In the Cause of Peace
(TIME, July 10, 1950) -- "We are not at war," said the President of the U.S last week. Then he went on to explain. The U.S., said Harry Truman, was engaged in a police action. A "bunch of bandits" had attacked the Republic of Korea -- a government established by the United Nations -- and the Security Council had asked U.N. members to suppress this bandit raid. That was what the U.S. was doing. "We hope we have acted in the cause of peace -- there is no other reason for the action we have taken," said Truman.
That was how the cold war (which was neither cold nor war) ended.
What was this new thing the U.S. was in? World War III? Could Armageddon begin with so feeble a fanfare as the muffled Battle of Korea? Could the push-button war of the physicists start among the grass roofs of a land where men had hardly caught up with Galileo? Was this the place and was this the way in which Marx and Jefferson came to final grips?
It could be. The fire in the grass roofs of Korea might spread into atomic war -- and it might not. It might, on the other hand, be the beginning of peace.
The Communist intention to destroy what order existed in the rest of the world had been plainly published and implacably pursued. The U.S. had first ignored and then underestimated this challenge. In Europe, the U.S. had partially met the Communist threat by gifts of goods, and promises of military aid if the Red threat became an all-out war.
In Asia, this had not been enough. In Asia, the props of ordered freedom were just not strong enough to withstand the Communist pressure. So China fell while the U.S. argued about the political morals of Chiang Kai-shek and consoled itself with babble about the hopeless "complex and the reality harder & harder to ignore. The reality was: Communism was winning the victory and might never have to resort to all-out war.
By decision of the U.S. and the U.N., the free world would now try to strike back, deal with the limited crises through which Communism was advancing. Russia's latest aggression had united the U.S. -- and the U.N. -- as nothing else could.
Already the Communists had paid for their attack on Korea; when Truman said "I have ordered the Seventh Fleet" to Formosa, he denied Communism a rich strategic prize that had been in its grasp. The fact that Douglas MacArthur, who has long understood the Communist intentions in Asia, was defending Korea meant that the Reds would not get that country cheaply.
The road ahead of the U.S. was going to be harder than any it had ever traveled. Among the perils, all-out war was a possibility, but not a certainty. If they could strike back at Communism, if they could learn to fight the wars that were not called wars, if they could prove their power and purpose in Asia, the U.S. and the free world might win through to peace.
THE PRESIDENCY The Consequences
From the moment he proclaimed U.S. air & sea support for the reeling Koreans, Harry Truman had seen the next fateful decision marching toward him in seven-league infantry boots. At midweek he ordered the National Security Council into secret session to size up U.S. troop positions in the Far East. Before the council lay Douglas MacArthur's report that the U.S. doughfoot would have to come and come fast to South Korea if the high-sounding words of 24 hours before were to have any meaning.
It was a problem the NSC had wrestled with before. As long ago as last January, the policymakers had drawn the broad outlines of U.S. action in case of Korean invasion: the quick recourse to the United Nations Security Council and the dispatch of arms aid (which the President had set in motion soon after the Communists began rolling). But in its blackboard arguments, NSC had never been able to make up its mind about sending U.S. troops. Infantry-man Omar Bradley, chairman of the Joint chiefs, had held that Korea wasn't worth it from the standpoint of pure military strategy; the State Department -- backed by the Navy -- had said it very well might be, for reasons of U.S. prestige in Asia and U.S. leadership in the world.
The Troops March. Now the argument was ancient history. Politics, strategy and the prestige of the democratic world were so tightly intertwined in Korea that no one could separate them, and nobody tried. After a brisk, businesslike session, the members locked up their papers, snapped their briefcases and carried their report off to Harry Truman.
Two mornings later, Senate Majority Leader Scott Lucas was called at home at 8 o'clock by a summons to an 11 a.m. White House conference. In the Cabinet room he found the same gathering of congressional leaders and Cabinet members who had listened to the President's statement early in the week. They waited for 20 minutes before Harry Truman came in, took a seat next to fellow Missourian Dewey Short, and asked General Bradley to recite the bad news from Korea. When Bradley had finished, the President slowly read off the text of his decision to throw U.S. troops into the battle, to allow the Air Force to bomb "specific military targets" in Communist North Korea, and to order the Navy to blockade the entire Korean coast.
Brisk Show. Later that day 66-year-old Harry Truman seemed to walk with a weary man's heavy tread. He wasn't usually one to worry about decisions once made, he confided to the New York Herald Tribune's Carl Levin, but on the Korean affair he couldn't help worrying about the inevitable consequences. That worry creased his face even while he put himself through a brisk show of business-as-usual, talking California politics with Jimmy Roosevelt, laying a cornerstone in the blazing Washington heat, addressing the Boy Scouts at Valley Forge. At week's end, with a more buoyant step, he strode up the gangway of the Presidential Yacht Williamsburg at Philadelphia, to join daughter Margaret on a quick, quiet cruise to Washington. He had made the big decisions; the next steps would come from Tokyo, Korea -- and Moscow.
