The Korean War: Handbook of the Literature and Research

By Lester H. Brune; Robin Higham | Go to book overview

18 Introduction and General
Culture during the Korean
War

Lester H. Brune

When President Harry S. Truman decided to send forces to defend South Korea following the communist attack on June 25, the American public and Congress generally supported his action. But the euphoria of late June 1950 lasted only five months. In November, Chinese forces intervened, ending General Douglas MacArthur's proclamation of a "home- by-Christmas" offensive, and recapturing Seoul on January 4, 1951. Although Truman issued a Declaration of National Emergency and the UN forces prepared for a counterattack by late January, Truman's political opponents launched an attack on his national security policies. The Chinese attack and the dissent against Truman's policies perplexed many Americans and divided members of both major political parties. The nation's post-World War II anticipation of global cooperation had already become depressed by the cold war antagonism between the United States and the Soviet Union. Now the United Nations forces' failure to score a quick victory in Korea caused controversy regarding the limitations of national power, a difficulty for Americans who, as Denis Brogan ( 1952) observed, believed their nation was omnipotent.

The dismay expressed toward Truman's security policies added to the pre-Korean War opposition to Truman's domestic reform program. Basic to these arguments was concern about the communist challenge abroad and the proper methods for adjusting twentieth-century industrialization to the earlier agricultural-based U.S. traditions. Domestic differences about devising democratic solutions to the problems of labor and management in manufacturing establishments, of the divergence between metropolitan and rural needs, and of the aspirations of minority groups had reached crisis proportions before 1941 and were exacerbated by World War II.

The New Deal reforms of President Franklin D. Roosevelt had resolved

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