36. The Quarantine of Taiwan

With astonishing speed, the Chinese Communists had conquered all of mainland China except (for the moment) Tibet and were pressing the last remnants of the demoralized Nationalists off the islands in the South and East China seas. Long before the end of 1949, however, the bit of real estate that concerned the United States the most was the small island province of Taiwan, recovered by China from the Japan in 1945 and last refuge and fortress of Chiang Kai-shek and the die-hard members of the Kuomintang.

On August 4, 1949, Secretary of State Acheson informed the National Security Council (NSC) that preservation of Taiwan from the Communists could not be prevented by economic aid to the Nationalists or by reform of Chiang's government. Acheson wanted the U.S. to abandon the island but it was for the NSC to determine whether it was of sufficient importance to commit American forces to its occupation. On August 17, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff reaffirmed a previously determined view that "the strategic importance of Formosa [Taiwan] does not justify overt military action." The next month they opposed sending a military mission to Taiwan to examine the state of Nationalist defenses.1

If the NSC accepted the JCS recommendation it would imply that the U.S. was tacitly acquiescing to the destruction of the Nationalist regime. In that eventuality, there could be little long-time sense in American nonrecognition of the Beijing regime or pressure to keep Red China off the United Nations Security Council.

Unwilling to accept this logic, Acheson pushed for two contradictory policies: he advocated renunciation of any U.S. role in defending Taiwan but also opposition to Red China's recognition by Western powers and its admission to the UN. The China lobby, however, sought to commit the United States to preserving Taiwan in Nationalist hands.2 Although Taiwan admittedly was only a tiny bit of China, its continued rule by Chiang Kai-shek could be rationalized to continue recognition of the Nationalists.

Acheson failed to get the backing of American allies, especially Britain, in presenting a united front against Red China. Smaller Western countries were not impressed with Acheson's involuted arguments. Britain wanted to protect Hong Kong from a Communist takeover, needed trade with China to aid in recovery from the war and sought to prove to newly independent India, Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma that it was willing to accept Asian nations on equal terms.3

France was hesitant as well, especially after Zhou Enlai implied a threat against French Indochina if it granted fleeing Nationalist troops asylum. France, which had great difficulties in Indochina because of a revolt by Communist-led Vietminh under Ho Chi Minh, wanted no hostile Red China on Indochina's northern frontier.4

In Washington, the major opponents of Acheson's Taiwan policy were three Republican senators, William Knowland of California, H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey and Robert A. Taft of Ohio. Although the GOP actually represented the main repository of isolationism in the U.S, these Republicans, to find an issue to use against the Truman administration, pressed for an active, interventionist policy in Taiwan.5 Senator Smith urged that the U.S. take the position that Taiwan was still officially a part of Japan, since the U.S. had not signed a peace treaty. The U.S. then might assume a sort of protectorate over the island. A few weeks later Smith implied publicly that General Douglas MacArthur, supreme commander in Japan, supported his view.6 Smith's proposal got nowhere but showed the extremes some China lobbyists were willing to go.

Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson meanwhile had joined the pro-Nationalists and pressed the Joint Chiefs so hard they suggested that the U.S. send a military fact-finding mission to Taiwan and that Chiang receive military assistance.7

Secretary Johnson asked President Truman to support the JCS recommendations. But Acheson insisted that nothing short of commitment of U.S. forces could save Taiwan.8 President Truman sided with Acheson and on December 29, 1949, the National Security Council endorsed the State Department view rejecting a mission and holding that no American forces should be used to shore up Chiang Kai-shek.9

* * * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, Mao Zedong lent credence to the fears of official Washington by departing in December, 1949, for Moscow to negotiate an alliance and a military and economic assistance pact with Joseph Stalin. Zhou Enlai joined him a month later. But Stalin proved to be with Mao and Zhou as hard a bargainer and as relentless a protector of Russian interests as he ever had been with Roosevelt and the Chinese Nationalists. When Red China and the Soviet Union signed a thirty-year treaty on February 14, 1950, Mao and Zhou received modest aid. Stalin granted Red China only 300 million dollars in loans which had to be repaid with interest in five years. He also agreed to assist China in developing industry by providing technicians and technical help. Stalin promised restoration of the Manchurian railways, Port Arthur and Dairen to Chinese control at the end of 1952 but required that the facilities should be used jointly by both countries in the event of war.10

