Korean war - Domestic pressure an devents in asia
Domestic Pressure rather than events in Asia governed the USA’s intervention in, and conduct of the Korean conflict. How far do you agree with these views?
There are two views, firstly is that the domestic pressure applied on the US administration and the events of Asia. After the end of the Second World War the war time allies, Russia and America, became bitter enemies in a war that seemed, on the surface, to be about the Capitalist and Communist Ideology. This conflict caused Europe to be split by and “iron curtain” which divided eastern and Western Europe. This war was to be a cold war rather than a “hot war” where the two superpowers, USSR and the USA, never actually fought each other. This conflict spread to Asia where the power gap created by the defeat of the Japanese caused Korea, which was annexed by Japan since 1910, to become split along the 38th parallel, like Europe was split along the iron curtain, with Soviet backed communist North Korea lead by Kim IL Sung and US backed South Korea under the rule of Syngman Rhee who was a hard line anti communist. These two leaders wanted to unify North and South Korea into a unified Korea that was ruled by one of them.
The war between North and South Korea started out as a civil war with border skirmishes since 1949. Many of the events in Asia caused domestic pressure on the Truman Administration back home. The US Administration came under heavy domestic pressure in 1949 , after feeling very happy for winning the Berlin airlift, When in august 1949 the USSR developed their own Atomic Bomb , The world was living in fear of a new world war with nuclear weapons. Truman faced heavy domestic pressure in October 1949 the communist revolution in china succeeded and china becomes the People’s Republic of China, this was very bad news for the USA, ¼ of the world turns communists.
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Events in Asia such as the successful surprise attack by the communist North against the south on 25 January 1950 pushed back all the South Korean forces and the American soldiers that were occupying Japan , back all the way to the Pusan region. In September 1950 General McArthur launches the attack on Inchon behind enemy lines. After many days of bombarding the harbour, UN forces led by US troops land and drive the North Korean Army Back all the way to the Chinese Korean border. Crossing the 38thparallel was a major change in the Truman Doctrine where instead of “containment” communists in the region, the US is perusing the tactics of “Rolling Back” the communist .This did not suit china, who were in the process of rebuilding their country after the civil war. General MacArthur’s talk of destroying communism in the region caused the Chinese major concerns that the US would invade their home land. In a meeting between General MacArthur and President Harry Truman, MacArthur re-assured Truman that China would not enter the war if US troops moved towards the Yalu river, which marked the border between China and Korea, Truman gives him the green light to continue. As UN troops move towards the Yalu river they are attacked by half a million Chinese Volunteers and 150 , 000 North Korean troops pushed the UN forces all the way back past the 38th parallel and recaptured the Southern Korean capital of Seoul. Macarthur’s calls to “nuke” Beijing disturbed the whole world when Truman did not deny the possibility of using nuclear weapons on the Chinese. Truman finally decided that using nuclear weapons on china would lead a nuclear world war, due the special relationships between the USSR and china. By the summer of 1951 there was a stalemate along the 38th parallel with us air superiority, 2 million civilians were killed.
Truman sacks McArthur as he kept calling for nuclear weapons to be deployed on mainland china. From the beginning of the war Truman faced Domestic pressure from many fronts. The notorious McCarthy witch hunts put so much pressure on the US administration that all federal employees forced to take an oath. The republicans were very critical of Truman saying that he was too soft on the communists and with midterm elections coming up Truman needed to show that he was hard on communism or he will lose the elections. The Biggest blow for the president was in 1949 when China became communist, he was portrayed as being too soft to take action and was further blamed for the loss of china to communists. Many Americans feared that with the loss of china, Communism would spread to the Indochina region; this was called the Domino theory. With the outbreak of war between north and South Korean this gave Truman the perfect excuse to implement the Nation Security Council paper 68 to raise the Military budget from $13 billion to $50 Billion. The change in tactics ,moving from Containment to Roll Back , by Truman was a move to show his critics that he was both tough on communists and would take action to stop the advance of communism in Asia. When the Chinese entered the war Truman faced a crisis his forces were being pushed back, and with McArthur calling for nuclear weapons to be used on china Truman returned to his original Doctrine of containing Communism rather than Rolling IT back. Truman fired McArthur due to pressure both domestic and foreign; the use of the nuclear bomb alarmed the world and the USSR’s threat that if china was attacked they would retaliate. By December 1951 all Americans and UN forces were becoming weary of the war and the US people wanted the war to finish as it was straining on the economy to fight a war that the people were not interested in, having failed to stop the war Truman lost the next Presidential elections and Eisenhower comes to power as US President with the slogan “I shall go to Korea”. Unlike World War 2 the US public became weary of hearing about the Korean War that Newspaper a, radios and televisions stopped reporting about the events in Korea. Eisenhower was elected to finish the war.
In March 1953 Stalin dies and his successors did not think North Korea could win the stalemate so they decided to join the negotiation table. In June 1953 a Ceasefire and Armistice was signed with the exchange of Prisoners Of war. Till this day North and South Korea are still divided along the 38th Parallel.
In conclusion, Events in Asia led to domestic pressure in the USA. However the McCarthy Witch hunts applied pressure on Truman to take a hard stance towards communism and change his Doctrine to that of Roll Back instead of Containment.