From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast

Episode 5 - 1950: Plunging Back Into War

November 16, 2019 Logan Rogers Season 1 Episode 5
From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 5 - 1950: Plunging Back Into War
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From Boomers to Millennials: A Modern US History Podcast
Episode 5 - 1950: Plunging Back Into War
Nov 16, 2019 Season 1 Episode 5
Logan Rogers

Cold War tensions finally boiled over into a heated military conflict during the Summer of 1950, when Soviet-allied North Korea invaded US-allied South Korea. In response, President Truman called General Douglas MacArthur away from his role administering the American occupation of Japan in order to fight the Communists on the Korean Peninsula. MacArthur's bold military strategies allowed the Americans to recapture South Korea for capitalism, but the general underestimated the danger of occupying North Korea in his attempts to totally defeat the Korean communist movement. Back on the homefront, labor leader Walter Reuther negotiated the "Treaty of Detroit" between the United Auto Workers union & the General Motors car company, which helped bring more Americans into the middle class. The Red Scare continued to loom large over domestic politics, as Senator Joe McCarthy accused many Americans of having Communist sympathies, & Senator Patrick McCarran attempted to limit the liberties of subversives. The year's wild finish included an assassination attempt, a dirty election campaign, a president sending threats to a music critic, & a Chinese intervention in Korea that created great suffering for US troops & South Korean civilians (and which created major headaches for American generals & politicians).

Show Notes Transcript

Cold War tensions finally boiled over into a heated military conflict during the Summer of 1950, when Soviet-allied North Korea invaded US-allied South Korea. In response, President Truman called General Douglas MacArthur away from his role administering the American occupation of Japan in order to fight the Communists on the Korean Peninsula. MacArthur's bold military strategies allowed the Americans to recapture South Korea for capitalism, but the general underestimated the danger of occupying North Korea in his attempts to totally defeat the Korean communist movement. Back on the homefront, labor leader Walter Reuther negotiated the "Treaty of Detroit" between the United Auto Workers union & the General Motors car company, which helped bring more Americans into the middle class. The Red Scare continued to loom large over domestic politics, as Senator Joe McCarthy accused many Americans of having Communist sympathies, & Senator Patrick McCarran attempted to limit the liberties of subversives. The year's wild finish included an assassination attempt, a dirty election campaign, a president sending threats to a music critic, & a Chinese intervention in Korea that created great suffering for US troops & South Korean civilians (and which created major headaches for American generals & politicians).

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Speaker 1:

From boomers to millennials is a modern us history podcast, providing a fresh look at the historical events that shaped current generations from 1946 to the present. Welcome to 1950 a K a episode five plunging back into war. The two years immediately prior to 1950 had brought forward the revelations that the communists had expanded into East Asia and that they had developed nuclear weapons. Thanks in part to spies within the U S government. The Truman administration was on the defensive as its political opponents and the American public were questioning whether it was doing enough to stand up to the international communist movement. In June, 1950 the pressure was ratcheted up still further when communist North Korea and ally of the Soviet union invaded capitalists, South Korea, an ally of the United States. However, before turning to the matters of war that dominated the headlines in the year 1950 let's discuss a peace treaty that would help usher in the increasingly widespread economic prosperity of the 1950s and sixties the middle of the 20th century was a boom time for the American automobile industry.

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Germany and Japan were still in ruins at this point, and the big three U S automakers that would be Ford, Chrysler, and general motors faced a little global or domestic competition. These car manufacturing corporations located in Detroit, Michigan, were among the largest employers in the country, but since the 1930s they had been engaged in a protracted struggle against organized labor in the form of the United auto workers union or UAW which had since 1946 been energetically led by Walter roofer. Roofer was born into a blue collar, German American family. As a teenager, he worked as a metal craftsman in a factory and he lost a toe on the job. Before mastering his craft, he moved from his hometown of wheeling, West Virginia to the growing metropolis of Detroit to work at the Ford auto plant where he soon became deeply involved in labor activism. He called himself a socialist for a time and during the 1930s he visited the Soviet union.

