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The Korean War

by: Amaris Mae

The Korean War HIST 2340W

Amaris Mae
GPA 3.75
History of US Diplomacy

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About this Document

These are the lecture notes from the 19th of March,2015. Lecture notes are in black, primary sources are in blue - highlighted to signify what the professor read aloud in class.
History of US Diplomacy
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This 10 page Class Notes was uploaded by Amaris Mae on Tuesday March 24, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 2340W at George Washington University taught by Brazinsky in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 100 views. For similar materials see History of US Diplomacy in History at George Washington University.


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Date Created: 03/24/15
The Korean War North Korean Invasion of South Korea in 1950 True beginning of Korean War Some speculation Professor believes this holds true The war was really seen as just an American con ict Most historical accounts focus on the American side Impact ofJapanese Colonialism 19101945 quotReally is no Koreaquot Tries to integrate Korea in to the empire Suppresses labor Suppresses descent Tries to change Korean culture Korean is no longer taught in schools Replaced with Japanese Koreans are forced to have Japanese names Created a lot of divisions Some groups bene ted from Japanese colonialism Participated in the military Participated in the police force Got and education Other groups want radical and dramatic social change left Other groups on the right that are afraid of change right Other groups just happen to be conservatives but not the Japanese Korea at Liberation 1945 Initially the US wanted in uence overJapan Didn t think as much about Korea Would be willing to give Korea to the Soviet Union until the atomic bombs are dropped So at the Potsdam Conference the US decides to divide Korea at the 38th paraHel Division between left and right Committee for preparation Korean independence and Yom UnHong CPKI Proved surprisingly popular and effective Set up branches in the provinces throughout the country KPR 0 Mostly left leaning Koreans o Wants nationalization of Korean industries KPR and KDP KDP more conservative People will shameful histories of working with Japanese colonialism People that were genuinely nationalistic but economically conservative Kim IL Sung KPR socialist leanings Kim IL Sung Supported by the Soviets Wanted Stalin backing Kim IL Sung was found by Stalin The North Korean Revolution American Occupation of the South KPR needed someone conservative But with genuine anticommunist views Syngas Rhee Leader of Korean Independence e movement Conservative nationalist views Attended GWs United Nations Committee on Korea Syngas Rhee lobbied the US on behalf of Korean Independence But because of his stay in the US he became a stronger and stronger anticommunist And so in 1945 he becomes very convenient to plug in for of ce Between 1945 1947 Rhee is able to gain control in South Korea Loyalties Popular sentiment Put him in a strong political position 1947 1948 Elections US said Sunman Rhee would win USSR said Kim Song IL would win WE and USSR disagreed on what formula the election should use for the whole peninsulas So US turns the entire Korea issue over to the UN 0 UN Committee on Korea Committee moves into Korea Gains access to southern Korea But cannot get into soviet territory 0 Sygman Rhee is elected North Korea decides they will hold their own elections 1948 Immediately these two states are hostile to one another US Response of the DPRK Invasion Truman doesn39t39 want the war Afraid it will lead to WWIII In North Korea Stalin is saying the same thing doesn39t want war Defense Perimeter Speech Atchison makes it seem that the US won t get involved with South Korea That39s how Stalin interpreted it Atchison believes in the UN Made him ambiguous Wasn39t sure where the US39s rights were June 25th 1950 Changing political situation in the South Resistance to Sigmund Rhee39s government from the left Wasn39t clear that Sigmund would be able to consolidate But he was able to put down protests Massacre of leftists And small scale purges Triumph of the Chinese Communist Revolution made Stalin feel more con dent in communism in Asia So he reversed his opinion on North Korean invasion Belief in South Korea as a Test Case CIA analysis War a product of Moscow39s expansions in US Aid Helped create the South Korean army Between 1948 1950 American advisors helped advice in the creation of the constitution Lots of economic aid Vast commitment Sygman Rhee39s government was autocratic Wasted American money But was still an example of American democracy We can transplant our institution abroad The Intelligence Memorandum relates not stopping Korea to not stopping Hitler under WWII Also points out that not going into Korea would make America look weak Like we can39t keep a promise Going back on