[Note: I was 16 years old when I wrote this.]
In the summer of 1950 communist forces of North Korea invaded the capitalist South, starting the Korean War. Most historians agree that Stalin and the USSR must take responsibility for the outbreak of this war, in an attempt to spread communism. However there is little valid information from the USSR, and thus interpretations of the causes of the war are of a western viewpoint. This absence of Communist documents brings confusion to the topic and makes “it difficult to establish what took place in the summer of 1950”, as explained by Allen Whiting. Nevertheless the majority of historians agree that Stalin was to blame, although other countries helped to increase the tension at the time.
For most historians it was the Russians that were responsible for the outbreak of the Korean War, perhaps wanting to test Truman’s determination. Stalin had supplied the North Koreans with tanks and other equipment. Moreover Kim Il Sung could not have acted without Stalin’s go-ahead. It is suggested that through a takeover of the South, Russia’s position in the Pacific would have been strengthened and would be a splendid gesture against the Americans to make up for Stalin’s failure in West Berlin.
A strong reason for a possible attack instigated by Russia was to make up for failure in the Berlin Blockade. In 1948 Stalin had cut all road, rail and canal routes to West Berlin in an attempt to starve West Berliners. However the Western allies staged an airlift to help feed the West Berliners and keep them alive. Finally Stalin was forced to give up and lifted the blockade. The outcome of this blockade was that it gave a great psychological and morale boost to the Western powers, though it brought relations with Russia to their worst ever. Stalin could regain power by a strong communist influence in North Koreans. Additionally he could regain prestige and influence among other Asian communists as well.
Many historians also agree that the Korean War was the first step to control Southeast Asia, for the Soviet Union. This effort to control such an important area for the USSR and China, would allow Stalin to spread communism even further. As referred to as the Domino theory, most historians and Truman thought that Far Eastern countries would fall like dominoes to communism. Historian and Korean Pow General Sir Anthony Farrar- Hockley says: “The new material has exposed beyond question the extent to which Stalin and the Soviet Union were involved in the war. Hitherto we’ve had direct evidence that they were there, on the periphery. And we’ve had good reason to suspect they had political influence. Now we know beyond question.” The Soviet Union undoubtedly had some involvement in the war, if not bearing the responsibility for causing it.
Russia is also believed to be responsible for the outbreak of the Korean War, because the Korean War was most definitely a probe to test US resolve in a soft spot. Furthermore a war in Korea would preoccupy the US while allowing the Russians to advance elsewhere. Stalin would have also taken this opportunity to spread communism because there was a good chance of success, initially the US was apparently not interested in Korea. The US had excluded Korea from its plans of defense perimeter, and this gave Stalin the perception that the US was uninterested in this area of Asia.
Although the general agreement is that Stalin and the USSR are responsible for the outbreak of the Korean War, there is evidence to suggest that they should not take sole responsibility. To begin with it is not clear that North Korea actually began the war. However if such an attack was planned, would Jacob Malik, (the soviet ambassador to the United Nations in New York), have walked out of the UN from January to August 1950, for the UN was an important propaganda forum. Furthermore there was none of the usual propaganda build-up before the Soviet move. The Cold War was not a ‘hot war’ and therefore much of the fighting was sought through propaganda and economic means, and if Stalin did not use propaganda before the start of the Korean War he would be failing in his attempt of promoting communism.
According to Khrushchev’s Memoirs in 1971, Kim Il Sung was responsible for the war, although Stalin gave his blessing. North Korea was strong on self-reliance and held distrust of foreigners including the Russians. This was proven when the North Korean leader Kim Il Sung, went to Russia asking the Russians whether or not he could invade the South. Stalin refused this approval and further shows why he can be debated if Russia was really responsible for the outbreak of the Korean War. Additionally Stalin must have known about the stronger position the US was beginning to take in 1950 with regard to Korea because he was receiving information from British agents abroad and as a result would not have been so keen to attack the South. Peter Lowe a historian of the Korean War has presented this matter in his book “The Origins of the Korean War” and has concluded that “on balance, it is unlikely that the Russians manipulated the North Koreans in June 1950, but it is still a possibility.”
As mentioned earlier, North Korea holds some responsibility for the outbreak of the Korean War. The North Korean leader Kim Il Sung perhaps ordered the attack without consulting the Russians. North Koreans were certainly nationally minded and distrustful of foreigners. Kim Il Sung was the main agent of the war and he would have been influenced by the obvious weakness of South Korean forces, by the Japanese revival, and by US assertions that Korea was not in the US “defense perimeter”. Although there is limited evidence for this claim Bruce Cuming has suggested that the notebook of a captured North Korean mechanic showing that planes in mid-June were being prepared for an attack and were not receiving jus routine maintenance.. Hence indication that the North Koreans were not responding on 25th June to a South Korean attack.
