In light of international condemnation of North Korea's nuclear ambitions, it might be interesting to revisit some famous quotations from Mao that cannot be found in his little red book. In 1957, at the height of the nuclear race, Mao visited Moscow for a conference celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution. Various communist heads of state attended the conference and were eager to hear Mao's thoughts on the state of international communism, imperialism, and the prospect of nuclear war. Mao initially stated that Western nuclear powers represented "paper tigers," meaning that their nuclear weapons were simply for show and represented no real danger to communist proliferation. Mao the went on to say:
"Let's try to suppose, how many people would die if war breaks out? Of the 2.7 billion people on earth, the losses might be one-third, or perhaps, somewhat more, say half of mankind....As soon as war begins, atomic and hydrogen bombs will be used in abundance. I once argued about this with a foreign political leader. He said that in case of an atomic war absolutely everyone would die. I said that in the worst case half the people would die, but the other half would survive, and that imperialism would be wiped off the face of the earth and the whole world would become socialist. A certain number of years would pass, and the population would once again reach 2.7 billion and most likely even more."
All the communist leaders at this conference felt uncomfortable after hearing Mao's logic for advocating nuclear war. But if this show of aggression wasn't enough, Mao answered a question posed to him by the head of the Italian Communist Party. The question was, "How many Italians will survive an atomic war?" Mao calmly replied, "None at all. But why do you think that Italians are so important to humanity?"
The above quotations can be found pages 445-446 in Alex Pantsov's new biography of Mao, titled Mao: The Real Story.