Truman and the Cold War Response Sheet
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1. Conflicts in what two nations led Truman to make his speech?
I do not believe that the American people and the Congress wish to turn a deaf ear to the appeal of the Greek Government. Greece is not a rich country. Lack of sufficient natural resources has always forced the Greek people to work hard to make both ends meet. Since 1940, this industrious, peace loving country has suffered invasion, four years of cruel enemy occupation, and bitter internal strife. Read paragraphs 10-16.
2. What type of revolutionary group was leading the challenge to democracy in Greece? Without help, Greece would fall to Communism. Nearby Turkey, he added, was in a similar situation. The Greek Government has been operating in an atmosphere of chaos and extremism. It has made mistakes. The extension of aid by this country does not mean that the United States condones everything that the Greek Government has done or will do. We have condemned in the past, and we condemn now, extremist measures of the right or the left. We have in the past advised tolerance, and we advise tolerance now.
3. Why did Truman believe the United States was responsible for helping these nations? Nevertheless, Turkey now needs our support. Since the war, Turkey has sought additional financial assistance from Great Britain and the United States for the purpose of effecting that modernization necessary for the maintenance of its national integrity. That integrity is essential to the preservation of order in the Middle East. The British government has informed us that, owing to its own difficulties, it can no longer extend financial or economic aid to Turkey. As in the case of Greece, if Turkey is to have the assistance it needs, the United States must supply it. We are the only country able to provide that help.
I am fully aware of the broad implications involved if the United States extends assistance to Greece and Turkey, and I shall discuss these implications with you at this time. One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. This was a fundamental issue in the war with Germany and Japan. Our victory was won over countries which sought to impose their will, and their way of life, upon other nations. To ensure the peaceful development of nations, free from coercion, the United States has taken a leading part in establishing the United Nations.
Use the material starting from the paragraph that begins “I am fully aware of the broad implications…” to the end of the document to answer the following questions. 4. According to Truman, what was one of the primary objectives of United States foreign policy? One of the primary objectives of the foreign policy of the United States is the creation of conditions in which we and other nations will be able to work out a way of life free from coercion. 5. Truman stated that “nearly every nation must choose between alternative ways of life.” To what was he referring? The choice is too often not a free one. One way of life is based upon the will of the majority, and is distinguished by free institutions, representative government, free elections, guarantees of individual liberty, freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from political oppression. The second way of life is based upon the will of a minority forcibly imposed upon the majority.
It relies upon terror and oppression, a controlled press and radio, fixed elections, and the suppression of personal freedoms. 6. How did Truman argue that the situation in these two countries was a threat to worldwide political stability? I believe that our help should be primarily through economic and financial aid which is essential to economic stability and orderly political processes. The world is not static, and the status quo is not sacred. But we cannot allow changes in the status quo in violation of the Charter of the United Nations by such methods as coercion, or by such subterfuges as political infiltration. In helping free and independent nations to maintain their freedom, the United States will be giving effect to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Part 2: Interactive Korean War Map
Use Site 2 to answer the following questions.
Place your cursor on the tab labeled Invasion and use the summary in the box
to the right of the map. 1. On what date did the conflict begin? June 25, 1950
2. Which side initiated the attack?
Kim Il Sung’s heavily armed and well-trained North Korean army crossed the 38th parallel — the border between the two Koreas at the end of World War II. 3. Describe the early months of the Korean War.
By the night of June 28, Seoul had fallen and the South Korean forces were in disarray. The United Nations had just passed a resolution recommending that “the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area.” On July 30, President Truman announced that he had “authorized the United States Air Force to conduct missions on specific military targets in northern Korea [and] a naval blockade of the entire Korean coast,” adding almost as an afterthought, “General MacArthur has been authorized to use certain supporting ground units.” Army Secretary Frank Pace’s assessment was more realistic: “We were into Korea deep.” July 5 saw the first battle between American and North Korean troops, and the Americans did not fare as well as they expected.
