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The USA in Asia 1950 1973

Korea 1950-1953

Causes Long Term Causes Ideological differences: Can be traced back to the October 1917 Revolution where Lenin and the Bolsheviks ceased power in Russia, US like some other European countries briefly helped the Whites in the Civil war 1918-1920. China also falling to communism in 1949 was seen as a loss to the capitalist world and entrenched the idea of communism as expansionist. Put the US eye firmly back on Asia. Containment: underlined by Kennan in the Long Telegram believed that the USSR would consistently attempt to extend further outside its existing sphere of influence, therefore this is a cause of the Korean War as the US believed all communist leaders and consequent states are controlled by Stalin and the USSR saw North Korea attacking as attempts of the USSR to extend its sphere of influence and furthermore had to be tough on them this time in order to deter from further action there would be a domino effect in neighbouring states if they did not take action. Anti-Communism within US: becoming evermore anti-communist and suspicious of communism spreading to the US taking over democracy. The Red Scare: highly fearful nation due to McCarthy and the Witch Hunts which were well supported within the US. Made Truman ever more determined to prove himself as tough on communism at the first chance he got: Korea prove to be an opportunity. NSC 68: a secret report from US Security Council 1950 warned all Communism anywhere can be traced back to Moscow encouraging US to give economic and military aid to countries resisting communism therefore had official recommendation to help others to contain communism and the Korean war was the first real test of this. Revisionist historians have criticised the report however as covering up for US real intentions which were US expansionism. Reconsideration of China: 1950 Dean Acheson made a speech reconsidering the findings of the 1949 White Paper in order to appease McCarthyites. Stated that there was not enough done to help in China which would made the US more determined to help with Korea. USSR get the atomic bomb: 1949 USSR catch up with US get atomic bomb meaning that the US can no longer settle disputes by scaring other countries out of acting: have to fight conventionally. Big fear in the US at the time as they believed all communist states were satellites of the USSR and could be traced back to Stalin. (Though this was not the case as Stalin wasnt all that interested in Asia). Shifted the balance of power from each side having their own strength (US had nuclear weaponry and USSR had land forces) in favour of the USSR. Immediate Causes Personalities: Kim Il Sung the leader of North Korea he wanted to unify Korea under himself (as did Synghman Rhee in the South). He spent the long time trying to convince the USSR (and later China) to support North Korea in an attack. Finally managed to trick Stalin and Mao agreeing to support him, though support from Stalin was limited, when he attacked thee attack was planned with the help of Stalin and advisers as well as equipment e.g. Used tanks from the USSR. Key cause as it was him that persuaded the other two to allow him attack. Stalin initially lacked interest in supporting Kim Il Sung argued he finally gave in just to shut Kim Il Sung up. But by finally agreeing this was key to causing the Korean was as by his support it provoked the US as his military aid gave North Korea a large advantage over the South and his commanders were involved in all aspects of preparation.

Seems to be evidence that all communist states are ultimately controlled by Stalin and Moscow. Furthermore it is argued Stalins opportunism is key and he finally agreed as he saw an opportunity in Korea not being mentioned in Achesons Defensive Perimeter speech. Mao Zedong gave his support to Kim Il Sung like that of Stalin made the North Koreans feel safe to attack especially as Mao stationed Chinese troops along the border (Yalu river) in case the north Koreans need help. USA: US intervened to help a victim of aggression. They helped cause the Korean War due to fear and hatred of communism and there willingness to help the South (had been supporting Synghman Rhee despite his actions including not holding fair elections). Furthermore the North felt safe to attack as Korea had not been listed in the Defensive Perimeter (January 1950 Dean Acheson). UN: Established in order to defer aggression and is a cause of the Korean War as though initially the US were involved without the UN they later used them to justify their involvement. Therefore a cause as it allowed the US to be involved without looking bad.

Course of the Korean War Background In World War II Korea had been occupied by Japan on Japans defeat the Japanese had to hand over conquered territory to Soviet troops in the North and US troops in the South, the 38 th parallel was set as a dividing line between them in order that they could oversee the country until elections could be organised by the UN. However USSR and North would not cooperate with elections as the committee set up to oversee them was dominated by the US. Elections held in 1948 had restricted franchise and were in the South only. Synghman Rhee established as leader (though elections were massively rigged) in Republic of Korea and Kim Il Sung leader of Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Kim was a hero for resistance of Japanese rule whereas Rhee had limited support and facing massive rebellions. Both the US and USSR withdrew troops in 1949 by which time there were border skirmishes initiated by both sides taking place relatively often.

