Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Korean War Documents

This article is on teaching the Korean War with documents, in this case, President Truman's 1950 statement! Here is some of what the article says about this document:
Truman's statement of June 27 illustrates his concern with communist aggression and expansion. In it, Truman argues that "communism has passed beyond the use of subversion to conquer independent nations and will now use armed invasion and war." Truman's statement suggests that he believed the attack by North Korea had been part of a larger plan by communist China and, by extension, the Soviet Union. The President believed that the Korean situation was similar to that of Greece in 1947. He informed his advisors that he believed the invasion was "very obviously inspired by the Soviet Union." This gave America a moral imperative to act. "If we don't put up a fight now," Truman observed to his staff, there was "no telling what they'll do." His concern over the future of anticommunist governments in Asia showed in his public statement. Truman pledged to defend Formosa (Taiwan) from attack and to support French forces in Indochina, a conflict that would eventually escalate into the Vietnam War. Yet Truman had no wish to provoke a full-scale war with the Soviets. By blaming "communism" in the statement, as opposed to the Soviet Union, Dean Acheson later explained, the administration sought to give the Soviets a "graceful exit" and not provoke open confrontation with Russia.

Truman's statement also reflected a new military order. Although the United States took the lead in the Korean action, it did so under the rubric of the United Nations. Truman made it clear that his actions fell within the measures recommended by the United Nations, and reminded "all members of the United Nations" to "consider carefully the consequences of this latest aggression in Korea" and that America "will continue to uphold the rule of law."

I'm all for primary sources for my students, so I thought I'd share tha you can find a huge slew for both Eisenhower and Truman from their libraries through this project on the Korean War.

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