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Asia FirstChina and the Making of Modern American Conservatism$
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Joyce Mao

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226252711

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226252858.001.0001

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Up from Isolationism

Up from Isolationism

The Conservative Dilemma and the Chinese Solution

(p.15) 1 Up from Isolationism
Asia First

Joyce Mao

University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the motivation and method behind conservatives’ adoption of China as a signature foreign policy issue from the Chinese Revolution through the Korean War. During that transition period, leaders of the “old” right began to see the rapidly disintegrating situation in East Asia as a political opportunity and looked to past events like Yalta to clarify their positions on foreign policy. Both exemplified and led by Sen. Robert A. Taft, they were awakened to the possibilities of internationalism by events in East Asia, and of China as exception to the rule of bipartisan foreign policy. As this chapter argues, it was a process that saw difficult, and sometimes bewildering, change for an old guard that sought to challenge both Democrats as well as moderate Eisenhower Republicans. Taft’s own evolution from isolationist to internationalist presidential candidate illustrated the swift change China wrought upon national politics.

Keywords:   Robert A. Taft, Chinese Revolution, Yalta, Korean War, Dwight Eisenhower

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