The past - Laying a foundation
For several decades our approach to Asia has been rooted in conceptions, once valid, but now increasingly overtaken by time. They stemmed from our experiences, for World War II and its aftermath served to dramatize the fragility of Asia, and nowhere was the menace of the cold war more strongly evident.
Both the economies and the political institutions of East Asia were shattered by World War II. Most of the states of the region were just emerging from the trauma of colonialism. They faced the common menace of a thrusting Communist ambition, and the awesome task of attempting to handle the most grievous domestic problems with untested and unfamiliar institutions. In dealing with neither challenge could they count on any dependable relationship among themselves or with the rest of the world. Their problems threatened to overwhelm them. They were not sure they had a future, much less that it could be reached without the sacrifice of human and democratic values.
In such a situation a stable Asia was not conceivable. We therefore acted to provide the margin of time and resources which the free nations of Asia needed so desperately.
We provided the security shield which made credible their plans for their own future. Behind that shield we undertook a leading role in supporting the political and economic progress of East Asian nations. In short, we accepted the responsibility of helping to create the foundation necessary for an international structure in the Pacific region of stability and progress and security.