Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Reasoning Behind U.S. Decision to Enter the Korean War Essay

Introduction What determined the United States to enter the one of the costliest wars in the twentieth-century is a good topic for foreign policy study. There are several possible explanations as to why the United States participated in the war. The most important explanation is that the western world would be in a greater threat if North Korea won the war. Communist was considered as expansionism by the White House; hence, occupying South Korea might be a move of Communists to expand the Communist territory in the world. To prevent this, the United States needed to deter this possible threat. Another one is the United States is afraid of communist expansion. If North Korea won the war, it might cause countries swinging between Communist and Democratic to become Communist. Moreover, the domestic political situation for the Truman administration at that time was crucial in analyzing why the United States entered the war. These are the most important factors motivating America to enter the war. Des pite the profits of the entry in the war, there were some reasons preventing the United States involved in the war. Because North Korea’s invasion was likely backed by the USSR, if the United States failed to handle the situation properly, a World War III might happen; this would lead to huge loss of U.S. personal and substantial financial costs. Other than that, because China borders North Korea and China was another major Communist country, the United States intervention could lead to war with China. In this paper, I would first analyze each major reason individually for entering the war or not intervening. After that, I would put the picture together to explain why the United States eventually chose to participate in the war. Reasons the United States entered the Korean War Fear of Communist Expansion The most important factor that influenced U.S. entry into the Korean War was the USSR’s and other Communist countries’ ambitions to expand. After WWII, the White House had started to consider the Soviet Union as imperialist. The report â€Å"the Truth of Korea† implied that the United States was a free nation and the Soviet Union was intended to build a Soviet empire around the world. By considering the Soviet Union as imperialist, the United States was afraid that if the United States stood aside in the Korean War, Communist countries would take further actions to expand. For instances, China would attack Taiwan, IndoChina would overthrow France and become Communist countries, and the Soviet Union would even build communist regimes in Middle East or West Europe. The worries were likely to become reality unless U.S. intervened. After WWII, the Soviet Union consolidated their power by setting up puppet communist governments in all countries they had liberated, except Yugoslavia. Both force and politics were used to keep East European countries following commands from Moscow. Based on these behaviors of the USSR on other countries, it was reasonable that the United States labeled the Soviet Union as imperialism. Facing a country with desires to control other countries, punishment was a better choice than appeasement according to the deterrence model. If the United States entered the war and secured independence of South Korea, Communist power would be contained. Consequently, when Communist countries were making decisions of territorial expansion, they had to consider the cost and consequence of a war with the United States. Therefore, the intervention could contain Communist power and prevent potential wars from happening. Fear of Bandwagoning The second important reason U.S. entered the Korean War was fear of bandwagoning. It was less important than fear of Communist expansion is because bandwagoning would not directly harm U.S. interests, but would impair the global political leadership of the United States. In the setting of post-World War II, the world was separated as two major political spheres, one Soviet-led and the other U.S.-led. The Korean Peninsula was one of the several places two the major political powers conflicting each other. Other than that, the political landscape in East Asia was towards Communist. In China, the Communist party led by Mao Zedong just won the civil war against Jiang Jieshi’s government supported by the United States. Countries like Vietnam and Laos inclined to join the family of Communist at that time, abd overthrow French colonists. Therefore, if Communist North Korea unified the Korean Peninsula, it would make countries like Vietnam and Laos align with the USSR without hesitati on. The United States was not willing to let that happen. According to historical documents, when the war just started, Truman and his advisors believed that to falter would forfeit world leadership because of bandwagoning and Communist expansion. Moreover, in official reports about Korea situation, concerns about Democratic power weakened if South Korea fell were raised often. In 1948’s report â€Å"Prospects for Survival of the Republic of Korea,† the result of South Korea lost to North Korea would constitute a severe blow to the prestige and influence of the United States. As a result, the defeat of South Korea would encourage more countries to align with the Soviet Union. The report was before the war, the United States already considered the bandwagoning a severe threat to UN’s influence in the world. From this perspective, in order to maintain the democratic as a stronger power in the world, the United States had strong interests in entering the Korean War. Consolidation for the Truman Administration The domestic political situation for the Truman Administration was not positive before the Korean War. In 1949, the Communists in China won the civil war against the Nationalists backed by the United States. It was painful that White House lost an important country, China, to Communism because the United States had invested tons of resources in the country, but in the end, the United States did not have the expected return. It stirred a debate of â€Å"Who lost China† in the United States. The public was more in favor of McCarthy’s opinion. McCarthyism indicated that losing China to communism was the government’s fault. Based on his analysis of the civil war in China, he believed â€Å"China hands† — China specialists at White House — plotted Jiang’s defeat, who was the top leader of the Nationalist. Therefore, at the time before the Korean War, the Truman Administration had a lot of pressure from the public due to losing China. If Sou th Korea was defeated by North Korea, the public would strengthen their belief that losing China was a government’s blunder. Hence, losing South Korea would be catastrophic to Truman’s presidency. From the view of domestic political situation, the United States entered the Korean War because the Truman Administration needed to prove its ability in protecting democratic power before losing all trust in the public. This point was less strong than the above two was because it was hard to collect evidence to support the point. Factors preventing the United States from entering the war War with China Entering the Korean War was likely to start a war with China, one of the greatest powers in the world. From the perspective of geography, the Korean Peninsula adjoins China. If a foreign military power of the United States was close to the border of China, China would feel threatened. The worry was validated after the United States joined in the war. On June 27th, 1950, after the Seventh Fleet of the United States was sent to neutralize Formosa, Mao, the chairman of China at that time vowed â€Å"Year after year unsure of when the enemy will attack us. We must repair the house before it rains.