THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Gravity of the situation in Korea in plain sight

US troops involved in urban fighting in Seoul during the Korean WarUS troops involved in urban fighting in Seoul during the Korean War
US troops involved in urban fighting in Seoul during the Korean War
From the News Letter, November 30, 1950

On this day in November 1950 the News Letter main editorial comment story focused on the ongoing Korean War.

“The gravity of the situation in Korea, as revealed alike by events and by General MacArthur’s despatches, finds emphasis in the holding of emergency council meetings in both Washington and London,” declared the News Letter.

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The editorial continued: “More disturbing than the immediate military possibilities is the uncertainty about Peking’s intentions, as well as the extent to which Moscow is a party to them. The pretence that Chinese Communist intervention in Korea is on a voluntary basis no longer serves, but it is by no means clear as yet whether large-scale participation in the massive attack on the United Nations forces can be regarded as more than a counter - blast to General MacArthur’s end the war offensive in other words, whether the intent is only to stem any further approach to the Yalu river terrain and so to obtain a better position gaining from strength in negotiations.

“Mr Warren Austin, at Lake Success, gives the development a more sinister interpretation that of open aggression, with or without Russian connivance; while Mr Bevin, in a Parliamentary but scarcely illuminating statement, asks whether the move into Korea is part of a grand strategy for bigger purpose and whether, in fact, there is a Russian-Chinese conspiracy on a world-wide scale.

“His most arresting words came in the suggestion that a point had been reached when the best constructive brains in this Parliament should meet in order to preserve peace.” Although this, it seems, is not to be taken as a broad Coalition hint, it does seem to contemplate a closer understanding between Ministers and the Opposition front bench.

“Mr Eden, in realistic vein, stresses the desirability of British representation on the very highest level just now in Washington and Lake Success, where decisions are being taken. As he (with, presumably, the Conservative leaders generally) sees the position Korea, the obvious course now is to fortify and hold the wasp-waist of the peninsula and, standing upon that decision, see the matter through.

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“And, since the main burden of the task must fall on the United States and the British Commonwealth, the sooner they make this the direct purpose the better. In his view the real and ultimate danger lies in Europe rather than in the Far East, and Russian proposals for conversations should not be rejected out of hand.”

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