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Posted on:1982-06-28Degree:Ph.DType:Dissertation
University:Stanford UniversityCandidate:ROTTER, ANDREW JONFull Text:PDF
Before 1949, American interest in the Far East was limited. Policymakers hoped to make China a united, democratic nation that would serve Western interests as an obstacle to Communist expansionism and a large market receptive to American and European exports. The American occupation of Japan was designed to reshape Japanese political institutions while preventing the return of Japanese military power. The United States regarded the underdeveloped nations of Southeast Asia as tangential concerns, though policymakers frequently voiced their unhappiness with the return to the region of British, and especially Dutch and French, colonialism.; During 1949 and the first six months of 1950, United States policy toward the Far East changed significantly. China fell to the Communists. Policymakers selected Japan to become the new "policeman" for the West in the Orient, but acknowledged that the Japanese economy would have to be rebuilt through trade with Asian nations outside China. When a slight American recession caused tremendous difficulties for the British economy in the spring of 1949, officials in London and Washington realized that extensive trade, not Marshall Plan aid, was the only lasting solution to the problem of Britian's recovery. British Malaya possessed the raw materials that could bring American dollars into the sterling area, potentially mitigating Britain's severe dollar deficit. The United States also traced France's persistent postwar problems to the diversion of French resources to the costly colonial war in Indochina. The presence of many French troops in Southeast Asia meant that France would not countenance the economic and military recovery of West Germany, an objective considered by American policymakers crucial to the containment of communism and the success of liberalism and capitalism in the West. Yet, by late 1949, the United States acknowledged the necessity to fight communism in Vietnam, and thus would not demand French withdrawal from Indochina.; The United States responded to these crises by concluding that the Far East, and especially Southeast Asia, was a suitable place to arrest Communist expansionism and a potential fulcrum for the recovery of the developed, non-communist world. Policymakers therefore suspended the ideals of political liberalism and free, multilateral trade with the hope of ensuring the ultimate attainment of both. Occupation officials energetically established commercial links between Japan and Southeast Asian nations, often favoring close intraregional ties to global ones. Policymakers temporarily jettisoned free market forces for the sake of the British economy, agreeing to reinvigorate triangular trade by accepting more Malayan rubber and tin, even at the expense of other international and domestic producers. The clearest hallmark of the new policy was the Truman administration's decision to provide economic and military aid to the French-sponsored government in Vietnam. The Americans hoped to gain from this policy a victory over communism, the protection of Japanese and British interests in Southeast Asia, and a reduction of the commitment of French resources to the war in Vietnam, thus permitting the return of French forces to Europe and encouraging the integration of West Germany into the anti-communist alliance. What the United States got instead was an ominous first step toward a larger involvement in Vietnam.
Keywords/Search Tags:United, Southeast asia, American, Policymakers, Vietnam
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