During the 1940s, conservative leaders in the United States turned to the emerging Cold War in Asia both to condemn the moral bankruptcy of liberal globalism and to establish their own brand of anti-Communist internationalism. “Asia Firsters” such as Senators William F. Knowland, John W. Bricker, and Robert A. Taft evoked the specter of Yalta and Roosevelt’s betrayal of Nationalist China as a signature issue which extended far beyond the question of who “lost” China. Yalta served as a touchstone for the right’s ideological and political development during the Cold War. Focusing on U.S.-People’s Republic-Taiwan relations during the early and mid-1950s, this article traces how initial criticism of the 1945 agreements quickly evolved into practical legislative proposals that addressed executive overreach, legislative oversight, collective international peacekeeping, opposition to Beijing’s admission to the United Nations, and constitutional principles vis-à-vis active global interventionism. Although Asia Firsters failed to substantively change China policy, their approach was an inspiration for the most enduring American political movement of the postwar period.
Clarence E. Wunderlin, Robert A. Taft: Ideas, Tradition, and Party in U.S. Foreign Policy (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 128-29; Joseph Lang, “Don’t Sell Yourself to Become a Slave of Government,” enclosed in Walter to Martin, 25 Apr. 1950, box 295, Robert A. Taft Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Leonard H. D. Gordon, “United States Opposition to the Use of Force in the Taiwan Strait, 1954-1962,”Journal of American History72 (December 1985), 638-39; Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, ed., China Confidential: American Diplomats and Sino-American Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001), 80-81.
Gordon Chang, “To the Nuclear Brink: Eisenhower, Dulles, and the Quemoy-Matsu Crisis,”International Security12 (Spring 1988); Gordon H. Chang and He Di, “The Absence of War in the U.S.-China Confrontation over Quemoy and Matsu in 1954-1955: Contingency, Luck, Deterrence,” American Historical Review 98 (December 1993), 1519.
C. P. Fitzgerald, “East Asia after Bandung,”Far Eastern Survey24 (August 1955), 113-19; George T. Yu, “China's Role in Africa,” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 432 (July 1977); Chen Jian, “China and the Bandung Conference: Changing Perceptions and Representations,” in See Seng Tan and Amitav Acharya, eds., Bandung Revisited: A Conference’s Legacy and Relevance for International Order (Singapore: National University of Singapore Press, 2008), 132-35.
Dulles to Knowland, Aug.1956, carton 247, “Corr. – Dulles, John Foster (I),” Knowland Papers; John Foster Dulles, Advance copy (25 June 1957) of speech to be delivered before Lions International in San Francisco, 28 June 1957, State Department Files, carton 284, “Secretary of State Files, 1956-1958 (II),” ibid.; Knowland to Dulles, 27 June 1957, ibid.
“Taiwan Relations Act,1979,” <http://china.usc.edu/ShowArticle.aspx?articleID=393&AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=> (acc. 31 May 2011); Schaller, United States and China, 190.
Elisabeth Bumiller, “White House letter: In row over Yalta, Bush pokes at Baltic politics,”New York Times, 16 May 2005, <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/15/world/americas/15iht-letter.html> (acc. 30 May 2012).