FOREIGN RELATIONS, 1948, VOLUME I
Report by the Policy Planning Staff
TOP SECRET [WASHINGTON,] February 24, 1948
REVIEW OF CURRENT TRENDS
U.S. FOREIGN POLICY
I. UNITED STATES, BRITAIN, AND EUROPE
On the assumption that Western Europe will be rescued from communist control, the relationships between Great Britain and the continental countries, on the one hand, and between Great Britain and the United States and Canada on the other, will become for us a long term policy problem of major significance. (etc.)
P. 523 (bottom)
VII. FAR EAST
My main impression with regard to the position of this Government with regard to the Far East is that we are greatly over-extended
in our whole thinking about what we can accomplish, and should try to accomplish, in that area. This applies, unfortunately, to the public in our country as well as to the Government.
It is urgently necessary that we recognize our own limitations as a moral and ideological force among the Asiatic peoples.
Our political philosophy and our patterns for living have very little applicability to masses of people in Asia. They may be all right for us, with our highly developed political traditions running; back into the, centuries and with our peculiarly favorable geographic position; but they arc simply not practical or helpful, today, for most of the, people in Asia.
This being the case, we must be very careful when we speak of exercising "leadership" in Asia. We are deceiving ourselves and others w lien we pretend to have the answers to the problems which agitate many of these Asiatic peoples.
Furthermore, we have about 50% of the world's wealth but only 6.3 % of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity w without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming ; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world-benefaction.
For these reasons, we must observe great restraint in our attitude toward the Far Eastern areas. The peoples of Asia and of the Pacific area are going to go ahead, whatever we do, with the development of their political forms and mutual interrelationships in their own way. This process cannot be a liberal or peaceful one. The greatest of the Asiatic peoples -the Chinese and the Indians-have not yet even made a beginning at the solution of the basic demographic problem involved in the relationship between their food supply and their birth rate. Until they find some solution to this problem, further hunger, distress and violence are inevitable. All of the Asiatic peoples are faced with the necessity for evolving new forms of life to conform to the impact of modern technology. This process of adaptation will also be long and violent. It is not only possible, but probable, that in the, course of this process many peoples will fall, for varying periods, under the influence of Moscow, whose ideology has a greater lure for such peoples, and probably greater reality, than anything we could oppose to it. All this, too, is probably unavoidable ; and we could not hope to combat it without the diversion of a far greater portion of...
...our national effort than our people would ever willingly concede to such in purpose.
In the face of this situation we would be better off to dispense now with a number of the concepts which have underlined our thinking with regard to the Far Fast. We should dispense with the aspiration to "be liked" or to be regarded as the repository of a high-minded international altruism. We should stop putting ourselves in the position of being our brother-keeper and refrain from, offering moral and ideological advice. We should cease to talk about vague and –for the Far East– unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of the living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.
We should recognize that our influence in the Far East area in the coming period is going to be primarily military and economic. We should make a careful study to see what parts of the Pacific and Far East world are absolutely vital to our security, and we should concentrate our policy on seeing to it that those areas remain in hands which we can control or rely on. It is my own guess, on the basis of such study as we have given the problem so far, that Japan and the Philippines will be found to be the corner-stones of such a Pacific security system and that if we can contrive to retain effective control over these areas there can be no serious threat to our security from the East within our time.
Only when we have assured this first objective, can we allow ourselves the luxury of going further afield in our thinking and our planning.
If these basic concepts are accepted, then our objectives for the immediate coming period should be:
(a) to liquidate as rapidly as possible our unsound commitments in China, and to recover vis-à-vis that country, a position of detachment and freedom of action ;
(b) to devise policies with respect to Japan which assure the security of those islands from communist penetration and domination as well as from Soviet military attack, and which will permit the economic potential of that country to become again an important force in the Far East, responsive to the interests of pends and stability in the Pacific area ; and
(c) to shape our relationship to the Philippines in such a way as to permit to the Philippine Government a continued independence in all internal affairs but to preserve the archipelago as a bulwark of U.S. security in that area.
Of these three objectives, the one relating to Japan is the one where there is the greatest need for immediate attention on the part of our Government and the greatest possibility for immediate action.
It should therefore be made the focal point of our policy for the Far East in the coming period.
Viii. International organization
In the Far East, our position is not bad ; and we still have a reasonably firm grip on most of what is strategically essential to us. But our present controls are temporary ones which cannot long endure, and we have not yet worked out realistic plans for replacing them with a permanent structure. Meanwhile, our own public has been grievously misled by the sentimentalists on the significance of the area to ourselves : and we are only beginning with the long and contentious process of re-education which will be necessary before a realistic Far Eastern policy can receive the popular understanding it deserves.
In all areas of the world, we still find ourselves the victims of many of the romantic and universalistic concepts with which we emerged from the recent war. The initial build-up of the UN in U.S. public opinion was so tremendous that it is possibly true, as is frequently alleged, that we have no choice but to make it the cornerstone of our policy in this post-hostilities period. Occasionally, it has served a useful purpose. But by and large it has created more problems than it has solved, and has led to a considerable dispersal of our diplomatic effort. And in our efforts to use the UN majority for major political purposes we are playing with a dangerous weapon which may some day turn against us. This is a situation which warrants most careful study and foresight on our part.