Considerations In Bombing China Essay Research Paper

Considerations In Bombing China Essay, Research Paper

Direct air and naval surface attacks on the Chinese mainland were probably the mostimmediate way of striking a hard blow against the Communists. These were also the actionsmost likely to precipitate a full-scale war. [13] All of the nations allied with the UnitedStates against Communist aggression in Korea were strongly opposed to direct attack onChina. Since China had no great industrial centers, the most profitable targets would bemilitary and air installations, railroads, and shipping facilities. But experience in World WarII had shown that in spite of the best intentions and most accurate bombing, the civilpopulation suffered along with such targets; and any heavy loss of civilian life undoubtedlywould be sure to turn many Asiatic nations against the United States. There was littlequestion, moreover, that China, if faced with this bombing, would call upon the USSR tocome to its rescue. Most American leaders were therefore not willing to risk bombingChina except as a last resort. In all the discussions of “privileged sanctuary” enjoyed by the Chinese in Manchuria nomention had been made by MacArthur, or by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for that matter, of asimilar privileged sanctuary enjoyed by the United Nations Command in Japan. Both navaland air operations against Korea were mounted from Japanese bases, and Japan was themain staging area from which thousands of U.N. troops were sent to fight in Korea.Consequently, if the United States bombed Manchuria to destroy enemy bases, theChinese might bomb Japan. Whether the Chinese possessed such a capability was certainlya moot point; but it seemed reasonable to assume that with Russian help it would not takethem long to acquire such a capability. President Truman stated that he had never been able to believe that MacArthur, seasonedsoldier that he was, did not realize that introducing Chinese Nationalist forces into mainlandChina [13] Other than broadly hinting that the atomic bomb would be effective in Korea,MacArthur did not recommend officially or, as far as is known, unofficially, that thedecision be taken to use the atomic bomb against either the North Koreans or the Chinese,in or out of Korea. would be an act of war. Certainly, a commander who had been in the forefront of worldevents for thirty-five years must realize that the Chinese people would react to the bombingof their cities in much the same manner as the people of the United States would have done.The President did not believe, either, that MacArthur with his knowledge of the Orientcould really think that he could cut off the vast flow of materials from Russia merely bybombing Chinese cities. The next step would have to be the bombing of Vladivostok andthe Trans-Siberian railroad. Because he was sure that MacArthur could not possibly haveoverlooked these considerations President Truman was left with the simple conclusion thatMacArthur was ready to risk general war. The President was not. [14] Because they were not privy to MacArthur’s intentions or to the instructions given him,British officials grew concerned that he might do something that would cause the conflict tospread beyond Korea. When these misgivings were brought to the attention of PresidentTruman, he attempted to allay British fears by assuring Prime Minister Attlee: There has not been any change in the agreed United States-United Kingdom position that resistance to aggression in Korea should continue in Korea unless and until superior force required evacuation of our troops. Present tactical situation does not reflect any change in this position but rather essential adjustments to cover increased jeopardy to United Nations troops resulting from recent marked decrease in effectiveness of sorely tried South Korean divisions. [15] The Joint Chiefs of Staff sent MacArthur an interim denial of his proposals on 9 January.They told him that his suggestions were being carefully considered but that, for the timebeing at least, little chance existed for a switch in the national policy. The blockade of theChina coast, for instance, if imposed, would not take place until the United NationsCommand had either stabilized the situation in Korea or had evacuated the peninsula. Norwould American authorities undertake such a blockade without British approval, indeference to the extensive British trade with China through Hong Kong. The Joint Chiefsfelt also that any blockade required the concurrence of the United Nations Organization.