Harry S. Truman: The Man from Independence

By William F. Levantrosser | Go to book overview

ISRAEL AND CHINA

Decisions by President Truman regarding the recognition of the new state of Israel and the new government of the People's Republic of China set the direction for American policy for the next generation. In both cases there is some controversy involved on how President Truman made the decisions. These chapters should help to illuminate some aspects of President Truman's foreign policy.

In the case of Israel, the two scholars writing here agree considerably on the assessment of the reasons for the granting of recognition. There were grounds of bipartisan consensus, sympathy for the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust, political expediency, the influence of the Zionist lobby, and national interest. We have some evidence here that President Truman's sympathy for the Jews may have been less than some have estimated. In addition, the State Department exhibited an independent view in conflict with the President.

The three chapters on China policy in the early Cold War era indicate the difficulties the Truman Administration faced in dealing with the emergence of the communist government in China. We will find comparisons with the approach of the British government and the dilemma of remaining loyal to a friendly albeit inefficient regime under Chiang Kai-shek and the reality of a new regime under Mao Tse-tung in actual control of the mainland. There are also questions about the reaction of those on Taiwan before the Nationalist forces began their displacement there up to the time of arrival of the displaced regime. The possibilities of what might have been done to give early recognition to the Mao regime are explored here in contrast to the pressures from the China lobby which actually prevailed in the development of policy and which got around such external factors as the Sino--Soviet defense agreement and the Korean War.

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