both the goals of reformers and the public interest.

By turning a critical eye on sources that have often been accepted at face value and examining the self-interests of oil industry critics, the authors produce a more balanced, complex picture of the industry than has previously been offered. Their case study of the impact of ideology offers a striking example of how business must be understood through its cultural context and offers a new approach to understanding problems of regulation and reform.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The Oliens have produced an innovative study that yields fascinating insight .

Enterprise & Society

The Oliens offer a fresh and valuable contribution to the historiography of the American petroleum industry.

Journal of Southern History

The Oliens know the history of oil.

Business History Review

[Readers] come away with a more thorough understanding of an important industry and an important time in American life.


They have written an important book for historians, policymakers, and the general, informed reader.

William R. Childs, Ohio State University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Diana Davids Hinton teaches at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

Roger M. Olien teaches at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin.

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Read an Excerpt

China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975

By Qiang Zhai

The University of North Carolina Press

Copyright © 2000 University of North Carolina Press
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8078-2523-5


The rise and fall of the Sino-Vietnamese alliance is one of the most crucial developments in the history of the Cold War in Asia in general and Chinese foreign relations in particular. In the quarter century after the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, Beijing assisted the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) in its struggle against two formidable foes, France and the United States. In the 1950s Chinese formulas served as a model for the Vietnam Workers' Party (VWP) in its war against France and in its efforts to rebuild the north. In the 1960s, Beijing provided extensive aid to help Ho Chi Minh fight the United States. China's support was crucial in the VWP's defeat of the French in 1954 and in its ability to resist the American pressure in the Second Indochina War. At the height of Chinese-DRV solidarity, Ho characterized the relationship as "comrades plus brothers." In the early 1970s, however, as the war in Vietnam began to wind down and as China adjusted its strategic priorities by opening to the United States to balance against Soviet threats, Beijing's relations with Hanoi started to deteriorate, culminating in a direct clash in 1979.

In general, the importance of China in the two Vietnam wars has been overlooked or underrated in both Vietnamese and Western writings. Vietnamese writers have tended to disregard the Chinese role in the interest of producing "national history," while lack of access to Chinese archival sources has handicapped the treatment of Beijing in the Western scholarship on the Indochina conflict. No comprehensive study on China's relations with the DRV between 1950 and 1975 exists. This book attempts to redress this deficiency by drawing on fresh Chinese documents to present a full-length treatment of the evolution of the Sino-DRV relationship between the two Indochina wars, focusing on its strategic, political, and military aspects.

This study analyzes the sources of Beijing's Indochina policy by placing it in the historical, domestic, and international contexts within which it was made. It investigates the reasons for the fluctuation of the Sino-DRV relationship. Specifically, it addresses a number of important questions concerning China's involvement in Indochina. Some of those relate to the nature of Beijing's objectives in Vietnam and the execution of its policies. Why did Mao decide to recognize the DRV and provide military advisers and aid to the Viet Minh immediately after seizing power in China? What role did Chinese advisers play in Ho Chi Minh's victory over the French? Why did Beijing participate in the Geneva Conference in 1954 and promote a partition of Vietnam? What was China's role in the DRV's efforts to reconstruct the north after 1954? How did China react to Hanoi's decision in 1959 to revive revolutionary war in the south? How did Mao respond to Washington's escalation of the war in Vietnam in the mid-1960s? And how did Mao's desire to reorganize the Chinese state and society influence his decisions on Vietnam?

Further questions emerge from China's interactions with its Soviet and Vietnamese allies. Was there a division of labor between Mao and Stalin during the early years of China's entanglement in Vietnam? How did the Sino-Soviet dispute affect Beijing's policies and influence its relations with Hanoi? How did China and the DRV differ over the approaches to waging war and pursuing peace? How did China's strategic realignment in the early 1970s affect its relations with the DRV? And how did cultural differences, historical distrust, and regional rivalry affect Sino-Vietnamese cooperation?

Both Laos and Cambodia existed in the shadow of the Vietnam wars, and the conflict in Vietnam often spilled over into those two countries. This study also discusses Beijing's response to developments in Laos and Cambodia, especially when they interacted with events in Vietnam. It places Beijing's reaction in the context of both its general foreign policy and its specific consideration of Vietnam.

In a broader sense, what insights about Mao's foreign policy might be gained by a close examination of China's attitudes and conduct toward Vietnam? Further, what conclusions about coalition building and alliance management on the Communist side of the Cold War might be drawn by a detailed investigation of the rise and decline of the Beijing-Hanoi entente?

The chapters that follow identify a complex blend of motives behind Beijing's Indochina policy. The consideration of geopolitical realities constituted one central element in Mao's calculations. Throughout the 1950s and most of the 1960s, Mao considered the United States the primary threat to China's security and revolution. Support for Ho Chi Minh and the Pathet Lao thus served Mao's purpose of weakening American influence in Southeast Asia and rolling back Washington's containment of China. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Mao perceived a greater menace from the Soviet Union and a lesser threat from the United States in Vietnam, he began to adjust his policies and encouraged the North Vietnamese to conclude a peace settlement.