* * * * * * * * * *

The year 1950, which was to be one of the most eventful in American and Far Eastern history, opened with a flurry of moves and countermoves regarding American policy in East Asia. In the United Nations the question of admitting Red China and expelling Nationalist China came to a crisis. In the midst of all this, Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, a vicious and underhanded demagogue, discovered by accident so-called Communist infiltration into the State Department in his search for an issue for his 1952 reelection campaign. Throughout the winter and spring McCarthy's irresponsible and unsubstantiated charges distracted American leaders from the real problems facing the nation and created numbing anxiety among public officials fearful that McCarthy's self-serving witch hunt would single them out for unfair but damning public scorn and punishment.11

On January 2, 1950, Senator Knowland released a letter he had solicited from former President Herbert Hoover. It suggested that the United States give naval protection to Taiwan, the Pescadores and possibly Hainan. Senator Taft endorsed the idea but not all Republicans were united behind his move.12

President Truman decided the time had come for him to state clearly his position. On January 5 he announced that the United States had no desire to acquire special privileges or military bases on Taiwan and no intention of using American military forces to interfere in the Chinese civil war. Truman said the U.S. would not provide military aid or advice to the Nationalist forces. He also cast aside any idea that the U.S. would dispute China's possession of Taiwan.13

The president's firm statement cleared the air dramatically and threw China bloc members on the defensive. On January 9 in debate in the Senate, Democratic leaders asserted that the Republican proposals could lead to war.14

On January 12 Secretary Acheson made a major speech. It became one of the most controversial events of the decade. Acheson appeared before the National Press Club and there did two things. He reiterated his old belief that the Soviet Union was absorbing Outer and Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Manchuria and he drew an American strategic line in the Pacific which the United States would defend that expressly omitted Taiwan and South Korea.15

This strategic line ran from the Aleutians, through Japan, the Ryukyu islands and included the Philippines. It was not new, although Acheson's emphasis on it at a moment of high tension made it seem so. In 1949 the Joint Chiefs of Staff had sketched an identical line and the same year General MacArthur, in an interview with a British journalist, had done the same thing. Indeed, MacArthur had declared that "the Pacific has become an Anglo-American lake," thus claiming everything east of the line as being under American control (he included Britain only as a courtesy).

At the moment the press in the U.S. and the officialdom in Washington focused on the omission of Taiwan from the American defensive perimeter. Acheson's pronouncement was soothing because it indicated the U.S. possessed an easily defensible line to protect its national interests. But other leaders elsewhere were looking at the other omission: South Korea. What they decided was to have important effects upon Red China and the United States.

Acheson's National Press Club speech enunciated the Far Eastern version of the American "containment" policy which had become official nearly three years before in the form of the "Truman doctrine" on Greece. In February, 1947, then Secretary of State George C. Marshall had articulated what became known as the "domino theory": if Greece fell to the Communists, Turkey might follow and "Soviet domination might thus extend over the entire Middle East and Asia." The U.S. extended the same logic to constituting the British, American and French occupation zones of Germany into a German state to prevent the spread of Communism through western Europe.16

The principal effect of the domino theory was to mobilize American resistance to any Communist advance anywhere in the world. The bewildering speed of the Red Chinese conquest of the mainland, however, had left in tatters the domino theory in East Asia. Acheson's Press Club pronouncement, therefore, was an attempt to draw a containment line that recognized existing realities, yet did not give away what the Truman administration believed were essential U.S. positions in the Far East. As events were to show, American leaders were not satisfied with this conservative, nonprovocative line.

The day after Acheson's speech before the National Press Club, the UN Security Council rejected a Soviet proposal to admit Red China to the Security Council and UN and to expel Nationalist China. This vote came at the end of intense negotiations behind closed doors that had begun November 18, 1949, when UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie received a cable from Beijing demanding the UN deprive Nationalist China of its seat. On January 8, 1950, Beijing sent another cable in like vein. Two days later Jacob A. Malik, the Soviet representative on the Security Council, introduced a resolution to carry out the expulsion.

Acheson, in light of Britain's insistence upon recognizing Beijing, decided upon an indirect approach. Instead of vetoing the measure, which would have aroused an intense international controversy, Acheson announced that the U.S. would "accept the decision of the Security Council....when made by an affirmative vote of seven members." Acheson had counted noses and was certain Malik couldn't get the votes.

In the January 13 vote Acheson was proved right. Six members voted aye and three nay but Britain and Norway abstained. Although only one vote short, Malik immediately walked out of the Security Council. He announced the Soviet Union would boycott the United Nations so long as the Nationalist delegate remained. It was an incredibly severe reaction, because twenty-six nations already had recognized Red China (fifteen of them UN members). If Russia had been conciliatory or even a little patient, the question could have been settled quickly. The United States was not going to press the matter too hard for fear of worldwide criticism. Other nations, recognizing that Red China now ruled 98 per cent of the Chinese people and 96 per cent of its territory, were growing in favor of ousting the discredited Nationalists.

