Asia First

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The Asia First strategy was pushed for in the early 1950s by the powerful 'China Lobby' of the Republican Party in the United States, strongly supported by US General Douglas MacArthur.

The Asia First strategy called for the future concentration of American resources in the Far East to fight against the encroaching spread of Communism, in a similar way to the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine in Europe. US resources in Europe would therefore be reduced to a bare minimum.

The policy was suggested in a period of great anxiety in the USA as Cold War tensions were heightened following the Korean War, 1950–53 and the rise of Communism in China in 1949. These tensions put great pressure on President Truman to adopt this policy, but ultimately he rejected it fearing that it would pin the USA down in the Far East dealing with a 'secondary enemy' - the People's Republic of China - whilst the Soviet Union, his real concern, would have a free hand in Europe.

Truman did however make some attempts to strengthen the American position in the Far East, but not at the expense of Europe. In 1950 the US promised military assistance to the French in the struggle against the Communist Viet Minh in Indochina. In 1951 the United States signed a peace treaty with Japan allowing US troops to remain stationed at Okinawa and tying Japan to the US. Also in the period 1950-51 US reinforcements were sent to Korea to strengthen the US military position there. In this period the US navy was also steamed into the Formosa Straits as a deterrent to prevent conflict between the Chinese nationalists who had escaped to the island of Formosa and the Chinese communists in mainland China.


  • Dockrill, Michael(1988). The Cold War 1945-63, p. 49.,P52-3, MACMILLAN EDUCATION LTD., London. ISBN 0-333-40380-0

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