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APRIL 11, 1951
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Secretary to the President
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I want to talk plainly to you tonight about what we are doing in Korea and
about our policy in the Far East.
In the simplest terms, what we are doing in Korea is this: We are trying to
prevent a Third World War.
I think most people in this country recognized that fact last June. And they
warmly supported the decision of the Government to help the Republic of Korea
against the communist aggressors. Now, many persons, even some who applauded
our decision to defend Korea, have forgotten the basic reason for our action.
It is right for us to be in Korea. It was right last June. It is right today.
I want to remind you why this is true.
The communists in the Kremlin are engaged in a monstrous conspiracy to stamp
out freedom all over the world. If they were to succeed, the United States
would be numbered among their principal victims. It must be clear to everyone
that the United States cannot and will not -- sit idly by and await foreign
conquest. The only question is: When is the best time to meet the threat and
The best tine to meet the threat is in the beginning. It is easier to put out a
fire in the beginning when it is small than after it has become a roaring
And the best way to meet the threat of aggression is for the-peace-loving
nations to act together. If they don't act together, they are likely to be
picked off, one by one.
If they had followed the right policies in the 1930's -- if the free countries
had acted together, to crush the aggression of the dictators, and if they had
acted in the beginning, when the aggression was small -- there probably would
have been no World War II.
If history has taught us anything, it is that aggression anywhere in the world
is a threat to peace everywhere in the world. When that aggression is supported
by the cruel and selfish rulers
of a powerful nation who are bent on conquest, it becomes a clear and present
danger to the security and independence of every free nation.
This is a lesson that most people in this country have learned thoroughly. This
is the basic reason why we joined in creating the United Nations. And, since
the end of World War II, we have been putting that lesson into practice -- we
have been working with other free nations to check the aggressive designs of
the Soviet Union before they can result in a third world war.
That is what we did in Greece, when that nation was threatened by the
aggression of international communism.
The attack against Greece could have led to general war. But this country came
to the aid of Greece. The United Nations supported Greek resistance. With our
help, the determination and efforts of the Greek people defeated the attack on
Another big communist threat to peace was the Berlin blockade. That too could
have led to war. But again it was settled because free men would not back down
in an emergency.
The aggression against Korea is the boldest and most dangerous move the
communists have yet made.
The attack on Korea was part of a greater plan for conquering all of Asia.
I would like to read to you from a secret intelligence report which came to us
after the attack. It is a report of a speech a communist army officer in North
Korea gave to a group of spies and saboteurs last May, one month before South
Korea was invaded. The report shows in great detail how this invasion was part
of a carefully prepared plot. Here is part of what the communist officer, who
had been trained in Moscow, told his men: "Our forces," he said, "are scheduled
to attack South Korean forces about the middle of June. The coming attack on
South Korea marks the first step toward the liberation of Asia."
Notice that he used the word "liberation." That is communist double-talk
I have another secret intelligence report here. This one tells what another
communist officer in the Far East told his men several months before the
invasion of Korea. Here is what he said: "In order to successfully undertake
the long awaited world revolution, we must first unify Asia.... Java,
Indo-China, Malaya, India, Tibet, Thailand, Philippines, and Japan are our
ultimate targets. The United States is the only obstacle on our road for the
liberation of all countries in southeast Asia. In other words, we must unify
the people of Asia and crush the United States."
That is what the communist leaders are telling their people, and that is what
they have been trying to do.
They want to control all Asia from the Kremlin.
This plan of conquest is in flat contradiction to what we believe. We believe
that Korea belongs to the Koreans, that India belongs to the Indians -- that
all the nations of Asia should be free to work out their affairs in their own
way. This is the basis of peace in the Far East and everywhere else.
The whole communist imperialism is back of the attack on peace in the Far East.
It was the Soviet Union that trained and equipped the North Koreans for
aggression. The Chinese communists massed 44 well-trained and well-equipped
divisions on the Korean frontier. These were the troops they threw into battle
when the North Korean communists were beaten.
The question we have had to face is whether the communist plan of conquest can
be stopped without general war. Our Government and other countries associated
with us in the United Nations believe that the best chance of stopping it
without general war is to meet the attack in Korea and defeat it there.
That is what we have been doing. It is a difficult and bitter task.
But so far it has been successful.
So far, we have prevented World War III.
So far, by fighting a limited war in Korea, we have prevented aggression from
succeeding, and bringing on a general war. And the ability of the whole free
world to resist communist aggression has been greatly improved.
We have taught the enemy a lesson. He has found out that aggression is not
cheap or easy. Moreover, men all over the world who want to remain free have
been given new courage and new hope. They know now that the champions of
freedom can stand up and fight and that they will stand up and fight.
Our resolute stand in Korea is helping the forces of freedom now fighting in
Indo-China and other countries in that part of the world. It has already slowed
down the time-table of conquest.
In Korea itself, there are signs that the enemy is building up his ground
forces for a new mass offensive. We also know that there have been large
increases in the enemy's available air forces.