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However, as a rising labor leader, he became a tough anticommunist during the 1940s and he enacted what amounted to a zero tolerance policy for communist party members. Within the UAW along with former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt economist John Kenneth Galbraith and theologian Reinhold Neber Ruth or became important leader of the anticommunist liberal movement coalescing around the Americans for democratic action or ADA organization as UAW president Ruth or broke with the discriminatory practices of some past labor unions in the U S and openly advocated civil rights for African Americans believing that racial hatreds only undermined work or solidarity on economics. He promoted a broadly social democratic worldview that called for big business to provide high wages, pensions and good benefits for workers and he envisioned that the government would offer a public safety net providing unemployment insurance, worker's compensation for injuries and universal healthcare. According to his story in Nelson Lichtenstein, Ruthie was tougher for opponents of organized labor to discredit than some other union leaders.

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Due to his largely scandal free personal life is lack of corruption and his tenacious devotion to labor's cause. In 1950 after months of negotiations, the general motors car company and Ruthie's UAW agreed to sign onto the treaty of Detroit, which ensured relatively high wages for auto workers, regular cost of living pay increases and sufficient pensions and health benefits in order to get these concessions. The UAW agreed to abandoned strikes under most circumstances during the duration of the contract and the union gave up on its attempts to have a significant say in the corporate decisions of management. Similar understandings between the UAW and the other car companies followed suit as a result. Liechtenstein notes that quote between 1947 and 1960 average wages in the automobile industry nearly doubled close quote. Critics argue that these types of agreements may have been bittersweet for the workers over the long run.

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They put an end to years of tough labor movement struggle, but these critics alleged such truces made the unions complacent and unprepared to face the huge challenges that would bring forth major declines in the U S private sector labor movement by the 1970s however, in 1950 many UAW members were simply happy that the deal, the big three's management was offering wood for the first time, provide a comfortable middle class life for tens of thousands of auto workers. From roofers historical perspective, the strike wave of 1946 had caused a huge public backlash against the labor movement that had led to the Taft-Hartley act. And if the UAW turned down a generous deal and pursued more work stoppages and agitation, it could further alienate the public. Liechtenstein writes that Ruth or viewed the tree of Detroit quote not as a straight jacket, but as a solid foundation upon which to build close quote. Complacency was certainly not roofers.

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Plan companies and unions and other industries were also reaching similar agreements during the 1950s and sixties not all of them as generous as the tree of Detroit, but along similar lines of providing middle-class wages and quality benefits in exchange for labor peace. Lichtenstein emphasizes that labor disputes did not disappear during the 1950s as issues such as layoffs and increasing automation still created tensions. Nevertheless, the treaty of Detroit kicked off a two decade period of broad based prosperity and relatively amicable relations between labor and management. Despite this emerging decline in economic and class tensions, the red scare we discussed in episode four continue to cast a shadow over domestic American politics in February, 1950 public anxiety about communist subversion was being exploited by Senator Joe McCarthy, a Wisconsin Republican with a combative political style. McCarthy gave speeches alleging that he had a list of known communist party members who were supposedly still working in the state department.

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This shocking allegation quickly went viral as we would now say, and it made headlines across the country. In reality. The Truman administrations loyalty program had already purged alleged radicals including a small number of actual subversives from the federal government and it also was prosecuting communist leaders in the U S McCarthy never substantiated his allegations about reds in the state department and his claims amounted to a bogus political stunt. According to author David McCullough, Senator McCarthy's allegations were Wilde quote. He had no names. He produced no evidence, close quote, but McCarthy was a crafty demagogue and he made fresh new claims so quickly. The previous ones were often forgotten by the time they were disproven. The Democrats who controlled the Senate decided to hold hearings to investigate and hopefully debunk McCarthy's allegations. This turned out to be a huge mistake as it gave McCarthy a platform that allowed him to accuse more people and increase his national profile.

