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Thread: End of Empires: who and what was responsible? (post WW2)

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    Default End of Empires: who and what was responsible? (post WW2)

    Moderator's Note

    In the thread 'Popular rebellion, state response and our failure to date: a debate ' several posts have appeared of late on the role of FDR (President Roosevelt) and the demise post-1956 of the mainly European empires: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=13002. Those posts have been relocated to this historical thread, so a debate can occur.(Moderator ends).



    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Decolonialisation rebellions were also often rather based on the idea of sovereignty than on organisations.
    Almost.

    But it was always organisations (political parties) that exploited the idea and motivation of the concept of sovereignty and self determination among the people/masses in order to achieve power.

    How many of the colonies that were granted independence after say 1950 led to a country where the people and not some dictatorship ruled?

    That this was not anticipated or alternatively that this outcome was deemed inevitable and therefore acceptable says much about the driving force behind this decolonialisation process ... the USA under FDR.

    While Stalin and Mao presided over the repression on a grand scale no one person delivered people into the death grip of dictators and repression like FDR. Truly a man who should be placed right up there in the rouges gallery next to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Enver (Turkey), Pol Pot, Assad, Mengistu, Mugabe etc etc due to the number lives and human suffering his incompetent statesmanship cost.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-17-2011 at 02:11 PM. Reason: Relocated and Mods Note added

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    That this was not anticipated or alternatively that this outcome was deemed inevitable and therefore acceptable says much about the driving force behind this decolonialisation process ... the USA under FDR.

    While Stalin and Mao presided over the repression on a grand scale no one person delivered people into the death grip of dictators and repression like FDR. Truly a man who should be placed right up there in the rouges gallery next to Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Enver (Turkey), Pol Pot, Assad, Mengistu, Mugabe etc etc due to the number lives and human suffering his incompetent statesmanship cost.
    I'm not sure the USA was the sole or primary driving force behind the decolonization process... in most cases the colonies were going to break free no matter what the US did. The only colony the US had made a transition into (dysfunctional) democracy. I'm not at all sure that the US could ever have controlled the decolonization process or the form of postcolonial government for colonies of other countries.

    Certainly decolonization was handled clumsily by the European powers, who generally couldn't hang on and wouldn't let go... though admittedly the British were slightly more gracious than some about accepting the obvious. I don't see how that can be blamed on FDR or the US.

    I do think that one of the great American failings of the Cold War was allowing the communists to seize the moral high ground and historical momentum of opposition to fading empires and at least some of the post-colonial tinpot dictators. Swimming against the tide is rough work, and we paid (and are still paying) a price for that... but that came well after FDR.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-17-2011 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Relocated here see 1st post for why

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I'm not sure the USA was the sole or primary driving force behind the decolonization process... in most cases the colonies were going to break free no matter what the US did. The only colony the US had made a transition into (dysfunctional) democracy. I'm not at all sure that the US could ever have controlled the decolonization process or the form of postcolonial government for colonies of other countries.

    Certainly decolonization was handled clumsily by the European powers, who generally couldn't hang on and wouldn't let go... though admittedly the British were slightly more gracious than some about accepting the obvious. I don't see how that can be blamed on FDR or the US.

    I do think that one of the great American failings of the Cold War was allowing the communists to seize the moral high ground and historical momentum of opposition to fading empires and at least some of the post-colonial tinpot dictators. Swimming against the tide is rough work, and we paid (and are still paying) a price for that... but that came well after FDR.
    Oh dear, is it a case of selective memory or just a lack of knowledge of the history of the US? Read up on the FDR days and how he set the ball rolling and then jump to 1960 when JFK discovered that certain actions/promises/etc were "worth a lot of negro votes".

    The pretense that the US does not carry the lions share of responsibility for the shambolic manner in which decolonization, certainly in Africa, was carried out is either a calculated deceit or a simple matter of denial.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-17-2011 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Relocated here see 1st post for why

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Oh dear, is it a case of selective memory or just a lack of knowledge of the history of the US? Read up on the FDR days and how he set the ball rolling and then jump to 1960 when JFK discovered that certain actions/promises/etc were "worth a lot of negro votes".
    Why do I suspect that we're about to embark on yet another round of exorbitant revisionism? Through History With JMA, or What the Americans Should Have Done If They Only Had a Ball.

