Governaments of Roosevelt and Truman mismanaged USA foreign policy toward communism

Jul 2019
123
Pale Blue Dot - Moonshine Quadrant
@BrutusofNY what you wrote about colonial or half colonial policy of some European nations, Russia and Japan in imperial China i more or less agree. KMT was right in demanding the end of this policy. But USA did not have very big role in it and not just this they soon saw the influence of Japan as dangerous. Japan's intervention in Siberia ended in early 20' under severe USA diplomatic pressure. But KMT was also aware that international communism became one of the most big dangers or even the biggest already in 30'. Completely justified conclusion. KMT was supported against Japan and against communists from USA, but support was not big enough because of communist inflitration in USA administration of FDR and even Truman to a smaller degree.

KMT also knew that communists are exploiting Chinese anti-imperialist feelings for their totalitarian agenda. Already in 1927 Chiang saw that so called Nanking incident was inspired by communists to strenghten their positions and weaken his. In Nanking foreign interest were attacked, consulates were attacked, vice president of Nanking university an American was killed etc.
I understand what you are saying and I readily admit that there were spies who converted easily to Soviet collectivism because they did not read Marx critically, and that at the time the U.S. suffered, as it often still does, from a simplistic view of a good guy-bad guy mentality about the world that utterly failed to recognize that both Communists and Fascists represented an authoritarian collectivism whose similarities were larger than their differences.

My point has consistently been that the U.S., well before FDR was elected had also moved in a collectivist direction with an admittedly milder form of authoritarian impulse - milder due to its cultural traditions - of which FDR was the result and not the cause.

McCarthy too was a result of that authoritarian impulse and not a cause even as his crudeness and emotional impulsiveness alarmed both those re-actively defending FDR's policies and memory as well as legitimate American civil libertarians. But as I pointed out in a previous post, the policies of Woodrow Wilson in 1917 made McCarthyism look like a day at the beach; so that was not really new either.

I am not a fan of either FDR or Truman and my views of them both would make their supporters' hair stand on end. Long before he became Vice President and just after Hitler turned on Russia in1941, Senator Harry Truman announced that he thought Hitler and Stalin should be allowed to bleed each other white. Had Truman's off-the-cuff advice been followed it is my opinion that Europe and America would have been a much better place for it.

Of course the path also implied that the Open Door in China would have probably have gone by the boards as well - and advocates of American Empire had no interest in that whatsoever.

Hitler's biggest mistake was invading Russia in the middle of June. His second biggest mistake was declaring war on the U.S after Pearl Harbor and giving FDR an early Christmas gift.
 
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Sep 2019
378
Slovenia
Military aspects were in fact the most important that China was lost to totalitarian communism. And mismanaged USA policy played a great role here. This article is pointing both of this out very good:

Chiang Kai Shek was quite successful from 1927 when he broke with communist and after warlords were defeated. He partly unified China. This success ended because of the Japanese aggression in 1937 ( and even before in 1931 Japan occupied Manchuria where China had 90% of its industry - Manchuria was between 1916-1928 controled by pro-Japanese warlord ).

Whatever the government's weaknesses, by 1937 it survived a series of acute crises, consolidated its position in most of the country after putting down regional separatists, developed the nucleus of a strong army under central control, was able to speak internationally for China, built up the revenues almost from scratch to about C$1 billion (about US$300 million), organized a budgetary and administrative system, developed a market for international borrowing, settled most debts in arrears, reformed the currency system and coinage on a nationwide basis, organized and developed a central bank, rehabilitated and improved transportation and communication, began agricultural reforms, and had under way a growing and promising program of development in which both domestic and foreign capital and technical aid participated.

The effects of Japanese aggression:

From 1937 on, the deleterious effect of Japanese aggression was not simply a matter of tying up troops which could have been used to defeat the Communists, but the loss of civilian life and property, the bombing of every sizable city and town, the large numbers of refugees, the prevalence of malnutrition, the loss of property and labor to the enemy, and the prevention of any economic recovery because 95 per cent of Chinese industry was in Japanese hands. The length of the war drained Nationalist China economically and eventually made it more dependent on U.S. aid.

