Guiding Question Did the war in Korea represent a triumph or a failure of American foreign policy?

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1 Police Action : The Korean War Annotation 1 In Europe, East and West eyed each other anxiously across the Iron Curtain. In Asia, the Cold War grew hot. In 1950, North Korean forces, armed mainly with Soviet weapons, invaded South Korea in an effort to reunite the peninsula. Within the next couple of days the Truman administration and the United Nations had decided to take action, and soon a multinational army had arrived under the command of General Douglas MacArthur. But while MacArthur was able to prevent the North Koreans from overrunning the South, an unexpected intervention by China soon turned the "police action" (as Truman called it) into a bloody stalemate. Guiding Question Did the war in Korea represent a triumph or a failure of American foreign policy? Homework Directions Read below and answer the accompanying questions. Truman's decision to intervene in the Korean War represents a serious departure from previous U.S. foreign policy; after all, the notion that the US should militarily intervene to combat Communism was not part of the CONTAINMENT policy devised by George Kennan. Essentially, in 1947, prior to the Korean War, the administration committed the country to a policy of "containment," in which communism would be allowed to remain where it already existed, but the Soviet Union and its allies would not be allowed to gain control of any new areas deemed important to America's national security. Korea would be the first place where American troops would fight and die for the policy of containment. Remember the secret deal Teddy Roosevelt made with the Japanese in 1905 (Japan received Korea and was urged to launch a MONROE DOCTRINE for Asia)? Before that secret agreement, we were close allies with Korea. In fact, they didn t resist Japan s occupation because they thought we would come to their aid (It never came after all, the deal was a secret). Korea was finally liberated by U.S. and Soviet troops in 1945 during WWII. Tthe two wartime allies agreed to a temporary division of the country along the 38th Parallel with Soviet forces in the North, and American troops occupying the South. With the encouragement of the United States the South held elections in the spring of The Soviets objected, claiming that the country should continue to be ruled by the occupying armies until a government could be established for the entire country. They instructed their supporters in South Korea to boycott the election, and the result was a resounding victory for Syngman Rhee, a dedicated anti-communist who had been educated in the United States. In retaliation the Soviets announced the formation of a communist government in North Korea, under the leadership of Kim Il-Sung. By the middle of 1949 both halves of Korea had been recognized as independent countries, and all U.S. and Soviet troops had been withdrawn from the Korean peninsula. Meanwhile, events in China dealt a serious blow to the containment strategy. Since the early 1930s China had been torn by civil war between the ruling Nationalist Party of Chiang Kai-shek and a communist insurgency under the leadership of Mao Tse-tung. This struggle had died down somewhat during World War II, as both sides temporarily concentrated on the greater threat of Japanese imperialism. However, after the defeat of Japan the civil war resumed. The United States during the war had committed itself to the Nationalists, but aid was not enough to save the Nationalists. On October 1, 1949, Mao Tse-tung declared China a "People's Republic," and two months later Chiang Kai-shek and his followers fled to Taiwan, where they set up a government of their own. Neither the North nor the South was happy with the division of the country. Syngman Rhee of South Korea had so often talked about invading North Korea that US leaders feared giving him too much in the way of weapons. For this reason, South Korea was sent only rifles, bazookas, and light artillery; tanks and airplanes were held back. Also by 1949, most of the US military had moved out. Only 500 advisors, known as KMAG (the Korean Military Advisory Group) remained in South Korea Kim Il-Sung repeatedly asked Stalin for permission to launch an invasion of the South, and finally convinced him that the United States would not intervene in any Korean conflict. According to recently released archival documents, 1

2 Stalin agreed to allow a North Korean attack, but warned Kim that while the Soviet Union would continue to provide military and economic aid to the North, the country would not become directly involved. On June 25, 1950 the North Korean army attacked South Korea, crossing the 38th Parallel. Pentagon officials were stunned, and had no immediate contingency plan ready. Some said little could be done, while others suggested it was the beginning of Stalin's plot to take over the world. Truman and his circle of advisers sat firmly in this latter group. Immediately upon the invasion, these advisors discussed the prospect of sending General Douglas MacArthur, the US commander in the Far East, to lead a military response. Homework Questions: 1. How was Truman s decision to intervene in the Korean War a departure from the containment policy as outlines by George Kennan? 2. Summarize the policy of containment. 3. What was the agreement between the US and USSR regarding post-wwii Korea? (in other words, how did they divide the country?) 4. Why did the USSR object to the US encouraged elections in South Korea? 5. What were the Soviet s instructions to the South Korean communists with regard to the election? 6. Who won the election? Describe him. (2 items) 7. What did the Soviets do in North Korea in direct response to the election in South Korea? 8. When did US and USSR troops withdraw from their respective zones of occupation? 9. What occurred in China which had important implications for the Korean situation? 10. What did North and South Korea keep threatening towards each other? Who was stopping them?

