Economic Security and the Origins of the Cold War, 1945-1950

By Robert A. Pollard | Go to book overview

on Taiwan. Acheson was fortified in his conviction by estimates from the CIA and other sources during the spring of 1950 that the fall of Taiwan to the Communists was imminent. (One estimate predicted a CCP invasion between mid-June and late July 1950.) Due to his efforts, the United States extricated itself from the Chinese civil war during the first half of 1950. 81


Conclusion

In a speech before the National Press Club on January 12, 1950, Secretary of State Acheson identified two factors in modern Asia with which the United States would have to contend: "a revulsion against the acceptance of misery and poverty as the normal condition of life," and "the revulsion against foreign domination." To those who sought a deeper U.S. commitment to reverse the tide of Communism in China, Acheson cited the imperialist example of the Soviet Union, which he claimed was about to detach four provinces from China. "We must not undertake to deflect from the Russians to ourselves the righteous anger, and the wrath, and the hatred of the Chinese people which must develop," Acheson stated. After defining the boundaries of the U.S. defense perimeter in the Far East (which included Japan and the Philippines but excluded South Korea, Formosa, and Southeast Asia), Acheson argued that the American ability to influence events in Asia was limited. The United States, he declared, "can not furnish determination, it can not furnish the will, and it can not furnish the loyalty of a people to its government."82

Most commentators on Acheson's Press Club speech have focused on the question of whether it prompted the Korean invasion of June 1950. Clearly, the Secretary of State, by deemphasizing the U.S. military commitment to certain countries in the Far East (notably South Korea), sent the wrong signal to the Communist powers in Asia. But since Acheson's intended audience was the American public, he understandably devoted most of his remarks to an explanation of the American failure in China. His main point was an obvious one: U.S. strategic and economic interests in China were insufficient to justify a greater investment of limited national resources. The United States could not sustain commitments in every part of the world.

The problem was that the logic of containment, especially as expressed in the Truman Doctrine, appeared to commit the United States

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