THE CONGRESS "Time for Unity"
Congress was a different body of men last week. The faces were the same, but the words had changed.
"I approve completely what has been done," said New Hampshire's Styles Bridges, long a sharp-tongued critic of Administration foreign policy. Sage old Charles Eaton, top Republican of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, agreed: "We've got a rattlesnake by the tail and the sooner we pound its damn head in, the better." Added Virginia's Democrat Harry Byrd, leader of the Dixie dissenters, "This is a time for unity, as we must win."
Zero Votes. The House, which only six months ago had voted down U.S. aid to Korea (and then sheepishly reversed itself) got busy too. It cut short debate on extending the peacetime draft, a red-hot issue suddenly cooled by the winds of necessity, and approved it 315 to 4. The Senate sent it along next day, 70 to 0. The President was thus assured of another year's power to draft 19- to 20- year-olds, and new power to call up the national Guard and the reserves in an emergency.
After the long days of partisan clamor, the Senate rushed through the Mutual Defense Assistance Program, a measure authorizing another $1.2 billion to arm Western Europe and to proved at least $16 million more for Korea and the Philippines. The vote: 66 to 0.
These unanimous and near-unanimous votes were significant, but they did not tell the whole story. The Senate was no longer a cave of winds echoing to the oratory of such agile and bitter isolationists as William Borah, Gerald Nye and Burton Wheeler. The dissenters of 1950 were less adept men, like Missouri's fuza- tongued James P. Kem or Kenneth Wherry, the minority leader from Nebraska, or droning George Malone of Nevada. Conspicuous in their van last week stood the usually forceful and logical Robert A. Taft of Ohio. The President, said Taft, had no legal authority to take the measures he had taken.
Taft and Wherry announced that they would stand behind the President, but they had a few rocks in their hands when they said it, and quickly whizzed them off at Secretary of State Dean Acheson's elegant top hat. The communist attack in Korea might well not have taken place, argued Taft, if the U.S. had given the South Koreans proper aid, and he thought Acheson "had better resign." Wherry loudly agreed. Now that the U.S. had decided to protect Formosa, as he had urged, said Taft, he felt vindicated. But Taft said nothing about Senate votes last September and again in May, to authorize multimillion-dollar aid to Korea. Among those who had voted against the bill, both times: Kenneth Wherry and Robert A. Taft.
Old Habits. Congress had reacted to the crisis quickly and well, but it did not shake all of its old habits. The House completed action on a bill cutting excise taxes, thereby restricting revenue at a time when more taxes would probably be needed; then dispersed for its ten-day Fourth of July holiday. The Senate calendar was still clogged with Fair Deal measures which had been debatable before, and were now clearly luxuries.
No one any longer thought that Congress would adjourn by Aug. 1 for the rest of the year. As long as the crisis lasted, Congress would stay in session.
THE PEOPLE The Time in Korea
No sooner had the President announced his support of Korea than a Dallas citizen was on the telephone, calling his local newspaper. Where was Korea, anyway? Were the people Indians or Japanese? And what time was it there?
It was a rare U.S. citizen who could pass a detailed quiz on the little piece of Asiatic peninsula he had just guaranteed with troops, planes and ships. But that didn't seem to matter. Across the nation there was solid popular agreement that Harry Truman had acted wisely and swiftly. "I'll tell ya," said Evar Malin, 37, who farms his mother's 140 acres north of Sycamore, Ill., "I think we done the right thing. We had to take some kind of action against the Russians; maybe been a good idea if we'd stepped in a little sooner." The usually unswervable Republicans of Warren County, Iowa swerved long enough to resolve: "We don't know who told (the President) to do it, but for once he made a right decision."
An 83-year-old man in Los Angeles, a Boston newspaper columnist, and a Phoenix housewife had a simultaneous urge to call up Joe Stalin and ask what he was up to. The Premier wasn't taking calls, said the Kremlin operator, but perhaps when he wasn't so busy he would call back.
The people remembered, and were reminded of Pearl harbor -- but this wasn't the same; the shock wasn't so great, and in nine years everybody had learned something about taking crisis news in stride. Rather than feeling alarm at the crisis news in stride. Rather than feeling alarm at the risks, many seemed to be grateful for the end of an era of uncertainty. The Christian Science Monitor's Washington bureau chief, Joseph C. Harsch, a resident of the capital for 20 years, reported: "never before in that time have I felt such a sense of relief and unity pass through the city."
There was hysteria nowhere, though a few overzealous merchants hoped to cash in on any they could stir up. "War is not around the corner, it's here!" shrilled Dallas' Alexander Motor Co. "What will you do? Play safe or be caught with an old car?" Even without such a shock treatment, there were people who, remembering World War II shortages, rushed to get on new car waiting lists. Tire sales zoomed, but there was little evidence that housewives were stocking up on groceries.
Among males with slightly bulging waistlines, the standard topic was whether "the old uniform" would still fit. In San Francisco, where the road show of South Pacific was being advertised, people asked when they could get "two tickets on the aisle to 'South Korea.'" Recruiting offices there, as elsewhere, were bombarded with anxious teen-age pleas for advice. They weren't rushing to sign up; they just wanted to know where they stood.
