Truman and the Crystallisation of the Cold War
The sharp deterioration in east-west relations in Europe in the course of 1947 did not mean that the Truman administration was free from pressing considerations elsewhere. Roosevelt’s hopes that China would assume a major role in the post-war world foundered on the bitter hostility between Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang (KMT) and Mao Tse-tung’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which the war against Japan had barely concealed. In November 1945, Patrick Hurley, Roosevelt’s choice as ambassador to China, resigned, castigating the administration for its lack of a clear policy and accusing American diplomats of favouring the communist side. Hurley, whose ignorance of Chinese affairs was legendary, was replaced by the wiser head of General Marshall. But even Marshall, with all his qualities, spent 1946 in a vain quest for a solution to the country’s divisions. The two factions could not be reconciled, while Chiang’s government and army did everything they could to lose the resulting civil war. Chiang presided over a corrupt party and an incompetent and venal military. His government had largely avoided conflict with Japan, preferring to hoard American military supplies for the forthcoming war with the communists.
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