KMT was carrying the biggest burden of the war with Japan and was much weakened by this. Communist got big support from Stalin in 1945 after Soviet occupation of industrial Manchuria after Japan was defeated.

Besides the immediate benefits gained by the Chinese Communists because of the Soviet occupation of Manchuria, Stalin's government provided additional assistance to Mao. The Soviets rebuilt Lin Piao's Fourth Field Army and transferred into it 100,000 North Korean troops with supplies. Soviet military advisers assisted the Chinese Communist army, and the Soviets supplied 1,276 artillery pieces and 369 tanks, reversing the early Nationalist superiority in these areas.

When the USSR entered the war against Japan the People's Liberation Army of China was in an extremely difficult position.... After Northeast China was liberated, the Soviet Commander handed over to the People's Liberation Army the weapons and equipment of the former Kwantung Army, and later, Soviet weapons too. The materiel captured by two Soviet fronts alone included more than 3,700 guns and mortars, 600 tanks, 861 aircraft, and nearly 680 military depots. The USSR helped to form, equip and train an 800,000 strong army which played the decisive role in routing the Kuomintang.

Chiang Kai Shek was a firm anti-communist but people in USA administration responsible for China were deluded about the real nature of totalitarian communism.

Now we can consider the role of "the man who lost China," if the U.S. State Department's White Paper on the fall of China is to be believed. Whatever else may be said about the Nationalist leader, Chiang Kai-shek understood the Communist menace as did few men of his time and therefore never stopped fighting it. In the early years of the KMT, Chiang cooperated with the Communists. But his 1923 visit to the Soviet Union caused him to see the true nature of Communism. Though he still used the Soviet Union to his advantage--mainly in their establishment of the Whampoa Military Academy, which he directed--he was just biding his time until he could move against them. From then until the day he died, Chiang Kai-shek fought the Communists. Though criticisms might be leveled against the effectiveness of his strategy and tactics against them, there is no question that he knew the evil of Communism and was determined to prevent its conquest of his country. Furthermore, the very fact that 72 per cent (14,000) of the Chinese prisoners of war chose to live in Taiwan rather than be returned to the mainland after the Korean War shows that, when given a choice, men preferred living under Chiang to living under Mao.


American policy in China was largely shaped by the so-called "China Hands" in the State Department: John Stewart Service, John Paton Davies, John Carter Vincent, and others. It was their job to know that Mao was a Communist and was not just "red outside and white inside" as some believed. John Paton Davies, June 24, 1943: "The Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek recognize that the Communists, with the popular support which they enjoy and their reputation for administrative reform and honesty, represent a challenge to the Central Government and its spoils system." John Stewart Service, July 30, 1944: "...the Communists base their policy toward the Kuomintang on a real desire for democracy in China under which there can be orderly economic growth through a stage of private enterprise to eventual socialism without the need of violent social upheaval and revolution." Service, August 3, 1944: "...the Communist Party becomes a party seeking orderly democratic growth toward socialism-- as it is being attained, for instance, in a country like England-- rather than a party fomenting an immediate and violent revolution." John Carter Vincent in a memo to Secretary of State Byrnes, December 9, 1945, called for broadening the base of the Chinese government to include "so-called Communists."

About the role of Owen Lattimore and other communists ( already mentioned here ).

Also playing a part in the formation of U.S. policy on China were members of the Institute for Pacific Relations, authors and reviewers of books on China, and others in the media, who contributed to the favorable image of the Chinese Communists. During the Senate hearings on the IPR, 46 persons connected with the IPR were identified as Communist Party members.80 Their publications were clearly pro-Communist. Yet the IPR and its publications were the main source of information on the Far East. At the IPR hearings, Owen Lattimore testified, in response to a question on IPR influence in the 1930's, "I believe that in those years, to the best of my recollection, the publications of the Institute for Pacific Relations were the only ones that not only specialized on the Far East but were confined to the Far East."81 An IPR resource packet was adopted by 1300 public school systems, and the War Department purchased over three quarters of a million IPR pamphlets for instructing military personnel.