BATTLE OF KOREA Little Man & Friends
The Communist invaders from North Korea last week reaped the harvest of tactical surprise, of crushing superiority in weapons. The spectacle was the sickening one of a heavyweight punching around a wispy little man who has just got up from a sickbed. The situation, though grim, was not hopeless. At week's end, the little man had powerful friends hurrying to his side.
"If One Antitank Crew . . ." The U.S. coaches failed to foresee the devastating psychological effect of enemy armor on the tankless South Koreans. In the crucial battle for Uijongbu, 40 Communist tanks came down the valley road in close-packed single file. If this column had been destroyed, the Red offensive might have been crippled at the start. A sorrowing U.S. military adviser commented later: "If one antitank crew had been able to pick off the lead and rear tanks, the 38 others would have been sitting ducks" (i.e., immobilized by wrecks at both ends of the column). Nothing of the sort happened.
Things might have been different if the South Koreans had had their U.S. advisers at elbow. Some time ago, hard-bitten Brigadier General William (Bill) Roberts, commander of KMAG (the U.S. Korean Military Advisory Group), had said to his men: "Don't fool yourselves. If war comes, you fellows are going to be the battalion and regimental commanders of this army." Unfortunately, last week Bill Robert was out of the country, headed for the U.S. His subordinates in Korea may have been ordered by Washington to evade capture at all costs. In any case, the U.S. coaches were not on hand to coach in the thick of combat.
Across the River. There was no street fighting for Seoul. With the government and the U.S. military advisers evacuated by air from Kimpo, the city's defenders decided that only the Han River would stop the invaders' southward march, and they prematurely demolished the Han bridges.
The South Koreans who got across the Han fled toward Suwon, 20 miles to the south, where Brigadier General John H. Church, acting KMAG commander, and his staff had set up headquarters. Around this base South Korean commanders managed to regroup some units and truck them north to hold the river line. By the time they arrived, however, the Communists were already putting their dreaded tanks across the river on rafts and pontoon bridges. Again the South Koreans, now short of weapons of any sort, wavered and broke, and the Communists pushed on.
Meanwhile, U.S. jets and F-82 Twin Mustangs were beginning to shoot down Yaks and knock out some of the enemy armor. The Yaks and knock out some of the enemy armor. The Yaks retaliated by destructive sneak attacks on Suwon's airstrip.
Increasing Commitments. When Red tanks were spotted reconnoitering near Suwon, General Church ordered his mission of some 250 men to Taejon, 73 miles still farther south. In a pouring rain, traveling in trucks, jeeps, weapons carriers, they made the weary trip over roads like quagmires. The new hope was to hold at the Kum River north of Taejon.
U.S. B-29s were bombing Pyongyang, the Red capital, and other objectives north of the 38th parallel. U.S., British and Australian naval forces, including carriers and cruisers, were committed to action in the Korean theater; U.S. warships shelled shore installations at the Red-seized port of Inchon. Douglas MacArthur ordered the 24th Division, equipped with tanks and artillery, to Korea by sea. One battalion of the 24th was flown to Pusan and shipped to the Kum River front by rail. Major General William F. Dean, the 24th's commander, was appointed commanding general of all U.S. forces in Korea, with Church as his senior GHZ liaison officer. Meanwhile four enemy columns were reported moving south, one of them outflanking Suwon. The U.S. troops in the field deployed to meet them. One unit got its first taste of combat when five Yaks strafed them savagely, for 25 minutes, with rockets and machine guns.
In the first week of fighting, the invader had won conspicuous success. But at week's end, South Korea -- and her friends -- had not lost the battle. The issue would turn on whether the defenders could hold out long enough for MacArthur's men to get into the line.
Help Seemed Far Away
TIME Correspondent Frank Gibney was in Tokyo when the North Koreans plunged over the 38th parallel. He flew to the fighting front, was injured when the South Korean army command blew up a bridge over the Han River. He reached safety and cabled this eyewitness account of the first days of South Korea's ordeal:
For two days Tokyo had wallowed in rumors of the Korea battle. With communications down and only three correspondents there, very little news had got out. SCAP machinery, taken by surprise, was undecided whether it should be playing war under peacetime rules. For once, Tokyo's policymakers were worriedly and expectantly waiting for word from Washington.
Tuesday (June 27) at 5 p.m. I boarded a plane for Seoul's Kimpo airfield. With me were three other correspondents -- Keyes Beech of the Chicago Daily News, Burton Crane of the New York Times and the New York Herald Tribune's Marguerite Higgins.
"We Will Win." Under a rainy sky our plane hedgehopped over the broad, quiet Korean countryside. As the plane dipped over the airfield we noticed the first sign of war. Groups of american civilians were wildly waving strips of white cloth, towels and flags as a signal that the airfield was safe for landing.
Among the quiet Korean soldiers on the filed there was no panic. "We will win. We will win," they said. They smiled the words with confidence. They meant them. At the same time, they did not disguise their worry. Against planes and tanks they wanted American help -- and it then seemed far away.