    Given that FDR was dead before decolonization was more than an abstract fantasy, it's hard to see how he got any balls rolling. Certainly nothing FDR said in the last days of his Presidency would have had much influence on what the Europeans actually did as it became clear that they were not going to be able to hold onto their "possessions".

    Jumping from FDR to JFK would skip rather a lot, no?

    I can fault the US for meekly allowing the restoration of empire in SE Asia, where they had dominant force and influence... especially with the French in Indochina and the Dutch in Indonesia. That would be hindsight speaking though, and it would be silly to think things were as clear at that time. In Africa the US had virtually no knowledge, experience, or exposure; difficult to see what FDR or Truman could have done to change the future.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The pretense that the US does not carry the lions share of responsibility for the shambolic manner in which decolonization, certainly in Africa, was carried out is either a calculated deceit or a simple matter of denial.
    I why wouldn't "the lions share of responsibility for the shambolic manner in which decolonization, certainly in Africa, was carried out" rest with the colonial powere who were carrying it out... unless of course we start with the assumption that America is necessarily responsible for everything, everywhere, all the time?

    Just for the sake of amusement, what do you think the leaders of post-WW2 America could or should have done, and how exactly would that have assured orderly decolonization?
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-17-2011 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Relocated here see 1st post for why

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    David, I understand and appreciate the decision to separate this aspect from the main thread.

    While Stalin and Mao caused death and misery to millions within the geographical bounds of their countries and Hitler wreaked havoc across the areas where his armies invaded and occupied the legacy of FDR is more pernicious than any in that his actions led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot and if that were not enough his strong anti-colonial position led to an all too rapid race for and granting of self-determination among colonies which devastated virtually all of Africa leaving a legacy of death, destruction and misery still evident today.

    The historical record is clear that the actions of FDR thrump the likes of Mao, Stalin and Hitler in the shear scale and breadth of the death, destruction and misery his policies and actions caused peoples and countries across the world.

    I understand that the historical record with regard to FDR is not palatable to most Americans and that subsequently it has been "glossed over" or misrepresented to avoid the the kind of national angst Germany has suffered since WW2 but is it not time for the nation to face up to the truth and relegate this destructively failed statesman to the scrapheap of history... after all he deserves no better.

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    Default FDR was the catalyst, not the cause?

    Whatever role FDR and other Americans played in the demise of empires IMHO it was to act as a catalyst, aided by a refusal to provide support for a revival after victory. The empires were exhausted by WW2, their national focus had always been on "home affairs", the colonies had a mixed profit/loss record and there was a massive loss of confidence. FDR just speeded things up, although it took sometime for the colonies to be disposed of.

    India for the UK was 'the jewel in the crown' and after 1947 colonial policy was missed its central hub.

    Nor must we be too UK-centric, others had colonies, notably France and the Netherlands. Portugal took longer - 1974 marking the end.

    When I say 'other Americans' my recollection is limited. Were there not Americans in a variety of roles around the empires "doing their bit"? I recall there was an OSS mission with the Viet Minh in French Indo-China (in North Vietnam) and did they not advocate a handover to Ho Chi Minh?

    I wonder what was the impact of seeing French colonial administration in North Africa? After Operation Torch the French remained in power and the USA used the area as a base for the Italian / South France campaign.
    davidbfpo

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    The populaces of these countries were the true forcing function behind the end of Colonization. They will be the forcing function behind the end of Containment control measures as well.

    Certainly Wilson called for the end of colonialism at Versailles, but the Allies thought him naieve and used the "self-determination" he promoted to justify their "stewardship" over the divided spoils of the Ottoman Empire. Just to help them get on their feet and all...

    FDR also called for an end to Colonialism, but then died, and at the war's end the US cut ties with nationalist allies such as Ho Chi Minh and Arab leaders in North Africa; and Europe was soon back in the colony business.

