America’s Crusade and the Origins of Refugee Nationalism
Most accounts of the Vietnam War describe it as a war of choice, but this chapter argues that it was, in many ways, a war of necessity. Attempts to implement a purely pragmatic, minimalist Cold War strategy in Asia were doomed when the Korean War drew the United States into an unplanned but then-vital nation-building campaign with accidental allies in South Korea, Taiwan, and eventually South Vietnam. This chapter traces the origins of this moralistic component of Cold War policy and politics, particularly the Christian missionaries and their heirs, like publisher Henry Luce, who formed the China Lobby and Asia First bloc. By helping to frame the Cold War and America’s commitment to Asia as an epic struggle between good and evil, they set the stage for Indochinese refugee admissions based on moral, rather than legal, grounds, and as the very least America could do to atone for its failure to protect stalwart anti-communist allies.
Keywords: Cold War, China Lobby, Korean War, Vietnam War, South Vietnam, modernization theory, imperialism, anticommunism, refugee nationalism, nation-building, accidental allies, pragmatism, idealism
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