The Korean War 1950-53

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  • THE KOREAN WAR
    • Causes
      • Kim Il Sung's ambition to unite Korea under his leadership - invasion June 1950
      • Stalin's willingness to equip the NK army with MiG fighters, T34 tanks etc, enabling it to invade
      • Stalin's approval of the invasion after he had exploded the atom bomb
        • the USA had withdrawn their troops from Korea and China had turned Communist and allied with the USSR
        • Stalin's willingness to equip the NK army with MiG fighters, T34 tanks etc, enabling it to invade
      • China was not involved in decision to invade: but Korean veterans of Mao's war against Chiang Kai Shek spearheaded invasion
      • USA lulled NK and USSR into false sense of security: by not equipping SK army with equipment to resist an invasion, withdrawing its own troops and Secretary of State Acheson carelessly excluded Korea from a speech on vital US interests in Asia
      • Truman under domestic pressure from McArthur: after loss of China, to show he wasn't "soft on Communism"
        • Therefore developed a policy of containment (initially in Europe after Communist expansion there, and then in Asia)
      • Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe (1945-9) and its explosion of the atom bomb (1949) threatened the USA
      • Rhee shared Kim's ambition to unite Korea and a SK border rai in 1949 gave Kim Il Sung an excuse to invade
      • After liberation of SK, Truman and McArthur saw an opportunity to "roll" Communism out of Korea completely ("roll-back")
    • The Chinese Intervention, October 1950
      • After US success at Inchon, the whole of NK would have fallen but for the Chinese intervention in October 1950
      • The Chinese army inflicted the most humiliating defeat and retreat in US military history, discrediting McArthur, expelling the US from NK and even capturing Seoul
      • Disagreement between Truman and McArthur about how to respond to this led to MacArthur being sacked in 1951
        • MacArthur publicly rejected Truman's policy of limiting the war to Korea and wanked to "nuke" China, which would have caused WW3 - he also needed to keep the support of allies e.g. GB
      • Chinese objections (especially on the prisoner of war issue) helped to delay the ceasefire until 1953
      • Neither the USA nor China wanted to fight each other in Vietnam
      • BUT...
        • China was not involved in the decision to invade SK in June 1950 (made by Stalin and Kim Il Sung)
        • US managed to halt the Chinese offensive, recapture Seoul and repel a further offensive in 1951
        • The delay in the ceasefire probably more to Stalin and Kim Il Sung than Mao Zedong
    • BUT...
      • China was not involved in the decision to invade SK in June 1950 (made by Stalin and Kim Il Sung)
      • US managed to halt the Chinese offensive, recapture Seoul and repel a further offensive in 1951
      • The delay in the ceasefire probably more to Stalin and Kim Il Sung than Mao Zedong
    • Japan
      • Vital to the USA as the place through which all of its troops and supplies were sent to Korea
      • With the "loss" of China it was now the most important US ally in Asia and one of the top 5 economies in the world with its skilled workforce and powerful companies e.g. Toyota
      • It was essential to contain Communism in Korea because otherwise Japan might fall

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