    But that business was getting harder, because informed and connected populaces are more effective insurgents than those that are uninformed and disconnected. Also, insurgents with a state backer conducting UW are better than insurgents without such a backer. For every insurgency against a Western Colonial regime there was an automatic UW backer in the Sino-Soviet competition for influence (likewise both sides competed across the third world in either the UW or FID role depending on if they were seeking to maintain or create influence in a particular location/populace).

    Before the US jumps up and takes too much credit for what the people accomplished, it is well to remember that our own Containment measures were/are nearly as disruptive of organic systems of legitmacy and soverignty as the Colonial model that went before it. Certainly we were more willing to allow our capital to transfer to the rest of the world than our colonial predecesors were, but that may prove to have been more foolish than generous.

    In terms of governance disruption we still sowed the wind, and have reaped the whirlwind.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post

    FDR also called for an end to Colonialism, but then died, and at the war's end the US cut ties with nationalist allies such as Ho Chi Minh and Arab leaders in North Africa; and Europe was soon back in the colony business.
    It wasn't just his death it was the Constitutional amendment that imposed term limits on the President but nobody else in Congress. It completely unbalanced the US as a system and shifted power to the Senate which has one main mission.....protect the elite establishment no matter who is in the WH.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post

    FDR also called for an end to Colonialism, but then died,
    Er,...he was also instrumental in demanding Briaitn dismantle the system of Imeprial preference (the Imperial tarif bloc)- in other words an Open Door policy- before the US would back Britian. Ny cutting the remaing ties that bound the Colonies and Sel-Governing Dominions to the motherland the US was able to redirect those links by controlling the finaincal reins of a global capitalist order that it put in place. He also dmeanded that Chruchill sign the Atalantic Charter (ever heard of that) that stated that all states had the right to soviereignty or, in plainer words, that the US had a right to other states formerly under Imperial tutelage). Idealism pish tosh, naked self interest (and you can forget humanitarian liberal universalism...IIRC segregation was still law in many states of the Union)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    Er,...he was also instrumental in demanding Briaitn dismantle the system of Imeprial preference (the Imperial tarif bloc)- in other words an Open Door policy- before the US would back Britian. Ny cutting the remaing ties that bound the Colonies and Sel-Governing Dominions to the motherland the US was able to redirect those links by controlling the finaincal reins of a global capitalist order that it put in place.
    Given that the archaic closed-loop colonial trading systems effectively closed new rising powers out of trade and were largely responsible for triggering WW2 in the Pacific, this seems a not unreasonable demand. It probably seemed unreasonable to the old colonists, who were accustomed to imposing ridiculously one-sided trade terms on their "possessions", but then fair play always seems a drag to those accustomed to the benefits of unfair play.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    He also dmeanded that Chruchill sign the Atalantic Charter (ever heard of that) that stated that all states had the right to soviereignty or, in plainer words, that the US had a right to other states formerly under Imperial tutelage). Idealism pish tosh, naked self interest (and you can forget humanitarian liberal universalism...IIRC segregation was still law in many states of the Union)
    And exactly how many former colonies did the US establish sovereignty over?

    "Imperial tutelage" my arse. Have a look at, say, the opium trade, the single most profitable commercial enterprise in British imperial history. An interesting form of "tutelage", that. The White Man's Burden was never more than romantic fiction, it was about making money.

    In the wake of WW2 the old empires were dead. The subjects were no longer interested in subjection and the masters no longer had the power to impose it. That was clear to some, if not to all, as early as 1945. It was clear to all soon enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    the legacy of FDR is more pernicious than any in that his actions led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot
    What exactly did FDR do that "led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot"? Please don't refer to Yalta, because when that took place eastern Europe was already under the Soviet jackboot. I've no doubt that FDR hadf an excessively rosy view of Stalin and the Soviets, but whether a different view would have changed anything is very much open to question. Restricting lend-lease supplies during the war would have crippled the Soviet effort, but would have also made the Allied effort in Europe vastly more difficult; under the circumstances it's difficult to fault the decision to supply the Soviets. The US would not in any event have pushed forces farther into Europe than Germany, and once the Germans fell the Soviets would in all likelihood have pushed into eastern Europe anyway.

