American Policy

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One false concept which hampered American policy throughout the cold war was that all Communists were directly controlled and every action dictated from Moscow.  Although U.S. Russian experts, such as George Kennan, Chip Bolen, and Averell Harriman, believed that the Soviet Union was not ready for war, did not want war, Americans were ready to accept that the North Korean invasion might well be the beginning of World War III.  Therefore, the U.S. 7th Fleet was sent to the Formosa Strait to prevent an invasion from the mainland of Nationalist China.  This, of course, sent an entirely hostile signal to the People's Republic to whom, in December 1949, the U.S. was seeking rapprochement. 

During World War II, victory in Europe was the first goal, while the Pacific was of secondary priority.  After the turnaround in Inchon, the Joint Chiefs asked MacArthur how soon he could release a division or two for Europe.  Here's where the real concern was.  The Chinese intervention heightened U.S. fears of World War III.  It was in reference to widening the war to mainland China that General Bradley said we would be fighting the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time.  During the fighting in Korea, six U.S. divisions were sent to Europe, while the most U.S. divisions on line at any one time in Korea was seven.  That's right, seven!

Fearing for Europe, President Truman wanted to cool down the war in Korea.  The legendary hero of World War II in the Pacific, Douglas MacArthur wanted to expand the war, believing a victory in Asia would secure peace in Europe.  Although warned, he continued to publicly express these views, so he was relieved of command in April 1951.  A big uproar ensued, but soon died down in the public mind, as the war was to do also.

Seoul had been retaken in March as U.N. forces continued to push northward.  A CCF counteroffensive failed in April to recapture the capital and, in May in east central Korea, their attack became known as the May Massacre because of their heavy losses.  When the war broke out the year before and action was taken by the U.N. to support South Korea, the Soviets were boycotting the meetings because Red China had not been admitted.  In June 1951, Soviet delegate to the U.N., Jacob Malik, who had returned, proposed truce talks.  [Footnote: The Russian archives indicate that the North Koreans and Chinese persuaded Stalin to ask for peace talks.  Pulitzer Prize Winner John Toland, the only American to examine the Chinese archives, maintains that both countries were not only surprised, but somewhat dissatisfied with Stalin's action.]  The Chinese had suffered an unbelievable number of casualties, had shot their bolt, and were ready to talk peace.  The Soviets had lost face in the Communist world.  The U.S. had sent troops to aid its ally, South Korea, and Russia had not.  Chinese influence in North Korea increased as Russia's decreased.  Mao gained stature as a world leader.  Both Great Britain and the U.S. embarked on huge rearmament programs.  NATO became a reality under the command of an American general.  West Germany moved toward being a sovereign state, with its own military force.  American defense spending in Japan--Toyota was almost bankrupt -- propelled her toward being an economic super power.  The Soviets had come up short everywhere.  Their only success: U.S./China rapprochement was delayed until President Nixon's time, 20 years later.

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