Sir Alexander Cadogan, British delegate to the UN, raised the suspicion that Russia's real motivation was to insure that Red China was not admitted. The Soviet Union had little interest in sharing the major world arena with a state like China with its enormous potential influence.17

Red China now made two stupid errors. On January 14 the Communist government seized American, Dutch and French diplomatic property in Beijing. The U.S. immediately announced it was closing down all consular offices in Red China and recalling all its diplomats. The action incensed American officials and the public and ruled out U.S. recognition of the Beijing government for the present. It also brought a sudden halt to the recognition of Red China by many other countries, though a number were planning to make the move. Between January 17 when Switzerland recognized Beijing and June 25, 1950, the Netherlands and Indonesia were the only countries to send envoys to Beijing.18

The second error occurred on January 19 when Beijing recognized the Communist Vietminh government under Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, a government in rebellion and in opposition to the French program to create within the French Union three "independent" countries out of Indochina: Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. This move stopped France's plan to recognize Beijing. Red China's decision forced the Soviet Union to follow a few days later in recognizing the Ho Chi Minh regime.19 These démarches divided the nations involved in East Asia along ideological lines when it was in Beijing's interest to avoid distinctions and to work toward reasonable solutions to disputes. The Beijing errors played into the hands of Americans opposed to any accommodation with Red China.

* * * * * * * * * *

President Truman's and Secretary Acheson's statements had quieted the China lobby. But American attitudes hardened in the spring of 1950 as a result of the intransigence emanating from Beijing, the unreasoning fear of Communists stirred up by Senator McCarthy's charges and the growing threat of an actual Communist invasion of Taiwan. Whether these second thoughts about Red China would have brought on a different American policy is doubtful. However, events were moving beyond China and the United States to force a radical reappraisal.

Meantime, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) alerted American leaders on April 17 that the Chinese Communists could seize Taiwan before the end of 1950 and probably would do so.20 Dean Rusk, assistant secretary for Far Eastern affairs, proposed putting Taiwan under a UN trusteeship, with the U.S. Navy assigned to protect the island.21

In June, General Omar N. Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of Defense Johnson went to the Far East on an inspection tour. While in Tokyo on June 22 en route home, Johnson and Bradley received from General MacArthur a copy of a June 14 memo of his which concluded that "the domination of Formosa [Taiwan] by an unfriendly power would be a disaster of utmost importance to the U.S. and I am convinced that time is of the essence." MacArthur advocated that he be authorized to make an immediate survey of the requirements to prevent Red seizure of the island and that the results "be acted upon as a basis for U.S. national policy with respect to Formosa."22 This memo had an important influence on subsequent decisions by President Truman.

* * * * * * * * * *

In the early hours of Sunday, June 25, 1950, the Soviet-equipped armies of the People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) crossed the 38th parallel border and opened a stunning and unexpected attack upon North Korea's neighbor, the Republic of Korea (South Korea).23

The origins of this eruption into violence went back to the forced division of Korea at the end of World War II, when the United States and the Soviet Union agreed upon a "temporary" line at the 38th parallel. The Russians were to accept the Japanese surrender north of this line, the Americans to the south. The cold war froze this line into a permanent international frontier and made fierce political opponents out of the two states that emerged on the Korean peninsula, one American-supported and Western oriented, the other Soviet-supported and Communist oriented.

Korea, however, had existed for well over a millenium as a small but distinct society, set off by mountains and water from the Chinese empire and Japan, where it developed its own culture, language and national identity. The abrupt splitting of this ancient society to serve the political purposes of two superpowers created deep animosities and schisms among the Korean people. It also developed intense desires among the Koreans to end the political division and reunite the peninsula in a single government.

Such a reunion could be possible only by force, however, because each superpower had developed a leader, government and army in its own image and professing its own ideology.

The polarization was especially stark because South Korea had acquired an extreme right-wing government from which all liberal elements had been excluded. This came about in 1948 as a result of a United Nations election. The U.S. asked for the vote after its efforts to operate a four-power (Russia, U.S., China, Britain) trusteeship for all Korea had crashed on the rocks of Soviet intransigence. Russia had insisted the four-power commission work only with Korean political groups that supported trusteeship. These were only obedient minority Communist and fellow-traveling groups because the vast bulk of patriotic Koreans despised the trusteeship and wanted quick independence.

The Soviet Union prohibited the UN election in the north. In the south, only two small ultraconservative groups endorsed the election while all liberal and moderate parties, representing majority opinion, boycotted it. They recognized an election under these conditions meant a permanent division of Korea. The consequence was that Syngman Rhee, a seventy-three-year-old reactionary who had spent forty years in exile, gained the presidency and control of the government.

