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

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  • #46
    still writing that article of mine. when George Marshall stopped US aid in July 1946, he thought it was going to be a shot across the bow for CKS.

    of course CKS ignored him and escalated his offensive. marshall then responded by withdrawing USAAF advisors and slowing down training, and slow-rolling a lot of the US aid-- both military and economic-- going to the Nationalists.

    the period of July 1946-July 1947 was essentially the highwater mark of Nationalist China, with the seizure of CCP capital of Yan'an in Mar 1947.

    by the time the assistance restarted, it was at a considerably smaller scale going into fall 1947. from DOR's original post:

    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.
    the original US plan was to train and equip 39 divisions and stand up a 8-1/3 group Air Force. by June 1946 this had largely succeeded, altho logistics was a mess and the Nationalists were fully dependent on US training.

    the Nationalist highwater was essentially taking these US trained troops and $$, and using them up.

    from the US standpoint, US aid to China was expensive (equivalent in 3 years to what we spent in Afghanistan in 17), but "only" one-tenth the amount of aid we gave to Western Europe under the Marshall Plan. US diplomatic, military, and political leadership essentially thought China was going to slag down into further warfare anyways and didn't see the point. reading through State and CIA annexes, it's clear that the $$$ aid required to "save China" in Nov 1947 became VERY $$$$ aid by Spring 1948, and by Summer 1948 the analysis was that nothing short of US armed intervention was going to save the Nationalists, which absolutely no one was for.

    of course, it's no accident that less than a year after the fall of mainland China, the DPRK was trying to do the same thing...and the US intervened. but it took the shock of the utter rout of the Nationalists to make this clear (even as late as Fall 1948, IIRC CIA was predicting that it'd be several more years of combat before Communist victory).

    wonder what would have happened if the US kept on throwing $$ at the Nationalists in 1946-1947, or even tried an armed intervention in 1948. after all, the cost of Korean War far, far exceeded the cost of throwing money at the Nationalists. come to think of it, fighting the Commies in China might have been an easier prospect than fighting in little-manuever room Korea.

    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


    • #47
      Rather than rely on my original back-of-the-envelope 0.6% of GDP / $10-15 billion, here’s a slightly more thoughtful calculation:

      Sum of 1946-48 GDP: $751.6 billion (as per Bureau of Economic Analysis, after July 2018 revisions…which did stretch back that far).
      Which means, $1.5 billion (midway point) would be 0.020%
      And, 0.020% of the sum of GDP in 2015-17 ($56.4119 billion) is $112.8 billion.

      Remember, it was $1-2 billion over a three year period, so it is vis-à-vis the sum of three years’ GDP, not the average.
      My bad.
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      I'm an economist!


      • #48
        CIA Historical Staff Chronology, 1946-65, Volume I: 1946-55

        Massive reorganization of intelligence agencies going on throughout 1946-47. Many very senior wartime department heads replaced and whole departments shifted to new agencies. Confused lines of reporting.

        Feb 26, 1946: George F. Kennan’s “Long Telegram” laying out containment
        Mar 5, 1946: Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech
        May 2, 1946: Tokyo war crimes trials
        May 31, 1946: Congressional hearings on Pearl Harbor
        Jun 30, 1946: US armed forces reduced to 3 million in FY46, from 12 million in FY45.
        Jul 1, 1946: Bikini Atoll A-test.
        Jul 23, 1946: First report to Truman of Soviet’s global capabilities and intentions.
        Sep 12, 1946: Commerce Secretary Henry A. Wallace publicly deplores ‘get tough with Russia’ policy; dismissed by Truman Sep 20. To me, this signals more broad strategy confusion.
        Sep 15, 1946: Greek civil war resumes.
        Sep 30, 1946: Nuremberg trials end.
        Nov 28, 1946: Indo-Chinese civil war resumes; French bomb Haiphong; Ho Chi-Minh government evacuates Hanoi.

        Jan 21, 1947: General George C. Marshall returns from 15-month China mission, becomes Secretary of State.
        Feb 12, 1947: NIA prescribes requirements on China in Directive No. 8
        Apr 23, 1947: Congress allocates $400 million for Greece and Turkey
        May 5, 1947: French government dismisses communist cabinet ministers.
        Jun 5, 1947: Marshal Plan. National security and international expenditures in FY47 reduced to $20.9 billion, from $46.2 billion in FY46. Military strength down by half, to 1.5 million.
        July 1947: “Mr X” Foreign Affairs article (George Kennan on containment)
        Jul 11, 1947: Wedemeyer mission ot Korea and China (to Sep 18)
        Sep 18, 1947: National Security Council, National Security Resources Board and Central Intelligence Agency established
        Oct 5, 1947: COMINFORM established to coordinate communist party propaganda in nine European countries. US organized Organization of American States March 30, 1948 indicating we were playing catch-up.
        Dec 23, 1947: House passes $540 million aid bill for France, Italy, Austria and China