The United States did not look for war in 1950 but the US did unintentionally encourage the war by leading the Communists to expect that there would be no US involvement. US troops had been withdrawn in 1949, and the Senator Robert Taft emphasized that the US had not built up South Korean defenses. Furthermore in 1950 Truman decided that it was essential for the west to take a stand by supporting South Korea, against Stalin’s alleged spread of communism. Mao’s victory in China, made it seem as if the world was threatened by Communism and consequently Truman decided that steps would need to be taken to stop this spread of Communism before it reached other countries. Clearly this new US policy of containment changed a local civil war into a wider international conflict.
The communists of North Korea claimed that South Korea started the war, when Syngman Rhee’s troops had crossed the 38th parallel. Syngman Rhee is accused by a few historians of deliberately proving the North by border incidents as his popularity was waning. Also he hoped that a war would bring US aid and consequently unification. He was 75 years old in 1950 and was an old man in a hurry to make his mark in history. It is suggested that a war would push the US into giving Syngman Rhee what he wanted. This theory is claimed by historians such as Gabriel Kolko who believes that Syngman Rhee was looking forward to a time when he could invade the North. Kolko states that the North Koran attack was a response to provocative incursions over the 38th parallel by South Koreans, who withdrew, luring the North Koreans into following.
Lastly is the responsibility of China in the outbreak of the Korean War. Mao Zedong could have push Kim Il Sung to attack South Korea, in the attempt to preoccupy the US while the Chinese communists occupied Taiwan, or perhaps Tibet. Mao’s victory in 1949 in the Chinese Civil War may have encouraged Kim Il Sung or Stalin to adopt a more forceful policy. On the other hand, Mao’s success may have pushed the US into a more assertive stance. In addition it has been alleged that the Chinese Nationalist leader, Jiang Jieshi, encouraged the South Koreans to attack in order to divert Beijing and perhaps bring him more US support. However evidence of both these instances are limited, and it is generally accepted that China was not the main cause of the war.
In conclusion most historians agree that Truman and Stalin were both in a battle for world domination- and that Korea was a ‘war at arm’s length’. Nevertheless it is the post revisionist view that Stalin must take most responsibility for the war that is most widely accepted. Although Kim Il Sung added to the tensions of the conflict, he could not have acted without Stalin’s approval. Stalin supplied North Korea with weapons, equipment and tanks, which is not the actions of a country who does not want war. Stalin’s aggressive and expansionist policies clearly showed that he wanted a Korean War whether or not he instigated Kim Il Sung into it. As a result Stalin and the USSR must take responsibility for the outbreak of the Korean War.
The scope of this investigation is to discover Haile Selassie’s role in the Re-africanization movement in Ethiopia in the 20th century. To carry out this investigation I will use primary and secondary sources. In addition a bibliography will be assembled and attached at the end of the investigation. A considerable amount of research for the bibliography will be carried out using the internet. I have also used an African history book about decolonisation in my research and a speech given by Selassie at a Pan-African meeting. An analysis of these sections will indicate the significance of Selassie’s contribution to the movement and a conclusion will be reached based on what has been derived from the evidence.
Haile Selassie I became emperor of Ethiopia in 1930. Throughout his reign Haile Selassie worked on various economic and social reforms for the progress of his country and people, however Selassie´s most significant work was his actions in helping to achieve a Re-africanization of Ethiopia. He gave Ethiopia its first written constitution in 1931. Nevertheless before he officially was crowned emperor of Ethiopia, he had started to begin re-Africanizing the country.
[GiveGetWin Summer Camp wraps up today! It's been amazing. Recaps coming soon. Big thanks to everyone who made it happen, particularly all the great people at UChicago and the Chicago Innovation Exchange, especially Tom Ancona and Ashley Clement, and a great thanks to all our mentors -- Ben Rubin, Chiara Cokieng, Eden Full, Greg Nance, Jason Shen, Judd Weiss, Kai Zau, Laura Coe, Miguel Hernandez, Shashin Choksky, Stepan Parunashvili, Taylor Pearson, Ted Gonder, Zach Obront, and Zachary Cohn. And finally, to all our very talented attendees and the companies and experts that participated by taking part in GiveGetWin.]
[This post also on LessWrong.]
On Empirical Truth and Affective Truth
"We've always been at war with Eastasia."
Being able to be cloaked in the mantle of "truth," unfortunately, is extremely profitable to all manner of people.