If a new attack comes, I feel confident it will be turned back. The United
Nations fighting forces are tough and able, and well equipped. They are
fighting for a just cause. They are proving to all the world that the principle
of collective security will work. We are proud of all these forces for the
magnificent job they have done against heavy odds. We pray that their efforts
may succeed, for upon their success may hinge the peace of the world.
The communist side must now choose its course of action. The communist rulers
may press the attack against us. They may take further action which will spread
the conflict. They have that choice, and with it the awful responsibility for
what may follow. The communists also have the choice of a peaceful settlement
which could lead to a general relaxation of tensions in the Far Fast. The
decision is theirs, because the forces of the United Nations will strive to
limit the conflict if possible.
We do not want to see the conflict in Korea extended. We are trying to prevent
a world war -- not to start one. The best way to do that is to make it plain
that we and the other free countries will continue to resist the attack.
But you may ask why can't we take other steps to punish the aggressor. Why
don't we bomb Manchuria and China itself? Why don't we assist Chinese
Nationalists troops to land on the mainland of China?
If we were to do these things, we would be running a very grave risk of
starting a general war. If that were to happen, we would have brought about the
exact situation we are trying to prevent.
If we were to do these things, we would become entangled in a vast conflict on
the continent of Asia and our task would become immeasurably more difficult all
over the world.
What would suit the ambitions of the Kremlin better than for our military
forces to be committed to a full scale war with Red China?
It may well be that, in spite of our best efforts, the communists may spread
the war. But it would be wrong -- tragically wrong -- for us to take the
initiative in extending the war.
The dangers are great. Make no mistake about it. Behind the North Koreans and
Chinese communists in the front lines stand additional millions of Chinese
soldiers. And behind the Chinese stand the tanks, the planes, the submarines,
the soldiers, and the scheming rulers of the Soviet Union.
Our aim is to avoid the spread of the conflict.
The course we have been following is the one best calculated to avoid an all
out war. It is the course consistent with our obligation to do all we can to
maintain international peace and security. Our experience in Greece and Berlin
shows that it is the most effective course of action we can follow.
First of all, it is clear that our efforts in Korea can blunt the will of the
Chinese communists to continue the struggle. The United Nations forces have put
up a tremendous fight in Korea and have inflicted very heavy casualties on the
enemy. Our forces are stronger now than they have been before. These are plain
facts which may discourage the Chinese communists from continuing their
Second, the free world as a whole is growing in military strength every day. In
the United States, in Western Europe, and throughout the world, free men are
alert to the Soviet threat and are building their defenses. This may discourage
the communist rulers from continuing the war in Korea -- and from undertaking
new acts of aggression elsewhere.
If the communist authorities realize that they cannot defeat us in Korea, if
they realize it would be foolhardy to widen the hostilities beyond Korea, then
they may recognize the folly of continuing their aggression. A peaceful
settlement may then be possible. The door is always open.
Then we may achieve a settlement in Korea which will not compromise the
principles and purposes of the United Nations.
I have thought long and hard about this question of extending the war in Asia.
I have discussed it many times with the ablest military advisers in the
country. I believe with all my heart that the course we are following is the
I believe that we must try to limit the war to Korea for these vital reasons:
to make sure that the precious lives of our fighting men are not wasted; to see
that the security of our country and the free world is not needlessly
jeopardized; and to prevent a third world war.
A number of events have made it evident that General MacArthur did not agree
with that policy. I have therefore considered it essential to relieve General
MacArthur so that there would be no doubt or confusion as to the real purpose
and aim of our policy.
It was with the deepest personal regret that I found myself compelled to take
this action. General MacArthur is one of our greatest military commanders. But
the cause of world peace is more important than any individual.
The change in commands in the Far East means no change whatever in the policy
of the United States. We will carry on the fight in Korea with vigor and
determination in an effort to bring the war to a speedy and successful
We are ready, at any time, to negotiate for a restoration of peace in the area.
But we will not engage in appeasement. We are only interested in real peace.
Real peace can be achieved through a settlement based on the following
One: the fighting must stop.
Two: concrete steps must be taken to insure that the fighting will not break
Three: there must be an end to the aggression.
A settlement founded upon these elements would open the way for the unification
of Korea and the withdrawal of all foreign forces.
In the meantime, I want to be clear about our military objective. We are
fighting to resist an outrageous aggression in Korea. We are trying to keep the
Korean conflict from spreading
to other areas. But at the same time we must conduct our military activities
so as to insure the security of our forces. This is essential if they are to
continue the fight until the enemy abandons
its ruthless attempt to destroy the Republic of Korea,.
That is our military objective -- to repel attack and to restore peace.
In the hard fighting in Korea, we are proving that collective action among
nations is not only a high principle but a workable means of resisting
aggression. Defeat of aggression in Korea may be the turning point in the
world's search for a practical way of achieving peace and security.
The struggle of the United Nations in Korea is a struggle for peace.
The free nations have united their strength in an effort to prevent a third
That war can come if the communist rulers want it to come. But this Nation and
its allies will not be responsible for its coming.
We do not want to widen the conflict. We will use every effort to prevent that
disaster. And in so doing, we know that we are following the great principles
of peace, freedom, and justice.