        Feb 16, 1948: DPRK established (ROK established Aug 15)
        Feb 25, 1948: Czechoslovakia falls to communist coup d’etat
        Feb 27, 1948: Finland-USSR mutual assistance proposals revealed; signed April 6.
        Apr 3, 1948: $5.3 billion foreign aid to Europe.
        Jun 11, 1948: NATO; Yugoslavia expelled from COMINFORM June 28
        Jun 20, 1948: Berlin blockade (to May 11, 1949)
        Jun 30, 1948: national security and international expenditure cut to $16.3 billion, armed forces to 1.4 million.
        Trust me?
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        • #49

          And, 0.020% of the sum of GDP in 2015-17 ($56.4119 billion) is $112.8 billion.
          yes, this was my calculation too, which is why i compared this to Afghanistan:

          an expensive proposition but again considering how much we blew on Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan, etc...not much by comparison. but that's looking at it from a lot of hindsight.
          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


          • #50
            President Lee Teng-hui, RIP

            President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), the first native-born leader of Taiwan, passed away July 30, 2020, at the age of 97. His legacy is an aggressively democratic political system that transitioned from authoritarian martial law with perhaps the least amount of violence of any significant nation. During a decade in which South Korea, the country with which Taiwan is most usefully compared, endured coups and civilian slaughter, he was one of the two principal architects of the most astonishingly peaceful transition in modern history. The other was his mentor, President Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國, CCK).

            Lee was born in colonial Taiwan and learned Japanese along with his native Taiwanese. He was one of a handful of locally born students to be admitted to Kyoto Imperial University (by this time, Taiwan was an integral part of Japan's Home Islands). After service in World War II, Lee remained in Taiwan and enrolled in National Taiwan University.

            After Japan's August 1945 surrender, Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石, CKS) Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, or KMT) government took Taiwan from Japan. Coincidentally, Korea was granted independence from its own colonial control. Lee became politically active during this time, reportedly becoming a member of the tiny Taiwanese Communist Party and perhaps participating in the February 28 (1947) “2-28” protests against harsh Nationalist government. That protest led to a wide-scale blood purge of Taiwanese intellectuals which he escaped.

            Lee was one of the first Taiwanese students to be admitted to graduate school in the United States, completing a Masters Degree in agricultural economics at Iowa State University (1953), and later a PhD in the same discipline from Cornell University (1968). In between, he was part of the team that revolutionized post-war economic development through land reform, state-owned enterprise privatization, and export-oriented import substitution.

            In the 1960s, as Chiang Kai-shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo, began to prepare to succeed his father, demands for political liberalization emerged. One response was to recruit KMT members from among the local population (Taiwan had long been considered a mere staging ground for the eventual recovery of the Chinese mainland). Lee was made a Minister Without Portfolio in 1971 and became well known for his highly successful agrarian policies.

            In 1978, he was appointed mayor of Taipei, and 10 years later, Governor of Taiwan Province. CKS passed away in 1975, and after a suitable period of mourning, CCK became the undisputed leader of the island.

            As governor, Lee created an important stepping stone to higher office, albeit one with limited real power. He was promoted to Vice President in 1984, just as CCK's health was beginning to become a serious political concern. Chiang Ching-kuo died in January 1988, and after a brief confrontation with the mainland-born old guard, Lee Teng-hui became chairman of the party and president of the state.

            Lee adroitly managed the ambitious mainlanders still holding high office, but also filled the ranks of party and government posts with locally born technocrats. It was the first time in history that Taiwan was both wholly unified and locally run. Competing politicians such as the ban-shan (“half mountain,” or Mainland-born-but-Taiwan-raised) James Soong Chu-yu (宋楚瑜) and Lien Chan (連戰) were able to help smooth the transition in the early years, before becoming serious contenders for Lee's job.

            Lee served as President until the end of his second term, in May 2000, and then retired. His 1996 reelection was the first time the island's leader had been chosen by the people of Taiwan.

            Although he carefully avoided antagonizing China during his presidency, Lee was a quiet advocate of independence. When pressed on the issue of Taiwan's official name being discarded in order to retain membership in the Asian Development Bank, he told a foreign journalist, “You can call me Harry (his long-abandon English given name), or you can call me Teng-hui. We both know who I am.”

            Lee was expelled from the KMT for advocating Taiwan independence in September 2001. In 2007, he said in an interview that he did not support independence, but would be satisfied with amending the island's formal name, and it's constitution.
            Trust me?
            I'm an economist!