25th June 1950 Military forces from North attacked Korea.


US Reaction and UN intervention The US intervened just 2 days after the initial attack changing US policy in the East from limited defence to that of total commitment. The US then used the UN to justify their actions the next day whom voted to send defend South Korea. The USSR whom could of vetoed this were absent in protest against Mao and Peoples Republic of China not being allowed admittance to the organisation. Hence the US secured commitment from 16 countries to send troops in order to help South Korea and was using the UN as an instrument of its own foreign policy. Gaining the support of the UN was key to US involvement as it justified their actions stopping the US from looking badly and also was a massive tool in the propaganda war against communism. The Norths Push into the South June-August 1950 Well planned attack by USSR commanders though there was no Soviet Troops present. Air strike then line of tanks with infantry behind, by June 29th Korean Peoples Army (KPA (North Korean Army) had captured Seoul (Capital of South Korea) as the South Koreans only had bazooka to defend themselves and even with US and UN involvement keep rolling back towards Pusan only have USM24 light tank which was no match for USSR T34Tank. Though, before not long the Northern Vietnamese over stretch themselves and US forces are able to hold them off at Pusan. The UN forces push into North September-October 1950 15th September US launch a counter attack in the form of amphibious landings at Inchon, made fake landings around the coast in order to get element of surprise at Inchon, now 30,000 UN forces in Korea 26,000 were American, was a massive success and North Koreans retreat back up because now have enemies behind them as scared of being cut off from supplies. This allowed UN soldiers in South to push up: operation sledgehammer, 125,000 North Korean troops were taken prisoner. By September 30th cross the 38th Parallel (before UN vote in support of the decision) and advanced as the Chinese border along the Yalu River. This worried the Chinese whom established troops along the river and had agreed to help the North Koreans if needed. Chinese Intervention November 1950-February 1951

As the UN forces began to mount along the border China became increasingly worried about their own security against attack from the US and were particularly concerned by USAs new desire to rollback communism. On 27th November 1950 Chinese troops crossed over the border adding a force of 200,000 troops to the 150,000 North Koreans (using human wave tactics) and UN forces were pushed into a rapid retreat. US declared a state of National Emergency with MacArthur recommending using atomic bombs to cut off supplies. The Americans were not prepared: extremely mountainous in North Vietnam and was a particularly harsh winter with temperatures of -30C. Stalemate February 1951-June 1951 By this time 400,000 Chinese troops in Korea which caused difficulties keeping supplied efficiently (tens of thousands of porters carried supplies to the front lines by back: this could not be kept up), even more problematic as UN had superior air power and extensive bombing caused serious damage to bridges, roads and industry. Push back up to 38th parallel by March 1951. Between April 1951 and May 1952 there is see-saw fighting along the 38th parallel but neither side making any significant advance, Chinese admitted to 390,000 men dead though UN figures predicted 1 million Chinese dead half million North Koreans dead but lost 54,000 American soldiers (which was picked up on in the press). MacArthur is sacked in April 1951 for war mongering as is trying to pressure Truman into total war with China including the use of nuclear weapons, he is replaced by General Ridgway. Ending the War June 1951-July 1953 Spent two years trying to a peaceful solution in this time treaty kept being stalled and re-opened the major issue in these talks being whether Prisoners of War should be repatriated on a voluntary basis or not and the issue of whether US were guilty of committing war crimes or not. In 1952 Eisenhower elected with the promise to get out of Korean war and Stalin died in March 1953 (liked the US being stuck in Korea as it made them look bad: Cold War was largely a propaganda war after all) new Soviet leadership more open to ending the Korean War. Armistice was finally signed on July 27th 1953 which was signed by North Korea, China, the USA and South Korea refused to sign but had no alternative but to sign it. Issues in Korea have never really been resolved.

Issues arising in the Korean War US reasons for a Limited War Truman was unwilling for a total war with China but was also unwilling to abandon Korea. Reasons he feared declaring war on China are: The SinoSoviet Mutual Alliance would require the Soviets to enter the war on the side of the Chinese (the USSR have Atomic Bomb so this would not be good) The European allies were concerned about a total war and US could not afford to alienate any of its fellow NATO members, Truman also feared that the war in Korea was being a distraction from a bigger invasion in Europe from the USSR and worried the more resources they expended in Asia the fewer there would be for potential conflict in Europe The US army were not prepared for all out war.

