Perceptions of China and White House Decision-Making, 1941-1963 : Spears of Promise, Shields of Truth book cover
1st Edition

Perceptions of China and White House Decision-Making, 1941-1963
Spears of Promise, Shields of Truth

ISBN 9781032084527
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
280 Pages

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Book Description

This book assesses and evaluates the decision-making behavior of United States presidents and their chief advisers from Roosevelt to Kennedy pertaining to China. Seeking to dispel with the notion that each administration sought policy outcomes on the basis of a rational decision-making model, Bartley highlights the contradictions of adopted presidential decision-making processes and the nature of domestic politics as playing prejudicial and debilitating roles. The book demonstrates that elite decision-making processes interacted with assumptions made about Chinese behavior, interests, and attitudes only superficially and in some cases not at all. Misinformation and misperception were the natural outcomes. Reinforced by the politics of McCarthyism at home, intellectual debate on China policy was squashed, parochialism and nuance were shunned, and information was closed off. Ultimately, a divorce between the norm of behavior and the search for rational policy was registered in each administration. The net result was a lasting and destructive cognitive dissonance: to fit expectations of a China reality constructed, information was ignored, overlooked, and distorted.

Offering new insights into the China policies of consecutive administrations from 1941 to 1963, this volume will be of great interest to scholars and students of American foreign policy, security studies, and international relations.

Table of Contents


1. Roosevelt and China: Chasing the Unicorn

2. The Truman Years: Pragmatism and Communism

3. From Diplomatic Recognition to War

4. Eisenhower: Tightening the Straitjacket

5. The Kennedy Years: China and Cold War Frustration


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Adam S.R. Bartley is a lecturer at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University, Australia, where he received his Ph.D. His research interests include Chinese foreign policy, Sino–American relations, and security in the Asia-Pacific.