On the surface, the Korean War seemed like a normal war between North and South Korea; however, there was more to it than what met the eye.
This was a war between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. Critics and adherents alike have come up with many hypotheses as to why and how the US government got involved in the Korean War.
According to Park, America got involved because of the “Domino Theory; a political theory that if one nation comes under communist control then neighboring nations will also come under communist control” (96). In 1949, China had become one such a victim of communism and Truman knew if Korea went the same way, Japan would follow suit, something that would cripple America’s economy. “Before the tide turned, the U.S. established very high war aims of seeking the destruction of the Communist regime in North Korea” (Reiter 63).
It is evident that Truman never liked communism for he believed that it would undermine capitalism and freedom, important elements of American life. Cotton and Neary posit that, “the bombing as purely a military operation…as a means of applying pressure on the communists… (107). Truman acted on the 1950 National Security Council report (NCS 68), which called for abolishment of communism. On the other hand, some scholars believe that America was competing against the USSR for world domination; consequently, Truman did not want to attack Russia directly so he opted to support South Korea as a way of fighting communism without involving the USSR directly. Other compelling reasons include the fact that after America lost its bid to control China from becoming a communist state coupled with the USSR’s acquiring atomic bomb, a preserve for the Americans; many people believed that the American government was becoming weak. Therefore, to prove that the American government was not weak, therefore, Truman acted to prove that the US government was as strong as ever. Other unusual interpreters claim, “Both sides wanted to unite but could not agree on what type of government, so the North tried to unite it forcefully by crossing the 38th parallel on June 25th 1950” (Park 99). By crossing over to the South, the North was angering the USA for it controlled the South region.
Finally, America got involved in this war to honor her pledge contained in Truman’s document that stated that America would help any country that was willing to root out communism.
The USA sent her troops to the Southern Korea government under the pretext of United Nation’s peacekeeping mission; however, “…the UN forces of the free world, with the United States as its key participant joined the conflict to aid South Korea” (Millet 1). It is true that the North began the war by invading the South; something that led the UN; which was only five years old then, to ask ally nations to offer military support to the South region. Nevertheless, as aforementioned, Jenkins and Fredrick observe that, “To Kim’s surprise, however, the United States rose to action immediately” (xxiii). Therefore, it was an American exercise under the guise of the UN.
The Korean War was not just a normal war between the Southern and the Northern region; no, it was war between the US and the USSR as they contested for world supremacy among other reasons.
Particularly, America wanted to protect her trade with Japan and lifestyles; these elements were under threat of communism. The sources used here are helpful for they offer different reasons behind America’s involvement in the Korean War. Without these different sources, one would think America went to this war for one reason; fortunately, these sources are peer-reviewed materials hence offering credible information.
Cotton, James, & Neary, Ian. “The Korean War in History.
” Manchester; Manchester University Press, 1989. Jenkins, Charles, & Frederick, Jim. “The Reluctant Communist: My Desertion, Court-Martial, And Forty-Year Imprisonment in North Korea.” California; University of California Press, 2008. Millett, Allan.
“The Korean War.” The Korea Institute of Military History, 1999. Park, Hong-Kyu. “America Involvement in the Korean War.
” Society for History Education, 1983. 16(2); 96-103 Reiter, Dan. “How Wars End.” New Jersey; Princeton University Press, 2009.