To compete with this government the Soviet Union established a Communist-dominated state in North Korea under Kim Il Sung, a thirty-year-old Communist and former officer in the Soviet Army. Both Russia and the United States set about establishing armies. The U.S. refused to create a force with offensive potential, however, because Syngman Rhee constantly threatened to attack the north and bring it forcibly into union with the south. The Russians also were hesitant at first, though the army they created was larger.

The turning point came some time in late 1949. Kim Il Sung visited Joseph Stalin and discussed plans he had been developing to attack South Korea. The idea appealed to Stalin and he told Kim to come back later with concrete plans. When he did, Stalin was doubtful because he feared possible American intervention. However, Secretary of State Acheson's statement to the National Press Club on January 12, 1950, leaving Korea out of the perimeter the United States was determined to defend, may have played a crucial role in getting Stalin's acquiescence for Kim to go ahead. There is no evidence, despite American conviction at the time, that the Soviet Union instigated the attack. Rather the evidence is preponderant that the North Koreans planned it and the Russians went along, hoping that the Americans would stay out.

In the spring of 1950, therefore, the Soviet Union began delivering to North Korea a few modern aircraft (but no jet planes) and 150 T-34 tanks. These tanks turned out to be the decisive weapon because the United States, fearful of Syngman Rhee's aggressive tendencies, had given the South Korean army nothing to stop a tank, neither armor-piercing shells, nor antitank mines nor aircraft which could have dropped jellied gasoline napalm or fired rockets. The T-34 was probably the best tank to come out of World War II. The version the Soviet Union delivered to North Korea weighed thirty-two tons, was heavily armor-plated and carried a high-velocity 85-millimeter gun. The ordinary high-explosive ammunition which the U.S. had supplied for the South Koreans' few 105-millimeter howitzers as well as rockets from American 2.36-inch rocket launchers (bazookas) simply bounced off the T-34s, seldom doing any damage.

Led by their 150 T-34s, the North Korean army pressed rapidly into South Korea all along the 38th parallel, but concentrated against the capital, Seoul, only about twenty miles south of the parallel. The Republic of Korea (ROK) army fell back in confusion and defeat.

News of the unexpected North Korean assault galvanized Secretary of State Acheson into action. He and General J. Lawton Collins, the army chief of staff, quickly agreed to establish a protective air cover over the airfield outside Seoul (Kimpo) and the southern port of Pusan to assure safe evacuation of American dependents, which the State Department ordered immediately. Acheson also asked Trygve Lie to call an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council at Lake Success, Long Island, New York.24

Acheson moved away instantly from his January 12 position of noninterference in Korean affairs and decided that the attack was "an open, undisguised challenge to our internationally accepted position as the protector of South Korea, an area of great importance to the security of American-occupied Japan....It looked as though we must steel ourselves for the use of force."25 President Truman, flying back because of the emergency from a weekend visit to his home in Independence, Missouri, likewise was turning toward intervention. He later wrote: "If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threats and aggression by stronger Communist neighbors."26

American officials at the UN Security Council worked fast lining up support for a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire and directing North Korea to withdraw its armed forces immediately. Few informed persons believed the North Koreans would heed the council's directive but the resolution was a strong vote against North Korea. The absence of Jacob Malik, the Soviet representative, was a bonanza. Malik was still boycotting the council and the U.S.-sponsored resolution passed by a vote of 9-0, with Yugoslavia abstaining.27

On the evening of June 25, the top American leadership assembled at Blair House in Washington, because the White House was undergoing repairs.28 Although the leaders were anxious about the situation in Korea, the remarkable fact about this meeting was that the first thing they did, even before sitting down to dinner, was to listen to a reading by Bradley of General MacArthur's June 14 memorandum regarding Taiwan which Johnson and Bradley had brought back from Tokyo. Secretary Johnson asked for this first because he felt that the status of Taiwan entered into American security more than did South Korea.29 This identification of Taiwan with Korea was to mark American decisions from this point on.

Acheson recommended that the president authorize General MacArthur to send the South Koreans arms and equipment and confirm his and Collins's earlier decision to establish American air cover to assist in the evacuation of American civilians.

But the attack on South Korea had caused a change of heart in Acheson regarding Taiwan, because he recommended that Truman "should order the Seventh Fleet [in the Philippines] to proceed to Formosa and prevent an attack on Formosa from the mainland. At the same time operations from Formosa against the mainland should be prevented."

