The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938-1945

The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938-1945

The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938-1945

The U.S. Crusade in China, 1938-1945

Excerpt

For almost two uninterrupted decades, China suffered the concurrent agony of invasion and civil war. Japan's seizure of Manchuria in September 1931 and the proclamation of the People's Republic in October 1949 were primarily important to China. Nevertheless, these episodes also demarcated a period in which the United States became massively involved in China's destiny. By the late 1930s American leaders believed successful Japanese aggression in China was a prelude to a direct assault on other American interests and allies in the Pacific. The Communist victory of 1949, on the other hand, appeared as the loss of China behind the iron curtain of Soviet conquest.

Since the late nineteenth century, American concern with China had been a curious, usually glib amalgam of missionary zeal, reformist interest, and dreams of a boundless market. The vaguely defined Open Door was less an operative plan than a wish that neither Russia nor Japan would establish hegemony over China. Meanwhile, American diplomacy rested on the hope that developments within China and private American influence would contribute to the evolution of a politically and economically integrated nation along the democratic capitalist model exemplified by the United States.

During the 1930s the revival of a powerful Chinese revolutionary movement and Japan's aggression challenged an essentially passive American policy. In their separate ways, each of these forces first came to frustrate American hopes for China and then appeared to make China itself a threat to the United States. Late in 1938 President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his top advisors concluded that Japanese control of China endangered the security of both the United States and its de facto European allies . . .

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