Truman and Korea: The Political Culture of the Early Cold War

By Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr. | Go to book overview

VI

Toward a Tenuous Normalcy Decontrol and the General's Arrival, July 1952—February 1953

Electoral politics and renewed confusion over controls and stabilization policy dominated the last half of 1952. The effects of the steel strike settlement on the wage structure hampered efforts by stabilization officials to hold the line on wage increases and inflation. Internal bickering over wage and price policy and the likelihood of renewed inflation stymied Truman's advisors. Making matters worse, constant changes in top stabilization personnel did little to reduce flagging morale and institutional continuity within the ESA and OPS. And to add insult to injury, the Wage Stabilization Board (WSB) precipitated another row with organized labor over coal miners' wages. The result was the demise of the WSB and the final repudiation of economic controls. Superimposed over these concerns were the issues brought to the fore by the pivotal 1952 elections, in which the Republicans captured the White House for the first time in twenty years and regained control of both the House and Senate. The elections marked not only a mandate for the Republicans and their standard-bearer Dwight Eisenhower. They also signified voters' final repudiation of the Korean War and the manner in which the Cold War military buildup had been waged.

In the meantime, more than a year after peace talks began, the war still raged in Korea. While most issues had been settled, one major sticking point remained: the repatriation of North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war. Unwilling to allow the forceful repatriation of POW's held by U.N. forces, Truman refused to move the peace talks toward a final cessation of hostilities. Thus the fighting continued and casualties mounted. Throughout 1952, the American Air Force actually increased the number of air attacks on North Korea, despite the ongoing

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