This is an interesting conversation between President Truman and the ambassador of South Korea on June 26th, 1950. This was the day after the North Koreans invaded South Korea and the South Korean ambassador was approaching President Truman about the deficiencies of the South Korean Army on behalf of President Rhee. The ambassador was requesting aid from the United States, specifically stating that their men had inadequate equipment. President Truman’s response was very stern in my opinion. He noted that other countries had performed more effectively to greater threats than what the South Koreans are facing now and that they will basically have to get there act together because aid is on its way. I would think that might have been offensive to the ambassador because he responded by complementing the South Korean soldiers. Another component to this conversation that I find interesting is before the invasion by the North Koreans, President Rhee asked the United States for military equipment so they could invade North Korea and unify Korea. My thought is, were the North Koreans that much better equipped? Or, even with the military aid from the United States, I wonder how the South Koreans would of fared in an invasion of North Korea and what the implications of their success or defeat would have been?
The Cold War was an idealistic war between the worlds two biggest superpowers. They competed to have the most advanced technology and the best arms as well. The Cold War begins between 1945-1950 with the big events being the Yalta Conference and the Truman Doctrine.
The US did many things to alarm the Soviet Union. Things like the atomic bomb, the Truman Doctrine, establishing missile bases around the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union also did things that alarmed the US. The seizing of Poland, they didn’t hold free elections in the areas that they controlled, and they developed nuclear weapons. The Baltic Straight conflict was also a big issue that alarmed the US. The Soviet Union also wanted to invade Manchuria.
This is a photo of Korean refugees crossing a wrecked bridge. This photo was taken by Max Desfor and it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1951. The Koreans are running away from the Communists in the North and crossing from the north bank of the Taedong River. This a very iconic photo in the Korean War.
Across the bridge many other thousands of Korean refugees are awaiting their turn to cross the bridge themselves. The photographer, Max Desfor, said that he could see them carry what little possessions they had on their backs or any way they could. They did not want to be trapped under the clutches of communism. They were fleeing to democracy and freedom. The Korean War technically isn’t over. The US and North Korea only signed a truce and not technically a peace treaty. The US entered the Korean War in order to stop the spread of communism and practice containment. This idea was part of the Truman Doctrine. The Korean War went back and forth many times and eventually the end of the war resulted in nearly the same result as before. The 38th parallel is where North Korea and South Korea are separated today.
This cartoon was drawn by Edward Kuekes in 1952 in response to the Korean War. Kuekes primarily drew for the Cleveland Plains Dealer until 1966. This cartoon won him a Pulitzer.
The image shows two men carrying a body on a stretcher through the snow in full combat attire. One man wonders whether the man on the stretcher had voted and the other replies that the man had not because he was not old enough. The background is almost hauntingly bare and seems as if it would offer no comforts. Though I’m sure the image is in black and white because of having originally been published in a newspaper, the lack of color does give the image a much more despairing tone than it might have had if it had been in color.
The larger reference of the drawing is to one of the views of the Korean war that Americans held; that the war was fought by the everyday American (young, poor, and middle class men) but decided by the rich in charge. Many people in America did not feel like they had a large interest in the war, or at least not enough of an interest to justify the deaths of American soldiers. The cartoon plays on a sentiment that the page that the cartoon comes from states nicely; “the young die over the decisions of the old”.
The document I found is a letter Stalin wrote to a Soviet ambassador in Prague. The letter talks about the Soviet Union’s withdrawal “from the Security Council on 27 June” (Soviet Letter). What makes the document important is that the letter gives a more in-depth understanding of Stalin’s logic concerning the United States involvement in the Security Council and Korea. Stalin lists his reason for withdrawing the Soviet Union from the council: to demonstrated the Soviet Union’s relationship with the new communist China, to defy the United States’ policy of recognizing China’s puppet government, the Soviet Union wanted to deny the representation at Security Council two great powers, and last to show the United States true face as opportunist and expose democracy as a “foolish” government style. What makes the document tie into the United States involvement with Korea is that the Soviets expected that after their withdrawal from the Security Council the United States, with opportunity at hand, would become ensnared with Korea. This ensnarement with Korea will “squander military prestige and moral authority” which is what the Soviet Union wanted to happen (Soviet Letter). If the United States is distracted with Far East Europe than the Soviet Union has a chance to finish their global balance of power.
