The Korean War: An International History
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This first truly international history of the Korean War argues that by its timing, its course, and its outcome it functioned as a substitute for World War III. Stueck draws on recently available materials from seven countries, plus the archives of the United Nations, presenting a detailed narrative of the diplomacy of the conflict and a broad assessment of its critical role in the Cold War. He emphasizes the contribution of the United Nations, which at several key points in the conflict provided an important institutional framework within which less powerful nations were able to restrain the aggressive tendencies of the United States.
In Stueck's view, contributors to the U.N. cause in Korea provided support not out of any abstract commitment to a universal system of collective security but because they saw an opportunity to influence U.S. policy. Chinese intervention in Korea in the fall of 1950 brought with it the threat of world war, but at that time and in other instances prior to the armistice in July 1953, America's NATO allies and Third World neutrals succeeded in curbing American adventurism. While conceding the tragic and brutal nature of the war, Stueck suggests that it helped to prevent the occurrence of an even more destructive conflict in Europe.
U.S. objectives in Korea specifically and in East Asia in general, Rusk told Wrong that the United States sought to keep the war in Korea limited, that it had no intention of carrying military operations to China or even of launching a major ground offensive beyond the 38th parallel. At the same time the United States did not want to ease the PRC’s task in consolidating authority on the mainland. The United States hoped that that regime would fall, but intended to avoid overt action to accomplish
addition, Britain wanted a UN declaration of aims in Korea to coincide with any new action • D I M E N S I O N S O F C O L L E C T I V E A C T I O N • 191 against China. The initial meeting of the AMC revealed a considerable variety of opinion. Only the Brazilian, Turkish, Filipino, and Venezuelan representatives supported the United States.149 Developments within the United States emphasized the danger to the Western alliance of a continued division on sanctions. The MacArthur
peninsula, the president approved NSC81, which called for the advance of UN ground forces into North Korea “provided that at the time of such operations there has been no entry into [that area of] . . . major Soviet or Communist Chinese forces, no announcement of intended entry, nor a threat to counter our operations [there] militarily.”64 The hopes for unification by military means grew out of the assumption that unification by other methods was impossible. This attitude helped shape the U.S.
as necessary to implement the above. On the political procedure for achieving unification, the two drafts diverged: whereas the first called for “new elections” for Korea as a whole, the second recommended merely “that elections be held . . . to complete the establishment of a unified, independent, and democratic government of all Korea”; whereas the former provided for two new UN commissions, one to conduct “preliminary discussions with North Korean representatives regarding the political future
MacArthur left little doubt as to the preferred method of resolving the dilemma. With China fully committed in Korea, the United States could do nothing to “further aggravate” Sino-U.S. relations. MacArthur believed that “a Soviet decision to precipitate a general war [probably] would depend solely upon its own estimate of relative strengths and capabilities” rather than on U.S. action outside Korea. Furthermore, a forced evacuation of Korea without direct military action against China “would