Creating An American Lake: United States Imperialism and Strategic Security in the Pacific Basin, 1945-1947

By Hal M. Friedman | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Out with the Old, in with the New? Continuities and Changes in American Pacific Policy

American strategic policy toward the Pacific Basin between 1945 and 1947 constituted an imperial solution to the United States’ anxieties about postwar security in the region. In addition, as Micronesia and other areas of the Pacific became entangled in Cold War international relations during the final months of the Roosevelt Administration and the first two years of the Truman Administration, American perceptions of strategic security in the region became broad and multidimensional in nature. To be absolutely sure about postwar security, American officials sought physical control in the region not only through military means but also through the economic penetration of the area and the imposition of American cultural values on the inhabitants of the region.

US policy was also an anomaly of the strategies being formulated for other areas of the world in 1945. American strategy toward the postwar Pacific, in fact, represented a significant gap between rhetoric and reality at this time. While Rooseveltian rhetoric about collective security, free trade, and national self-determination toward any part of the world cannot be taken too seriously, the Pacific was the one area of the world where American policymakers and planners first and consistently disregarded all but superficial adherence to internationalist thinking and great-power cooperation. In effect, American officials during both the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations made it clear to other nations that the Pacific Basin was to be the United States’ strategic preserve. Its sole control over the occupation of Japan, the administration of Japan’s Pacific possessions, and the fortification of the Pacific Islands north of the Equator were measures undertaken to ensure US unilateral postwar order.

In addition, significant changes to traditional US strategic thought about the area were witnessed during the immediate postwar period. Unlike the interwar period when the Navy and State Departments disagreed over the terms of the

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