Causes of Korean War


Roots of the conflict

Japan's brutal rule of Korea since 1905 created a turbulent situation

Post World War Two

Korea was divided by the 38th parallel and occupied by the Soviets in the north and the USA in the south

Moscow accords 1945

USA didnt want a united Korea if it was communist

Syngman Rhee was the leader of the democratic south

Kim Il Sung was the leader of the north

Truman doctrine 1947

Decisive turning point in the origins of the cold war

US forgeign policy became more militant in the containment of soviet aggression

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Military balance

Overwhelming superiority of the North Koreans by summer 1950

Soviet Union provided North Korea with large amounts of military equipment:
-87 T34 tanks
-armoured vehicles
-military aircraft

50000 Korean veterans returned who had served in the Chinese civil war

Stalin provided equipment for a further three divisions in February 1950
North Korea had force of over 130 000

South Korea had 100 000 men
No tanks, only 22 aircraft

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Increased confidence of Stalin

Soviets had successfully tested the atom bomb in 1949

Stalin felt that the Americans wouldn't intervene as Secretary of State Dean Acheson had said the Korea was outside of the USA's defence perimeter

Even if the USA did intervene, this would cause China to intervene on behalf of North Korea.

Therefore the USA and China would be fighting each other and expending vital resources

Stalin was anxious about a resurgent Japan as it seemed to be changing from an enemy to an ally with the USA

Japan was only 100 miles from Korea and communism would be safest if the whole Korean peninsular were communist

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USA responsibility

American anti Communism
The USA feared an ideology that rejected capitalism and political democracy
They anticipated that if more countries became communist they would refuse to trade with the USA and feared that the global balance of lower had tipped against the USA

Claims that 205 communists were working in the state department
Created fear of communism

NSC 68
Pessimistically described a polarised world between capitalism and communism
Described the need for a more powerful hydrogen bomb, a system of alliances and the mobilisation of the American public

Fears for Japan
Communist control of South Korean airbases would threaten Japanese security

Ambiguous policies
By removing America troops in 1948 Truman left South Korea defenceless against the communists
Secretary of State Dean Acheson said that Korea was outside the US defence perimeter
This encouraged the Soviet Union and North Korea to believe that the USA would not fight to defend South Korea
Congress rejected a bill that gave aid to Korea in 1950

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Korean dimension

Kim misled Stalin over how easy the victory would be and said that the victory would be theirs within three weeks
This was to ensure soviet backing and supplies

Kim then visited Mao in China to gain his support

Syngman Rhee was hostile and aggressive in his behaviour and attitude to the north and made it clear that he wanted to unite Korea

He hoped to bring about a war so that the USA would come to his defence

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United Nations and lessons from history

Truman believed the United Nations had to take decisive action

If the west appeased North Korea it might lead to another world war

Truman was certain that western allies such as Britain and France would support his action in Korea as they were also anxious about communist unrest in their colonial possessions of Malaya and Indo China

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