History Unit 4: Containing Communism Revision

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Why did America get involved in Korea?

Strategic Reasons:

  • The U.S. wanted to reinforce the core areas of western Europe and Japan as buffers against the advance of communism while containing communism on the periphery. The advancement of the communist cause depended on opportunities for expansion, such as invasion of Korea. Therefore, defence of South Korea was imperative.
  • September 1945: the US detected traces of radioactivity around the Soviets, the Soviets were testing atomic devices in Kazakhstan. The US had lost their 'atomic monopoly' which had acted as a deterrent against a communist invasion in Western Europe. Loss meant the Soviets would be more confident in fighting the Cold War's 'war of nerves'. Intervention in Korea could be America's oppotunity to reassert power.
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Why did America get involved in Korea?

Stratgic Reasons (contd.):

  • October 1949: CCP victory in China. Defeat of Chinese nationalists in the face of Stalin and Mao. Described by most Americans as the 'fall' of China. (The Democrats blamed for the 'loss' of China, this is the catalyst to McCarthy's claims that the Democrats were the 'closet communists' within the State Department, see domestic reasons for involvement.)Again the US needs to reassert their power on the global stage and reestablish themselves as 'defenders of democracy'. On a domestic level victory in Korea (which the majority of US authorities assumed would be an easy one) would steady the public's wavering confidence in the ability of their government and armed forces.
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