Vain Endeavor: Robert Lansing's Attempts to End the American-Japanese Rivalry

Vain Endeavor: Robert Lansing's Attempts to End the American-Japanese Rivalry

Vain Endeavor: Robert Lansing's Attempts to End the American-Japanese Rivalry

Vain Endeavor: Robert Lansing's Attempts to End the American-Japanese Rivalry

Excerpt

The Far Eastern policy of Woodrow Wilson's administration is the subject of solid historical studies. Among leading monographs are the following: Tien-yi Li, Woodrow Wilson's China Policy, 1913-1917 (New York, 1952); Russell H. Fifield, Woodrow Wilson and the Far East: The Diplomacy of the Shantung Question (New York, 1952); Betty Miller Unterberger, America's Siberian Expedition, 1918-1920: A Study of National Policy (Durham, 1956); and Roy W. Curry, Woodrow Wilson and Far Eastern Policy, 1913-1921 (New York, 1957). To these volumes may be added studies which have been done as part of broader works, such as, for example, chapters in Professor Arthur Link's several volumes on Wilson, or Professor George Kennan's on American-Russian relations. While all of these studies vary in scope and the context in which they deal with Far Eastern affairs, they have in common one feature: the narratives focus on President Wilson; or, to state the matter another way, the historical record of American Far Eastern policy is set forth primarily in terms of Wilson's hopes, accomplishments, and failures.

Robert Lansing, rather than Wilson, is central to the narrative that follows. As State Department Counselor and Secretary of State, Lansing developed ideas for dealing with Far Eastern problems which were uniquely his own and which he sought to incorporate into official American policy. Although these aspects of Lansing's activity have received little attention, they form an important part of the historical record.

In the first place, a narrative dealing with Lansing furnishes explanations of some apparent inconsistencies in the Wilson diplomacy. For example, in January, 1917, Lansing told the Japanese Ambassador that the United States recognized informally Japan's "special interests" in Shantung. Such a statement was contrary to the established policy of opposing these Japanese claims. Lansing's remarks, however, did not result from ignorance or carelessness. Rather, the Secretary was speaking independently with the aim of . . .

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