Consequences of the Korean War The US Main consequence is that the Korean War is a success in that they contained communism but failed in that they did not manage to roll back communism and about 50,000 Americans died doing so. Furthermore not being able to attain quick victory caused disillusionment as can be seen in the rise in the growing number of deserters, 90% of Americans in military hospital in 1953 were self inflicted wounds. Fearing that the Korean War would lead to further Soviet Aggression elsewhere in the world, the US carried out the following measures: NSC-68 recommendations to triple the defence budget was implemented US land forces in Europe were greatly strengthened NATO was strengthened, Greece and Turkey were bought into NATO and military bases were established in Turkey which shared a border with USSR. Aid to NATO was increased $25 billion given between 1951 and 1955. The need for West Germany to become armed and integrated into NATO was given top priority. Furthermore US took several important steps against what it felt were threats of communism. 1952 Treaty of San Francisco with Japan which allowed the US to maintain military bases in Japan and also the US was focused on building up Japans economically to make it a fortification against communism Taiwan had to be defended as well against potential Chinese invasion, in 1949 Chiang Kai Shek as an embarrassment and liability for losing the Chinese Civil War despite US aid and had no plans to help him further (Taiwan was also not mentioned in the Defensive Perimeter speech) however in 1950 Taiwan was seen as a useful bulwark against communism and the seventh fleet was stationed in Taiwan. Recognised Chiang Kai Sheks as the official Chinese government. Mainland China (PRC) was isolated by the US and was condemned as an aggressor. Was prevented from taking a seat in the UN Security Council by US Veto. Helped other regimes in Asia which appeared to be resisting Communism which eventually lead to involvement in the Philippines and Vietnam. South East Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO) formed 1954.

Korea: Both the North and South became pawns in the superpower conflict of the Cold War. The country on both sides was left devastated 5 million were left homeless and 3-4 million Koreans died in the war. The war also acted to cement divisions between the North and South along the 38th Parallel and the chances of unifying are now slim: still is divided today.

Pretty much ended where they started!! The ceasefire was of little difference to the line along the 38th parallel.
China: Chinas reputation began to grow rapidly in the surrounding area as a major power in the region with Mao greatly becoming the face of communism to many third world nationalist groups whom were trying to establish communism in their country. Also USSRs reluctance to help China meant Mao was less likely to rely on the USSR for help and would be less bothered about following

Moscows lead (as can be seen in the nose dive in Sino-Soviet relations). Furthermore as a direct impact over 1 million Chinese lives were lost and Chinese resources were pulled away from recovery within China. Also it would now be more difficult to recover Taiwan. USSR: China emerged as a contender for leadership of world communism. US decision to triple its defense budget meant the USSR also felt needed to increase its defense budget in order to maintain the balance of power: 1950 had 2.8 million troops 1955: 5.8 million troops. South East Asia: South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) formed 1954. Meant other disputes in Asia would also be bought into context of the Cold War as can be seen with Vietnam, the French go to the US for help and the Nationalists sought assistance from the USSR. Therefore South East Asia became a hot point of the Cold War. UN: It showed that it was fit for its purpose and could stand up against aggression however the UN lost respect (particularly amongst developing countries) in the propaganda war where it was portrayed as a tool of the US in which it was used by the US in order to achieve US goals. Cold War context: The Korean War caused the globalization of the Cold War no longer was it just Europe which was under the microscope Asia was to. It lead to the heating up of the Cold war with it now being about battles and armies not just discussion and threats. Furthermore the concept of Roll Back came into play before now the US had only been interested in containing communism. This scared the USSR further whom already saw containment as encirclement.

Exam Questions How far was fear of the spread of Communism responsible for the USAs increasing involvement n the affairs of south-east Asia in the years 1950-64? (Both Korea and Vietnam) How significant was Chinas intervention in deciding the course and outcome of the Korean War? Why did the United States become so deeply involved in the Korean War in the years 1950-1953? Why did the USA become increasingly involved in south-East Asia in the 1950s? How accurate is it to say the Korean War was a conflict without winners?