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Many Americans having already learned that there had been some real communist spies in the government, weren't sure what to believe. Senator McCarthy had a lot of public support in this age of the red scare. Many people felt as long as he was chasing commies, he was all right with them. Macola notes that in spring 1950 about half of the public had a favorable opinion of McCarthy, which gave him a higher approval rating than president Truman had at the time. Senator Patrick McCarran of Nevada was another prominent anticommunist during the early 1950s although he is little remembered today beyond being the namesake of the Las Vegas international airport like Joe McCarthy. McCarran was an attorney who had been raised in a rural area by a family of modest means and Irish Catholic heritage, but unlike McCarthy, he was a Democrat. It's important to remember that the political parties in the United States weren't as ideologically homogenous in the mid 20th century as they are today.

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There were liberal to moderate Republicans and some Democrats were actually right wing such as McCarren. He authored an internal security act passed by Congress in 1950 that required communists to register with the U S justice department and gave the federal government the power to detain subversives during a national emergency. President Truman vetoed the bill based upon civil liberties concerns, but Congress overrode the president's veto with the necessary two thirds majority making the McCarran act. Federal law. Free speech groups quickly challenged the acts. Constitutionality in federal courts, historian James Patterson's assessment is that quote, the act was not enforced, but it placed left and the liberal groups on the defensive and remained on the books for years. It exposed with special clarity, the bipartisan political appeal of anti-communism in 1950 close quote, the nation's fears about communists were reinforced in June, 1950 by troubling news coming out of East Asia.

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The Korean peninsula adjacent to Northern China had been an occupied colony of the Japanese empire dating back to the 1910s but during world war II, the Koreans were finally liberated by allied forces. Soviets in the North Americans in the South, historian George C. Herring writes that quote, much as in Germany, conflict in Korea arose from occupation zones hastily carved out at Wars end after the war. A dividing line was drawn at the 38th parallel giving communists the upper hand in the Soviet occupied North and giving capitalists led by Sigma re dominance in the American occupied South. However, by the end of the 1940s both Soviets and Americans were beginning to withdraw their troops. Hoping the situation between North Korea and South Korea would remain stable considering the crises in Europe and the Mideast that were occurring during these years, it was understandable that both Washington and Moscow would consider Korea a relatively unimportant backwater and an unlikely flashpoint.

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However, both the Northern communists and the Southern capitalists among the Koreans began to plot ways to unify the peninsula under their own system. Many South Koreans feared the communists, but had some reservations about their own Southern anticommunist leader RI who was heavy handed and undemocratic in his rule and had close ties to powerful land owners. The North Koreans siding Marxist doctrine claimed there was a ripe revolutionary situation in the South, but they weren't willing to wait it out. They were going to help it along at gunpoint by invading the South authors, Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas right that quote, the fanatic North Korean dictator Kim IL sung press the Soviets for backing and permission stolen and is Chinese ally Mt say tongue went along hoping that the U S would consider it only a local affair. Close quote. James T. Patterson observes that the Truman administration had quote, refused to commit the United States to a security packed with RI in part out of concern that the South would attack the North and potentially draw a European focused U S government into an Asian civil war that hoped to avoid.

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Some historians believe that communist leaders were influenced by a speech from American secretary of state Dean Atchison in which he listed places within a defensive perimeter that the U S promise to defend at any price. South Korea was an on the list and although the speech implied that other places might receive U S help, Paterson argues that quote, it was unwise of Atchison to lay out publicly what the United States was likely to do in the world. It would have been better to keep people guessing close quote, the communist countries may have viewed the speech as a sign that the USA considered South Korea a low priority, not worth fighting over. Whatever the reasons behind Moscow's approval of Kim's plans. On the night of June 25th the North Koreans attacked across the 38th parallel, utilizing approximately 150 Soviet tanks. Professor Patterson writes that quote. Within a few days, the North Koreans overran soul. The South Korean capital smashed down the peninsula and seemed destined to push the Republic of South Korea's forces into the sea close quote.

