Academic journal article Military Review

The United States in the Asia-Pacific since 1945

Academic journal article Military Review

The United States in the Asia-Pacific since 1945

Article excerpt

THE UNITED SIATES EN THE ASIA-PACIFIC SINCE 1945, Roger Buckley, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2002,258 pages, $65.00.

The United States in the Asia-Pacific Since 1945 could have been an exercise in academic absurdity and cruelty, but instead enlightens and educates. In seven chronologically organized chapters, Roger BuckJey outlines U.S. policy in East and Southeast Asia since 1945 when Japan surrendered.

In 1945, Asia was defined by colonial powers trying to reassert dominion over their colonies with nationalist movements in armed struggle with them, and a prostrate Japan-the object of Soviet and U.S. interest. The United States was the paramount power, but initial U.S. actions were hesitant. This apparent irresolution was caused by the resolve to support anticommunist forces in Europe and Asia while also trying to keep the Cold War from spreading to the region. Although there were differences between European and Asian policies, they were matters of degree, not substance.

The Korean War chapter emphasizes Soviet and U.S. confusion over Korea and the complexity of its internal politics and rivalries. The effects of the war included a peace treaty with Japan, increased Japanese economic growth, a clarification of U.S. interests in China and Taiwan, and a new alliance, the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO).

In the postwar period ( 1953-1960), the gravity of international rivalry shifted to Southeast Asia. Buckley briefly outlines the events leading up to the 1954 Geneva Conference and its results for Indochina; British interests in Malaya; the Taiwan Straits Crises; and the ways they affected U.S. policy. The chapter on the Vietnam War is a straightforward summary of events, dealing with the major interpretive issues surrounding U.S. commitments, the conduct of the war, and eventual U. …

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