In the beginning, the USA planned to contain S.Korea, but when the opportunity arose to capture N.Korea they could not turn it down; as it would be a significant step to stopping communism in Asia. Although, the Chinese had stated that they would help defend N.Korea if any attacks commenced. The USA called this theory “rollback”, as they where trying to undo all of the recent communist uprisings in Asia.
I will investigate whether or not the decision to rollback over the 38th parallel was a successful political and military decision.First of all I will look to see whether the decision to rollback was beneficial towards the military. One reason for this was because the USA wanted a foothold in Asia. This was clear, as after China fell to communism in 1949 the USA needed a country in Asia to influence other countries. If the USA had Korea as foothold in Asia they could exert their influence by making capitalism look superior over communism. They could make it look superior by helping to rebuild Korea and by increasing their economic status through Asia. This made the decision to rollback beneficial as they could therefore prevent more communist uprisings in Asia, thus stopping the domino theoryA further reason why the decision appeared to be first-rate was because it protected S.
Korea even further. Although pushing forward is actually not considered protecting, in this case it was. It is stated that in some terms the best form of defence is offense, this is correct in this instance. This is because if the Chinese and N.
Korean’s are defending the USA attacks they will not be able to attack S.Korea, also if the USA takes N.Korea they would have a bigger military and more land.
This made the decision to rollback first-rate as if they attacked it would be harder for the N.Koreans/China to attack S.Korea.Another reason why the decision to rollback made logical sense was because the USA was already prepared. The USA already had a lot of military based in and around S.Korea after the battle to retake S.Korea after the N.Koreans attacked, so they would therefore not have to bring any extra troops over.
Also as the USA had pushed the N.Koreans back over the 38th parallel they had the upper-hand and the momentum to push them back even further. This made the decision a logical one as they were already prepared with troops and equipment as they had just pushed the N.
Korean back, this also meant they had the upper hand as well as added momentum.One positive reason for undergoing “rollback” was because of the Berlin Blockade. This was where the Russians tried to take control of Berlin by blocking all routes into the city from West Germany to West Berlin. The blockade was eventually broken by the USA resulting in the USA controlling their area of Berlin, this demonstrated their power, in particular their economic power. America wanted to rollback for the same reason as the Berlin Blockade, to demonstrate their power to the communists.Another reason why the decision to rollback was effective for the military was due to the possibility of taking over North Korea. If the Americans were to take over Korea they would appear to be a lot stronger than the Russian communists, because they would have taken over a piece of Russian territory. Also the fight against North Korea would not directly involve Russia, as the war would appear to be a civil war between North Korea and South Korea, especially because the North Koreans started the fight.
For this reason the decision to rollback was effective. As well as this, holding North Korea would be extremely helpful geographically; this is because it is closer to China, who have recently turned communist. As a result this point was effective for the military as; they would appear more powerful, it would not directly involve the Russians, North Korea was close to China.Now I will look at the negative reasons for the military to rollback past the 38th parallel. One reason for making the decision negative was due to the severe loss of US troops. Although loss of troops is expected in a war, the loss of troops compared to the distance they had gained was not good enough.
Two years after the decision to rollback was made the USA had 54,000 deaths and 100,000 wounded troops and only gained 30-40 miles. This made it a bad decision because the amount of lives they lost was not equal to the distance they gained in North Korea.Another reason for the decision being a disaster was that they were pushed back down the 38th parallel at one point. In April 1951 the Chinese unleashed a massive attack that knocked the UN past the 38th parallel, which was quickly pursued by another attack. These attacks forced the Americans to set up a defensive line behind the 38th parallel.
As a result this made the decision look like a disaster, this is because for their “rollback theory” to work they needed to maintain momentum, certainly not be pushed back.Another reason why it was a poor mistake by the US military to allow rollback was that the Chinese heavily outnumbered them. Not only did the Chinese outnumber the USA but they were also a large well-trained army that used good tactics. These are the two biggest factors you could have in the war, but yet the USA was still confident that they could win against China. As a result I see this a poor decision by the USA because they never had a chance to win against the Chinese considering how many of them there were and how well-trained they were, but they chose to ignore the threat of China.Another reason why the decision was dreadful was due to the fact that the USA were dragging themselves into a bigger war.