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However, it quickly became clear that in allowing Kim IL sung and his gung ho comrades in North Korea to invade the South, the Soviets had likely miscalculated the intensity of the American response. After red China, Soviet nukes and the house espionage hearings, the Truman administration was fed up with being characterized as soft on communism. The U S defense establishment concluded that failure to respond to Soviet aligned North Korea is attack on American aligned. South Korea would be seen as a sign of weakness that would invite further aggression. It appeared that from Russia to China to Korea, nations in Asia were falling like dominoes to communism on an eastward trajectory. American officials feared that the next red moves might threaten us, occupied Japan. The administration became determined to draw the line in Korea. President Truman ordered general Douglas MacArthur who commanded us forces in East Asia from his headquarters in Tokyo to mobilize forces reoccupied South Korea militarily and to push North Korean forces back North of the 38th parallel.

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The decision proved to be wildly popular politically almost across the board. Moderate Republican interventionists, Thomas Dewey applauded it, so did conservative Republican ex isolationist Robert Taft, George Kennan, the bookish diplomat who authored the containment theory that inspired the Truman doctrine, confirmed that his theory required that the communists be repelled and Rican tained within North Korea. Labor liberals like Walter Ruther supported the war effort. Even Henry Wallace who is doomed anti cold war presidential campaign on the far left fringe of American politics we covered in episode three had recently been veering back toward the center of the ideological spectrum, perhaps understandably given the current red scare and he expressed his approval for the U S standing up to North Korean aggression. However, in his rush to go to war, Truman made a decision that had lasting significance for us foreign policy. He did not go to Congress in order to ask for a formal declaration of war, which some constitutional law scholars argue is required.

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According to article one of the United States constitution, Truman got around this requirement in part by characterized in the operation as a quote unquote police action rather than a war. Even some congressional allies applauded this bold move saying some of their fellow legislators would just tie up the action with congressional debate and military action was needed immediately considering that the North Koreans were rapidly pushing deeper into the Southern fringes of the Korean peninsula. One Texas Senator who Truman consulted with said, quote, if a burglar breaks into your house, you can shoot at them without going down to the police station and getting permission. Close quote. However, this decision to proceed into armed conflict without congressional authorization set. What many today? See as a dangerous precedent in none of the Wars that the U S has engaged in since Korea, including the Vietnam war, the Persian Gulf war, the so called war on terror in Afghanistan and the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a president obtained a formal declaration of war from Congress.

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Truman's move established the precedent that the commander in chief could quickly engage in military action without having to wait for legislative approval. In fairness to Truman, it should be noted that after us troops were already on the ground in Korea, the U S Congress did vote to grant president Truman wartime powers and did approve increased military spending in order to help him defeat the North Korean communists. The U S did attempt to give international legitimacy to the idea of punishing military aggression by means of a police action. By winning the official sanction of the United nations, the Americans persuaded their many ally nations within the peacekeeping organization to vote in favor of approving the military operation in Korea. As a result, the Korean war was officially an international UN action against the North Korean invasion, but very few UN member nations besides the U S and South Korea contributed more than a token number of military troops.

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The first U S forces to arrive in South Korea did not perform particularly well. Many had been stationed in Japan for years, living as privileged occupiers and had lost their fighting edge. However, as more U S army troops were transported to South Korea's Southeastern defense perimeter based around the port city of Pusan, they'd benefited from an American aerial assault. The devastated the North Korean ground forces. As a result, the situation stabilized us army performance improved and the communist advance was halted. It appeared that the next U S military step would be a slow, bloody counter push in a northwesterly direction in order to recapture the South Korean territory that had been taken by the communists. However, general MacArthur would be the engineer of an unexpected major turn in the tides of the war. We will now take a brief detour to provide the backstory of Douglas MacArthur, who became a central figure to the national political debates that arose around the conduct of the Korean war.