our identity as the World Peace Keeper North Korean invasion was super effective South Korea controls very little land The Pusan Perimeter At lightning fast speed in June of 1950 The US blames North Korea for the invasion UN sends forces to help 0 Mostly American forces But others do too such as Turkish 0 All commanders are US troops War At rst the South and the UN army is not effective June 1950September 1950 North Korea commits atrocities Starts looking for collaborators to persecute Set up their own government Resisters are punishedkilled Horri c refugee problem Turn around in September General MacArthur lnchon Landing Had been advised against But was successful Very close to 38th parallel North Korea is pushed way back Essentially the opposite of what happened in June China Enters the Korean War Mao39s idea of a Glorious Victory Loyalty toward Korean communists Mao wanted to support them Belief that china had been dominated by the west that Asia was dominated by the west and wanted to revolutionize this Truman administration desire to stop China from gaining prestige China could also use this to consolidate support at home Remember that they only got control in 1949 Extremely vulnerable domestically and internationally Post War Debate on POW Sygmun wanted any POW that denounced communism to be released in the south Because many captured North Koreans were pro South Korea but forced to ght he thought China brought their own issue 5 Needed to ght American imperialism Truman wanted to use this as part of communist rollback Meanings of the War US especially important because of implementation of NSC 68 and further arms buildup Truman can point to the Korean peninsula and say quotwe are ghting against communismquot Communism is a constant threat Our ideal could also be transplanted China gains a great deal of prestige Held the United States to a standstill China had proven that it would at tremendous costs to defend other revolutionaries Cause of SinoSoviet split Speculated Also made people question whether we were spending too much on the US military Is that a reliable strategy Is there a point Would it bankrupt americna society Affects Eisenhower39s policy Intelligence Memorandum No 302 July 8 1950 Subject Consequences of the Korean Incident l Soviet Purposes in Launching the Northern Korean Attack A Apart from immediate strategic advantages USSR wants to expand communism Not about the division within Korea Not about the fact that the North Korea state believes the South Korean state is illegiiamte Puts all blame on the USSR B The Soviet estimate of the reaction to the North Korean attack was probably that 1 UN action would be slow and cumbersome 2 the US would not intervene with its own forces 3 South Korea would therefore collapse promptly presenting the UN with a fait accompli 4 the episode would therefore be completely localized and 5 the ghting could be portrayed as USinstigated South Korean aggression and the Northern Korean victory as a victory of Asiatic nationalism against Western colonialism ll Probable Developments from the Korean Incident There are at present four major alternative courses of action open to the USSR They are not mutually exclusive courses of action In particular it is estimated that the USSR is very likely to try to prolong the ghting in Korea alternative quotBquot below for the short run and then within a few weeks or months if conditions appear favorable to Soviet leaders shift them to the more aggressive course of creating similar incidents elsewhere alternative quotCquot below The alternatives are examined not in order of probability but in order of increasing risk of global war and increasing expenditure of effort on the part of the USSR Alternative A The USSR may localize the Korean ghting permitting US forces to drive the North Koreans back to the 38th Parallel and refrain from creating similar incidents elsewhere In the meantime the USSR would remain uncommitted in Korea and would develop the propaganda themes of US aggression and imperialistic interference in domestic affairs of an Asiatic nation 1 This alternative is the most cautious course for the USSR to take Its adoption would indicate complete surprise at the US reaction to the Korean incident and would suggest strongly that the USSR was unwilling to run even a minimum risk of provoking a global con ict involving the US and the USSR 2 US prestige and political in uence would be substantially augmented particularly with Western European allies and other nations aligned with the US 3 Soviet prestige and in uence would be damaged but there would be compensations in the form of secondary political gains that would accrue as a result of a Promoting the quotpeace campaignquot and portraying the US as military aggressor b Exploiting the theme of Asian nationalism versus Western imperialism c Maintaining the North Koreans and Chinese Communist threat to South Korea as an embarrassment to development of a constructive US or UN policy in Korea 4 This alternative course of action is unlikely