Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Zachary Scarlett


The Pacific Ocean has long been held by the United States as an outlet to project power and to forge and international fiefdom for themselves. The historical precedence of military intervention in this portion of the globe can be traced back to the colonial conflicts in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century. This conflict began a century of heavy American military involvement which saw the United States become entrenched in four major wars from the Philippines in the south to its northern most point in the Korea. However, in each of these wars there were more at stake than the stated military and political objectives. In order to accurately understand the policy decisions made by the United States in regard to the Pacific theater, it is critical to take into consideration the racial attitudes of the time period societally and institutionally. This is one of the key elements of American policy in the Pacific of equal importance to other considerations such as economics or political ideology. This can be seen in the inability of the United States to allow states in Asia particularly South Korea and Vietnam to elect independent governments instead supporting tyrannical despots that they could control. This critical policy decision can be directly traced to American attitudes about Asiatic peoples racially. Furthermore this attitude in regards to the Cold War era was heavily influenced and upheld by the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Without some of the crucial decisions made during his term in office from 1953-1961, it is unlikely that the United States would have entered Vietnam.