Whereas before they were just defending their allies in a civil war, they are now the attackers. The USA’s plan was to take over N.Korea, a country both heavily affiliated with Russia. This was a very stupid decision as it was bringing a super power into this, otherwise, small war. Also before the USA chose to attack N.Korea they were told by China if they attack their allies they would help to defend them.
This escalated the war even further due to China’s large population, which greatly outnumbered the UN. Therefore this was a dreadful decision because by attacking another country they are pulling two more countries into the war, possibly causing WW3.Altogether I feel that the Military did make a huge blunder by choosing to use rollback. This was largely to the fact that they did not progress at all and in some areas they actually fell back. Also this war was not at a small cost, the USA lost over 54,000 troops and 100,000 died, this is in fact a very large cost considering the USA hardly made any ground. The other point that made the decision dire was that they escalated the war, by dragging China and Russia in as well.
The decision to rollback was mainly made from a political view, now I will be investigating whether or not this was also a blunder. One reason that made the decision a good one was that it showed a strong stance against communism. By attacking North Korea it would make capitalists look strong and as if they were not afraid of the communists. As a result this could make other countries revolt against communism and prefer the capitalism view. This makes it a good decision as it would slow the rising of communist countries, or prevent countries from turning communist.Another point that made the decision excellent was that the UN said that the USA could attack North Korea. If the UN said that they could not attack then everyone would view the USA and capitalism as attackers and no longer the “defenders”.
This is important because instead nobody challenged the issue and everyone believed that because the UN allowed the war that it was the correct thing to do. This made it a good decision because by the UN saying yes it made the war look like it was the correct action to take and therefore did not taint the capitalist image.Another reason that made the decision a virtuous one was that they could make Korea one country again. Having Korea as one country would allow the USA to have a bigger influence in Asia. This would be helpful as they could use this foothold to help with trade as well as exerting a capitalist influence throughout Asia, which in turn could disrupt the communist uprisings. This makes this point a positive one as they can use Korea as a foothold to increase trade and stop communist uprisings in Asia.The final point that made the decision look successful was that if they won they would more than likely secure mid-term elections. This is very important for Truman as he wants to secure his legacy in US history, if he can win the mid-term election he can have more time to do this.
The election would be more than likely won by Truman as everyone would be a fan of his if he managed to stop communism. This point was again a successful one as if they won they would easily secure the mid-term elections.There are also many reasons to support that the decision was a horrifying political decision. The first one is that Truman looks really stupid. Truman was made to look very stupid, not only because the attacks failed but also because he tried to lay the blame on MacArthur. If Truman would have lost the war and not blamed MacArthur he would still have been disliked, but by firing and blaming someone that is loved by the public made it even worse. This point made the decision appear horrific as it looked as if Truman could not take the blame and chose to blame someone else.Another reason that made the decision a shocking one was that it pretty much guaranteed the Republicans the new election next year as they lost.
This makes it a bad political decision as this is the worst thing you can do in politics – make an error so bad that people want to vote for the opposing party. The reason it guaranteed the opposing party the elections was because the loss was so significantly poor. This made the decision a bad one as it helped the opposing party to win the elections.The final reason that made the decision a bad one is that the communists will now believe that the USA is weak.
The communists would believe that the USA are weak because the USA wanted the war, but did not manage to push the Chinese/Koreans at all and in some cases even fell back. This is bad because more people will support the communist regime and the communists will feel that they have the upper hand over the capitalists. This makes this decision a bad one as more people will be supporting the communists and the communists feel that they have the upper hand.To conclude on the political decision I feel that the decision to chose rollback was a significantly catastrophic one. This is because, it ruined Truman’s political career, the republicans were guaranteed the next election and also the communists now believe that you are weak. The most catastrophic of these decisions was that of allowing the communists to believe that you are weak. This is bad because the communists will try to take advantage of this by making you look weak, which will result in more communist followers.