Essay about United States Policy toward Southeast Asia

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United States Policy toward Southeast Asia

In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed a trusteeship principle, in which the subjugated nations of Asia would prepare themselves for self-government, under the supervision of the imperial nations. FDR had ‘genuine humanitarian principles’[1] and was aware of the conditions under which colonial people sometimes lived. He also realised that the colonial system was detrimental to US interests. According to Robert McMahon, FDR altered his thinking in late 1944. ‘This policy shift reflected the President’s essential pragmatism in the face of a complex amalgam of crosscutting interests.’[2]

Most historians are agreed that, in the immediate post-war
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Further reading reveals that The USA appeared to adopt differing, seemingly dualistic strategies of involvement in the region, especially after 1950. By this time, The Philippines, Burma, Thailand and Indonesia were independent, with new nationalist rulers. Vietnam was still a French colony and Malaya a British one. The US got tough on the insurgencies, whilst supplying ‘economic and defence assistance, technical support, political advice, diplomatic backing, even such intangibles as understanding, patience and sympathy’[4]to the newly formed independent countries. In answer to the title question, and in attempt to unravel the complexities of Washington’s foreign policy in Southeast Asia, this essay will examine more closely US strategy regarding two countries – Vietnam and Indonesia – throughout the time of decolonisation.

Vietnam =======

During World War 2, Roosevelt did not want to see France take back Indochina from the occupying Japanese. According to Abouzahr, Roosevelt had a ‘strong sense of anti-colonialism’ and was prepared ‘to accept the forces of nationalism in Asia’[5]but the task of rebuilding Western Europe took priority to anything that was happening in Indochina, in the immediate post-war years. At this time the US was more anti-communist than anti-colonial.
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