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September 10, 1950 – News bulletin – American Forum Of The Air – NBC Radio – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
September 10, 1950 – The subject was Korea, the concern was China and in question was American Foreign Policy in Asia.
Starting with a newscast reporting Allied and Communist losses and advances in the Korean conflict. Followed by, rather ironically, by a discussion program from The American Forum on our Foreign Policy with reference to Asia – the conflict in Korea, China’s influence in the region and speculation over Formosa, which had been relegated the last piece of the former China under Generalissimo Chaing-Kai Shek.
The war was achieving a certain stagnation – ground was captured only to be recaptured – assaults were taking place throughout the region, followed by counter-assaults with claims of advances being made by both sides. By all accounts, this wasn’t going to be a quick and easy war. But Korea was pointing up to a decided unpreparedness on the part of the U.S. when North Korean forces invaded the South, quickly gaining significant ground in the process.
The Truman administration was unprepared for the invasion which took place on June 25th. Korea was not included in the strategic Asian Defense Perimeter outlined by United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson. Truman himself was at his home in Independence, Missouri. Military strategists were more concerned with the security of Europe against the Soviet Union than East Asia. At the same time, the administration was worried that a war in Korea could quickly escalate without American intervention. Said diplomat John Foster Dulles in a cable: “To sit by while Korea is overrun by unprovoked armed attack would start a disastrous chain of events leading most probably to world war.”
While there was initial hesitance by some in the US government to get involved in the war, considerations about Japan played a part in the ultimate decision to engage on behalf of South Korea. Especially after the fall of China to the Communists, US experts on East Asia saw Japan as the critical counterweight to the Soviet Union and China in the region. While there was no US policy dealing with South Korea directly as a national interest, its proximity to Japan increased the importance of South Korea. Said Kim: “The recognition that the security of Japan required a non-hostile Korea led directly to President Truman’s decision to intervene … The essential point … is that the American response to the North Korean attack stemmed from considerations of U.S. policy toward Japan.”
Another major consideration was the possible Soviet reaction in the event that the US intervened. The Truman administration was fearful that a war in Korea was a diversionary assault that would escalate to a general war in Europe once the United States committed in Korea. At the same time, “there was no suggestion from anyone that the United Nations or the United States could back away from the conflict”. Yugoslavia—a possible Soviet target because of the Tito-Stalin Split—was vital to the defense of Italy and Greece, and the country was first on the list of the National Security Council’s post-North Korea invasion list of “chief danger spots”. Truman believed if aggression went unchecked, a chain reaction would be initiated that would marginalize the UN and encourage Communist aggression elsewhere. The UN Security Council approved the use of force to help the South Koreans, and the US immediately began using air and naval forces that were in the area to that end. The Truman administration still refrained from committing troops on the ground because some advisers believed the North Koreans could be stopped by air and naval power alone.
To better understand the situation, one that was confusing and changing by the minute, here is a discussion of the Political implications of the war, as presented by NBC Radio and the American Forum series for September 10, 1950.
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