The role of Soviet agent Harry Dexter White ( already mentioned also here ):

Harry Dexter White in the Treasury Department played a key role in sabotaging U.S. economic aid to the Nationalists, as even his friendly biographer admits. In a December 9, 1944 memo to Treasury Secretary Morgenthau, White wrote, "We have stalled as much as we have dared and have succeeded in limiting gold shipments to $26 million during the past year. We think it would be a serious mistake to permit further large shipments at this time." The U.S. government had made a commitment to Chiang in writing to supply $200 million in gold to curb inflation in Nationalist China.90 White's policy prevented the shipment until it was too late to be effective in stemming the inflation, a contributing factor to loss of American confidence in Chiang and thus to Chiang's defeat. White also supported the propaganda line favorable to the Communists.

to be continued...
 
Sep 2019
378
Slovenia
The negative effects of general Marshall's arms embargo on KMT after WW2.

General George C. Marshall is the single person most frequently charged by conservatives with the responsibility for the loss of China. Marshall was sent by President Truman as his personal representative to China, arriving on December 20, 1945. His specific instructions from Secretary of State Byrnes were to insist on a coalition government as a condition for continued aid to the Nationalists. Because the Truman Administration had made a firm decision not to provide U.S. combat troops to Chiang, and since Marshall was convinced that Chiang could not win without U.S. troops, he therefore agreed with the decision to insist on a coalition government as the only alternative, though Marshall later stated in his testimony in the 1951 Senate hearings on the fall of China that he never had any doubts that Mao's forces were Marxist Communists. Marshall held frequent meetings with Chiang or his delegates and with Mao's representative, Chou En-lai, and arranged two separate cease- fires in the civil war, in January and June of 1946. When Chiang would not cooperate with Marshall's efforts to set up a coalition government, Marshall ordered an arms embargo, in effect from July 29, 1946 through May 26, 1947 (though no new arms arrived until November 1947).

Truman doctrine applied just for Europe only after Korean war started this changed. In China Truman was ready to divide it with communists into spheres of influences as Roosewelt before was ready to divide Europe on such a way. Contrary to wishes of Chiang Kai Shek. And that led to catastrophy.

After the war, it was not until the Truman Doctrine that the U.S. faced up to the reality of Communist imperialism, but only in Europe, not in Asia, though there was a chance that China could even then have been saved. Therefore the responsibility for the U.S. role in the loss of China cannot be placed on the shoulders of any one individual person or policy. The responsibility lies with all those in our country who have refused to face the reality of Communism. For the choice was not, as some wanted to believe, between democracy and anti-democracy, or even between Communist authoritarianism and Nationalist authoritarianism, but between Chiang's anti-Communism, corrupt and inefficient as it might be, and the revolutionary destruction which is Communism. Americans who were not enough anti-communist or were even Soviet spies helped Mao and Stalin to take over China.

 
Feb 2018
72
Hong Kong
Well the idea of the allies of WW2 was to set up a post WW2 world where upon the major powers would police the world together as allies. Here is the important point, there is no proof the Soviets or USA successfully infiltrated each other during ww2. Had that happened then the moles of each country would have been able to put themselves in power perhaps shifting the dynamic during the cold war but that did not happen.

History shows us that the Cold war occured after WW2. Dont you feel that if the soviets had successfully infiltrated the FDR admin that the soviet moles would have not only prevented the cold war but also installed Communist politicians in the USA that were to take hold after WW2?

History shows us the USA and USSR spied on each other during the cold war. But do you think that the Soviet spying on the USA was of any importance? You talk of the spread of Communism post WW2, well many movements have spread through history and Communism was one. Communism remains in power today in Asian countries more so then European, countries such as NK and Vietnam. I dont agree with modern day Communist governments but at least Vietnam is somewhat of an open country today. So I take a few issues with the OP. First the USA was not infiltrated by Communists in WW2. And second Communism is not as bad as I feel the OP makes it out to be.