There was a general belief around the table that the Soviet Union was behind the North Korean attack. This was based on the assumption (unsupported by any facts) that the North Koreans alone would not have instigated such an attack without Soviet blessing or without assurances of Soviet aid if the Americans did intervene. Acheson and other American leaders also had been asserting that Red China was under the control of the Kremlin, again without any evidence. Thus, starting from unproved premises and jumping to the unjustified conclusion that both the Soviet Union and Red China were somehow behind the North Korean attack, Acheson could claim that the protection of Nationalists on Taiwan was an American concern.30

The mental leap was entirely illogical, of course. But American leaders had already concluded there was a Communist conspiracy of conquest and the attack on South Korea proved it, although all that had actually been proved was North Korean aggression. Truman ordered his military chiefs to prepare plans to wipe out all Soviet air bases in the Far East and to survey possible "next" moves by the Soviet Union.

Despite Acheson's strong recommendation regarding Taiwan, however, Truman did not immediately order the Seventh Fleet to the Taiwan (Formosa) strait. He authorized the fleet to proceed to Sasebo on the Japanese southern island of Kyushu but stipulated its mission would be subject to review. He had not finally made up his mind. He also authorized MacArthur to send a survey team to Taiwan.31

The next day it became clear North Korean forces were about to occupy Seoul and would ignore the Security Council resolution. Acheson arranged with the president to call another meeting of the same group at Blair House at 9 p.m. This time, Truman approved decisive steps. He accepted an Acheson recommendation that restrictions on U.S. air and naval forces be lifted and that they attack North Koreans at will, though limiting the attacks for the present south of the 38th parallel. Truman also approved Acheson's proposal that the U.S. present a resolution to the Security Council, meeting the next day, to seek UN sanction for open military intervention. Finally, Truman approved a third Acheson proposal that the Seventh Fleet quarantine Taiwan.32

A remarkable fact about the Korean War is how it brought about an abrupt and radical change in American policy toward Red China and resulted in an American protectorate over Taiwan. From the start of the Korean conflict (as Truman perversely called it to prevent being accused of leading the U.S. into war) Acheson, Truman, Johnson, MacArthur and the Joint Chiefs of Staff coupled Taiwan with the defense of South Korea. The JCS instructions on intervening in Korea and on neutralizing Taiwan were contained in the same teleconference with MacArthur. President Truman's message to the American people on June 27, 1950, made only an incidental mention that he had "ordered United States air and sea forces to give the Korean government troops cover and support." The bulk of his message was spent in justifying American intervention in the Chinese civil war.

In this message, Truman said that the attack upon Korea "makes it plain beyond all doubt that Communism has passed beyond the use of subversion" and was now using armed invasion and war. He added: "It [here Truman means all Communism everywhere, not merely the actually guilty North Koreans] has defied the orders of the Security Council." Truman then concluded that "in these circumstances" occupation of Taiwan by Communists would be a direct threat to U.S. security. The president then announced he had ordered the Seventh Fleet to prevent any attack on Taiwan and also had called upon the Nationalists to cease all operations against the mainland. Truman concluded ominiously that "the determination of the future status of Formosa must await the restoration of security in the Pacific, a peace settlement with Japan or consideration by the United Nations."

In this convoluted and illogical way Truman tried to justify his unilateral order to protect Taiwan. His task was doubly hard because Red China had made no threat against the United States and not a single Chinese Communist soldier had marched. Truman's purpose, however, was not to make sense so much as to prevent an attack on his rear by Republicans and China lobbyists, who would support intervention in Korea only if the U.S. protected the Nationalists. In this sense Truman's interposition of the Seventh Fleet in the Taiwan strait was a preemptive move to prevent political catastrophe at home.33

In a broader sense, Truman's decision was a repudiation of the American containment decision and the inauguration of a "rollback" policy to advance the American containment line beyond Acheson's Aleutians-Japan-Philippines barrier announced at the Press Club. This resolve was to have enormous and unanticipated effects upon the United States. It reflected the hubris of American leaders that they could stop the advance of autonomous forces pressing for fundamental change in much of the world and that the U.S. could order the world to conform to its vision. As Gabriel Kolko has written, American leaders nurtured an overweening belief that it was desirable and possible for the U.S. to regulate the world's political and economic problems. The effect was to bring into sharp conflict excessive American desires and limited American resources. In 1950 and for years thereafter, American leaders only partly perceived the limits of U.S. power.34

Truman's unilateral raising of a question regarding Taiwan's status as Chinese territory angered the Red Chinese but it also alarmed the British. The 1943 Cairo declaration by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt had unequivocably promised to return Taiwan and Manchuria to China. At war's end the U.S. had assisted China in reestablishing its sovereignty in both places. The British ambassador to the U.S., Sir Oliver Franks, remarked on July 18, 1950, that the British had drawn from the president's statement that the United States was implying it would never agree Taiwan would go to China so long as a Communist government ruled there.35

