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President Truman's Direction of the Korean War: Avoiding a Third World War

Nam Gyun Kim 1

1평택대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

How can we evaluate the presidency of Harry S. Truman during the Korean War? President Truman decided to intervene in the Korean War immediately after receiving reports about the outbreak of war on the peninsula. In his eyes, the invasion launched by North Korea was not an isolated event but a part of the Communists' grand scheme to conquer the world. It was his belief that inability on his part to sever the spread of Communism at its incipient stages on the Korean peninsula would lead to worldwide catastrophe, possibly another world war much akin to the second. Thanks to his prompt decision, not only was the Republic of Korea saved from being absorbed into the Communist block, but a probable war in Europe was aborted. In addition, the United States was able to strengthen its military during the war. The American defense budget grew to 500 billion dollars during the Korean War and has steadily increased since. However, the Korean War did not end as readily as President Truman had hoped. When the United States forces unexpectedly faced massive military forces of the Communist China, General Douglas MacArthur insisted that the United States bomb China's northern territories with conventional weapons and even nuclear bombs, if necessary. Truman was appalled and opposed to MacArthur's suggestion, which eventually led to MacAthur's removal from office. The Korean War dragged on, diminishing Truman's political career with it. He was unable, even, to initiate his plans to run for the top office during the 1952 election. In the short term, Truman seemed an unsuccessful president due to his mismanagement of the Korean War. Conclusively, however, he should be reevaluated on the grounds of two crucial decisions he made during the war; to intervene in the early stages of the war and not to expand the war into the Chinese territories after the Chinese Communists intervened. These two decisions allowed the world to avoid another world war, which was on the verge of breaking out, largely thanks to Truman's prudent decisions.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.