    What exactly would you have wanted the US to do?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    his strong anti-colonial position led to an all too rapid race for and granting of self-determination among colonies which devastated virtually all of Africa leaving a legacy of death, destruction and misery still evident today.
    A truly remarakble and quite unsupportable position.

    Yes, FDR was anti-colonial, a quite reasonable position. Yes, colonies fell after WW2. Can you cite any evidence to demonstrate that colonies fell because of FDR's anti-colonial position?

    There's no way on earth that a colonial power that saw their colonies as a productive, profitable asset, desired to retain them, and had the capacity to retain them would suddenly leap up and decolonize because a dead American had expressed anti-colonial sentiments. None at all. The idea is too absurd to warrant consideration. The colonial powers divested because the colonies were no longer productive or profitable and they no longer had the capacity to retain them, not because of anything FDR said, thought, or did. He was a President, not God, he didn't the kind of influence that would compel powers to dispose of colonies long after his death.

    Have you any evidence that establishes a causative link between FDRs opinions and subsequent colonial divestments?

    Whether an extended colonial period would have made decolonization any easier or more orderly is another question. It's very much a debatable question, but since the colonial powers never had the capacity or (in many cases) the will to maintain the crumbling and anachronistic system, it's also an irrelevant question.

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The historical record is clear that the actions of FDR thrump the likes of Mao, Stalin and Hitler in the shear scale and breadth of the death, destruction and misery his policies and actions caused peoples and countries across the world.

    I understand that the historical record with regard to FDR is not palatable to most Americans and that subsequently it has been "glossed over" or misrepresented to avoid the the kind of national angst Germany has suffered since WW2 but is it not time for the nation to face up to the truth and relegate this destructively failed statesman to the scrapheap of history... after all he deserves no better.
    Your interpretation of the historical record is clear. That's not exactly revealed truth, and given the pronounced absence of any supporting evidence it's not the most credible of positions either. The problem is less a lack of palatability than a lack of credibility.

    If the US could go back and do thje cold war over again, knowing what we know now, There were numerous mistakes. One of them, IMO, was the failure to accept the momentum of history and take a more aggressively anti-colonial position. Too often we hitched our wagon to falling stars in the name of fighting communism; support for the French in Indochina is only the most egregious example. History doesn't afford the luxury of second chances, though, and the degree of blame that can be assigned to those who were neither omniscient nor clairvoyant is limited. Easy to look back and point out mistakes. Whether any of us could have done better in their shoes is doubtful.

    I asked this before, and it wasn't answered:
    Just for the sake of amusement, what do you think the leaders of post-WW2 America could or should have done, and how exactly would that have assured orderly decolonization?
    Easy to criticize what was done; but what would you suggest as a practical alternative, even with the benefit of hindsight?

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    JMA,

    You seem to suggest here that you would have liked to see the US liberate eastern Europe from the Soviet jackboot while simultaneously sustaining the colonized nations under the European jackboot. Am I reading that wrong, or is there a bit of contradiction there?

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    Default They Never Fail To Hyperbolate ....

    that is, those who elect to argue their somewhat unique views of history - with their lists of 100% totally unblemished heroes and 100% totally besmirched villains. I'm presently jumping back and forth between a half-dozen histories of the Vietnam War which fit that mold.

    The role of FDR in Southeast Asia (only one of the many regions affected to some extent by FDR) is a complex topic. I think it's fair to say that he knew and cared a lot more about precinct by precinct voting in Dutchess County than the aggregate geopolitics of Indochina.

    In any event, here is a syllabus, Southeast Asia During World War II; and an accompanying handout. These outlines are useful as a simple check of one's knowledge - how much don't I know about this limited regional topic and FDR ?

    More particularly, and with reference to and quotes from many original documents, we have (among many other sources to the same FDR and HST periods), U.S. Policy & Indochina in World War II. One might well question the "FDR Effect" on such agreements as the following from March 6, 1946 (pp.18-19):

    1. The French Government recognizes the Vietnamese Republic as a Free State having its own Government, its own Parliament, its own Army and its own Finances, forming part of the Indochinese Federation and of the French Union. In that which concerns the reuniting of the three "Annamite Regions" [Indochina, Annam, Tonkin] the French Government pledges itself to ratify the decisions taken by the populations consulted by referendum.

