Asian Intrigue in Action

I borrowed Asian Intrigue of The China Mirage by James Bradley as an audio book.

James Bradley, in his best-selling book, The China Mirageattacks American foreign policy in East Asia. He traces the history of Asian relations back through FDR to his grandfather Delano Roosevelt. Bradley (documented) how England and the US fought to sell opium to China. Then he revealed a shocking detail that the Roosevelt wealth emanated from illegal drug sales in China.

Asian Intrigue

China Mirage

Years of Fortune Building up to Asian Intrigue

During the years of American and British fortune building, the Chinese kept the truth about China from the “Barbarians.” The moniker became central in the book to explain what the Chinese thought of outsiders. It seemed that they might describe a mangy mutt that roamed the neighborhood with the same amount of respect. Bradley planted this subtle message to highlight the Asian intrigue surrounding the Republic of China’s promises of Americanizing China.

Bradley contended throughout his book that if Roosevelt and policymakers had understood China, they would have known that the Chinese considered Americans barbarians. As a result, President Roosevelt would not have gullibly trusted T.V. Soong. Bradley imagined the world without the Asian intrigue of the China mirage in which subsequent wars never happened saving many American lives.

Misguided Generations of Asian-American Policies

Two generations after the fortune-building era Roosevelt’s childhood memories would color his policy decisions more than any consistent evidence to the contrary. It was Bradley’s contention that this  “China mirage” guided the relationships of the United States, China, Japan, Korea, and Viet Nam as well as Russia. Bradley portrayed China’s Nationalists as marketing wizards. Wizards T.V. Soong, aided by Madam Chek, and Pearl S. Buck, convinced Roosevelt and the American people that with enough money Americans would see both the Americanization and Christianization of China.

Some reviewers noted that Bradley reported the observation that Chiang Kai-Shek and his wife, Soong Mei-Ling were manipulators and crooks more often than necessary. In spite of the fact that Churchhill called him “Cash My Check,” the mirage continued. After World War II had ended, the China Lobby continued as scare tactics convincing leaders that the Christianization, Democratization and Capitalization of Asia and merged with the Domino Theory. Americans continued to believe that only fighting would hold the red devil of communism in check.

Bradley’s premise of the China Mirage was that Roosevelt listened to his Harvard classmate T.V. Soong, the China lobby, and collegiate advisors who knew more about Europe than Asia. In contrast, Roosevelt refused to hear Americans who lived among the Chinese, and met with Mao Zedong and observed the positive difference between the troops of the two leaders. According to Bradley, Communist China leader, Mao Zedong reached out to Roosevelt and Truman. Both presidents rebuffed him, cementing the American cause against Communism.

Bradley argues that had Mao not been dismissed so unceremoniously by the American administration, the Asian intrigue might have dissipated. He makes a good case, but I think there are too many intricate connections and webs in history. History might have changed, and wars would have been avoided or veered in a different direction. It is impossible to judge history with hindsight information and create an alternate universe.

One reviewer made a valid statement, “To me, the conclusions reached by the author seem a stretch. Mao, an avowed Communist regardless of his postulations, would always have been opposed by American businessmen.” This same reviewer stated that “America should not let its foreign policies be dominated by Christians, Ivy League elitists or businessmen; they all have personal should always respect the opinion of real experts, whether diplomats or scientists when deciding important national issues.” However, Bradley did not discuss the plans of those who opposed the Christians and supported Mao Zedong’s Stalin-backed forces in China.

However, Bradley did not examine the agendas of those who fought the Christians and supported Mao Zedong’s Stalin-backed troops in China. We have no way of knowing how those agendas might have turned out.

More Asian Intrigue, President Roosevelt Sold Gasoline To Japan

In spite of the China Lobby, Roosevelt feared that if Japan did not have gas, they would attack American’s interests in Eastern Asia. The Chinese lobby suggested an embargo on oil and the freezing of assets viable.  Interestingly, Roosevelt resisted all the China Lobby’s pressure to cut off Japanese oil. Roosevelt thought it kept America out of war.

It might have worked, but while Roosevelt vacationed with Churchhill, three political underlings virtually changed U.S. policy and refused to let Japan have oil.  When Roosevelt discovered the subterfuge, it was too late for him to back out gracefully. He would have had to admit to the American people that he was providing the enemy of both the United States and ally, China, with gasoline.

The rhetorical question is: if the China Lobby had not blinded the American people, the President, and his Eurocentric staff, would the wars in Korea and Vietnam have followed in the aftermath of World War II?


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Additional James Bradley Books

The Imperial Cruise: a Secret History of Empire and War

Flags of Our Fathers

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What books have you HEARD recently? How do you like the audio book experience? Do not forget to share this with your history loving friends. How accurate do you think Bradley’s position is?