On June 25, 1950 ten divisions of North Korean infantry invaded South Korea. In its narrowest sense, the invasion marked the beginning of a civil war between peoples of a divided country. In a far larger sense, it represented a break in tensions between the two dominant power blocs that had emerged from the Second World War. These well-illustrated pages appeared in QUICK MAGAZINE two weeks after the hostilities commenced and serves to summarize the events in Washington and at the United Nations. Within the first twelve hours of the war President Truman committed U.S. air and naval forces to the defense of South Korea and signed a bill to widen the draft pool.
The Korean War ended in 1953. Click here to read about the military results of that war.
••This is an Excellent Color Documentary about the Korean War••
The Korean War was all of two weeks old when this column went to press describing the combustible atmosphere that characterized the Nation's Capitol as events unfolded on the Korean peninsula:
"A grim Senate voted the $1.2 billion foreign arms aid bill. Knots of legislators gathered on the floor or in the cloakrooms for whispered conversations. Crowds gathered around news tickers...
On everyone's lips was the question: "Is this really World War III?"
Click here to read about the need for Army women during the Korean War.
"[In Washington] the U.S. defense effort snowballed. Looking beyond the Korea showdown, the U.S. had to plan against new Russian surprises... There would be no appeasement, even at the risk of W.W. III. U.S. intelligence indicated a ten year Russian military plan designed to bleed America white. The aim would be to keep the U.S. in a semi-mobilized state for years."
Policy makers in Washington were divided into two groups during the early Cold War days: one held that Communist expansion was most dangerous in Asia while the other believed that Europe was the spot most deserving of attention. This short editorial by John Gunther (1901 – 1970) argued that Asia was the vulnerable zone and if Korea was lost to the Reds - the whole world would follow.
"Then came June 24 . Her skirts legally clean, Russia hit upon a way to fight the U.S. without technically using a single bullet or soldier of her own. It mattered little if Korean mercenaries, not identifiable nationally with the USSR, were doing the fighting. A satellite war was just as good a way to weaken the U.S. as a direct war - if not better."
This editorial was one of the first of its kind and many more would follow on its heels. The opinions expressed would be repeated in American schoolrooms, barrooms, dinner tables and state houses all the way up to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It was not merely the parents of draftees who wondered aloud as to the whereabouts of the U.N. signatories in times of crises, but practically the whole nation:
"For two months the American and South Korean ground forces fought it out alone. For two months they fought without even the promise of help from other major powers..."