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The Ambassador, the General, and the President: FDR’s Mismanagement of Interdepartmental Relations in Wartime China

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

China played an important part in Franklin Roosevelt’s vision for the post-World War II world. The president, however, lacked a clear and coherent plan of the tactics he should use to help turn his vision into a reality. The relationship between the U.S. ambassador in China, Clarence Gauss, and the U.S. commander of the China-Burma-India Theater, General Joseph Stilwell, provides an instructive case study of FDR’s mismanagement of the relations between the War and State Departments over China. This article argues that the president’s mismanagement resulted from the failure to develop a clear plan to bring about the conditions in China that would see his vision succeed.

Affiliations: 1: University of New South Wales, Canberra, Email:, URL:


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