Where should students look for insight into Soviet foreign policy in the early Cold War?
Where should students look for insight into U.S. foreign policy in the early Cold War?
Curry Library Search
The National Library of Russia
The New York Public Library
Wikipedia lists a lot of primary and secondary sources
The Miller Center
What are Kennan’s major arguments/ concerns?
Concern was to contain communism from expanding to other states.
What tactics will the Soviets use?
Promoting pro-communist ways of life- economically, modernizing
What should the United States do?
Promoting democracy. Tough talk and communication
What should containment look like, what strategies should be used to accomplish it?
That Soviets stay in Eastern Europe while the United States stay in the western hemisphere. The United States should help weaker countries that are more susceptible to communism in terms of loans or foreign aid. This may make countries turn towards democracy more than communism.
What are Noviko’s major arguments?
US desired world domination
Us entered the war late and hopes that the world would be devastated and they would turn to US because of their power and stability. Since the US was the most powerful at the time then they would be the most
Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace was publicly in support for cooperation with the Soviet Union. He was not in favor of Truman’s tough talk explanation with the Soviet Union and had a more idealistic approach. Wallace was known to be ‘soft’ on Communism and was fired by President Harry S. Truman because of these disagreements. “The Way to Peace” speech was delivered in September 1946 specifically emphasizing the importance of Soviet Union and United States cooperation. He explained that in order to cooperate with the Soviet Union, the United States must first understand its history. Wallace continues to explain that the U.S. expands its democratic ideals just as the Soviet Union is expanding its political affairs in other parts of the world,
On our part, we should recognize that we have no mare business in the political affairs of Eastern Europe than Russia has in the political affairs of Latin America, Western Europe and the United States. We may not like what Russia does in Eastern Europe. Her type of land reform, industrial expropriation, and suppression of basic liberties offends the great majority of the people of the United States. But whether we like it or not the Russians will try to socialize their sphere of influence just as we try to democratize our sphere of influence. This applies also to Germany and Japan. We are striving to democratize Japan and our area of control in Germany, while Russia strives to socialize eastern Germany.
Wallace’s approach was to examine how American actions appear to other nations (Herring 611) and be aware of provocative U.S. moves. Wallace states, “The tougher we get, the tougher the Russians will get,”
and then we can realize that we are reckoning with a force which cannot be handled successfully by a “Get tough with Russia” policy. “Getting tough” never bought anything real and lasting—whether for schoolyard bullies or businessmen or world powers. The tougher we get, the tougher the Russians will get.
Wallace favored open cooperation and disapproved Truman’s tough approach. This anti-Cold War view led to his dismissal as Secretary of Commerce by President Truman. While I am unsure whether this approach could have prevented the Cold War, I believe it would have been more productive for America to serve as an example for the rest of the world by using communication rather than becoming tough and passive aggressive with Russia.
The Potsdam Conference was a meeting of the leaders of the Big Three (Stalin, Churchill, Truman). They met in Potsdam, Germany from July 17 to August 2, 1945, to negotiate the terms for the end of World War II. Germany had already surrendered and now the major issue was how to handle Germany. They wanted to avoid another Treaty of Versailles. The US and Britain didn’t want to impose heavy reparations on Germany because of what happened in the first World War. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, did want to impose heavy reparations on Germany. They decided to spilt Germany up in Allied zones and completely demilitarize Germany. Also, they moved all the Germans that moved to other territories during the War, back to Germany.
Also, Poland received a large portion of Germany territory. Another thing that happened at the Potsdam Conference was the approval of the formation of a Council of Foreign Ministers that would act on behalf of the United States, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and China to write peace treaties with Germany’s former allies.
An interesting fact is that the United States had just successfully exploded the first nuclear bomb and Truman thought he could use this as leverage to get what he wanted.
(a) Crimes against Peace: namely, planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a Common Plan or Conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing;
(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
(c) Crimes against Humanity: namely, murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war,14 or persecutions on political, racial, or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of domestic law of the country where perpetrated.