The sense of an international obligation and mission to assist a fraternal Communist party and to promote anti-imperialist revolution in Asia was another crucial, often the most decisive, factor in Mao's Vietnam decisions. Beijing's actions in Indochina were often driven by Mao's vision of China's place in the world. When he devoted his life to revolution, Mao aimed at transforming not only the old China but also the old world order. French colonial rule in Indochina constituted part of the corrupt and unjust world order that Mao wished to sweep away. In Mao's mind, without a correspondent change in the existing international system, the recent Communist victory in China would not be secure, consolidated, and legitimized. Just as the old international order had helped cause China's suffering and humiliation, so too would the creation of a new order contribute to the rebirth of a strong and prosperous China. Mao equated security and prosperity at home with the development of anti-imperialist insurgencies and socialist revolutions abroad. A world of like-minded, Communist states would be the best guarantor of Mao's government in China. There was a fusion of security and ideological concerns in Mao's thinking. Mao and his associates identified their revolution with similar national liberation movements in developing countries and considered the Chinese model relevant to those movements. To a large extent, Mao intervened in Indochina to define China's identity or self-image in the world.

Mao, however, did not pursue his revolutionary goals in Southeast Asia with the same intensity throughout the years covered by this study. While sympathetic to anti-imperialist and anticolonial movements in the world, Mao did not desire war with the United States. The Chinese leader was a realist fully capable of making policy adjustments when he faced either domestic economic difficulties or international pressures. He was capable of beating tactical retreats from time to time, but always sticking to his colors. Between 1954 and 1960, for instance, he soft-pedaled Beijing's support for Communist insurgencies in Indochina so that China could concentrate on economic development at home. Mao would not hesitate to recommend moderation and concession if he believed that the reactionary force was too overwhelming for a fledgling revolutionary movement to press on with its struggle. That was why he accepted a divided peace in Vietnam at the 1954 Geneva Conference and discouraged Ho Chi Minh from pursuing Vietnamese unification at the time. Fearful of an American intervention in Vietnam if the war continued, Mao did not want to involve China in another Korea-like conflict, which would divert China from executing its much-needed domestic reconstruction. The apprehension about American intentions also explains Mao's decision to restore neutrality to Laos at the 1961-62 Geneva Conference. Mao endorsed neutralization of Laos at the time not because he wanted to create a permanent neutrality in the country, as the Soviet Union desired, but because he wanted to win time for the Pathet Lao to consolidate and develop its forces for the eventual seizure of power. In Mao's calculation, retraction and moderation did not mean abandonment; revolution went through stages. Mao fully understood Lenin's dictum of "taking one step back in order to make two steps forward" in making revolution. And from his own experience, he concluded that preparation for revolutionary change was a marathon, not a sprint.

Personality was a third important factor in shaping Beijing's attitude toward revolution in Vietnam. In considering aid to the Viet Minh, CCP leaders could not ignore the close personal ties and revolutionary solidarity that they and Ho Chi Minh had forged in the years of common struggle in the past. Sharing identical beliefs and values, they had gone through similar hardships and ordeals. Ho became acquainted with such CCP veterans as Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Wang Ruofei, Peng Pai, and Li Fuchun in the 1920s, when he first worked for the French Communist Party in Paris and later served as a Comintern agent in Canton assisting the labor and peasant movements there. During the Chinese civil war in the late 1940s, Ho's government provided sanctuaries for the CCP troops in southern China, who withdrew into Vietnam to avoid attacks by the Nationalist forces. In deciding to assist the Viet Minh in 1950, Mao stressed the importance of reciprocating friendship.

Finally, the intention to use international struggle to promote domestic political agendas often figured prominently in Mao's deliberations on Vietnam. This was clearly the case in 1962 when Mao criticized the so-called revisionist foreign policy proposals made within the party and reemphasized the need to combat imperialism and support national liberation movements, including the struggle in Vietnam. The renewed emphasis on supporting anti-imperialist causes in the world in general, and in Vietnam in particular, gave Mao an effective instrument to mobilize domestic support for his program of "continuous revolution" and to dismantle obstacles within the party leadership, which had been divided by the disasters of the Great Leap Forward. Similarly, between 1965 and 1966 Mao used the need to support Hanoi's war against the United States to launch anti-imperialist campaigns at home, to reinvigorate revolutionary radicalism, and to mobilize the population in the struggle against "revisionist" leaders in the party, who were supposedly following the Soviet example to restore capitalism in China. In sum, Beijing's Indochina policy was the result of a convergence of geopolitical realities, ideological beliefs, personality, and political circumstances.