3 Police Action : The Korean War Annotation 2 The North Korean invasion began on June 25, 1950, and it quickly became apparent that South Korea's armed forces were not up to the task of defending their country. After the United Nations approved the US request to help South Korea resist (the resolution only managed to win approval from the U.N. Security Council because the Soviet delegation was boycotting its proceedings at the time), Truman ordered General Douglas MacArthur hero of the Pacific Theater in World War II to take command of a multinational force to counterattack North Korea. Activity The Decision to Cross the 38th Parallel In this activity we will read documents pertaining to the decision to cross the 38th Parallel and enter North Korea; i.e., the decision to change the object of war from the defense of South Korea to the punishment of North Korea. 1. We will now consult a map of Korea in October 1950, which shows the progress of United Nations forces in the weeks following the US invasion of Inchon. In an attempt to halt NK offensive Macarthur orders an amphibious invasion behind enemy lines a. 3 separate places b. North Korea very surprised c. Now North Korea in retreat d. Seoul now back in South Korean hands e. North Korea now above 38 th parallel 3

4 Annotation 3 The arrival of United Nations forces and a spectacular surprise invasion at Inchon, behind the North Korean lines brought an end to the communist advance in mid-september, but this led to a fundamental reevaluation of the war's purpose. The North Koreans simply began to withdraw toward their own borders, so what had once been simply an effort to defend South Korea now could become an effort to punish the North Koreans. Activity (continued) the Decision to Cross the 38th Parallel Directions: Read the documents below, list as many reasons as you can think of both for and against allowing General MacArthur to send his troops north of the 38th Parallel. Reasons FOR crossing the 38 th Parallel The North/South split is undesirable (CIA Report) Reasons AGAINST crossing the 38 th Parallel (Kennan Doc. 1 p. 2) - So little promising, and so fraught with danger! China won t intervene (not militarily capable) (CIA Report and General MacArthur) (Kennan Doc. 1 p. 2) Russians not ready to actively intervene (militarily) (CIA Report) (Kennan Doc. 1 p. 2) (Kennan Doc. 1 p. 3) (Kennan Doc. 1 p. 3) Document 1 - Memorandum from George Kennan, dated August 23, 1950, to Dean Acheson expressing thoughts on foreign policy in the Far East.

5 Police Action : The Korean War Secretary of State Dean Acheson Experienced US diplomat in Moscow. Author of containment policy. Page 1 of Doc. 1 5

6 Page 2 of Doc. 1

7 Police Action : The Korean War Page 3 of Doc. 1 7

8 End Annotation - Truman vs. MacArthur - Truman and MacArthur had a meeting (October 14, 1950) on Wake Island to discuss the progress of the war. United Nations forces had just advanced across the 38th parallel into North Korea, and Truman was concerned about the possibility that the communist government in China might intervene to protect Kim Il-Sung s North Korea. In addition, MacArthur had recently embarrassed the administration by calling publicly for the use in Korea of Nationalist Chinese forces from Taiwan (pro-western capitalists who had lost the civil war with Mao) something that the administration rejected for fear that it would antagonize the Chinese Communists. On the surface the meeting seemed to go well; MacArthur assured Truman that the Chinese would not intervene in Korea. If the Chinese did intervene to protect Kim-Il Sung, MacArthur assured, their army would quickly be crushed. MacArthur was wrong in late October 1950 the Chinese sent a massive army across the Yalu River into North Korea, and the US forces immediately fell back. After several weeks of heavy fighting the battle lines finally stabilized and there they would remain for the duration of the conflict. After the Chinese intervention in Korea the relationship between Truman and MacArthur deteriorated quickly. MacArthur, after all, had dismissed the idea that the Chinese would get involved, ignoring the fact that large numbers of Chinese forces had been massing along the Yalu River for weeks beforehand. MacArthur also advocated the use of atomic weapons as many as fifty of them, according to some sources against targets in China. All of this left Truman in an uncomfortable position. The president feared that the use of Chinese Nationalist (i.e. capitalist) forces and atomic weapons would lead to fullscale war with the People s Republic of China and quite possibly with the Soviet Union as well. What really spelled the end for MacArthur, however, was that after Truman rejected his recommendations the general began expressing his differences of opinion over strategy to the press. The final straw came in late March when, in a letter to the Republican leader in the House of Representatives, MacArthur made clear his criticism of the president s conduct of the war. When this letter was read on the floor of Congress, MacArthur s days as commander were numbered. The order came on April 11, 1951 effective immediately the general was removed from command, replaced by General Matthew Ridgway. MacArthur s firing set off a huge political controversy back home; as Republicans denounced Truman for firing the one man they believed had a winning strategy for Korea. The general was invited to address a joint session of Congress, and for several weeks he was greeted with ticker-tape parades in every city he visited. Meanwhile Truman s poll numbers dropped to a record low that spring only 23 percent of Americans approved of the job he was doing as president. As the conflict grew into a stalemte, the popularity of Truman's decision to intervene plummeted. The Republican Party, which hadn't seen one of its own elected president since 1928 (Hoover), made the Korean War the centerpiece of their campaign for the White House in The party's candidate in that year, Dwight D. Eisenhower, pledged that if elected he would go to Korea personally in an effort to bring an end to the fighting, a promise that greatly contributed to his election in As the MacArthur controversy died down, the USSR suggested a cease-fire on June 23, Truce talks began in July By the following spring, the opposing sides had agreed on two points: the location of the cease-fire line at the existing border (i.e. the 38 th parallel), and the establishment of a demilitarized zone between the opposing sides. A truce was finally concluded in July At best, the agreement was a stalemate. On the one hand, the war cost 54,000 US lives and $67 billion dollars. In addition, the Korean War increased the domestic fear of communism, and prompted a hunt for Americans who might be communist. Basically, the Korean War coupled with the Cold War set the stage for a second and much larger Red Scare, making anti-communist crusader Senator Joseph McCarthy (R Wisconsin) a household name.

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