Who Is To Blame
Misconceptions, miscalculation, and confusion were prominent, perhaps dominant features of the policy process on both sides.
Kim Il Sung, the premier of North Korea and once a battalion commander in the Soviet Far East forces, sent his troops across the 38th Parallel on June 25, 1950. In doing so he took upon himself much of the blame for starting the Korean War. It is hard to argue with the approximately one hundred thousand troops, ninety planes, and more than 144 Russian-built T-34 medium tanks that appeared on the frontier. But it is not that simple.
Who started the Korean War? If one means only what nation's troops first crossed a neighbor's border, the question can be answered with certainty. The answer is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. But if one means who is responsible for allowing (or pushing) events to the point of war, the answer is more complex. The answer includes both the accumulation of facts and a look at differing points of view. So while determining blame may be difficult, it is nevertheless important to look at what happened. The causes are understandably seen differently by different people and have altered considerably with the passage of time. Unfortunately, the Korean War was the result of complex causes, and the blame probably needs to be spread around.
Orthodox American historiographies suggest the Korean War was the outcome of international communist aggression. When South Korea was first invaded, many were inclined to believe it was a diversion set up by the Soviet premier, Joseph Stalin, to draw attention from a war to be launched in Europe. The "diversion theory" has proven to be inaccurate, but the belief continues that the invasion somehow fit into the larger Communist desire to rule the world. There were divergent views, of course. Some blamed the Communist Chinese; others, like I. F. Stone, were more or less sure that the war was the result of South Korean provocations, supported by the Americans and carried out by President Syngman Rhee.