This book highlights the role of human agency in the making of history. First there was the all-powerful Mao, whose ideas and visions set the general framework for China's Vietnam policy. He decided whether to assist Ho Chi Minh, to negotiate with Western powers, to confront American pressure, to reject Soviet proposals, or to improve relations with Washington at crucial moments. Then there were Mao's close associates and secondary party functionaries, including Head of State Liu Shaoqi, Premier Zhou Enlai, party secretary-general Deng Xiaoping, Foreign Minister Chen Yi, Ambassador Luo Guibo, and Generals Chen Geng and Wei Guoqing, who faithfully implemented Mao's diplomatic and military decisions concerning Vietnam. The chapters that follow particularly describe and assess the charismatic Mao as a revolutionary visionary, the reticent Liu as a careful organizer of Beijing's aid to the Viet Minh, the skillful Zhou as a shrewd diplomat at international meetings, the blunt Deng as a tough negotiator with the North Vietnamese, the straightforward Chen Yi as Mao's voice on international issues, and the combat-seasoned Chen Geng and Wei Guoqing as efficient military advisers on the Vietnam battlefield. They achieved victories but also made errors. Their voices defined China's policy, and their behaviors left a deep imprint on Sino-Vietnamese relations.

The Beijing-Hanoi relationship was composed of both agreements and contradictions, cooperation and confrontation. This study explores the nature and dynamics of that relationship and places it in its complex historical context. Throughout their history, the Vietnamese had a love/hate attitude toward China. On the one hand, they had a tradition of looking to the Central Kingdom for models and inspiration. Vietnamese rulers had copied and adapted China's methods and institutions for their own use as a legitimizing force. Paying respect to Chinese imperial superiority was the only way to avoid war for Vietnamese, and recognizing Chinese cultural norms became a habit of ruling-class Vietnamese. On the other hand, the Vietnamese were eager to preserve their independence and cultural heritage.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Vietnamese Communists confronted formidable enemies, the French and the Americans, in their quest for national unification. Ho Chi Minh avidly sought advice and weapons from China. But sentiments of distrust were never far below the surface. The Chinese, for instance, were suspicious of Hanoi's intentions to incorporate Laos and Cambodia in an "Indochinese Federation" while the North Vietnamese guarded closely their "special relationship" with Laos when China increased its aid to the Pathet Lao.

The PRC-DRV relationship included both converging and diverging interests. The two countries shared a common ideological outlook and a common concern about American intervention in Indochina, but leaders in Hanoi wanted to avoid the danger of submitting to a dependent relationship with China. As long as policymakers in Hanoi and Beijing shared the common goal of ending the U.S. presence in the region, such diverging interests could be subordinated to their points of agreement. But the turning point came in 1968, when Sino-Soviet relations took a decisive turn for the worse just as Washington made its first tentative moves toward disengagement from South Vietnam. In the new situation, Beijing's strategic interests began to differ fundamentally from those of Hanoi. Whereas the Chinese now regarded the United States as a potential counterbalance against the Soviet Union, their Vietnamese comrades continued to see Washington as the most dangerous enemy. After the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam and the unification of the country, Hanoi's bilateral disputes with Beijing over Cambodia, a territorial disagreement in the South China Sea, and the treatment of Chinese nationals in Vietnam came to the fore, resulting in a border war in 1979.

This study utilizes for the first time fresh sources released in China during the last few years. The new materials fall into four categories: archival sources, published documentary collections, memoirs and diaries, and secondary writings based on archival holdings.

Archival Sources

While such key documentary depositories as the CCP Central Archives and the Foreign Ministry Archives in Beijing are not open to researchers, regional party archives in the provinces are much less restrictive and more cooperative with scholars. Between 1995 and 1996, I made two research trips to the Jiangsu Provincial Archives (JPA) in Nanjing and found very useful materials in the collection of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Jiangsu Provincial People's Government. The collection includes internal memorandums sent by the CCP Central Committee in Beijing to provincial leaders explaining China's position on a wide range of international issues, including those of Indochina. Between 1958 and 1966, the Foreign Affairs Office of the State Council convened annual conferences on foreign affairs in Beijing, during which officials from central party and government organs such as the CCP International Liaison Department, the Foreign Ministry, and the Commission on Overseas Chinese Affairs briefed and explained to provincial officials in charge of foreign affairs recent developments in China's foreign relations. Many of the speeches and internal documents from these conferences are held in the JPA. These papers provide more accurate descriptions of Chinese leaders' perceptions of and reactions to developments in the world in general and Indochina in particular than contemporary Chinese newspaper accounts.


Excerpted from China and the Vietnam Wars, 1950-1975 by Qiang Zhai Copyright © 2000 by University of North Carolina Press. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Table of Contents

1 Manhood against Money 1
2 Hasting to Get Rich 21
3 Numerous Offenses against Common Morality 55
4 Believing the Worst 83
5 Running Out of Oil 119
6 A Wasting Asset 141
7 Talking Past One Another 163
8 Visions of Chaos 185
9 Monopoly Revisited 209
10 Fightin' Oil 227
Conclusion 251
Notes 261
Index 299
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