Although Truman gave the public impression that the neutralization of Taiwan had the evenhanded purpose of restraining both Communists and Nationalists, it was obvious to anyone who knew the situation that it was an aggressive move directed entirely at Red China. Beyond the public eye the Truman administration made no bones about its intention. At the decisive Blair House conference on June 26, Admiral Sherman asked whether the Seventh Fleet could anchor in Taiwanese ports if necessary. Acheson said he thought the fleet should have this authority and Truman agreed.36 The American-Nationalist relationship quickly became that of allies. Early in July Vice Admiral Arthur D. Struble, commander of the Seventh Fleet, visited Taiwan, much to the joy of Generalissimo Chiang, and discussed cooperation with the Nationalist naval chief.37

The Red Chinese, not being able to understand American politics, reacted predictably to Truman's announcement. Zhou Enlai denounced Truman's move as "armed aggression against Chinese territory and a total violation of the United Nations charter." He also protested to the UN. Mao Zedong said the U.S. had broken its promises not to interfere in China's internal affairs and called upon the Chinese people to "defeat every provocation of American imperialism." Acheson chose to interpret Zhou Enlai's statement as tantamount to a declaration of war.38

Acheson and other American leaders demonstrated an alarming lack of sensitivity to Red Chinese anxieties or interests. Although American leaders chose to believe (or actually did believe) that Red China was a party to the North Korean attack, the Chinese Communists themselves had made absolutely no aggressive moves. In fact, it would have been completely against Red Chinese interests to participate in an attack against South Korea. Acquiring Taiwan was by far Beijing's top priority. It had no incentive whatsoever, before achieving this goal, to enter into adventures in Korea. The argument that a Korean War was contrary to Red Chinese interests should have been reason alone to give American leaders pause in blaming the Chinese Reds for taking part in the attack. The record of the decisive conferences, however, does not show that this point was raised by a single person.

On the other hand, placing the U.S. Seventh Fleet between Taiwan and the mainland made the United States into an enemy of Red China, something contrary to the interests of the United States.

The UN Security Council met on June 27 to consider another resolution, this time calling upon UN members to furnish military assistance to repel the North Korean attack. The U.S. already had polled members of the council and knew it had a vote in favor. The only way it could be stopped was for the Soviet Union to resume its seat and veto the measure. The Kremlin faced a dismal choice. If it used its veto it would bring world censure down directly on the Soviet Union for cynical misuse of its power. If it continued to boycott the chamber its client state, North Korea, was certain to be branded in effect as an aggressor. The Kremlin made the best of a bad situation and kept its delegate away from the Security Council that day. Although North Korea suffered a severe propaganda defeat, the Soviet Union itself avoided direct recrimination.39

The Security Council resolution passed with seven affirmative votes, giving the United States official world approval for the action it was about to take. The resolution recommended that UN members furnish assistance to South Korea to repel the North Korean invader. As for the U.S. action to quarantine Taiwan, the U.S. neither sought nor got United Nations approval. This was wholly an American action.40

Meantime, General MacArthur flew to Korea to appraise the situation. He reported back to Washington that the ROK army was incapable of defending against the North Koreans and American occupation forces in Japan (the only U.S. forces immediately available) would have to be committed.

On June 30, Truman presented an incredible proposal he wanted his top advisors to consider: Chiang Kai-shek had offered 33,000 Chinese Nationalist troops to be sent to Korea and Truman was inclined to accept it. The president's insensitivity to the implications of such a move was astonishing. Fortunately, Secretary Acheson understood and he protested that sending in Nationalists might stimulate Red China to intervene. The Chinese Communists could only have interpreted the commitment of Nationalist troops to Korea as the first step in an American-sponsored drive by Chiang Kai-shek to reconquer the mainland. The Joint Chiefs also joined in, telling the president that the Nationalists themselves were more or less military refugees and the arms and ships needed for the Nationalists could more productively be used to send in American troops. Truman accepted the rebuff, turned down Chiang's offer and authorized MacArthur to use whatever ground forces he had under his command in the Far East, without limit. The president's decisions fully committed the United States to war. However, General MacArthur resurrected the idea of using Chinese Nationalists in Korea several times thereafter, decisive proof either of his political ignorance or of his deliberate attempt to commit the United States to reconquering the Chinese mainland.41

Despite all the initial fears that the attack in Korea indicated a general Soviet movement of aggression, the Russians themselves displayed monumental silence and serenity. On June 29 Andrei Gromyko, the Soviet foreign minister, informed the U.S. that Russia was treating the issue as an internal Korean matter, indicating that Russia did not intend to commit its own military forces.42 Despite continued alarms and an almost universal conviction among major U.S. leaders that the Kremlin was directing the war, there never was any evidence for these assumptions. Furthermore, the Russians never massed troops in the Far East, which would have been a necessary preliminary to intervention.

