Revision Notes on US Foriegn Policy in Asia 1950-73

Revision notes for the edexcel topic on USA in Asia.

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Background and the Foundations of US Foreign Policy
Kennan, the "Long Telegram" and Containment
George Kennan worked in US Embassy in Moscow.
February 1946 sent out telegram.
It said Russian rulers were weak and lacked support from the Russia people. To try
and gain support the Russians made an enemy out of the West to unite the people
in a cause.
Also said that the threat from the Soviet Union was not military related but
political. Truman misinterpreted this.
He went on to further say that Marxism-Leninism could not live peacefully with
capitalism and so the Soviet Union was expansionist (and so threatened the West),
therefore containment was necessary.
The telegram was well received in Washington and was circulated widely.
Truman particularly embraced the telegram as he felt hostile to the SU. The
telegram was quite subtle in its analysis of the SU but Truman read it as saying the
that the SU were aggressive in foreign policy and so therefore were the enemy.
Truman Doctrine
Introduced in March 1947 and provided military and economic aid to any country
under threat from minority group.
Started when Britain could no longer fund Greece in the civil war. Truman
persuaded congress that if they did not provide aid to Greece then a door could
be opened to Soviet domination in the Middle East.
Turning point in the Cold War.
Establishment of National Security Council & NSC-68
Established in July 1947.
Co-ordinated foreign and defence policy.
Provided President with information on the internal and external security of the
In April 1950 NSC-68 advocated massive expansion in US spending on military
spending (from $13 billion to $45 billion). It said that neither appeasement nor
isolation would be suitable policies towards the Soviet Union and therefore
containment was needed.
US Intervention in Korea
Partition of Korea and subsequent development 1945-50
1905-45 Korea under Japanese control.
1945 Japan surrenders and so Korea is temporarily partitioned into US and Soviet
zones along 38th parallel. Plan of reunification after four years.
Disagreement between the USA and the USSR means that separate states emerge.
Korea officially divided in 1948.
The North called People's Democratic Republic of Korea and the South called the
Republic of Korea.
Both Sung and Rhee planned on reuniting Korea but under their control meant
hostility developed between the two.
USA and USSR leave Korea in 1949.
Nature of Kim Il Sung's North Korean regime
Communist regime.
Kim Il Sung becomes premier in 1948.
North Korea known as The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Nature of Syngman Rhee's South Korean regime
Initially had public support but his regime soon turned into a repressive
dictatorship that relied on the Japanese Army.
South Korea known as The Republic of Korea (ROK).

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In April 1950 Rhee is forced to have elections and he loses!!!
Importance of Japan
Japan surrender in 1945.
Allowed to keep Emperor Hirohito but was subject to military occupation and US
George Kennan believed in the world there were "five centres of industrial and
military power". These were USA, UK, Central Europe, USSR and Japan. Japan could
not turn communist!!
Japan important because it had the zaibatsu (powerful companies like Toyota,
Honda) and had strong workforce.…read more

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Truman could claim to be acting on behalf of victim and in accordance with
international law.
Did the US only use the UN because they knew resolution would be passed
though a way to justify US intervention?
Evidence of dissent from UK, France and Egypt.
League of Nations had not worked and so US wanted the UN to work.…read more

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In a letter to Truman in March 1951 he said that Europe would not have a chance if
the US let Asia fall to communism.
December 1950 Truman ordered a restriction to comments to the press, but
MacArthur continued making comments about his discontent.
MacArthur had been critical of Ridgway's attrition.
He believed that there should be further escalation into war and there should be
bombing on Chinese cities. Should not have a limited war.
April 1951 MacArthur is removed.…read more

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Truman briefly considered using atomic weapons but he was aware this could
result in WW3.
MacArthur wanted to use weapons as early as 1950.
Ridgway also supported use of nuclear weapons, but only as a least resort.
Negotiations over Prisoners of War etc
US concerned if PoW sent back then the communists would have a huge manpower.
Also problem that in April 1952 only half of the 132,000 in UN camps wanted to be
Mao wanted an all out exchange.…read more

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ANZUS Pact in September 1951 built anti communist alliance between the USA and
Australia and New Zealand.
NATO extended to include Greece and Turkey and US aid to NATO increased
(between 1951 and 1955 $25 billion).
These two pacts enlarged the USA commitment to the Far East.
US-Sino-Soviet relations in 1950's
In 1950 China and the USSR signed a 30 year long Mutual Assistance Pact (Russia
gives grants of $300m to China).…read more

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France were often lazy and severely underestimated the Vietminh. The French
ranks drunk a lot and loved prostitutes.
The French military tactics were very old fashioned, especially used in the jungle
terrain. The Vietminh's guerrilla tactics were far better suited.
The Vietminh were FANATICAL and were more than willing to lose their lives for
the cause. Trained by Giap.
The Chinese supplied the Vietminh with weapons.…read more

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Reasons against intervention: nothing for the US to gain in intervening; partial
involvement would not be effective; is the domino theory actually realistic? Will
such a small country make any difference; after Korea, can the US really afford
any more troops; Republicans had focused on "new look" which emphasised
nuclear power over troops and so not enough troops to send; do not want US
colonialism and do want to support any type of colonialism; fear it was an
un-winnable conflict.…read more

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Supporters of Ho in South called National Liberation Front, or nicknamed by Diem
Vietcong (VC). Not sure whether these supporters of Ho were from the South, from
the South moved to the North and then came back to the South or were just
originally Northerners.
From 1958 violence escalated in S.Vietnam.
Peasants were moved into "agrovilles" which were villages protected by the army
(the villages did not appreciate being moved!).…read more

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McNamara visited Vietnam in 1962 and he reported that the war was being won.
Others were more wary of getting more involved in Vietnam. The French President
warned Kennedy that getting more involved would result in "bottomless military
and political quagmire". Rusk felt getting involved would result in Hanoi and
Bejing getting involved and would destabilise Laos.
Early 1962 Diem introduced strategic hamlets (villages that peasants live in), his
brother Nhu was in control of this.…read more


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