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Thread: What if the US had fully backed the KMT in the late 1940s?

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    What if the US had fully backed the KMT in the late 1940s?

    The CIA’s assessment of China, November 1947

    171 pages of sharp analysis that, if it had been read widely, would have pre-empted any discussion of “Who Lost China?”

    https://www.cia.gov/library/readingr...00090001-6.pdf

    According to the assessment of the day, extremists on both the Nationalist and Communist sides scuttled the 1946 political agreement brokered by General George C. Marshall. Civil war resumed in the Spring of 1946.

    The Nationalist Government is bureaucratic, incompetent and corrupt. It has “a deteriorating supporting economy, lack of adequate communications and industry, corrupt and often professionally incompetent generalship, passive tactics, large and inefficient masses of men under arms, shortages in trained military personnel and technicians, depressed morale among officers and men, and a lack of popular support.”

    The well-developed, little-damaged economy of Taiwan has disintegrated under Nationalist rule. “[T]he native population found it had merely exchanged Japanese domination for subjugation under mainland Chinese. Whereas Japanese exploitation of Taiwan had been orderly and efficient, Chinese administration has been characterized by lawlessness, economic decay, and industrial stagnation.”

    Prospects
    The KMT still holds national power, but it is “gradually losing the sympathetic support of great masses of Chinese.” The faction-driven leadership prevents cohesion; the conservative CC Clique of Chen Li-fu and Chen Kuo-fu controls much of the party machinery while the more moderate Political Science Clique of Chang Chun recently took over government administration. [Note: Chen Li-fu and Chang Chun would remain highly active in KMT politics into the 1980s. This indicates how difficult it would have been for Chiang Kai-shek to purge the KMT.]

    The CCP, on the other hand, is “the most effectively organized opposition party in China today,” largely because of its agrarian reform policies and support for freedom of individual expression. It’s soldiers are better clothed, equipped, trained and fed than KMT troops and officers advance on merit and are “comparatively honest, diligent, and competent.”

    If the US were to withdraw financial support, the KMT government would “probably diminish to such a degree that it will no longer be able to provide effective government for China on the present national scale.” The CCP would step into the power vacuum and separatist tendencies on the periphery would grow. If the US continued to financially support the KMT government, it would be wasted without proper internal reforms that Chiang Kai-shek is incapable of providing.

    Conclusion
    “If a Communist state covering all or a large part of China were established, the Soviet Union would acquire for practical purposes another Soviet republic…The Chinese Red Army would become a wing of the Soviet military machine, with bases in China available for Soviet use”

    “Present trends within China are in the direction of further instability and an extension of Communist military and political influence… [A]cute political and economic disorganization probably would prevail in China for several years. This disorganization would retard the development of a Communist China as an effective instrument of Soviet policy.”

    To slow or reverse this would require nonmilitary aid of a minimum of $1-2 billion over a three-year (1948-50) period [i.e., about 0.6% of the US’ 1947 GDP, or $10-15 billion in today’s money). This would be in addition to military aid sufficient to train, supply and maintain 30 divisions.
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    not yet a year old so i guess this doesn't qualify as a necropost...yet.

    i'm writing a historical piece based on USAAF support to KMT China between 1945-6. What is astonishing to me is the sheer amount of equipment and training we turned over/provided the KMT. hundreds of aircraft, renovated bases, hell, even assistance in modernizing civil aviation. this was an effort almost comparable to the massive building of the South Vietnamese Air Force two decades later.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    not yet a year old so i guess this doesn't qualify as a necropost...yet.

    i'm writing a historical piece based on USAAF support to KMT China between 1945-6. What is astonishing to me is the sheer amount of equipment and training we turned over/provided the KMT. hundreds of aircraft, renovated bases, hell, even assistance in modernizing civil aviation. this was an effort almost comparable to the massive building of the South Vietnamese Air Force two decades later.
    So why did things crumble so quick then. Didn't receive full backing ?

    DOR's link will make for some fascinating reading. i've often wondered how things would have turned out had the KMT managed to hold on
    Last edited by Double Edge; 29 Mar 18, at 19:55.

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    So why did things crumble so quick then. Didn't receive full backing ?
    corruption and no unifying message. KMT was essentially a collection of warlords with CKS at the top. when things got bad, those warlords could and would turn-coat to the CCP. CCP would promptly break up the warlord army and subsume it.

    the Americans tried to build up a modern military but pretty much when it was turned over, whichever warlord was in charge would start putting loyalists and not professionals in charge. morale and unit cohesion would plummet. even the vaunted Burma troops, the creme of the creme of American-trained/equipped troops, were ruined that way.
    There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov

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    Turbanator Senior Contributor Double Edge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis View Post
    corruption and no unifying message. KMT was essentially a collection of warlords with CKS at the top. when things got bad, those warlords could and would turn-coat to the CCP. CCP would promptly break up the warlord army and subsume it.

    the Americans tried to build up a modern military but pretty much when it was turned over, whichever warlord was in charge would start putting loyalists and not professionals in charge. morale and unit cohesion would plummet. even the vaunted Burma troops, the creme of the creme of American-trained/equipped troops, were ruined that way.
    There's a stark lesson in there for Afghanistan. Exactly what your ambassador to afghanistan pointed out. Loyalists over competents get promoted

    Happened in Iraq already. Americans left an even split of Shia & Sunni in charge. Maliki starts replacing Sunni with Shia and creates his own private militia. Result ? Isis
    Last edited by Double Edge; 30 Mar 18, at 14:39.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    So much in-fighting.