[16] The naval and air attacks which MacArthur wished to launch on the Chinese mainlandwould, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs at this time, be authorized only if the Chineseattacked American forces outside of Korea, but no decision would be made on the matteruntil the eventuality arose. Nor did the Joint Chiefs, doubtful that Chiang Kai-shek’s troopscould have any decisive effect on the outcome of the Korean campaign, intend to approvetheir use in Korea. They noted that these troops might have a greater usefulness elsewherein the future. [17] Neither did they believe that MacArthur should or could count on action outside of Koreato ease the pressure on his forces. They directed him to defend in successive positions,inflicting the greatest possible damage on enemy forces, “subject to primary consideration of the safety of your troops and your basic mission ofprotecting Japan.” At the same time, they granted him authority to withdraw from Korea toJapan if in his judgment evacuation was essential to avoid severe losses of men andmateriel. [18] The Joint Chiefs of Staff had given MacArthur two major interlocking courses of action tofollow. Whereas he was to defend Korea, this defense was secondary to his mission ofsaving his troops from destruction and protecting Japan from invasion. The second course,withdrawal, must have been, in the minds of the Joint Chiefs, the natural sequel of the first.But MacArthur chose to interpret the directives strictly and found them, therefore,incompatible. Arguing that both directives could not be carried out simultaneously,MacArthur on 10 January asked for clarification of his orders. He tied to this requestanother hint that American political objectives needed looking into. He said: In view of the self-evident fact that my command as presently constituted is of insufficient strength to hold a position in Korea and simultaneously protect Japan against external assault, strategic disposition taken in the present situation must be based upon the over-riding political policy establishing the relativity of American interests. It seemed that he was asking the Joint Chiefs to decide which of his missions theyconsidered most important when, in fact, they already had told him. [19] General MacArthur pointed out to the Joint Chiefs of Staff that his command originally hadbeen sent to Korea to oppose the North Korean Army. There had been no intent that theUnited Nations Command should engage the armies of Communist China, MacArthurclaimed; and he doubted very seriously that his troops would have been sent to Korea at allif it had been foreseen that they would have to fight the Chinese. [20] His men were capable of holding a beachhead line in Korea for a limited time, the UnitedNations commander believed, but not without losses. Whether or not these losses could betermed “severe” depended, MacArthur said, “upon the connotation given the term.” He

angrily decried the unfavorable publicity given the withdrawals of the Eighth Army and XCorps. “The troops are tired from a long and difficult campaign,” he complained heatedly, embittered by the shameful propaganda which has falsely condemned their courage and fighting qualities in the misunderstood retrograde maneuver, and their morale will become a serious threat to their battle efficiency unless the political basis upon which they are asked to trade life for time is clearly delineated, fully understood and so impelling that the hazards of battle are cheerfully accepted. With these words, MacArthur seemed to be asking, in the name of his troops, that themeasures he had recommended be put into effect or that an explanation be rendered to himand his men. [21] Citing the limitations under which he was being required to carry on the campaign againstthe Chinese-namely, no reinforcements, continued restrictions upon Chinese Nationalistmilitary action, no measures permitted against China’s continental military potential, and the concentration of China’s military force in theKorea-Manchuria sector-MacArthur asserted that the military position of his forces inKorea would soon be untenable. He strongly recommended that, under these conditionsand in the absence of any overriding political consideration, his troops should be withdrawnfrom the peninsula just as rapidly as it was tactically feasible to do so. [22] The final factor in deciding what course to follow, in MacArthur’s judgment, was just howfar the United States was prepared to go in order to keep a position in Korea. If theprimary interest of the United States in the Far East lay in holding a position in Korea and inpinning down a large segment of the Chinese military potential, “the military course isimplicit in political policy and we should be prepared to accept whatever casualties resultand any attendant hazard to Japan’s security.” The decision to remain in Korea or towithdraw was not a matter for him to determine, MacArthur contended. The issue really boils down to the question of whether or not the United States intends to evacuate Korea and involves a decision of the highest national and international importance, far above the competence of a theater commander, guided largely by incidents affecting the tactical situation developing upon a very limited field of action. [23] Since the directives he had received from the Joint Chiefs of Staff left the initiative of thedecision to evacuate in the hands of the enemy, MacArthur wanted to know if the presentobjective of United States political policy was to maintain a military position in Koreaindefinitely, for a limited time, or to minimize losses by evacuating as soon