Just in front of the administration building, Lieut. Colonel Edward Scott, tight-lipped and haggard, was methodically burning stacks of documents on the rubble-strewn concrete. When he had finished, he said he was ready to take us into Seoul.
Shortly after nine we rolled through the heavily guarded gates leading to KMAG headquarters. The shrilling whistles of black-garbed Korean MPs guided the converging streams of military traffic. Like the rest of Seoul, headquarters was blacked out.
"Not Very Good." the chief of staff's normally impeccable office had become a frowsy litter of coffee cups, cigarette butts, carbines and musette bags.
We talked with Lieut. Colonel W.H. Sterling Wright, a youngish, handsome cavalryman who, as chief of staff, was now KMAG's acting commander. Wright quickly explained the situation. "Fluid but hopeful" was the way he summed it up. Korean officers who entered the room were more pessimistic. Tall, round-faced Colonel Kim Pak Il, ex-Japanese army captain, now generally accredited the Korean army's smartest staffman, shook hands with me warmly, but his usual cheerful manner had given way to worried tenseness. "Not very good . . . not very good."
Shortly before midnight we all turned in.
At 2:15 the telephone rang. We got a warning from headquarters. "It looks bad. I think they've broken through. You'd better get out of here as fast as you can. Head south for Suwon."
"Tuesday-Bingo." We decided to check in at KMAG headquarters for direction. There we found a major giving quiet instructions to a Korean staff officer. "It's bad," he said. "Tanks have broken into the city and we don't know how much longer the lines will hold. The enemy will be here any minute. I have to stay here until the colonel comes but you had better turn left at headquarters road and get across the bridge as soon as you can. Then make for Suwon."
We ran down the stairs. As we reached a landing my eyes fell on a bright new poster on the KMAG bulletin board. It read: "Don't forget -- Tuesday, June 27 -- bingo."
Traffic was heavy on the road running south to the big steel Han River bridge. There were no signs of a military rout. Most soldiers, even those in retreat, were singing. Guided by MPs, automobiles kept strictly in line. The only disorder was outside the military line of march, among the thousands of poor refugees, women toting bundles on their heads and men carrying household goods in wooden frames fastened to their backs. The civilian composure noticed en route from Kimpo to Seoul had melted away.
Traffic moved quickly until we reached the bridge. There the pace slowed, then stopped. We found ourselves almost halfway over the bridge, our jeep wedged tightly between a huge six-by-six truck full of soldiers in front and other jeeps behind. The roar of guns from the north grew louder and we wondered how long the lines around Seoul would hold. We got out of the jeep and walked forward to find out what was delaying traffic. The milling crowds of civilians pouring over the bridge made that impossible. We returned to the jeep and sat waiting. Without warning the sky was lighted by a huge sheet of sickly orange flame. There was a tremendous explosion immediately in front of us. Our jeep was picked up and hurled 15 feet by the blast.
My glasses were smashed. Blood began pouring down from my head over my hands and clothing. Crane's face was covered with blood. I heard him say: "I can't see."
Thinking at first the explosion was some kind of air raid, we raced for the gullies leading off from the bridge. Beech leading Crane, whose wound looked very bad. Crane ripped off his undershirt and had me tie a crude bandage around his head. As it turned out, neither of us was seriously hurt.
"You Take Hospital." All the soldiers in the truck ahead of us had been killed. Bodies of dead and dying were strewn over the bridge. Scores of refugees were running pell mell off the bridge and disappearing into the night beyond. Here we again noticed the pathetic trust the Koreans placed in the Americans. For ten minutes, as we rested on the grass, men with bloody faces would come to us, point to their wounds and say hopefully in English: "Hospital . . . you take hospital." All we could do was point to our own bloody faces and shake our heads.
At the time we thought that the bridge had been mined by saboteurs. We learned later that it had been dynamited by the South Korean army demolition squad on orders of the chief of staff. The Korean army command had panicked and ordered the bridge blown too soon. The demolition squad, instead of roping off the bridge at both ends, had incredibly told only the traffic in the middle what was about to happen.
Grabbing our baggage, we started off along the river bank, hoping that we could find some boat that might take us across. Finally, we decided that it was pointless to attempt to find boats during the night and in our weakened condition. We headed toward a KMAG housing area on Seoul's outskirts. It was then about three. Inside the abandoned U.S. military reservation it was quiet except for the boom of guns and heavy mortars in the distance. We found one house with a light still burning inside.
"It Can't Happen Here." This hastily evacuated house still had the stage props of any typical American home. There were brightly colored children's phonograph records, a woman's lacy hat, copies of Collier's and the Saturday Evening Post, and bottles of Coca-Cola in the refrigerator. Something inside this comfortable house seemed to say: "It can't happen here." Outside, the field guns rumbled.
Before dawn we gathered up all available food and clothing and prepared to make a run for it.
We drove jeeps along the sandy river flats to ferrying points on the Han River several miles upstream from the shattered bridge. There beetle-like rowboats jammed to the gunwales with refugees were plying back & forth across the broad, shallow stream.
