Finished reading The China Mirage
by James Bradley* about the history of American involvement in E Asia.
*The son of one of the flag raisers at Iwo Jima, and the author of the famous "Flags of Our Fathers".
A number of famous US family fortunes, including the Delano in FDR, got their start in the China Opium Trade.
This trade was a significant source of finance for the rapid US industrialization in the latter half of the 19th century.
Teddy Roosevelt supported the Japanese occupation and colonization of Korea by Japan.
This despite Korea having a defense treaty with the USA at the time.
The colonial expansion of Imperial Japan in E Asia, including China, was fueled by American oil, specifically oil from California.
FDR did not want to cut off the flow of oil to Japan as he, correctly anticipated, that this would lead to war.
However, the completely corrupt Soong
gang wielded remarkable influence in the US government and media through their China Lobby.
If ever there was a model for the stereotype of the Chinese Dragon Lady, then Ailing Soong was it.
Chiang Kai-Shek set and still holds the record for the number of appearances on the cover of Henry Luce's Time magazine.
Their goal was to involve the US in a land war in China - to have US troops do Chiang Kai-Shek's fighting for him against the Imperial Japanese Army so that Chiang could concentrate on defeating Mao, despite Chiang having lost every time he encountered Mao's army, while at the same time extracting as much money as possible from the US government for the personal benefit of the Soong-Chiang gang while claiming that it was for China.
Chiang's army was the traditional model of corrupt patronage and brutal forced conscription.
He represented the vested interests of landowners and his army was military pretending to lead a country.
Yet in the US media, Chiang was portrayed as the enlightened Christian saviour and leader of the Chinese people.
Mao's army was based on the support of the peasant masses, was disciplined and modern, and promoted land reform.
No other US foreign lobby was as effective for as many decades as the China Lobby.
It was people working for them, in the FDR administration, that effectively stopped the flow of US oil to Japan, without the knowledge of FDR,
leading Japan to attack the US and to invade what is now Indonesia.
By Truman's account the Soong-Chiang gang received about USD 750 million which was directed to their personal benefit rather than that of China.
After Mao's victory, and Chiang's retreat to Taiwan, there are a massive political witchhunt in the US to determine "Who lost China" on the presumption that China in some sense belonged to the US.
The China Lobby in the US government made sure that the few US officials, the "China Hands", who had reported the real situation in China were persecuted, punished, and effectively exiled from the corridors of power.
The Imperial Japanese government was incredibly dumb to have sent a diplomat to the US who could barely speak English leading to great misunderstanding to intention on both sides.
After WWII, the US instead of liberating countries that Japan had occupied aided, promoted the restoration of the brutal colonial occupations of SE Asia by Western powers such as France, Britain, Holland. In the case of French Indochina, this eventually lead to the ruinous American involvement on the losing side of the Vietnam War.
The postwar US plan for Asia was an updated version of the Imperial Japan's Greater Economic Co-Prosperity Sphere with Japan at the centre, the difference being that the colonialism was to be economic and political without occupation.
By assisting Chiang to escape to Taiwan and protecting him while he claimed to represent the true government of China, the US made it obligatory for mainland China to claim Taiwan as part of it's territory. Before Chiang's arrival, China has little interest in Formosa. Chiang's regime was so corrupt and brutal that native Taiwanese would have preferred the Japanese occupation. Japanese culture is disproportionately popular in Taiwan to this day.
Bradley sets much of the blame on the US Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. By not having any contact with real Chinese people, culture, and society, the US fell for the missionary's portrayal of China as 400 million Chinese yearning for Christianity and desiring nothing more than to become American. The China that Americans believed in, from the man-in-the-street to FDR, existed solely in the imagination of Americans.
To paraphrase the US General in "Full Metal Jacket",
"Inside every Chink is an American trying to get out."
This was typified by the absurdist novel The Good Earth
by Pearl S. Buck with it's imaginary portrayal of the Nobel Chinese Peasant.
J. Bradley's stated motivation for doing the research and writing the novel is that his father served as cannon fodder and was wounded in an unnecessary war in the Pacific and later his older brother nearly died from the injuries he received in Vietnam. He does not want his son to do the same.
In this sense, he is a real patriot, unlike the canonical wannabe armchair warriors one so often encounters on the internet.
All the world's a stage.