    Fengtian Faction vs. Beiyang Clique
    Anhui Clique vs. Fengtian Clique
    Xinjiang Clique vs. Hui Ma Clique
    CC Clique vs. Political Science Research Society
    Blue Shirts vs. Wang Jingwei


    By the time the KMT got to Taiwan, the survivors were die-hard Chiang allies; Yan Xishan (Shanxi Clique), Bai Chongxi and Li Zongren (New Guangxi Clique), Ho Ying-chin (Guizhou Clique) and Sun Fo (token Sun family icon).
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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Trust me?
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    As a child of the Cold War it still boggles my mind that you can have open, public access to the CIA Library!

    Allen Dulles has to be spinning in his grave!
    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albany Rifles View Post
    As a child of the Cold War it still boggles my mind that you can have open, public access to the CIA Library!

    Allen Dulles has to be spinning in his grave!
    James Jesus Angleton is probably spinning even faster, at speeds possibly approaching the speed of light.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    So much in-fighting.

    Fengtian Faction vs. Beiyang Clique
    Anhui Clique vs. Fengtian Clique
    Xinjiang Clique vs. Hui Ma Clique
    CC Clique vs. Political Science Research Society
    Blue Shirts vs. Wang Jingwei


    By the time the KMT got to Taiwan, the survivors were die-hard Chiang allies; Yan Xishan (Shanxi Clique), Bai Chongxi and Li Zongren (New Guangxi Clique), Ho Ying-chin (Guizhou Clique) and Sun Fo (token Sun family icon).
    This fact always puzzled me. Why is it that China (even today), Iraq, Afghanistan, all have warlords and cliques that have real firepower dividing up the nation's army? Why aren't there American warlords?
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Senior Contributor DOR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    This fact always puzzled me. Why is it that China (even today), Iraq, Afghanistan, all have warlords and cliques that have real firepower dividing up the nation's army? Why aren't there American warlords?
    Post-revolution, China's fear of a resurgence of warlordism (山头主义, shantouzhuyi: mountaintop-ism) led to shuffling regional commanders around the country. Men who’d spent their careers largely in Shenyang were sent to Wuhan, from Xinjiang to Chengdu. Five years later, pairs of commanders were swapped straight across, like a baseball trade. Li Desheng took Chen Xilian’s job, and vice versa. Yang Dezhi and Zeng Siyu swapped Wuhan for Jinan. Guangzhou for Nanjing, Lanzhou for Fuzhou.

    In America, the names were Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Jacob Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, Andrew Mellon, Leland Stanford, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and William Randolph Hearst. Same thing, different uniforms.
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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DOR View Post
    Post-revolution, China's fear of a resurgence of warlordism (山头主义, shantouzhuyi: mountaintop-ism) led to shuffling regional commanders around the country. Men who’d spent their careers largely in Shenyang were sent to Wuhan, from Xinjiang to Chengdu. Five years later, pairs of commanders were swapped straight across, like a baseball trade. Li Desheng took Chen Xilian’s job, and vice versa. Yang Dezhi and Zeng Siyu swapped Wuhan for Jinan. Guangzhou for Nanjing, Lanzhou for Fuzhou.

    In America, the names were Cornelius Vanderbilt, John Jacob Astor, Andrew Carnegie, Jay Gould, Andrew Mellon, Leland Stanford, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller and William Randolph Hearst. Same thing, different uniforms.
    That's not exactly the same. Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller didn't have their own armies or control a portion of the federal army.

    Just the other day I saw a program talking about Xi Jingping consolidated power by using people loyal to his father to replace generals in other parts of China.

    Even Taiwan, the DPP is having some issues now because Tsai doesn't get along with Chen in the south, and Lai (the premiere?) is from the Chen clique.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    This fact always puzzled me. Why is it that China (even today), Iraq, Afghanistan, all have warlords and cliques that have real firepower dividing up the nation's army? Why aren't there American warlords?
    Technically speaking, the ACW's Confederate Armies were all warloard armies. Each state controlled its own army and the Confederate Government had no say in who commands what nor interfere in each state's military decisions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    That's not exactly the same. Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Rockefeller didn't have their own armies or control a portion of the federal army.

    Just the other day I saw a program talking about Xi Jingping consolidated power by using people loyal to his father to replace generals in other parts of China.

    Even Taiwan, the DPP is having some issues now because Tsai doesn't get along with Chen in the south, and Lai (the premiere?) is from the Chen clique.
    Well, the Robber Barons pretty much had the National Guard at their beck and call, given that they usually more or less owned the state governors, and could call upon the Pinkertons and local/state police forces in a pinch.

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    What if the KMT won the war on the back of massive US aid, but persisted the old policies, assuming the US does not intervene, would China have fared better or worse.\?

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