Hundreds of families lined the banks waiting for transport. Whenever a boat touched shore there was a desperate, pathetic scramble for places inside. A small, bustling official with a large club had appointed himself temporary beachmaster. Like a maddened punchinello, he flailed at the gathering crowds of refugees, screaming his leather jacket carefully and returned to the car.
When he took off again from Suwon airstrip, MacArthur, who had planned to spend two days in Korea, had been there only eight hours. Some read this change of plans as a bad sign. It was. Behind MacArthur lay a disintegrating South Korean army. Before him lay a battle which might, at the worst, take a place in U.S. history alongside the battle of Bataan.
"The Fatal Mistake." The descent from the triumph of V-J Day to the day of desperation at Suwon had been dizzyingly swift. Communist imperialism began its march through Asia before V-J Day. It used the most mobile of weapons, political agitation and ruthless organization. In Korea -- as in China, Indo-China, Malaya and Burma-native Communists, shouting slogans of freedom and independence, were forging for their people heavier chains of slavery than even Asia had ever know.
Against the Communist drive in Asia, the U.S. had for the last five years offered no firm or intelligent opposition. The U.S. had been lulled into a false sense of security by men (some lazy-minded, some worse) who said that Asia's problems were too hard to solve and, anyway, that Asian Communists were not really Communists.
MacArthur, whose job it was to police the boundaries to chaos in Asia, was not fooled. Never for a minute did he believe the U.S. secure in the face of the Red advance. He had expressed his forebodings to scores of American visitors to Tokyo. No quotation of any particular interview was allowed, but the gist, delivered in a resonant baritone, ran something like this: "Whether you like it or not, most of the human race lives around this Pacific basin. Here in Asia there are great demands, great dangers, great opportunities -- all neglected by the United States.
"In China we have made the fatal mistake every soldier dreads: underestimating the enemy. If we had dreamed that the Communists could take China, we would have swallowed Chiang Kai- shek, horns, clove hooves and all -- if that was the way we felt about him. Personally I have great respect for Chiang."
The general's views, often and eloquently expressed, were well known in Washington. But for all MacArthur's reputation as a strategist, his pleas -- considered political, and hence beyond his province -- were largely ignored. In 1948 the Defense Department had answered with a flat "no" the general's request for more troops to buttress Japan, which MacArthur regarded as the only firm anchor of the U.S. position in Asia. Last January the State Department had overruled MacArthur's urgent proposal that Formosa be defended. He had warned Washington that Communist capture of Formosa would break the defense line Japan-Okinawa- Formosa-Philippines and drive the U.S. back to the line Alaska- Hawaii.
Two weeks ago, however, MacArthur finally succeeded in selling a bit of his program for Asia to Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson and General Omar Bradley, head of the Joint chiefs of Staff. After a week in Tokyo, Johnson and Bradley flew back to Washington armed with a strongly worded memorandum from MacArthur, and prepared at last to argue for a great investment of U.S. strength in the Pacific. They reached Washington less than twelve hours before the Communists invaded South Korea. It was the Communists who finally won MacArthur's argument for him.
President Truman's decision to defend Korea set off a chain reaction that ran through the Far East. He announced that the U.S. would defend Formosa and step up its help to two other governments, the Philippines and Indo-China, which were fighting Communists rebellion. The immediate reaction of the Philippine government was a statement from Defense secretary Ruperto Kangleon that if the U.S. would take care of the Communist threat from outside the country, the Filipinos would speed up their campaign against the Huks in Luzon. Three days after the Truman decision, the first U.S. planes arrived in Indo-China and were delivered to the French. With renewed assurances of U.S. aid, the anti-Communist forces in Indo-China now had an opportunity of taking the offensive against the Red -- led Viet Minh rebels.
"No Comment." MacArthur, who had received little comfort from Washington, was, as usual, quite prepared to make his own decisions in his new command. During World War II he had been an aloof figure who avoided interference from his nominal superiors, worked out his problems in his own way. His independence had once prompted Franklin Roosevelt to sigh: "I wish MacArthur would tell me these things."
The general had not changed his ways. Last week this fact was driven home to his superiors in Washington when they tried to offer MacArthur some polite suggestions. The exchange began with a cautiously phrased message from the Pentagon: "If such & such were undertaken, perhaps General MacArthur would like to do so & so?"
The answer from Tokyo bounced back:
The Pentagon brooded for a while, then tried another approach: "Do you desire any instructions?"
The reply was terse: "No."
Douglas MacArthur was still playing Sphinx.
Overnight the sacrosanct sixth floor of MacArthur's headquarters ceased to be the home of SCAP, Japan's military super-government, and was given over to its brother organization, the Far East Command. Down the hall from MacArthur's own office appeared a huge sign bearing the legend "War Room" and underneath, in large red letters, the word "Secret." headquarters section concerned with the war went into round-the-clock operations. Top staff officers worked 15-hour shifts and a colonel remarked wearily, "Some tempers are getting mighty short."