Soviet advantages would be secondary comparatively long range and intangible while Soviet disadvantages would be immediate Alternative B The USSR may localize the Korean ghting still refrain from creating similar incidents elsewhere but in order to prolong US involvement in Korea give increasing material aid to the North Koreans perhaps employing Chinese Communist troops either covertly or overtly The USSR would remain uncommitted in Korea and would develop the propaganda themes of US aggression and imperialistic interference in domestic affairs of an Asiatic nation 1 This alternative is a moderately cautious course for the USSR to take The USSR would probably consider that its adoption would involve only a slight risk of provoking a global con ict involving the US and the USSR 2 US prestige would be seriously damaged if the USSR succeeded in prolonging the incident in this way Western European allies and other nations aligned with the US would question the immediate military value of US commitments even though expecting them to be honored 3 Soviet prestige would be augmented if the ghting in Korea were prolonged without an open Soviet commitment 4 The USSR would obtain appreciable secondary comparatively longrange gains in political in uence as a result of promoting the quotpeacecampaignquot and portraying US as imperialistic Western aggressor in Asia unless successfully countered by a US quotTruthquot campaign 5 Deep involvement of US military forces in Korea would seriously limit US capabilities to support similar commitments elsewhere Moreover the Western European allies of the US would feel dangerously exposed for some time even if the US began a partial mobilization for war 6 The USSR probably will adopt this alternative course of action at least for the short run since there would be few Soviet disadvantages or risks and the Soviet gains would be appreciable 7 This alternative will appear especially attractive to the USSR because at any time if conditions appeared favorable to Soviet leaders the USSR could shift to the more ambitious program alternative immediately below in which alternative quotBquot would merely be a rst phase Alternative C The USSR while attempting to prolong the ghting in Korea as in alternative may also attempt to disperse and perhaps overstrain US military forcesinreadiness by creating a series of incidents similar to the Korean affair Without directly and openly involving Soviet forces such incidents could be created in Formosa Indochina Burma Iran Yugoslavia and Greece The effects of such incidents could be aggravated by renewed pressure on Berlin and possibly Vienna 1 This alternative would be a comparatively aggressive course for the USSR to take lts adoption would indicate willingness to run an appreciable risk of provoking a global con ict because of the possible US reaction The USSR could easily turn to this alternative at any time but it is not likely to turn to it until the USSR has fully analyzed the implications of the US commitment in Korea 2 Having employed its armed forces in support if its commitment in Korea the US will have to honor similar commitments or lose most of the advantages of the policy of supporting the Korean commitment 3 The US does not have the military forcesinreadiness to honor its commitments with US military forces and equipment in many areas other than Korea perhaps none without a substantial increase in US military forces and industrial productivity in the military eld bringing about what would amount to at least a partial as distinguished from a general mobilization for war 4 Deep involvement of US military forces in the Far East or Near East would leave Western Europe even more dangerously exposed than at present 5 At some point further Koreanstyle incidents requiring the commitment of US forces to stabilize the situation presumably would force the US to adopt one of the following alternatives a Revise the policy of general containment by limiting US commitments and by planning to combat Soviet aggression only at those selected points where existing US military strength would permit b Begin partial military and industrial mobilization in an attempt to enable the US to combat any further Sovietsponsored aggression anywhere in the world or c Begin total mobilization to enable the US to threaten to meet any Soviet or Sovietsponsored aggression with war against the USSR 6 The USSR probably will adopt alternative quotCquot sooner or later if Soviet leaders do not estimate the risk of global war involved to be substantial or are prepared for a global war if it develops 7 If Soviet development of this alternative course of action leads to a general US mobilization it appears at this time that the USSR probably would in that event continue limited aggressions accompanied by the customary quotpeacequot propaganda discounting actual US initiation of a general war and perhaps estimating that the political and economic strains of mobilization would weaken or discredit the US and its foreign policy The USSR however May