Butchering more than 140 millions since the first application just little more than 100 years is not very bad to you.

World War 2 killed 75 millions and today Hong Kongers have to accept the brutality of Communism.
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,957
USA
Butchering more than 140 millions since the first application just little more than 100 years is not very bad to you.

World War 2 killed 75 millions and today Hong Kongers have to accept the brutality of Communism.
I don’t think that way my friend. Hope you have a nice day.

Many communists bravely served in World War II and many communists throughout history we’re good people that’s the difference between communist and so-called Nazis. At least with communist you have a number of them that were hard-working and tolerant people.
 
Feb 2018
72
Hong Kong
In a manner similar to what was soon to occur in the Balkans, the Russian and Japanese incursions into Northern China resulted in conflict and war in 1904-1905 where the fragility of the Czarist regime in Russia was exposed.

Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, impressed with the power of Japan’s military, brokered the peace treaty that ended the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05 – some have called this World War Zero. In that treaty the United States recognized a Japanese sphere of influence in Manchuria – the Chinese Dynasty, crippled by a myriad of conflicting internal and external forces, could no longer govern effectively and the Russians had just revealed their own ineptness.

Japanese rights in China were further recognized by the American Republican administration in the Root-Takahira Agreement in late 1908 where the U.S. gave Japan "a free hand in Manchuria" and an American acknowledgment of Japan's right to annex Korea in return for a disavowal of any Japanese aggressive intentions towards the Philippines and Japan's acquiescence to limitations on Japanese immigration to California. Roosevelt, enamored with global politics, went so far as to suggest that the Japanese would be a Monroe Doctrine presence for Asia – a concept that Japan echoed back to an unimpressed and Sinophile FDR in the 1930’s.

In doing this, Theodore Roosevelt sought to deflect Japanese expansion westward to avoid conflict with the new American Empire and in 1910 he advised his successor William Howard Taft that the United States should take no steps that would make Japan feel that we are "a menace to their interests" in North China. Please note who is condescending to define "interests" in China. With specific reference to Manchuria Roosevelt remarked: "If the Japanese choose to follow a course of conduct to which we are adverse, we cannot stop it unless we are prepared to go to war… Our interests in Manchuria are really unimportant, and not such that the American people would be content to run the slightest risk of collision about them."

The advantages accruing to Japan from her special position in North China were clearly recognized by the American ambassador in Tokyo in 1910: “The war with Russia left in the hands of Japan as the chief fruits of her success substantial rights in the Chinese provinces of Manchuria. . . . None of the Powers stood in the way of her peace treaty and all understood that to enjoy the benefits of her acquisition a certain superiority over other nations must be conceded.” This certain superiority over other nations included China herself of course for she was but a pawn in the game.

However, Theodore Roosevelt’s advice was ignored. Taft had his own ideas about what should be done in the Far East. As a firm believer in "dollar diplomacy" he adopted an ambitious program for increasing American interest and prestige in the Orient by building a financial flooring under American policy. He endeavored to push "big business" into placing large investments in China. During the same period many American businesses men, sounding more and more like Bismarckian cartelists than advocates of the free market, grew enamored with the idea that the political state would help assure markets and thus profits - especially in a potentially huge market like China.

Under Woodrow Wilson, a Secretary of State whose fame as a pacifist encircled the globe (William Jennings Bryant) sent to Japan in May of 1915 a note with a delayed fuse of non-recognition that exploded into war some twenty-six years later. Apparently Wilson’s later Secretary of State, Robert Lansing, had a much clearer view of the realities in Far Eastern politics than did the President himself. To Lansing there was a definite basis for the Japanese fear of the spread of bolshevism in the Far East and he understood their desire to control the maritime provinces of Siberia as a bastion of defense against the tide of communism: “My belief is that they [the Japanese] will send reinforcements to Siberia and attempt to strengthen Seminoff's force [of White Russians]. I cannot see how the Japanese Government can adopt any other policy in view of the very real peril to Japan if the Bolsheviks should gain a foothold in Manchuria and co-operate with the Korean revolutionists”

One can even argue that Lenin, still struggling to cement his own still fragile political control, was even then capable of dancing circles around the amateurish notions held by the Americans who were so new to the world stage. In November, 1920, the New York Times printed a news item to the effect that certain W. B. Vanderlip had been granted the exclusive use of a large area in Siberia for mining purposes. The reason for this concession was explained by Lenin to his intimate associates: "We shall give America a territory for economic use, in a region where we have no naval or military forces. In this way we incite American imperialism against the Japanese bourgeoisie."

