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Washington's China

Washington's China: The National Security World, the Cold War, and the Origins of Globalism

Copyright Date: 2006
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Washington's China
    Book Description:

    This book addresses a central question about the Cold War that has never been adequately resolved. Why did the United States go to such lengths not merely to “contain” the People’s Republic of China but to isolate it from all diplomatic, cultural, and economic ties to other nations? Why, in other words, was American policy more hostile to China than to the Soviet Union, at least until President Nixon visited China in 1972?The answer, as set out here, lies in the fear of China’s emergence as a power capable of challenging the new Asian order the United States sought to shape in the wake of World War II. To meet this threat, American policymakers fashioned an ideology that was not simply or exclusively anticommunist, but one that aimed at creating an integrated, cooperative world capitalism under U.S. leadership—an ideology, in short, designed to outlive the Cold War.In building his argument, James Peck draws on a wide variety of littleknown documents from the archives of the National Security Council and the CIA. He shows how American officials initially viewed China as a “puppet” of the Soviet Union, then as “independent junior partner” in a SinoSoviet bloc, andfinally as “revolutionary model” and sponsor of social upheaval in the Third World. Each of these constructs revealed more about U.S. perceptions and strategic priorities than about actual shifts in Chinese thought and conduct. All were based on the assumption that China posed a direct threat not just to specific U.S. interests and objectives abroad but to the larger vision of a new global order dominated by American economic and military power. Although the nature of “Washington’s China” may have changed over the years, Peck contends that the ideology behind it remains unchanged, even today.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-147-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    (pp. 1-16)

    This book had its origins in the early 1960s when the Kennedy administration was rapidly expanding its war against Vietnam and justifying the escalation by heralding the image of a frightening, expansionist China. Coming from an educated upper-middle-class moderate Republican family, I was not particularly critical of Kennedy’s policies at first. Yet I had been uneasy with the militant Cold War tone of his presidential campaign—so uneasy that at the age of sixteen I had stuffed envelopes for Richard Nixon at the local Republican campaign headquarters. Though I really understood little of the emotionally charged exchanges between the two...

    (pp. 17-47)

    Since the National Security Council (nsc) was created in 1947, its operations have provided the best entrée into the workings of the national security world and, in particular, into United States policy toward China. From the beginning, the nsc was a fervent apostle of an American visionary globalism. What this globalism entailed—its formulations, its characteristics—underlay specific U.S. policies toward China. Globalism was always an ideological vision, a way of perceiving and shaping the world to achieve American objectives. Globalism brought a kaleidoscope of American interests into some order, balancing different regions against one another, assessing priorities, assigning short-...

    (pp. 48-82)

    Washington’s view of China as a Kremlin-dominated satellite goes to the heart of the Cold War ethos that was emerging in the late 1940s. Global policy, ideological warfare, self-indoctrination, and contempt for China went hand in hand. China was very much understood through Washington’s prevailing globalizing strategic thinking and ideological formulations; the key terms, the tone, and the frameworks for understanding China flowed from this nsc perspective far more than they ever did from events in China. This perception comprised several dimensions: the dismissal of Chinese nationalism and the acquiescence of the Chinese communist leadership to the dismembering of their...

    (pp. 83-109)

    The outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, enabled Washington to shape, with astonishing speed and determination, an Asian policy that was to last for almost two decades. Critical aspects of that policy had emerged by early that year: the containment of China, the reverse course in Japan, the reorganization of the Asian economy, the intense ideological hostility to the Chinese revolution, and a deepening commitment to fighting communism in Southeast Asia. But it was Korea that abruptly cut through the host of controversies and problems that had been plaguing American policy for several years and brought together...

    (pp. 110-139)

    Nothing indicates the direction of Washington’s Asia policy more strikingly than its decision to send the Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait during the first forty-eight hours of the Korean War. With the resolution of the debate over whether (though not necessarily how) to defend Taiwan came a renewed determination not to recognize the People’s Republic of China and to keep it out of the United Nations. The decision’s far-ranging implications were evident by the summer of 1950 in Washington’s refusal to consider any resolution of the Korean conflict in those months that involved discussions of Taiwan, the China seat...

    (pp. 140-172)

    The picture that emerged in the early years of Eisenhower’s administration was, in some ways, almost the reverse of Truman and Acheson’s. Suddenly China was no longer a Soviet satellite, a “slavic Manchuko,” nor were the Chinese communists any longer strangers to nationalism, or the embodiment of a power somehow alien and external to the real China. And no longer were they leaders selling out their country to Moscow or handing over China’s provinces to the Soviets.

    An nsc document of October 1953 reflected this shift: “Peiping is motivated by interacting factors derived from the concurrently Chinese and Communist nature...

    (pp. 173-194)

    The most prominent feature of the Eisenhower administration’s policy toward China was its relentless animosity, its refusal to negotiate on any basic issues, and its adamant insistence that allied and neutral nations accept its policies. On all the fundamentals—Taiwan, trade, recognition, the United Nations, military and nuclear encirclement—American policy was bitterly hostile to the prc. Though the United States sometimes softened its approach to deal with European and Asian criticisms of its inflexibility, it did so largely in order to continue its policy of isolating China. And in many ways the United States was remarkably successful in its...

    (pp. 195-225)

    A vision of China as a militant, revolutionary, ideologically expansionist nation dominated the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. China was dangerous not simply because it was communist or intensely nationalistic but because it was the nation that most fully embodied the forces sweeping through the discontented Third World. It combined the radical nationalism and the revolutionary fervor that Washington saw as the hallmarks of “wars of national liberation.”

    Interpreting China was no longer a question of communism versus nationalism (as with Truman and Acheson) or how much of each (as with Eisenhower and Dulles). During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Washington’s...

    (pp. 226-260)

    As President Johnson rapidly escalated the Vietnam War, Washington continued to label China the paramount threat in Asia.¹ According to the June 1966 Long Range Study, China’s primary objectives were “(1) the promotion of the world Communist revolution, principally through advocacy of ‘wars of national liberation’ against ‘bourgeois’ states, and (2) the restoration of China to its past position of grandeur and influence in Asia, and the extension of this influence onto a worldwide stage.”² Both goals testified to the “Chinese desire to be recognized as the equal of the U.S. and the USSR”—a goal directly in conflict with...

  15. NOTES
    (pp. 261-322)
  16. Index
    (pp. 323-334)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 335-336)