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By the way, we are aware that it is confusing to have Mack Arthur McCarthy and McCarren in the same episode, but it just so happened that U S history served up a lot of prominent Macs and mics during this era. Anyway, Douglas MacArthur was born way back in 1882 a military family and went on to attend the U S Academy for educating army officers at West point graduating at the very top of his class. According to Patterson, MacArthur served as a commanding officer in world war one and quote was decorated 13 times and emerged from the war. A Brigadier general close quote, MacArthur continued to work his way up the ranks in peace time and in 1930 he became at age 50 the youngest man to date holding the position of army chief of staff. He generated national controversy in 1932 by ordering his troops to use tear gas against the bonus army, a group of world war one veterans that gathered in Washington DC seeking government assistance during the great depression.

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Supporters of MacArthur viewed the Army's role in driving away the bonus army protestors as a reasonable response to a significant threat to law and order, but others were troubled to see the military used in this way against veterans when his term is army chief ended, MacArthur took on a commanding role in the Philippines, Commonwealth and Island archipelago nation near Southeast Asia, which was becoming more autonomous, but still had a quasi colonial relationship with the United States. Patterson writes that MacArthur quote retired from the U S army in 1937 but he stayed on in the Philippines with a rank of field Marshall. Close quote, Japanese forces swept down upon the Philippines in early 1942 in the months after the Pearl Harbor attack, started world war II in the Pacific, and MacArthur was forced to evacuate from the Philippines to Australia, called out of retirement and into active duty. General MacArthur was one of the top officers during the war, commanding the U S forces in the Pacific theater that eventually emerged totally victorious over the Japanese empire.

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When the second world war ended, MacArthur, Nick's served as the de facto ruler of Japan in his role as the Supreme commander for the allied powers occupying that defeated access power Patterson notes that role caused him to gain a hugely favorable reputation as a firm, but benevolent destroyer of Japanese militarism. Close quote. It was this position among other factors that led biographer William Manchester to dub Mack Arthur and American Caesar MacArthur approved the economic reform efforts and the new democratic constitution discussed in episode two and although he was generally uninterested in the minutia of these reforms, he served as a decisive executive administrator with his towering and trim physical frame, gold braided generals, cap corncob pipe and aviator sunglasses. MacArthur was one of the most recognizable and charismatic us military leaders of the world war II era. However, some military leaders were less reverential of MacArthur. Then the general public often was Patterson writes that the chairman of the joint chiefs general Omar Bradley and some other top military leaders, quote, recognize that MacArthur was vain, arrogant, and domineering.

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Close quote Manchester describes him as quote, a great thundering paradox of a man who is both a brilliant tactician and a courageous officer, but also something of a vainglorious self promoter who quote, could not acknowledge errors and tried to cover up his mistakes. Close quote now entering his seventh decade of life, general Mac Arthur went forward in Korea during September, 1950 with one of the riskiest moves of his long and storied military career. Rather than continue a bloody push forward that would force the capitalist forces to fight their way back up the peninsula. He proposed a flanking maneuver that would go behind enemy lines requiring an amphibious landing at the port city of Incheon. The troops would then March inland from there and take back the South Korean capital of Seoul. MacArthur got reluctant approval from the U S military for this unexpected gambit, which relied heavily on the element of surprise.

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The result was a smashing success in Sean was seized. Then Seoul was liberated and the U S forces soon had the main North Korean forces divided from their supply lines crushed in a vice between the U S forces to their North and soul and the U S forces to their South. In Pusan, many North Koreans were killed or captured, although thousands did manage to escape back to the North. The Incheon attack only enhance the legend of Douglas Mack Arthur, who by now was more popular than the politicians and who was as iconic as a rock star among the American public. Professor George C Herron contends that quote Mack Arthur's already ample ego was further swollen by this brilliant maneuver. Close quote, the USA next chose to push North of the 38th parallel into the area of former Soviet occupation and subsequent communist control with the goal of punishing the North Koreans for their aggression and to potentially unite Korea under a non-communist government.