The United States achieved effective control of the United Nations effort on July 7. The Security Council recommended that all UN forces be placed under U.S. command and that the United States designate the commander. Truman promptly named MacArthur. The UN made no provision for overseeing conduct of the war and asked only that the U.S. report "as appropriate."43 In all, nineteen countries ultimately contributed personnel to the UN side in the Korean War. The United States, however, contributed by far the largest number and the overwhelming bulk of materiel. South Korea was next. The forces other UN members sent to Korea were largely token, though Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand finally supplied a full division (the Commonwealth Division) and Turkey sent in a complete brigade.44

Chapter 37: The Korean War >>

1. Tsou, pp. 527-8; FRUS, China, 1949, vol. ix, pp. 369-71; 374-8, 392-7.

2. The China lobby was an unorganized group of Americans whose main concer was to preserve Chiang Kai-shek and commit the U.S. to a program of military and economic assistance. It also opposed recognition of and trade with the Chinese Communists. For an analysis of this group, see Tucker, pp. 80-99.

3. Tucker, p. 25; FRUS, China, 1949, vol. viii, pp. 576-9; FRUS, China, 1949, vol. ix, pp. 81-85. On December 16, 1949, Foreign Secretary Bevin informed Acheson of the British cabinet decision to recognize Red China. For a complete record of negotiations between November 1, 1949, and the end of the year, see FRUS, China, 1949, vol. ix, pp. 149-260. India recognized Red China on December 30, 1949, Pakistan on January 5, 1950, and Britain on January 6, 1950. Between January 6 and 17, 1950, Norway, Ceylon, Denmark, Israel, Afghanistan, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland recognized the Beijing government. See Tsou, pp. 518.

4. FRUS, China, 1949, vol. viii, pp. 615-6, 617, 622-6.

5. Tsou, pp. 512-3.

6. Ibid., p. 528; Acheson, p. 350.

7. FRUS, China, 1949, vol. viii, pp. 624-5; vol. ix, p. 460-1; Acheson, p. 350.

8. FRUS, China, 1949, vol. ix, pp. 461-3, 463-7; Tsou, p. 525.

9. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 257, 264-9; Tsou, pp. 513, 529-30.

10. FRUS, China, 1949, vol. viii, pp. 632-8, 640, 642-5, 651; FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 294-6, 308-12; Tsou, pp. 523, 534; Tucker, pp. 54-55; Cambridge, vol. 14, chapter 6, "Foreign Relations from the Korean War to the Bandung Line," by Mineo Nakajima, professor, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, pp. 268-9. The text of the Sino-Soviet treaty is printed in Royal Institute of International Affairs, Documents on International Affairs, 1949-1950, London: Oxford University Press, 1953, pp. 541-3. The new treaty invalidated the Sino-Soviet treaty the Kremlin signed with the Nationalist government on August 14, 1945, and also marked the withdrawal of recognition to Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT government on Taiwan. It provided for joint defense against Japan (as had the earlier pact). But, in addition to cooperating to prevent new aggression by Japan "or any other state [meaning the U.S.] which may collaborate with Japan directly or indirectly in acts of aggression." Another agreement provided that the Soviet Union would give up all rights to the Changchun (or main Manchurian) railways and Port Arthur upon the conclusion of a peace treaty with Japan, "but not later than the end of 1952." The two countries agreed to give further consideration to the case of the port of Dairen upon conclusion of a peace with Japan but in the meantime all Soviet property should be transferred to China. Another agreement was a thirty-year accord for joint Sino-Soviet stock companies to exploit petroleum and nonferrous and rare metals in Xinjiang province. The countries also agreed to establish joint-stock countries to establish civilian airlines along three routes between them. See Great Game, pp. 380-6.

11. For an analysis of McCarthy's charges, see Tsou, pp. 539-46.

12. Tsou, p. 530. See also FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 258-64.

13. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, p. 264; Tsou, pp. 531-2; Acheson, pp. 350-2. For a full text of Truman's statement, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Harry S. Truman, 1950, Washington: Government Printing Office, p. 11.

14. Tsou, pp. 532-3.

15. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, p. 275; Tsou, pp. 534-6; Acheson, pp. 354-7; Schnabel and Watson, pp. 36, 38; New York Times, March 2, 1949.

16. Kolko, p. 74.

17. Tsou, pp. 523-4; Acheson, p. 357; Foster Rhea Dulles, American Policy toward Communist China, 1949-1969, New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1972, p. 58; Trygve Lie, In the Cause of Peace, New York: Macmillan Co., 1954, p. 258.

18. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 270-7, 286-9, 321-2, 327-9; Tsou, pp. 518-9, 525, 537.

19. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 288, 698-700, 710-5, 730-3; Tsou, p. 524. The Soviet and Red Chinese moves in Indochina were based on the conviction, also shared by the United States, that the elevation of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to "associated states" within the French Union was a fabrication veiling continued French domination of Indochina.

20. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 330, 340-2, 344-6.

21. Ibid., pp. 347-51.

22. Ibid., pp. 366-7; FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 161-5. In this memo occurred the frequently quoted MacArthur phrase likening Taiwan to an "unsinkable aircraft carrier and submarine tender ideally situated to accomplish Soviet offensive strategy." A carrier and tender situated in the midst of an American-controlled sea, however, would have been virtually impossible to be supplied if possessed by the Soviet Union or Red China and used for offensive operations. Both were land powers with comparatively insignificent naval forces. Therefore, MacArthur's claim as to the strategic significance of Taiwan if held by Communists was false. China and the Soviet Union already possessed continental- sized hinterlands which would have served far better than Taiwan as bases, given modern aircraft and submarine ranges.

23. The narrative and sources dealing with the origins of the North and South Korean states and the causes of the Korean War are drawn from Alexander, pp. 1-4, 11-14, 18-19, 21.

24. Ibid., p. 33; Schnabel and Watson, p. 73; FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 128, 131, 144-7.

25. Acheson, p. 405.

26. Truman, Trial, pp. 332-3.

27. FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 155-6.

28. Ibid., pp. 157-65.

29. Schnabel and Watson, p. 77.

30. Alexander, pp. 21, 35; FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 216-7, 240-1; Yonosuke Nagai and Akira Iriye, eds., The Origins of the Cold War in Asia, New York: Columbia University Press, University of Tokyo Press, 1977, "The Sino-Soviet Confrontation in Historical Perspective," by Nakajima Mineo, pp. 218-20.

31. Schnabel and Watson, pp. 77-78, 80.

32. FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 178-83; Acheson, pp. 407-08; Schnabel and Watson, pp. 89-90; Truman, Trial, pp. 337-8.

33. FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 180, 200-03; Schnabel and Watson, pp. 92-95; Truman, Trial, p. 338; Acheson, p. 409; Glenn D. Paige, The Korean Decision, New York: Free Press, 1968, pp. 187-91; Alexander, pp. 37-39.

34. Kolko, p. 73.

35. FRUS, Korea, 1950, p. 419.

36. FRUS, Korea, 1950, p. 183.

37. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 373-4.

38. FRUS, East Asia, 1950, pp. 368-9, 374-5; People's China, Beijing (English-language newspaper), 2, no. 2, July 16, 1950, p. 4; Paige, The Korean Decison, p. 248.

39. The Soviet Union was involved in or at least acquiesced in the North Korean attack. Russian advisors were with the North Korean army until shortly before the attack and certainly knew of preparations. Also U.S. forces later discovered two attack orders in Russian, dated June 22, 1950, three days before the assault, and issued to a North Korean division. The Soviet Union furthermore sent in large shipments of heavy artillery, automatic weapons and new propeller-driven aircraft in the spring of 1950. See Schnabel and Watson, pp. 54-55; Robert K. Sawyer, Military Advisors in Korea: KMAG in Peace and War, Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962, p. 105.

40. FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 202, 211; Acheson, p. 408; Paige, The Korean Decision, pp. 202-06; Schnabel and Watson, pp. 95-96.

41. Schnabel and Watson, p. 118; Truman, Trial,.p. 342; Acheson, pp. 412; FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 255, 257, 262-3, 269. Also on June 30, 1950, Truman and his top advisors met with major congressional leaders to explain the president's actions. Acheson reported that the legislative leaders overwhelmingly endorsed Truman's decisions. The House of Representatives voted 315-4 to approve an extension of the draft and authority to call up the National Guard and reservists. The Senate approved the bill 70-0. See Paige, The Korean Decision, pp. 195-200; Public Law 599, 81st Congress. Truman preferred to view the conflict as a "police action." He thus was the first president to lead the United States into a full-scale war without a formal declaration, as required by the Constitution. Up through the administration of Ronald Reagan (1981-89), every American president since Truman used this precedent to send American troops into combat without getting congressional sanction.

42. Truman, Trial, pp. 341-2; Schnabel and Watson, p. 107; FRUS, Korea, 1950, pp. 229-30, 253-4, 315-6.

43. FRUS, Korea, 1950, p. 329.

44. For a summary of UN forces committed, see Alexander, p. 134, footnote 3; Schnabel and Watson, appendix vi.