THE NATIONS: Light in the East

For the past century, divided China has been a power vacuum into which the great nations rushed toward conflict. For the past decade Japan has filled more & more of that vacuum.

When Japan collapsed, an appalling prospect unfolded: China was still weak, and divided almost to the point of allout civil war; Russia and the U.S. might take sides, either in actual combat or in the division of China into a Russian-dominated north and a U.S.-protected south.

But at the very hour—about midnight Aug. 13—when the Japanese warlords were bowing to Hirohito's surrender decision, Joseph Stalin moved toward a new...

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