as possible. “As Ihave pointed out before,” he concluded, “under the extraordinary limitations and conditionsimposed upon the command in Korea, its military position is untenable, but it can hold forany length of time, up to its complete destruction, if over-riding political considerations sodictate.” [24] The Joint Chiefs did not change their directives to General MacArthur despite his objectionthat he did not understand them. They did attempt to explain them to him. They made itquite clear that, after studying all the factors which he had recently presented, they wereunder no illusion that the United Nations Command could stave off a sustained major effortby the Chinese for any great length of time. But they wanted MacArthur to stay in Korea aslong as possible and to kill as many Chinese as possible before pulling out for Japan. Thiswould be in the national interest since it would gain further time for essential diplomatic andmilitary consultations with other United Nations members. The Joint Chiefs told MacArthur: It is important also to United States prestige world-wide, to the future of the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and to efforts to organize anti-communist resistance in Asia that Korea not be evacuated unless actually forced by military considerations, and that maximum practicable punishment be inflicted on Communist aggressors. [26] Washington, they freely admitted. But they were quite concerned about the effect on hismen, especially on ROK soldiers, if news of imminent evacuation should reach them. InJCS opinion, any instructions to evacuate would become known almost at once, despitesecurity measures, and any resulting collapse of ROK resistance could seriously endangerthe Eighth Army’s ability to reach a secure beachhead about Pusan and ho]d it long enoughfor actual evacuation. “Your estimate is desired,” they told MacArthur, “as to timing andconditions under which you will have to issue instructions to evacuate Korea.” Meanwhile,their current directives remained in effect. [26] The President was deeply disturbed by this. MacArthur was saying, in effect, that thecourse of action decided upon by the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs ofStaff and approved by the President was not feasible. He was saying that his forces wouldbe driven off the peninsula or, at the very least, suffer heavy losses. MacArthur had alwaysbeen kept informed but apparently few of the important papers had really found their wayto his desk. President Truman therefore resolved to send a personal letter to GeneralMacArthur setting forth the political aspects of the situation from the standpoint of thenation’s leaders. [27] “I want you to know,” President Truman wrote MacArthur on 13 January, “that thesituation in Korea is receiving the utmost attention here and that our efforts areconcentrated upon finding the right decisions on this matter of the gravest importance to thefuture of America and to the survival of free peoples everywhere.” Mr. Truman took specialcare to emphasize that what he said did not constitute a directive. He merely wanted to letMacArthur know what was being considered in Washington. Mr. Truman called uponMacArthur for assistance in solving some of the problems facing the United States. “Weneed your judgment as to the maximum effort which could reasonably be expected from theUnited Nations forces under your command to support the resistance to aggression whichwe are trying rapidly to organize on a world-wide basis,” the President told MacArthur,and enumerated the political advantages which would come with a United Nations victoryin Korea. [28] President Truman cautioned MacArthur obliquely on the latter’s proposals for more directaction against China. He warned: Pending the build-up of our national strength, we must act with great prudence in so far as extending the area of hostilities is concerned. Steps which might in themselves be fully justified and which might lend some assistance to the campaign in Korea would not be beneficial if they thereby involved Japan or Western Europe in large-scale hostilities. [29] The President fully appreciated the seriousness of the United Nations Command’s militaryposition in Korea at that time and was in no way minimizing the danger. He recognized thatcontinued resistance in Korea might not be militarily possible; but he suggested that, ifMacArthur thought it practicable, resistance might still be continued, after an evacuation, from offshore islands such as Cheju-do. In any event, Truman continued, “. .. it would be important that, if we must withdraw from Korea, it be clear to the world thatthat course is forced upon us by military necessity and that we shall not accept the resultpolitically or militarily until the aggression has been rectified.” Concluding, President Trumanlauded MacArthur for his conduct of the campaign. “The entire nation is grateful for yoursplendid leadership in the difficult struggle in Korea and for the superb performance of yourforces under the most difficult circumstances.” [30]


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