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Some perceptive geopolitical analysts such as George Cannon, were skeptical and nervous about this move, but Mack Arthur insisted on it. The public largely supported it and the Truman administration gave it the green light. The Americans hope that now a domino would finally fall in the other direction. As the capitalist world struck back against communist gains in recent years, the major risk inherent in this plan was the potential of Soviet or Chinese intervention coming to the aid of the North Koreans in their battle against invading us troops. Truman and his top advisors supported pursuing the communists into the North and defeating them there, but they did not want to provoke a wider war with red China, which would be a gargantuan undertaking on its own and which could expand into a world war involving the Soviets.

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President Truman met face to face with general Mac Arthur for the first time on wake Island in the middle of the Pacific ocean. During October, 1950 in this meeting, Truman asked the American Caesar his opinion concerning whether the Chinese would intervene. Mack Arthur said it was very unlikely based upon his interpretation of military intelligence reports and his own intuition, the president accepted the Sansar and he publicly awarded Mac Arthur a metal on the trip hoping to get some political benefit from basking in the halo of this war hero who was by this time far more popular with the U S public man. Harry Truman was according to Truman biographer, David Macola. At the conclusion of the meeting, Mack Arthur invited Truman to visit him in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang. In the future. The general asserted that some us troops could likely return home by Christmas and he looked forward to holding elections soon in a newly United non-communist Korean Republic. McCullough writes that to Truman at this point, quote Korea. It seemed could be included now with the Truman doctrine, the Marshall plan, the Berlin airlift, and NATO as among the proudest moments of his presidency. Close quote, neither Mack Arthur nor Truman realized upon departing wake Island, just how fleeting the liberation of North Korea from communism would be.

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The joint chiefs in Washington directed MacArthur to avoid sending American forces too close to the China North Korea border, which ran along the Yalu river. He was encouraged to limit the anticommunist military presence in that area to South Korean forces in order to avoid spooking the communist Chinese. According to Mokolo, the general bent such orders to the edge of disobedience. Some ominous intelligence reports indicated that Mao was seriously considering an intervention, but U S government officials largely dismissed such threats as a bluff. The American decision to militarily occupy. North Korea had been made and now the U S was struggling to consolidate its hold upon the territory that it had taken while hoping to avoid trouble with the hostile Chinese juggernaut across the river. While these maneuvers were occurring in Korea, trouble was brewing in Washington DC. On November 1st, 1950 president Truman woke up from a nap to the sound of gunshots.

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He was staying in a residence called the Blair house while the white house was undergoing renovations and a woke to find that too radical. Puerto Rican independence activists were outside trying to assassinate him. The terrorists had attack. The secret service agents stationed around Blair house and a gun fight followed. Truman came to the window to see what was happening, but the secret service ordered him to get out of sight. The president avoided injury, but multiple agents were wounded and one was killed. The secret service killed one of the terrorists during the attack and the other would soon be sentenced to life in prison. This assassination attempt had nothing to do with communism or Korea. The vast majority of Puerto Ricans did not support the Assassin's radical movement and it ranked quite low on any plausible list of threats to the U S government. Still this attempt to take the life of the president naturally added to an increasingly uneasy national mood, a shake and Truman wasn't cheered by the results of the midterm congressional elections.

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A few days later, the Democrats had suffered losses in both houses of Congress and now held legislative control of the federal government by only a narrow margin. Red baiting had figured into several races including Richard Nixon's victory over Helen Gahagan Douglas in California discussed in episode four in Maryland. Allies of a Joe McCarthy endorsed Republican candidate had circulated a doctored photo of the democratic incumbent Senator Millard tidings whispering with an American communist leader. It was a Photoshop composite of two separate photos, a totally fabricated document produced as part of a smear campaign against Senator tidings. But such scare tactics often worked in the paranoid political environment of the year. 1950 the Maryland Republican candidate defeated the red baited incumbent, which was bad tidings, indeed for clean and honest political campaign tactics to make matters worse for the administration back in East Asia, the ominous reports that the Chinese communists were planning to intervene in Korea were proving to be accurate.

