China had a civil war from about 1927-1949. We supported Chiang Kai-Shek and the Koumintang, though at some distance. The left at home and abroad has accused the US of propping up any right-wing strongman we could find rather than letting events in other countries take their natural course, but in this instance we clearly did what they believe should be the general rule. We even engineered a cease-fire in 1946 that worked greatly to Mao’s tactical advantage, and let the Soviets supply the Chinese Communists with the captured artillery from the Kanto Army of Japan after WWII. Which was of course, the leftist version of “letting events take their natural course,” not only in China but throughout Latin America, Africa – hell, Eastern Europe, SE Asia. What’s left?
The outcomes of wars can change over such things. It’s not really worth spending a lot of energy piecing that out (unless you find alt-history entertaining), because reality isn’t decently linear and predictable, as literature has the good sense to be.
But, perhaps Chiang would have lost anyway, or some division of China other than Mainland vs. Taiwan and some islands may have resulted. Perhaps even had we given him considerable support, things would have turned out much the same as now.
Or the world could look entirely different, couldn’t it? The right-wing crazies of the time had the cry of “Unleash Chiang Kai-Shek!” This was an entirely possible strategy at first – we were discouraging the resumption of hostilities in hopes of ending bloodshed - but as the years went on and it became clear that we weren’t going to do any such thing and Chiang’s support gradually diminished, it became faintly, then fully ridiculous. By the time the satire Bored of The Rings came out, Beard and Kenney, along with their other mockings of American conservatives, included the phrase entirely as a joke to illustrate a crazed dead-ender. Recently, Brad DeLong, attempting to show his superiority to Marc Rubio and Jeb Bush by correcting their history on this point, gets the history dead wrong himself. I know, we’re all shocked, really. The intertubes are so difficult to get to, and so unnecessary when one already knows the Preferred Narrative.
Well, Mao’s count of his own people exterminated – excluding those killed in the Chinese Civil War – is now up to 80,000,000. Eighty. Million. I remember when Carl McIntire’s crew picketed outside William and Mary Hall in the early 70’s, when the Chinese Table Tennis team was playing because of some diplomatic gesture by the US. (“Ping Pong Diplomacy” was what the whole trend was popularly called.) Placards displayed claimed that Mao had killed more Christians – 8,000.000 - than Hitler had Jews. We rolled our eyes. Everyone knew that was a ridiculous inflated number. And we knew that because…well, right wing crazies always inflated numbers…and were a lot of the problem themselves by making the reasonable communists so suspicious of us because we had nutcases that could queer the do at any time…and everyone knew that Hitler was worse than anybody…and older Americans in general always believed the worst about communists…not like we open-minded young people who were willing to see the good in others.*
So. As with the USSR, the right-wing crazies were dead-enders, sputtering, uncool people with old-fashioned haircuts and clothes - and didn't have the right music. Yet in retrospect, they seriously underestimated how bad things were.
*Not that young people today would ever do that, thinking themselves more open-minded…