    2. The Vietnamese Government declares itself ready to welcome amicably the French Army when, conforming to international agreements, it relieves the Chinese Troops. A Supplementary Accord, attached to the present Preliminary Agreement, will establish the means by which the relief operations will be carried out.

    3. The stipulations formulated above will immediately enter into force. Immediately after the exchange of signatures, each of the High Contracting Parties will take all measures necessary to stop hostilities in the field, to maintain the troops in their respective positions, and to create the favorable atmosphere necessary to the immediate opening of friendly and sincere negotiations. These negotiations will deal particularly with:

    a. diplomatic relations of Viet-nam with Foreign states

    b. the future law of Indochina

    c. French interests, economic and cultural, in Viet-nam.

    Hanoi, Saigon or Paris may be chosen as the seat of the conference.

    DONE AT HANOI, the 6th of March 1946

    Signed: Sainteny

    Signed: Ho-chi Minh and Vu Hong Khanh
    By that time, FDR was almost a year dead; and Harry S. Truman had begun to shape his own initial policy toward Indochina, U.S. Neutrality in the Franco-Viet Minh War, 1946-1949.

    By 1950, HST's Worldview had shifted and we began what Bruce Palmer called our 25-Year War (1 May 1950 - 30 April 1975). As opposed to liberation from colonialism (a policy which the US did adopt re: Indonesia), our policy from 1950 constituted US support of what the Viet Minh were more than happy to call an alliance of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

    The attitude of the War College Class of 1951-1952 was more "direct hands off" in Indochina than anything else.

    War College Class 1951-1952, U.S. Policy in Sourheast Asia, Reports of Student Committees # 13-17 (Carlisle Barracks, Pa: U.S. Army War College, 1951), presented in October 1951. From Bruce Palmer, Jr., The 25 Year War (University Press of Kentucky, 1984), pp.2-3:

    .... Although opinions were somewhat divided, a large majority opposed any major U.S. involvement. The conclusions of the majority could be summarized as follows:

    (1) The United States had probably made a serious mistake in agreeing with its allies to allow French power to be restored in Indochina. As a colonial power, France had done little to develop indigenous civilian and military leaders and civil servants in preparation for the countries' eventual independence.

    (2) Indochina was of only secondary strategic importance to the United States. The economic and military value of Vietnam, the most important state in the region, was not impressive. Politically and socially Vietnam was obviously entering an unstable period with uncertain consequences. In any event, it did not warrant the commitment of US forces to its defense.

    (3) General war planning by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) envisioned a strategic defense in the Pacific, drawing the U.S. forward defense line to include Japan, South Korea, and the offshore island chain (Okinawa-Taiwan-the Philippines). But in Southeast Asia the line was drawn through the Isthmus of Kra on the mainland, excluding all of Indochina and most of Thailand. Thus, the Straits of Malacca and populous, endowed Indonesia were considered to be the prime strategic targets of the region.

    (4) Militarily the region in general and Vietnam in particular would be an extremely difficult operational area, especially for U.S. forces. Unlike the relatively narrow Korean peninsula, Vietnam presented very long land and coastal borders that would be almost impossible to seal against infiltration and difficult to defend against overt military aggression. Much of the region was covered with dense jungle and much was mountainous. Weather, terrain and geographical factors combined to present formidable obstacles for military operations and logistic support.

    (5) Politically and psychologically the United States, if it were to become involved, would have to operate under severe disadvantages, for it would inherit the taint of European colonialism. The United States should not become involved in the area beyond providing materiel military aid.
    This view of these field grades (many to become flag officers) became lost in the shuffle as the US moved toward greater and greater direct involvement in Indochina - and then South Vietnam as a remnant. The focus on Southeast Asia (and the important Staits of Malacca and Indonesia) was similarly pushed into the background.

    It was only after a decade passed after withdrawal of our combat units from Vietnam, that our emoticon Vietnam commander recognized that our efforts in Vietnam (however guided, misguided or mixed) had contributed to a Southeast Asia that was able to make its own way.