† Not a long time after the vow, Mao sent his army to the Korean Peninsula. Moreover, although China just ended its civil war and badly needed time to recover from the war, China was actively looking for a chance to consolidate its status in the world stage. In 1950, most countries in the world only recognized Republic of China led by Jiang and disputed the legitimacy of People’s Republic of China led by Mao. Therefore, Mao was eager to have a war with a strong world power to gain international recognition. The Korean War against the United States was a good opportunity for the communists to show the Mao’s China’s power to the world. For this reason, China was likely to enter the Korean War if U.S. intervened. Regarding the negative results of the war, people in the United States just gained peace; nobody would like to see a war between China and the United States. A war with China would lose many the United States soldiers, breakup thousands of American families and halt U.S. economy growth, hence lowering people’s living standards. Additionally, a war with China was also meaningless because at that time the United States did not want to defeat China, but defend South Korea. The war between China and the United States was predicable if the United States entered the Korean War. A war between China and the United states was undesirable for the reasons listed in this section. Therefore, a war with China was a big factor in not entering the Korean War. Start of World War III The entry into the Korean War might lead to World War III. A possible war with China might drag the Soviet Union into the war. If the Soviet Union entered the war against the United States, the Eastern Europe under control of the Soviet Union would also claim war against the United States. As a result, Western Europe would likely align with the United States to contain the Communist power in the world. People all around the world just tried to recover from the aftermath of World War II. If World War III happened right after World War II, the world would be in chaos again, creating another tragedy in human beings history. The big picture When the benefits outweigh the costs of a decision, one would put that decision into action. The three major benefits Unites States would have from entering the war were preventing domino effect of countries joining in Communist, constraining the ambitions of expansions/ invasions from Communist countries, and securing the domestic administration. The two major costs were an undesirable war with China and a possible start of World War III. It was hard to determine whether the benefits outweighed the costs. However, the listed costs were unavoidable if the United States did nothing in the Korean War. If the United States let South Korea fall, there would still be a war between Communist power and democratic power in the future. As analyzed in the section of fear of Communist expansion, Communist countries led by the Soviet Union inclined to expand their territories if their ambitions were not constrained. Therefore, appeasement to Communist countries was not going to stop them from behaving aggressively. Even though the United States would not participate in the Korean War, finally it was possible to be a day that the Soviet Union would eventually declare a war on the United States for further expansion. The costs would only become more significant than the costs of entering the war at that time. Hence, in order to prevent that from happening, the United States took the initiative to contain Communist power in the world. Additionally, human pride played a factor. Truman might recklessly enter the war in order to secure his status in White House. To him, protecting his reputation and his presidency might be much more important than starting World War III or fighting an undesired war with China. Hence, because of personal emotions, Truman would order the United States to enter the war. Conclusion There are three major reasons encouraging the United States to enter the Korean War. From the perspective of bandwagoning, defending South Korea could win credibility for democracy power and possibly win countries swaying between Communism and Democracy. In the view of the deterrence model, entering the war could constrain the ambition of imperialism of Communism countries. Considering the domestic political condition, intervention in the Korean Peninsula could make the public turn attention to the war instead of the administration’s failure in China and relieve the public pressure from the administration. On the other side, there were two important costs preventing the United States from entering the war. The first cost was an unnecessary war with China. The United States would not benefit directly from fighting against China and U.S. would consume numerous resources and human power in the war. The other cost was starting World War III. The Soviet Union could declare a war on Unites States if the condition in Korea got worse. U.S. decision to entry into the Korea War was made because of two logics. First, the costs were unavoidable if the United States just watched and did nothing in the war. Communist would continue to expand and finally encounter the United States for a war in the future. At that time, the cost would only exaggerate, not minimize. Second, Truman would more likely send U.S. troops to the war field. In order to secure his administration, he needed to turn the public attention away from China and prove his ability in foreign policy. The result of the war was peace between South Korea and North Korea. Judging from the result, U.S. entry into the war had a positive impact on the peninsula. However, whether the peace in the Korean Peninsula could be achieved through other ways at lower cost is worth further discussion.

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