MacArthur himself seemed to thrive under the new burden. Said one of his subordinates, "The added responsibility seems to have peeled ten years from his shoulders." Inside the Dai Ichi Building, once the heart of a Japanese insurance empire, bleary- eyed staff officers looked up from stacks of paper, whispered proudly, "God, the man is great." General Almond, his chief of staff, said straight out, "He's the greatest man alive."
And reverent Air Force General George E. Stratemeyer put it as strongly as it could be put (even in the Dai Ichi Building): "he's the greatest man in history."
The Heirs of Colin Kelly. It was upon the reverent Stratemeyer and his Far East Air Forces that MacArthur placed the first heavy burden of U.S. operations in Korea. FEAF's 400-odd fighters, 60-odd bombers and one troop carrier group were scattered halfway across the Pacific. From bases in southern Japan, Stratemeyer sent out jet F-80 Shooting Stars and F-82 Twin Mustangs to strafe North Korean trucks, locomotives and armor. From Guam he called up B-29 Superfortresses to pound Seoul's Kimpo airfield.
For most bombing missions, however, Stratemeyer relied on the famed 19th Bomb Group, Clin Kelly's old outfit, which had been trapped in the Philippines on Pearl harbor Day. In all their operations the U.S. planes were hampered by lack of advanced bases and air-ground communication with the South Korean army. And for the first three days after they entered the fight, U.S. fliers were hamstrung by a Washington order to strike only at the airfields south of the 38th parallel. That meant that they could not get at the source of North Korean air power.
Ordered into the fighting along with the Air Force were the light cruiser Juneau and four destroyers under Vice Admiral Charles T. Joy, commander of U.S. Far Eastern naval forces, who began bombardment of Communist amphibious forces which had landed on South Korea's east coast. Assigned to Joy's command, with the mission of protecting Formosa against possible Chinese Communist attack, was the Seventh (Asiatic) Fleet under Vice Admiral Arthur Struble. At Forge, one heavy cruiser, six destroyers and four submarines.
More U.S. naval strength would soon be available. Forming on the Pacific Coast was Task Group "Yoke," to be made up of the carrier Philippine Sea, two heavy cruisers and eight destroyers. And already operating under MacArthur's command were ships of the British Far Eastern Fleet commanded by Sir Patrick Brind. Sir Patrick could offer for use in rapidly imposed naval blockade of Korea one carrier, three cruisers and seven destroyers.
The Fighting Infantry. The air and sea forces available to MacArthur were more than adequate to deal with North Korea's obsolete air force and puny navy. But the general's trip to Korea had given him firsthand evidence that air and naval support alone would not save the situation. As the defenders fell back, President Truman on June 30 gave MacArthur permission to send in U.S. ground forces.
For the previous week MacArthur's ground commander, Lieut. General Walton Harris Walker, had been preparing for such an order, working out in advance the logistics of infantry transport. Walker's Eighth Army included four divisions ready for combat -- the 7th, 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions and the 1st Cavalry Division. Of these 50-55,000 combat troops, some would have to be kept in Japan, unless MacArthur were willing to rely on service and headquarters troops to maintain order.
What the U.S. Forgot. In September 1945, when General MacArthur landed in Japan, he was smiling. Koreans were smiling then, too. After 35 years of Japanese tyranny, Korea was to be free again. In their long-suffering nation, Koreans told each other, there was beginning an era more splendid than any they had known before. Last week, after five years of division and bloody dissension in the Land of the Morning Calm, what remained of Korean freedom was staggering under the savage attack of a tyranny far more complete than that of the Japanese. Douglas MacArthur had said (and the U.S. people had forgotten): "There is no security on this earth. There is only opportunity."
In the deep valleys of Korea the people had a saying which meant much the same thing: "Over the mountains, still mountains, mountains."
UNITED NATIONS The Brave 474th
TV cameras poked their long snouts from booths along the wall and searched up & down the horseshoe table at Lake Success. They caught France's bald, introspective Jean Chauvel busy with his notes, China's Tsiang Ting-fu nervously doodling elaborate Chinese characters, Yugoslavia's Ales Bebler and the U.S.'s Warren Austin shaking hands and grinning for the photographers.
The cameras roved to the observers' section, where little Ambassador John Chang of Korea, who had not been in bed for 63 hours, stared wearily at his shoes and awaited his invitation to the table. At 3:16 p.m., with every seat at the horseshoe filled except the one marked U.S.S.R., the cameras swerved to India's white-haired Sir Benegal Rau as he cleared his throat, rapped for order and opened the 474th meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
A Brief from Vermont. No previous council meeting, even those that faced the crises over Iran and Palestine, had been so important. North Korea had rejected the U.N. cease-fire order. For the first time in its five faltering years, U.N. faced the issue of taking up arms to repel an armed attack.
In a patient, kindly voice, Sir Benegal said: "The events of the past two days have filled all of us with the gravest anxiety as to the near future. Many see in them the beginning of a third world war, with all its horrors." The crowded chamber was very still. Then Sir Benegal recognized Warren Austin.