    A Distant Challenge: The U.S. Infantryman in Vietnam, 1967-1972
    Infantry Magazine
    LTC Albert N. Garland, USA (Ret.)

    Foreward

    Indeed, history may judge that American aid to South Vietnam constituted one of man's more noble crusades, one that had less to do with the domino theory and a strategic interest for the United States than with the simple equation of a strong nation helping an aspiring nation to reach a point where it had some reasonable chance to achieve and keep a degree of freedom and humanv dignity. It remains a fact that few countries have ever engaged in such idealistic magnanimity; and no gain or attempted gain for human freedom can be discounted.

    Although in the end a political default, it is now clearly evident that there was an ironic strategic dividend to our presence in Vietnam; namely the impact of the American military "holding the line" for ten years against communist pressures on Southeast Asia thus provided for the Asian countries (Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand) a shield and hence a breathing spell toward development of greater political matrurity and self confidence as nations. It encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians and, as time passed, unhappy events in Indochina showed to the people of Southeast Asia the real ugly face of communism and the inadequacy of the communist system. Consequently, the countries of Southeast Asia now seem to be staunchly a part of the non-communist world.

    William C. Westmorland
    April 1983
    Attributing all that occured in this part of the World 30 years after FDR to FDR simply does not hold up to any reasonable historical test. An argument extending his influence as all powerful globally is more unreasonable.

    Regards

    Mike
    Last edited by jmm99; 05-19-2011 at 03:43 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    The role of FDR in Southeast Asia (only one of the many regions affected to some extent by FDR) is a complex topic. I think it's fair to say that he knew and cared a lot more about precinct by precinct voting in Dutchess County than the aggregate geopolitics of Indochina.

    In any event, here is a syllabus, Southeast Asia During World War II; and an accompanying handout. These outlines are useful as a simple check of one's knowledge - how much don't I know about this limited regional topic and FDR ?
    Had to note the brief reference to a French request for US assistance to "resistance groups nor fighting the Japanese in Indo-China".

    One of the best sources on Vietnam in this period is Archimedes Patti's Why Viet Nam. You can agree or disagree with his opinions, but there is a vast amount of data there, accurate timelines, detailed breakdowns of personalities and organization, and a wealt of other personal observation (Patti was the OSS officer handling liason with resistance groups.

    Patti had a very low opinion of the French; concluded that they had no interest at all in fighting the Japanese and were only concerned with reasserting control after a Japanese defeat.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    More particularly, and with reference to and quotes from many original documents, we have (among many other sources to the same FDR and HST periods), U.S. Policy & Indochina in World War II. One might well question the "FDR Effect" on such agreements as the following from March 6, 1946 (pp.18-19):
    For some very odd reason I read "HST" as "Hunter S Thompson", producing a surreal moment.

    Given what had already transpired, it's hard for me to believe that either party ever had any intention of actually following the agreed-upon course. Doubtless they had their own reasons for signing, but it's unlikely that the agreement was ever taken at face value. In any event, by November of that year the French were already shelling Haiphong.

    Worth noting that without timely assistance from the British the French would not have been able to reassert control over Saigon.

    I wish more people had listened to the War College Class 1951-1952.

    This was a bit jarring:

    Although in the end a political default, it is now clearly evident that there was an ironic strategic dividend to our presence in Vietnam; namely the impact of the American military "holding the line" for ten years against communist pressures on Southeast Asia thus provided for the Asian countries (Philippines, Malasia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand) a shield and hence a breathing spell toward development of greater political matrurity and self confidence as nations. It encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians and, as time passed, unhappy events in Indochina showed to the people of Southeast Asia the real ugly face of communism and the inadequacy of the communist system. Consequently, the countries of Southeast Asia now seem to be staunchly a part of the non-communist world.
    Many of these conclusions seem completely without basis, unless one assumes that the rest of Southeast Asia would have fallen like dominoes. I doubt that the US "holding the line" had any impact at all on the fortunes of Communist movements in the Philippine and Indonesia, which emerged as a response to local conditions. Thailand also had considerable resilience, provided by the absence of a detested colonial power for Communist organizers to build around.

    The comment "encouraged Indonesia in 1966 to throw out the Russians" rather notably fails to mention the slaughter of roughly half a million people under the banner of suppressing the Commies.

