In This Review

Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947-1958
Useful Adversaries: Grand Strategy, Domestic Mobilization, and Sino-American Conflict, 1947-1958
By Thomas J. Christensen
Princeton University Press, 1996, 319 pp.

The author, a young China scholar, makes a convincing and original argument that political leaders, in order to secure public support for their fundamental grand strategy, may have to adopt a more hostile foreign policy than they would prefer. He examines the case of American policy toward China from 1947 to 1958 and argues that Truman could have mobilized the American public for the global competition with the Soviet Union only by developing a consistently anticommunist strategy for Europe and Asia. Given the strength of the domestic pro-Kuomintang lobby, in order to rally support for the Marshall Plan, NATO, and significant increases in the defense budget, Truman could not have taken the softer line toward communist China that some of his advisers preferred and that might have averted the Korean War. The volume is indispensable for anyone interested in Sino-American relations.