The United States, Race and Nuclear Weapons in Asia, 1945–1965
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print Publication Year: 2010
Online Publication Date:May 2010
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511712197.003
Over the course of several days at the end of June 1950, the Truman administration took a series of momentous decisions that by committing American ground, air and naval forces to the fighting that had broken out on the Korean peninsula reversed the basic principle maintained by the JCS during and since the Second World War that American troops would not be committed to large-scale operations on the Asian mainland. The rollercoaster nature of the ensuing war, from the rapid retreat to the Pusan perimeter, to the heady days of the Inchon landings and advance to the Yalu river, followed by the deep depression when Chinese intervention seemed to spell disaster for the US and South Korean forces and the UN Command as a whole, was matched by the mood of popular opinion at home as American foreign policy in Asia became even more of an emotional and divisive issue in domestic politics. By the time the front in Korea had stabilized in the late spring of 1951, many Americans were left with the frustrating spectacle of debilitating involvement in a limited war with an implacable foe where few direct interests seemed to be engaged. Moreover, for senior figures in the Truman administration, even with the programme of wholesale rearmament launched in the summer of 1950, there was a pervasive sense that the Korean War was a draining distraction from the primary goal of bolstering the defence of Western Europe against any potential attack from a now nuclear-armed Soviet Union.