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    Attributing all that occured in this part of the World 30 years after FDR to FDR simply does not hold up to any reasonable historical test. An argument extending his influence as all powerful globally is more unreasonable.
    I would attribute very little of what happened in SE Asia to FDRs influence... and still less in many other places. David's initial comments kind of sum it up:

    several posts have appeared of late on the role of FDR (President Roosevelt) and the demise post-1956 of the mainly European empires
    FDR would have had to be quite a remarkable individual to play a significant role in events that occurred 10 years after his death.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    JMA,

    You seem to suggest here that you would have liked to see the US liberate eastern Europe from the Soviet jackboot while simultaneously sustaining the colonized nations under the European jackboot. Am I reading that wrong, or is there a bit of contradiction there?
    An attempt at a cute soundbite?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    What exactly did FDR do that "led to eastern Europe being delivered to a 40 plus year period of servitude under the Soviet jackboot"? ... (trimmed for brevity)
    Sorry, I am not going to get into a high school level debate with you over this matter. I merely suggest that you read up on the subject matter and educate yourself.

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    And I suggest that you either justify your claims with evidence or stop making them. Making bold unsupported proclamations and suggesting that anyone who doesn't buy them is somehow uninformed does not enhance credibility.

    If you really want to believe that FDR had any realistically possible way of keeping the Soviets out of Eastern Europe, or that decolonization would have proceeded differently if FDR had said or thought things other than what he did, or that European jackboots over colonies are somehow different from Soviet jackboots over eastern Europe... well, that's your right. People believe stranger things, though not many. You really can't expect to publicly decree that those beliefs are true without having a few people asking you to support them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Given that the archaic closed-loop colonial trading systems effectively closed new rising powers out of trade and were largely responsible for triggering WW2 in the Pacific, this seems a not unreasonable demand. It probably seemed unreasonable to the old colonists, who were accustomed to imposing ridiculously one-sided trade terms on their "possessions", but then fair play always seems a drag to those accustomed to the benefits of unfair play.

    And exactly how many former colonies did the US establish sovereignty over?

    "Imperial tutelage" my arse. Have a look at, say, the opium trade, the single most profitable commercial enterprise in British imperial history. An interesting form of "tutelage", that. The White Man's Burden was never more than romantic fiction, it was about making money.

    In the wake of WW2 the old empires were dead. The subjects were no longer interested in subjection and the masters no longer had the power to impose it. That was clear to some, if not to all, as early as 1945. It was clear to all soon enough.
    Pssst... you have obviously never heard of the Atlantic Charter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    The role of FDR in Southeast Asia (only one of the many regions affected to some extent by FDR) is a complex topic. I think it's fair to say that he knew and cared a lot more about precinct by precinct voting in Dutchess County than the aggregate geopolitics of Indochina.
    Mike, this is exactly the problem.

    It would of course be less of a problem if a succession of "most powerful men in the world" (aka US Presidents) did not dabble in foreign affairs as if it was a matter of little consequence.

    There is sadly nothing the world can do about this as successive US Administrations continue to display mind-blowing levels of know-it-all arrogance.

    We now have another 40 something President who like an earlier one proved to be incompetent and inept until in the former case the world was taken to the edge of a nuclear war when he suddenly grew some spine. What it will take the current version to grow some spine one cannot tell (though some hope the OBL decision may herald a change in that regard).

    You want to get really depressed? Then draw up a list of US foreign policy successes and failures since, say, 1945 and then weep.

    All that said, an incompetent US remains more desirable than say Russia or China in the driving seat IMHO... sadly I believe that I am in a shrinking minority in this regard.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Pssst... you have obviously never heard of the Atlantic Charter.
    I have. What of it? Surely you're not going to maintain that any colonial power anywhere, least of all the British, rushed to divest colonies purely in observance of the Atlantic Charter.

    Churchill, in the spirit and tradition of Perfidious Albion, would have gladly agreed to any postwar disposition necessary to sustain American aid. You can't possibly think he or the other colonial rulers ever intended to keep any of those promises, or that successive governments of colonial powers ever considered them binding.

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