If the Democratic Wilson failed to appreciate the Communist potential in Asia, the Republican administrations that followed him were no more alert. In the late 1920's and early 1930’s Herbert Hoover’s Secretary State, Henry Stimson, who had also been Secretary of War under Taft and was later to hold the same position in the administration of Franklin Roosevelt, refused to recognize the Japanese activity in north China that Theodore Roosevelt had earlier blessed by written treaty. Please note that the U.S. exhibited no real interest in China as an independent political entity. The U.S. was still striving for the Open Door where China continues to be a great common feeding ground for economic exploitation – and only the Communists were realistic about this fact.

Even before Herbert Hoover took over the Presidency from Calvin Coolidge, China was already deep into its descent into chaos. In October, 1927, the South Manchuria Railway Company applied to Morgan and Company for a loan of $40,000,000 to be used for the development of transportation facilities in Manchuria. Because the railway was largely controlled by the Japanese government, the loan assumed a political character and was scrutinized. Even before the application for this loan had been filed, Thomas W. Lamont, of Morgan and Company, made a trip to Manchuria to look into the situation. He found the province was the "only stable region in all China." The Japanese were developing "Manchuria not chiefly in the military sense but in an economic way." Development was working out "in the interest of the Chinese" who were pouring into Manchuria to "escape the banditry, looting and despoiling to which they are subjected elsewhere." This is not to defend Japan’s activity in northern China, only to note the inability of China to govern its own territory and the degree of external explortation that was underminng China.

Chinese raids in 1929 upon a Russian consulate had disclosed vast quantities of propaganda designed to win the populace over to Communism. In the undeclared war of 1929 Communist armed forces had quickly crushed the weak resistance of the Chinese war lord and compelled him to sue for peace. These events were a major component in the Japanese reaction that propelled her 1931 invasion of Manchuria – the fear that Communist Russia was threatening in northern China. But this fact made no discernible impression on the Republican Hoover administration.

The Communist threat, of which Secretary State Henry Stimson’s policies discounted, was reiterated by the Japanese to the Hoover administration however. In March 1932 in a letter from Japanese Admiral Toyoda to Ambassador Cameron Forbes, the Admiral stressed the problem of Asian communism, and that Pacific area would eventually witness some of the important clashes between capitalism and Communism. The nature of this future conflict would exclude any idea of compromise: “We, or our near posterity, will have to decide between Sino-Russian Communism or the Anglo-Saxon capitalism. If China should fall under the rule of Communism, and if Japan keep up her present policy, which she certainly will, the chance is she will be forced to play the role of Iki and Tsushima as the advance posts of the Anglo-Saxon capitalism.”

There was no American response that even suggested that the picture of what was happening is Asia was the slightest bit skewed by its commitment to Open Door where China simply a vast grazing territory of potential consumers. At this time FDR was still Governor of New York State.

This then was the situation when Franklin Roosevelt became President in 1933. FDR continued to try and sustain the Open Door, and immediately upon taking office he began a very large buildup in naval weaponry in an attempt to project American power across the largest ocean on the planet. He failed, as he was bound to do, for the task was beyond even American power. As far back as 1907 Theodore Roosevelt had reached the conclusion that even the Philippines were indefensible – never mind systaining and controlling a China destined for hyperinflation within a decade. The Republican Roosevelt had called the Philippines America's "heel of Achilles." The same conclusion had been reached by Admiral Fiske in drafting war plans against Japan in 1913.

