by Frank Li
My niche in writing is the intersection between the U.S. and China. I often compare the two countries in various aspects, from the political systems (America: It’s The Political System, Stupid!) to the college reunion.
1. George Washington
George Washington (February 22, 1732 [O.S. February 11, 1731] – December 14, 1799) was the first President of the United States of America, serving from 1789 to 1797, and the dominant military and political leader of the United States from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of the Constitution in 1787. Washington became the first president, by unanimous choice, and oversaw the creation of a strong, well-financed national government that maintained neutrality in the wars raging in Europe, suppressed rebellion, and won acceptance among Americans of all types. His leadership style established many forms and rituals of government that have been used since, such as using a cabinet system and delivering an inaugural address. Washington is universally regarded as the “Father of his country.”
2. Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, commonly referred to as Chairman Mao (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution. He was the architect and founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949, and held authoritarian control over the nation until his death in 1976. His theoretical contribution to Marxism–Leninism, along with his military strategies and brand of policies, are collectively known as Maoism.
3. Washington vs. Mao
Here is my assessment:
- Military strategy: Both Washington and Mao were brilliant military strategists. However, given the scale and speed of their respective victories, Mao achieved more. Edge: Mao.
- Governance: Washington refused to be a King. He served for eight years and left the job with his country well positioned for the future. Mao pretended to be the people’s servant, but was the de facto last emperor in China. China was ruined under his rule (1949-1976). With his country a shambles, Mao died heart-broken, as he spent his last decade, at least, unsuccessfully scrambling for a succession plan. Edge: Washington.
- Influence upon the world: The country/system set up by Washington served as a beacon to the rest of the world for more than 200 years (and counting), while Maoism has been clearly seen as a disaster all over the world. Edge: Washington.
- Legacy: Edge: Mao. Here is why:
- If there is any truth to Patrick Fitzgerald’s statement that Blagojevich’s actions would make “Lincoln roll over in his grave” (Fitzgerald regrets post-Blagojevich arrest comment), then how would George Washington react upon reading this statement: “The current form of the U.S government, as represented by the elected officials, is systematically corrupted by definition” (Blagojevich and Pearl Harbor: They Are Related!)? Washington would be upset not because of any inadequacy in the original framework of our government, but because we have become so lazy and dumb that we failed to adapt to the changing times!
- Read: Chairman Mao is Smiling …
Overall, Washington and Mao were even: 2 and 2.
Obviously, it’s impossible to “fairly” compare any two individuals who are (or were) almost 200 years apart, but you get the point, hopefully.
A country/system built to last requires two types of exceptional leaders: (1) a creator to begin with and (2) many transformational reformers subsequently. The former builds the country/system on a solid foundation, while the latter keeps it going by adapting to the changing times.
China’s extraordinary success today (America: What is China, Anyway?) is largely due to the wisdom of one individual: Deng Xiaoping. But Deng could not have done it without Mao’s unifying China in 1949. Perhaps Mao was a necessary evil, given the enormous human suffering and misery under his rule. But for me, it’s safe to say that no Mao, no Deng, no modern China!
The U.S. has had a good run for more than 200 years, but is desperately in need of a great transformational leader like China’s Deng. Who will that great reformer be? Mitt Romney? For more, read: An Open Letter to Mitt Romney.
Yes, you may have guessed right: An article entitled “Mitt Romney vs. Deng Xiaoping” is coming soon …
About the Author
Frank Li is the Founder and President of W.E.I. (West-East International), a Chicago-based import & export company. Frank received his B.E. from Zhejiang University (China) in 1982, M.E. from the University of Tokyo in 1985, and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1988, all in Electrical Engineering. He worked for several companies until 2004, when he founded his own company W.E.I. Today, W.E.I. is a leader in the weighing industry not only in products & services, but also in thought and action.