If we embark upon a general policy to bulwark the frontiers of freedom against the assaults of political despotism, one major frontier is not less important than another, and a decisive breach of any will inevitably threaten to engulf all.
-- Douglas MacArthur, March 3, 19481
Because of possession of atomic bombs, Nitze and the PPS expected a more aggressive Soviet Union, willing to run risks of war, perhaps making attempts to seize Berlin, Vienna, Yugoslavia, or Iran. Stalin had another battlefield in mind. According to Nikita Khrushchev, he approved in fall 1949 a plan by Kim Il Sung, dictator of client state North Korea, to invade South Korea. General Douglas MacArthur, Commander-in-Chief of American forces in the Far East (CINCFE), had already let slip to a British journalist on March 1, 1949 that South Korea lay outside the American Far East defense perimeter. In a public speech to the National Press Club in Washington on January 12, 1950, Acheson confirmed that the U.S. would only defend the island chain from the Aleutians south to the Philippines. Even so, Stalin was so fearful of American atomic might that he withdrew Soviet advisors from North Korea. He did not want the U.S. to use an attack across the 38th Parallel as an excuse to wipe out the USSR's incipient atomic capabilities or even launch general war.2
Actually, American leaders consistently maintained right until the outbreak of war that, as the JCS said to Marshall and Forrestal in September 1947, the U.S. had "little strategic interest" in the Korean peninsula. Only MacArthur held a contrary view, giving Bradley and the JCS the distinct impression, on an inspection tour from January 29 to February 10, 1950, that the Far East