What are we fighting for? . . . The real issues are whether the power of Western civilization, as God has permitted it to flower in our own beloved lands, shall defy and defeat Communism; whether the rule of men who shoot their prisoners, enslave their citizens, and deride the dignity of man, shall displace the rule of those to whom the individual and his individual rights are sacred; whether we are to survive with God's hand to guide and lead us, or to perish in the dead existence of a Godless world. . . . It has become, and it continues to be, a fight for our own freedom, for our own survival, in an honorable, independent national existence.
-- Matthew B. Ridgway, January 21, 19511
As MacArthur's final offensive was poised to begin in late November 1950, the JCS discussed with George Marshall, who had replaced Johnson as Secretary of Defense in September, and Acheson their desire to withdraw troops from Korea as soon as possible. Fearing that MacArthur's push to the Yalu would provoke massive Chinese intervention, Collins then went to Tokyo to persuade MacArthur to restrict his attacks so as not to run the risk of setting off a general war. MacArthur had no intention of depriving himself of the glory of routing Communist armies. His offensive got under way as planned on November 24; the next night, Chinese forces caught Eighth Army units spread out and attacked furiously. An alarmed MacArthur detached the 1st Marine Division from X Corps to the east and ordered a movement through the Choisin Reservoir area to take the Chinese in the flank. It was the 1st Marines themselves who were ambushed, struck by three Chinese divisions in 18 degree below zero tempera- tures and forced to fight their way back down to a defense perimeter established around the port of Hungnam. The Navy evacuated X Corps, most of its equipment, and thousands of civilians by December 11.2
Meanwhile, MacArthur declared publicly that a whole new war had begun and sounded out LeMay on the possibility of bringing out the American trump card. At the NSC meeting with the President on November 28, the JCS and the