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According to herring quote, Mao may have felt some obligation to the Korean communists who had provided vital support during the Chinese civil war. Closed quote, Chinese leader chairman Mao Zedong had already felt threatened by reports of Americans pushing for an invasion of China by Chiang Kai Shek forces in Taiwan, and now the hostel, Yankee army was on his very front doorstep after having crushed his revolutionary comrades next door. Now gave the green light to an attack. In late November, 1950 hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops, many of them, battle hardened veterans of China's civil war began pouring over the border, overwhelming the American troops and sending them into a quick retreat. MacArthur went from being smugly overconfident to being alarmed and obsessed with crushing the commies once and for all. He began demanding that the U S military be allowed to directly attack the Chinese mainland, and if this led to a global war with the communists, so be it.

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President Truman wanted no part of a total war with China, but he now found himself in a tight spot. Politically. We told you back in episode three that Harry Truman would not much enjoy the second presidential term, that he had worked so hard to win. Now he was growing despondent. His biographer, McCullough called the end of 1950 the most difficult period of his presidency. Close quote, his vulnerability to personal insecurities while under this intense pressure only added to his woes when a newspaper critic from the Washington post negatively reviewed a public recital given by the president's daughter, Margaret, who is an aspiring singer, Harry Truman let his famous temper get the best of them. He was already emotionally raw from the sudden death of his press. Secretary, Charlie Ross, a lifelong friend from Missouri who had been struck down by a heart attack just days earlier and he had no patience left for attacks.

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Upon those close to him, he wrote a letter to the editor implying that he would like to punch the critic from the post in the face. This most unusual presidential letter warned the newspaper columnists, quote, someday I hope to meet you. When that happens, you'll need a new nose, a lot of beef, steak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below. Close quote. Yikes. McCullough writes that Margaret Truman hoped this letter, supposedly defending her honor, was a fabrication when it appeared in print all across America and she was quite upset when her father admitted that he had actually written it. Unlike today, the American public of 1950 was not accustomed to seeing their national leader threatening the media or engaging in petty personal squabbles in public. Some newspaper editorials questioned Harry Truman's emotional stability as a result of the letter. The president soon received hate mail from Americans expressing anger that he was spending time feuding with critics of his daughter's a music career when he should be focused upon resolving the Korean war.

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Americans were getting disastrous news from the Korean peninsula. At the close of 1950 emits bitterly cold winter conditions. Us forces were being pushed South of the 38th parallel by combined North Korean and Chinese forces. Patterson writes that by Christmas the anticommunist forces had retreated quote more than 300 miles in less than a month. Soldiers and millions of cold and panic stricken refugees jammed the roads. Close quote, the cold war years were always fraught with the remote possibility of the outbreak of world war three but this was the most dangerous moment since the height of the 1948 blockade of Berlin, perhaps even more perilous now that the communists had nuclear capacity. Truman declared a national emergency imposed wartime wage and price controls called up more troops and ask Congress for even more military funding for the East Asian conflict with national hero. Mack Arthur pushing for massive U S military attacks upon the Chinese mainland.

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Even saying tactical nuclear strikes upon major cities ought to be considered. The Truman administration struggled to resist political pressure to respond to the attack by engaging in a wider war against China after all waging war against the people's Republic wrist provoking Stalin to come to the aid of his comrade Mao by sending reinforcements from Siberia to China or by making a move against America's NATO allies in Europe. Tensions between Douglas MacArthur and Harry Truman over the wisdom of attacking China and over the conduct of the Korean war will come to their dramatic conclusion during our next episode covering the year 1951

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[inaudible].