Unable to slow the enemy advance below Suwon, the Americans and South Koreans fought desperate delaying operations, buying time with blood as more American units were rushed to Korea. By the end of July, the North Koreans had pushed the U.N. forces to the southeast corner of the peninsula, where they dug in around the port of Pusan. On July 27, a “grim-faced and business-like” MacArthur visited Eighth Army commander Walton Walker. A witness said that MacArthur told Walker, “There will be no Dunkirk in this command. To retire to Pusan will be unacceptable.” Gen. Walker gave the “stand or die” order, and over the next six weeks a desperate, bloody struggle ensued as the North Koreans threw everything they had at American and ROK (South Korean) forces in an effort to gain complete control over Korea.
4. How did the United Nations respond to this attack? What role did the Soviet Union play in the United Nations decision?
The United Nations had just passed a resolution recommending that “the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area.” Beginning January 15, Ridgway led the U.N. in a slow advance northward, in what his troops began to call the “meat grinder.” Inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese and North Koreans, the U.N. re-recaptured Seoul (the fourth and final time it changed hands!) on March 15, and had patrols crossing the 38th parallel on March 31.
In the meantime, General MacArthur had been steadily pushing Washington to remove the restrictions on his forces. Not only did Truman decline for fear of widening the war, but he fired MacArthur, who had been publicly challenging him for months, for insubordination on April 11. Although MacArthur’s dismissal ignited a political firestorm, most historians have agreed that Truman had little choice but to uphold the doctrine of civilian control of the military. But on military grounds, the picture is less clear. Whether or not his proposals would have ended the war — or started World War III — they probably would have avoided the stalemate, which lasted for another two years. Not until nearly two million more had died did the Korean War end, when an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953.
Part 3: Homework Assignment
Imagine you are President Truman’s press secretary. It is June 26, 1950 and the president has asked you to write a statement for the media justifying the U.S. military action in Korea. Drawing on examples from the Truman Doctrine, write a press release explaining the justification for United States intervention in the Korean War. Be sure that your statement answers the Focus Question: Why did President Truman think it was necessary for the U.S. to get involved in the Korean War?
However, the entry of the United States into the conflict signaled a reversal of policy toward Korea. Although it backed the government of Syngman Rhee, the United States had begun withdrawing its troops from South Korea in 1948. As late as January of 1950, Secretary of State Dean Acheson had implied that the Korea Peninsula lay outside the all-important “defense perimeter” of the United States, a statement that some took to mean that the United States would not defend the ROK from communist attack. The decision to intervene in Korea grew out of the tense atmosphere that characterized Cold War politics. On the eve of the North Korean invasion, a number of events had made Truman anxious. The Soviet Union exploded an atomic bomb in 1949, ending the United States’ monopoly on the weapon. In Europe, Soviet intervention in Greece and Turkey had given rise to the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, which funneled aid to war-torn Europe in the hopes of warding off communist political victories.
In early 1950, President Truman directed the National Security Council (NSC) to conduct an analysis of Soviet and American military capabilities. In its report, known as “NSC 68,” the Council recommended heavy increases in military funding to help contain the Soviets. Events in Asia also contributed to an increased sense of insecurity. In 1949 China underwent a revolution that brought Mao Zedong and his Communist party into power. The nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-Shek, had retreated to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) while they continued their war with mainland China. Mao quickly moved to ally himself with the Soviet Union, and signed a treaty with the Soviets in 1950. The Truman administration faced criticism from Republicans who claimed he had “lost” China. They criticized him for not providing enough aid to the Chinese nationalists.
The suggestion by Secretary of State Dean Acheson that the administration recognize the communist government of China only gave them more ammunition for their attacks. The Truman administration also faced internal criticism regarding its commitment to anticommunism at home. Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin had recently begun his infamous hunt for communists within the U. S. Government. Although McCarthy was just warming up, the recent trials of Alger Hiss and others for espionage left the Truman administration apprehensive about its anticommunist credentials. Truman and his advisors found themselves under increased domestic pressure not to appear “soft” on communism abroad.