This article is an interdisciplinary study of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) military decision making at the outset of the civil war. The historical phenomenon of the Communists' invocation of "Madrid" is studied in the context of the Chinese civil war in Manchuria, particularly the battle of Sipingjie. The strategic culture of the Communist leaders is discussed thematically in terms of their desire for a decisive battle, their expectation of a short war and their propensity for preemptive strikes. Analyzing newly released primary documents, the author argues that norms, beliefs, and material conditions work in tandem in the making of strategy in a way that the realist premise fails to explain. He concludes that the interaction of normative and material factors, symbolized by the Madrid concept, heightened the CCP policy makers' acceptance of risk in 1946, which foreshadowed the open general war in China over the following three years.