Why did the USA stop expanding westwards into East Asia? The USA initially started on the east coast of North America, and gradually expanded westwards to reach the Pacific Ocean through a combination of land purchases, wars, and genocides against natives. After that, the USA expanded into the Pacific Ocean (Guam, the Philippines, Hawaii, etc). Why didn't the USA continue its westwards expansion?

  • In the 19th century, the USA had the opportunity to conquer East Asia by a combination of land purchases, leases, concessions, wars, and genocides against natives of East Asia. This would have been easy to do as Qing China became weaker. The USA could have split China into little states, acquire land, encourage the settlement of China with Americans, and eventually drive the natives onto reservations. This would have incorporated a large and fertile part of East Asia into the USA.

  • In the 20th century, the USA defeated Japan in World War II and occupied the Japanese Islands. Why did the USA not pursue the same policies that were so successful in integrating western North America and the Pacific into the USA? The USA could have used one of these methods to acquire sovereign land:

    • Encourage permanent settlement of Americans in Japan, and restrict native settlements (through land purchases, setting up native reservations, restricting internal migration, and genocides). This could be easily accomplished, since Japan was completely defeated, and Americans could exert full control. This could have completely integrated the Japanese islands into the USA, using the same method that was so successful in North America.

    • Eventually give independence to Japan, but keep some islands. The USA could have kept some strategic islands for itself instead of giving them back to Japan. For example, the residents of Okinawa could have been evicted to the other islands, and Okinawa could be settled with Americans. The strategic Minami-Tori-shima (Marcus Island) could also have been kept for future economic and military purposes. Keeping strategic Pacific islands would reduce the viability of future Japanese military adventures, and forestall any challenge to American power in the region.

Why did the USA not expand into East Asia by using the same expansion tactics it had used so successfully in North America and the Pacific? Surely the USA could have used its superior military technology to conquer native land, used its wealth to acquire more land, encourage American settlement on newly acquired land, and use force to keep the natives within their reservations?

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    Presumably UK/France/Spain etc would have had opinions. Russia also. – Tomas By Aug 24 '20 at 13:40
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    This is dangerously close to being a "what if..." question (which are off-topic here) and could certainly benefit from a little more focus. Why would the US want to fill Asia with Europeans anyway? Hadn't the US fought a war (or two) to stop being "occupied" by Europeans? – Steve Bird Aug 24 '20 at 13:43
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    There have always been isolationist/anti-expansionist currents in US politics. Even Manifest Destiny had its detractors but overseas imperialism was especially controversial. – Brian Z Aug 24 '20 at 13:45
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    At least speaking to after WW2, Roosevelt was a firm anti-imperialist who believed that all nations should have self-determination, hence the pressure on Churchill to get out of India. Also I believe that America had figured out by then it was cheaper and easier to control other countries through "free market" economic means rather than overt political control. Why spend money on a place when you can use the "free market" to exploit their resources & labour without having to actually run the government. – ed.hank Aug 24 '20 at 13:58
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    And yet the US did expand further into Asia, with military force albeit without direct territorial control... It succeeded in the South Korea but failed in South Vietnam. – Brian Z Aug 24 '20 at 14:21

Because they didn't want to and because there were huge powers in the East that didn't want them to. We need to look at when they would have been able to and compare that to the state of the world at the time.

The expansion would have required a significant Naval presence. Arguably the US Navy became formidable around the war of 1812, at which point it was... Engaged in the war of 1812. More or less right after the states were expanding- into what is now Texas and was then Mexico. This culminated in the American Mexican war around the 1840s. The military if not the Navy was busy. After that the US had known issues with Mexico that would require a military ready to go, and of course the end of that war was only a couple decades before the civil war.

By the end of the American civil war Asia was not conquerable without extreme care. Japan was a strong power with ambitions of Empire and it would not do well to get into a fight with them. Although it was later, in WW1 Germany attempted to use this perceived Japanese aggression to scare America. And of course by this time America was reconstructing, had it's own issue to deal with, and was becoming more isolationist.

So... When would they?

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