a desist from further aggression of the Korean type fearing a global war and taking mobilization as an indication of greater risk than Soviet leaders had anticipated in choosing this course of action or b Expecting USinitiated global war attempt to seize the initiative by immediately attacking the US in effect turning to alternative below Alternative D The USSR may consider US intervention in Korea either as the prelude of an inevitable global war or as justi cation for beginning a global war for which it is prepared in either case immediately attacking the US and its allies 1 Nothing in the Korean situation as yet indicates that the USSR would deliberately decide to employ Soviet forces in direct military action precipitating global war Such a decision is unlikely if as now seems probable Soviet leaders believe that a there are continuing opportunities to expand Soviet in uence by the comparatively cheap and safe means of Sovietcontrolled Communist revolutionary activity including propaganda sabotage subversion guerrilla warfare and organized military action by local Communist troops as in Korea which can be supported by Soviet diplomacy and the mere threat of Soviet military strengthin readiness and b There is substantial risk involved for the USSR in the global war that almost certainly would ensue from direct military action by Soviet forces 2 The USSR would appear to have little reason to be pessimistic about gains by methods short of global war particularly by adopting the courses of action described in Alternatives quotBquot and quotCquot above 3 The USSR is unlikely to choose the alternative of deliberately provoking global war at this time in view of a the general superiority of the US and its allies in total powerpotential and b the fact that the present Soviet atomic capability is insuf cient to neutralize US atomic retaliatory capabilities and to offset the generally superior powerpotential of the US and its allies by interfering with the US military and industrial mobilization lll Effects of a Failure of US Forces to Hold South Korea A The immediate consequences of a failure to hold South Korea would be a damaging blow to US prestige with loss in political in uence greater than the loss that would have been incurred if the US had not undertaken to support its moral containment in South Korea B The US would be confronted with a choice between two undesirable alternatives 1 accepting the loss of US prestige or 2 attempting to regain as much prestige as possible by committing substantial US military resources in a different and costly invasion of an area which is not of primary strategic importance to the overall US military position In either case US foreign policy and military capabilities would be discredited at home and abroad C If US forces were expelled from Korea the USSR would probably adopt alternative quotCquot as described above Section II It might be tempted however to postpone further aggressive action elsewhere until it had determined whether as a result of the loss of world con dence in the effectiveness of US aid other areas might not be brought within its sphere of in uence through intimidation alone Intelligence Memorandum No 304 July 10 1950 Subject Effects of a Voluntary Withdrawal of US Forces from Korea CONCLUSIONS The US didn t want to be seen as weak Didn t want to have the world order it established by destroyed Since Truman the US was the peace keeper the hegemonic power Can t change that identity now Crisis in Asia An Examination of US Policy secretary Acheson quotPolicies we grow out of the fundamental attitude of our people on both sidesquot Must be articulated through the instruments of life Press Radio Churches We cannot have a uniform policy for Asia Asia itself is too diverse Ex Japan vs Indonesia Japan is technologically superior and complex Indonesia has vast resources and awaiting development Developing Asian consciousness Revulsion against the acceptance of misery and poverty as the normal condition of life Revulsion against foreign domination Both of these are common throughout Asia Believe that independence will relieve them from poverty So far as the military security in other areas in the Paci c is concerned it must be clear that no person can guarantee these areas against military attack But such an agreement is not necessary in a logical relationships Reliance must be on the people attacked to resist it and then upon the commitments of the entire civilized world under the Charter of the United Nations In Korea we have ended our military occupation Made them a sovereign country Given them great help Asking congress to continue that help until it is rmly established The idea that we should stop half way through the achievement of the establishment of this country is utter defeatism South Korea itself is a secondary concern Japan is rst America is going to defend the Philippine39s AndJapan But it isn39t as concerned with South Korea Wants the UN to handle the situation n


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