In my opinion the assertion that Communist spies after 1933 were even a minor factor in what happened in China is completely indefensible.
I just wanted to share a historical fact that it is Russia, not the USA, British, France and Japan, ceded the most landmass from China.
 

JoanOfArc007

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
3,957
USA
In addition andyferdinard,

People may have questions or even complaints about Communism today. But this thread deals with WW2. During WW2 the world saw a great rise of the movements of Nationaliism(Japan, Germany, Italy) and various communist movements of the 20th century as well..Communism tried to gain ahold in Germany but instead the so called Nazis gained power..Where as in Russia the likes of Stalin, Lenin and Trotsky gave Russia and parts of Europe the Soviet Union.

FDR and Churchill were faced with the grand decisions of what to do about the rise of these movements across the world. ..At first both made critical remarks about Communism especially when the Reich and USSR jointly invaded Poland in WW2. But of course even the USA and British Empire had dealings with the Reich, having various businesses operating in the Third Reich. Btw does anyone know of any Communist companies operating in the Third Reich during the so called alliance between the USSR and Reich? Anyway...when Germany invaded the USSR the USA and England decided to work together with the Soviets. That occurred in history and the question is should the USA and British Empire have ever worked with the Communists, I feel the answer is yes but others may disagree. Roosevelt either way gave the USA a great economy, and he made our military #1 in the world up from around being ranked 15th or so in terms of military strength. And the OP can not prove the Soviets were any kind of successful spies...the thing is even to this day allies spy on each other and try and gain information. It does not make sense that the FDR administration mismanaged foreign policy because under FDR the USA become the strongest country in the world able to wield a great foreign influence upon the world. The fact the USA during and after WW2 wields great foreign influence proved the OP to be wrong. The Government of FDR did a great job, it was probably the best of times in US history jobs wise when FDR was in office. No one successfully infiltrated the USA as to wreck or sabotage our economy during the reign of FDR. Otherwise we would have gone through another depression or similar.
 
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Feb 2017
313
Latin America
Yes, because having everyone be poor works out great! (Sarcasm.)
Cuba barely has poverty especially when you have Central America, Mexico, Haiti, Guyana, French Guinea, Colombia, and Brazilian favelas as a benchmark, and has a life expectancy rivalling Scandinavia. There are certain states in the US like Louisiana and Alabama that have worse living standards than Cuba, whether we see it in terms of authoritarianism (the US is the country with the highest incarceration rate, has segregation against Native Americans, has very limited rights for immigrants, and its police brutality is worse than Cuba's), life expectancy (about 75 in Louisiana and Alabama vs nearly 80 in Cuba), or violence (the states I mentioned average about 7 if not 8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, against Cuba's 4 or 5, which by the way is 1/5th to 1/10th less the average in Latin America). Really, few states rival Cuba in the Americas (Canada, which recently has declared to have perpetrated genocide since 1980s; Uruguay, Chile, a number of tiny Caribbean nations that have little population).

Most people decrying Cuba don't live in there and come from privileged backgrounds even in First World countries - the same First World that has banlieues, ghettos, kills immigrants and has a mass shooting problem. Not to mention the many thousands it sends to war zones in the many countries it devastates from Mali to Pakistan, many of whom either die, are maimed or are ridden with PTSD for life.
 
Feb 2017
313
Latin America
Also, I've always wondered why people ignore the fact that Eastern Europe under Communist rule after WWII was far superior to the rest of the Third World colonised by capitalists. No one can't seriously say living in East Germany or Yugoslavia was equal or even worse to living in Bangladesh or Congo, even the Bangladesh and Congo of today let alone during the Cold War.

Also, for all this raving about Communism making everyone poor, Communist China has lifted over 800 million people out of poverty. Many want to attribute this solely to market reforms, but this is arbitrary as they then attribute China's authoritarianism solely to Communism when we see similar authoritarianism under countries with market economies (Chile under Pinochet, Argentina under Galtieri, Venezuela before Chavez, post-Apartheid South Africa, India after the 1980s, the US during and after Reagan).