Controlling the Waves: Dean Acheson and U.S. Foreign Policy in Asia

Synopsis

"From the beginning of American history to 1945, United States foreign policy had looked steadfastly eastward, across the North Atlantic to Europe. Secretary of State Dean Acheson, when criticized for this seeming preoccupation with the Old World, replied, "With Europe everything was possible; without Europe, nothing was possible." Yet after World War II, the reach of U. S. foreign policy widened vastly. In late 1945, Asia's traditionally controlling Japanese empire, the political and economic giant of the Far East, lay in ruins, pulled apart. Acheson had always known Japan must continue to be the key to stabilizing Asia; its reconstruction - along the lines determined by the United States - would finally allow us to "control every wave in the Pacific Ocean."" "This is the story of how, for a time, such U. S. control was achieved. Dean Acheson served as Undersecretary of the State Department from 1945 to 1947 and as Secretary from 1949 to 1953. During this period, Acheson and his talented entourage - George Kennan, Dean Rusk, Paul H. Nitze, Max Bishop, and W. Walton Butterworth - were architects working not only to restore Japan as the "workshop of Asia" but also to set in place the roles of Korea, Taiwan, China, and Indochina, each to dance to an American tune. The broader aims of the policy were to reduce Japanese dependency on the United States, to promote a broad-based Asian recovery, to expand U. S. trade throughout the region, and to bolster American relief from economic depression and contain the growth of communism in Asia. Thus, through shrewd, bare-knuckle diplomacy, Acheson and his little group laid the foundation for the resurgence of Japanese power - and laid it almost too successfully. Acheson's vision, his intricate machinations in Japan, Taiwan, China, and Indochina, won the United States unprecedented influence in Asia, but the victory carried a great cost. For it was during this postwar period that the seeds were planted for the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the awkward U. S. commitment to defend Taiwan, and the American Cold War with China - not to mention a Japanese financial dominance that now threatens the economic balance of power throughout the world. Through brilliant research and syntheses, working with thousands of heretofore unexamined documents, Dr. Ronald McGlothlen has added greatly to our understanding of a critical and complex period of American history and of the visionary man who shaped the world we now live in." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved