Truman had hoped that in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the development of atomic energy for both peaceful and martial uses would be placed under U. In early , the Soviets rejected the U. Instead, the Kremlin redoubled its efforts to build a bomb which, through the aid of atomic espionage, came to fruition much more quickly than American policymakers and intelligence experts ever predicted. Moscow's successful test of an atomic weapon in the late summer of forced the Truman administration to re-evaluate its national security strategy.
Truman decided in January to authorize the development of an even more powerful weapon—the hydrogen bomb—to counter the Soviets, thus accelerating the Cold War arms race. Among other things, NSC stressed the need for a massive buildup of conventional and nuclear forces, no matter the cost.
Truman greeted NSC, and its military and economic implications, with ambivalence, though the war in Korea, which began in the summer of and made the danger of armed challenge from the U. Roosevelt as a forum in which differences between nations could be resolved before they led to war - would be a significant player in international life. For the most part, he succeeded. The new President sent a bipartisan delegation to the United Nation's founding conference in San Francisco in mid, believing it essential that both of the major American political parties endorse the organization.
The major roadblock to the formation of the United Nations came from the Soviets, who were slow to join.
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Truman managed to secure their participation after sending special emissary Harry Hopkins to Moscow. Some Americans would later argue, however, that the price of that participation—American acquiescence to a reorganized Polish government allied with the Soviets—was too steep.
Nonetheless, the San Francisco Conference adjourned in June after its participating nations, including the Soviets, signed the founding U. The United Nation's most significant accomplishment during the Truman years came during the Korean War. Security Council met, officially condemned North Korea's aggression, and pledged military support to South Korea. Though the United States provided most of the U.
Japan's new constitution took its cues from the ideals embodied in the American constitution. With the onset of the Korean War, the Japanese economy began its slow and steady rise to prominence, peaking in the s. The United States and the Truman administration proved less successful in shaping China's political future. Truman sent General George C. Marshall to China in in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to mediate the conflict and form a coalition government.
The administration determined privately that no amount of American aid could save Jiang, that western Europe more urgently required U. By August , the State Department would issue a "white paper" outlining the administration's position on China and the reasons for the coming communist victory. With Jiang's forces in full retreat to the island of Formosa, the President and his advisers confronted the firestorm in American politics touched off by the Chinese Communist victory.
Republicans in Congress, including a group who wanted to reorient American foreign policy away from Europe and toward Asia, howled that the Truman administration had "lost" China.
After Mao and Stalin agreed in early to a mutual defense treaty, critics of the administration's China policy redoubled their attacks. In this era of the Red Scare—Senator Joseph McCarthy leveled his infamous allegations regarding communists in the State Department in February —the "loss" of China constituted a damning political charge. Truman's troubles in Asia exploded on the Korean peninsula.
In the wake of World War II, Korea had been partitioned at the 38th parallel, with the Soviets supporting a communist regime north of that boundary and the Americans a non-communist one in the south. Certain that the Soviet Union lay behind the invasion, they reasoned that failure to act would lead U. Truman resolved not to repeat the mistake of Munich, where the European powers appeased and condoned Hitler's expansionism.
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Scholars now know that the invasion was the brain-child of North Korean leader Kim Il-sung and that Stalin acceded to it only after making clear that the Soviets themselves would not become involved militarily and that Mao provide ground troops. Ultimately, the Soviets did provide the North Koreans with air support. Truman ordered the American military, under the direction of General Douglas MacArthur, to intervene.
The first U. By August, the Americans were holed-up in a defensive perimeter on the southeastern tip of South Korea. MacArthur launched an audacious and risky counter-attack the following month that featured an amphibious landing behind enemy lines at Inchon on the western coast of South Korea, near the capital of Seoul. MacArthur's gamble worked; American forces rapidly drove the North Koreans back to the border at the 38th parallel.
MacArthur then received permission from the Truman administration to cross the border to secure the final defeat of North Korea and the reunification of the country. The danger, though, was obvious. The Soviet Union and China both bordered North Korea and neither wanted an American-led military force, or an American ally, on their doorsteps. At the same time, however, the Chinese warned American officials though third-party governments that they would enter the war if the United States crossed the 38th parallel.
Disregarding these warnings, American forces pushed northward throughout October and into November , coming to within several miles of the Chinese border. The Chinese entered the battle in late November, launching a massive counter-attack that threw the Americans back south of the 38th parallel; an American response in the spring of pushed the front north to the 38th parallel, the status quo antebellum.
A brutal and bloody stalemate ensued for the next two years as peace talks moved forward in fits and starts. American involvement in Korea brought Truman more problems than successes. After General MacArthur publicly challenged the administration's military strategy in the spring of , Truman fired him. MacArthur returned home a hero, however, and Truman's popularity plummeted.
Against the backdrop of McCarthyism, the failure to achieve military victory in Korea allowed Republicans to attack Truman mercilessly. Indeed, the war so badly eroded Truman's political standing that the President's slim chances of winning passage of his "Fair Deal" domestic legislation disappeared altogether. Despite these setbacks, Truman's decision to stand and fight in Korea was a landmark event in the early years of the Cold War.
Truman reassured America's European allies that the U. Likewise, the Korean War locked in the high levels of defense spending and rearmament called for by NSC Finally, the American effort in Korea was accompanied by a serious financial commitment to the French defense of a non-communist Indochina.
In a very real sense, Korea militarized the Cold War and expanded its geographic reach. Britain had searched for a solution to the conflict between Palestine's Jewish minority and Arab majority since the end of the first world war, but with little success; Arabs repeatedly rejected the British suggestion that a Jewish "national home" be created in Palestine.
In February , the British government, straining to uphold its other imperial commitments and with its soldiers constantly under attack by Jewish militias, announced it would shortly pass control of Palestine to the United Nations. The United Nations, in August , proposed to partition Palestine into two states, one for an Arab majority and one for the Jewish minority. Jews, by and large, accepted this solution, while Arabs vigorously opposed the plan, as they had for the preceding decades.
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The prospect of partition ignited a savage and destructive guerilla war between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The question Truman faced was whether to accept the U.
- The New York Times (17 February 2013).
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While Truman personally sympathized with Jewish aspirations for a homeland in the Middle East, the issue involved both domestic and foreign concerns. The President and his political advisers were very aware that American Jews, a major constituency in the Democratic Party, supported a state for their co-religionists in the Middle East.
In an election year, Democrats could ill afford to lose the Jewish vote to Republicans. On the other hand, Truman's foreign policy advisers, especially Secretary of State Marshall, counseled strongly against American support for a Jewish state. They worried that such a course was certain to anger the Arab states in the region and might require an American military commitment.
As at least one high-ranking Defense Department official argued, access to oil, not the creation of a Jewish homeland, was America's priority in the Middle East. In November , Truman ordered the American delegation at the United Nations to support the partition plan. In the following months, though, bureaucratic battles among presidential advisers over the wisdom of the plan intensified, and Truman apparently lost control of the policy-making process. He ended up endorsing a plan—by mistake, apparently—that would have established the Jewish state as a United Nations trusteeship, rather than as an autonomous entity.
Truman back-tracked furiously from his remark, though without clarifying U. Events in Palestine forced the President's hand, however. The military triumph of Jewish nationalists over their Arab opponents in the guerilla war made it clear that the Israeli nation would soon come into being. On May 15, the United States, at Truman's direction, became the first country to recognize the state of Israel. Grant Rutherford B. Hayes James A.
Garfield Chester A. Roosevelt Harry S. Truman Dwight D. Eisenhower John F. Kennedy Lyndon B. Bush Bill Clinton George W. Bush Barack Obama Donald Trump. Help inform the discussion Support the Miller Center. University of Virginia Miller Center. Harry S. Truman: Foreign Affairs. Breadcrumb U. Most importantly renew their genuine interests in Korea and Korean politics. Great course covering the evolution of Korean politics from post-Korean war to modern day.
Week 5 will give leaners a very clear explanation of South Korean economic development, including its original conditions, economic take-off and economic crisis. Then the lecture will talk about the limits of developmental state and lead leaners to discuss about the future of South Korean economy. Understanding Korean Politics. Enroll for Free. From the lesson. Taught By. Chung-in Moon Distinguished Professor Emeritus.
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