With the calmness of a Vermont lawyer reading a brief before a judge in chambers, Austin twanged: "The armed invasion of the Republic of Korea continues. This is, in fact, an attack on the United Nations itself." He urged that "the Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security to the area."
Yugoslavia's Bebler, ignoring the fact that his own country might be next on the Kremlin's list of victories, countered Austin in high, musical French. Bebler offered a weaseled resolution that the Council merely: 1) renew its call for an end of hostilities, 2) institute a "procedure of mediation," and 3) invite North Korea to send U.N. a spokesman to tell its side of the story.
For Korea, Ambassador Chang wanted far more than this. As everyone concentrated to catch Chang's dead-tired words, he begged that U.N.'s "moral judgment . . . be backed with the power of enforcement . . . to expel the invader from our territory." His tense face relaxed a little as, in quick succession, France' Chauvel, Britain's Sir Terence Shone, China's Tsiang, Cuba's Carlos Blanco, Norway's Arne Sunde and Ecuador's Jose Correa supported the U.S. resolution.
Powder & Righteousness. India's Sir Benegal and Egypt's Fawzi bey had still not heard from their governments. At 5:10 the meeting was adjourned to give them a chance to try again. a reporter walked to the horseshoe, picked up Tsiang's fascinating doodle and got a Chinese journalist to translate it. Tsiang had drawn what was on his mind. The characters read: "burning, powder, ten, black, white." Then he added another "powder" and finished off with the character for "righteousness."
The bar had all the business it could handle; the cafeteria was jammed. At the television sets in the lounge, a large cosmopolitan-looking crowd watched the antics of two children's puppets named Foodini and Pinhead, later switched to the ball game at the Yankee Stadium. Weary John Chang went to sleep sitting up on a couch near the bar, his chin resting on his briefcase.
After the council session resumed, Sir Benegal read the U.S. resolution and added: "All those who are in favor, please raise your right hand." When the hands went up they showed seven votes (Britain, China, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Norway, U.S.) for; Yugoslavia against; India and Egypt not voting. (Later, India voted for. the government of Egypt's fat, foolish King Farouk instructed Fawzi Bey to vote against.)
The seven votes were sufficient, although the Soviet Union later claimed that its own absence from the council table made the action illegal. Eleanor Roosevelt had the answer to that. In London she said: "All this talk of (Russia's) about the Security Council decision not being legal because she's not there, well, whose fault is it that she's not?" By week's end, 40 nations were in line and offers of armed aid for Korea had pored in from every corner of the earth.
The U.S. went into Korea with the official backing of U.N.
Whatever the outcome, U.N. was committed to armed action. It was the sternest, bravest step for peace that either U.N. or the League of Nations had ever taken.
Leadership in Action
Any doubt as to the import of what the U.S. and the U.N. did last week was dispelled by the world reaction. No event since V-J Day had had such an impact on world opinion.
A moment after Truman had spoken, old friends seemed firmer friends and uncertain friends seemed surer. Britain was first and firmest. It immediately put its Far Eastern Fleet in MacArthur's command. Churchill found the right phrase for the action: "An inescapable duty." France found itself a cabinet. Germany, which feels that it may be the next Korea, found new heart.
All over Asia, leaders' words rang with a new sense of clear purpose. The most interesting reaction came from India. Its newspapers freely predicted that India's U.N. delegate would not vote for the U.S. resolution on Korea. Then Pandit Nehru came home from a trip to Indonesia, Malaya, Burma. For months he had been preaching "neutrality" in the struggle between Communism and the West. What he had seen in other lands, plus the U.S. action on Korea, changed his mind. He amazed his countrymen and the world by lining India up on the side of the U.N. and the U.S. He made it clear for the first time that he considered Communism, not colonialism, the great threat to Asia.
In such decisions as Nehru's lay tangible proof that what the world had been waiting for was U.S. leadership in action --in bold and determined action -- against the march of Communism.
NATIONAL DEFENSE For Small Fires
Was the U.S. ready for Korea?
Obviously, the U.S. had been caught by surprise. Harry Truman had been weekending in Missouri. Lieut. Colonel W.H. Sterling Wright, acting head of the U.S. Korean Military Advisory Group, had been in Tokyo. General MacArthur's chief air officer, Lieut. General George E. Stratemeyer, was somewhere on the West Coast, on his way back from service on an officers' selection board in Washington. The chief of naval operations for the South Korean navy was in Pearl Harbor, picking up some PCs turned over by the U.S. Vice-Admiral Arthur D. Struble, boss of the U.S. Seventh (Asiatic) Fleet, was a long hop from his Manila headquarters: he had flown to Washington, D.C. to attend the marriage of his daughter.
A Matter of Hours. "Where was our Intelligence?" roared New Hampshire's Senator Styles Bridges. Rear Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, produced a secret report dated June 20 describing intense activity north of the 38th parallel. It warned that the Communists were "capable" of launching an attack at any time. But the same thing, he pointed out, was true of several other areas -- Western Germany, Yugoslavia, Formosa or Indo-China. Nobody, said Hillenkoetter, could tell just when the attack itself might come, since such decisions can be made or unmade in a matter of hours.
