The Asia First strategy called for the future concentration of American resources in the Far East to fight against the encroaching spread of the Soviets' communism, in a similar way to the Marshall Plan and Truman Doctrine in Europe.
The policy was suggested in a period of great anxiety in the USA as Cold War tensions were heightened following the Korean War (1950–53) and the 1949 communist takeover in the Republic of China after the Chinese Civil War. These tensions put great pressure on President Truman to adopt this policy, but ultimately he rejected it fearing that it would pin the USA down in the Far East dealing with a 'secondary enemy' - the People's Republic of China - whilst his real concern, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, would have a free hand in Europe.
Truman did however make some attempts to strengthen the American position in the Far East, but not at the expense of Europe. In 1950, the US promised military assistance to the French in the struggle against the Viet Minh in the First Indochina War. In 1951, the United States signed a peace treaty with Japan allowing US troops to remain stationed at Okinawa and tying Japan to the US. Also in the period 1950-51, US reinforcements were sent to South Korea to strengthen the US military position there. In this period the US navy was also steamed into the Formosa Strait as a deterrent to prevent conflict between the Chinese nationalists who had escaped to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) and the Chinese communists in mainland China.
- Mao, 2015
- H. Bradford Westerfield, Foreign Policy and Party Politics (1972), ch. 12
- Graebner, Norman A. The New Isolationism (1956)
- Mao, Joyce. Asia First: China and the making of modern American conservatism (University Of Chicago Press, 2015)
- Westerfield, H. Bradford. Foreign Policy and Party Politics (1972), ch. 12