Granting that surprise was inevitable, were U.S. plans and arms ready to meet such an attack? Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson had said expansively that if the Russians attacked at four in the morning, the U.S. would be ready by five. Now, only half a little country had attacked, and it was well past five.
Part of the answer was that the U.S. armed forces were designed for another kind of war: an all-out war in which a direct attack by Moscow was to be directly answered by atom-bomb- packed B-36s. The effectiveness of that kind of force had not been disproved by first week setbacks in Korea. But already Louis Johnson's touted economy program was looking downright absurd. Last week, to meet the 1951 budget limitations dictated by Johnson, the Navy decommissioned the last of 14 large carrier air groups, reducing its total groups to nine.
Even at economy size, the U.S. armed forces were presumably capable of handing the Korean situation, though it would take time and lives. But what if the Kremlin's masterminds chose to set other small fires around Communism's vast periphery? Without involving themselves in declared war, they could blockade Berlin or Vienna, send Kurds into Turkey or Iran, launch Chinese Communist armies into Indo-China or Burma.
Help Needed. To contain such assaults, the Joint Chiefs of Staff told President Harry Truman last week, the present U.S. forces, thinly spread, were not enough. What they needed, and wanted badly, was an immediate transfusion from reserves -- a limited mobilization of those who would volunteer, The Army needed reserve ordnance technicians and at least two more divisions. The Air Force asked two more divisions. The Air Force asked for some 200,000 reserves, permission to take two B-29 groups out of moth balls, and a chance to bring its strength up to the 70 groups authorized by Congress. The Navy wanted to start reconditioning of laid-up escort carriers and antisubmarine destroyers, and to call up about 200,000 reservists to man them.
J.C.S. Chairman Omar Bradley was too much of a soldier, and too polite, to say it in public, but his clear implication was that Louis Johnson's program of economy in a period of Communist expansion was clearly bankrupt. The muscles that had been cut along with the fat could not be restored overnight. (Sample timetables: 14 months to reconstitute a task force the size of famed Task Force 58; twelve months to bring up the Air Force from 48 to 60 groups; eight months to put two extra Army divisions in the field.)
Harry Truman accepted Bradley's arguments, but insisted that he wanted to wait a few days, to measure the Russian reaction before making a call for volunteers. But there were already signs of change at the Pentagon. At the pleading of the Navy's Admiral Forrest Sherman, Johnson last week changed his mind about relegating 366 freshly trained air reservists to inactive duty. And the Air Force, which Johnson had ordered to shut down four airfields in the Aleutians for economy's sake, was allowed "to reconsider."
THE ECONOMY Blueprints for War
Locked up in Uncle Sam's cupboard were all the potions and powers needed to put the U.S. economy on a full war basis. And last week it looked as if they would stay there, at least for a while.
"To be perfectly frank about it," said a White House aide, "you could not get a war powers bill through Congress today containing the powers we would actually need in wartime. You would just create dissension. The President won't ask for them until and unless he thinks . . . we are in a real emergency and I wouldn't say we are now."
The man with the keys to the cupboard is handsome, hard- driving W. Stuart Symington, 49, who resigned as Secretary of the Air Force last spring to take over the chairmanship of the National Security Resources Board (composed of seven Cabinet members and himself). In Stu Symington's keeping is the latest draft of an Emergency War Powers bill which, if approved by NSRB and enacted by Congress, could stop overnight the manufacture of life-size Hopalong Cassidy dolls and set auto workers to making tanks. It would give the President all the vast powers he had in World War II.
Twenty Powers. The 20 sections of the bill would empower the President to set up Government corporations, install priorities and allocations for industrial materials, seize factories, suspend antitrust laws (to facilitate production pools), freeze wages and prices, set up job controls and provide for censorship of communications (telephone, telegraph and the mail, but not U.S. publications). It would also broaden Selective Service to require registration of all males between 18 and 46 and put a clamp on excess profits.
Phantom Orders. Already out of the cupboard is a high priority program known as "phantom orders." These orders, with a current value of $900 million, are full purchase contracts, written up to the last detail, explained to the manufacturer and then locked in his safe. It would take only a telegram from Washington to convert the phantom into a real order and start the goods-machine tools-moving down the production line.
Symington's 250-man staff makes no secret of the fact that its blueprints for economic mobilization are by no means complete; some of the toughest decisions have yet to be argued out, e.g., what industries will be the first to be deprived of steel? Will there be a real labor draft?
Civilian Defense. The planning program that lags most is civilian defense, partly because planners only began taking it seriously when they learned last September that the Russians had an A-bomb. No one has even decided whether cities, states or Federal Government should pay for staffs and equipment. No city in the U.S. is ready for an A-bomb attack -- though test programs are under way for Washington, D.C., Chicago and Seattle. Warned Symington in Detroit last week:
"Efficient civilian defense planning could well be the difference between a serious and a fatal disaster. For example, it is estimated that with only twelve minutes' warning as against no warning, and under efficiently planned civilian defense, the casualties in a city hit by an atomic bomb could be reduced 50%."
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