More notes at http://tanguay.info/learntracker
C O U R S E 
The Modern World: Global History since 1760
Prof. Philip Zelikow, University of Virginia
C O U R S E   L E C T U R E 
How WWIII was Avoided in the Korean War
Notes taken on June 29, 2014 by Edward Tanguay
the Korean War intensified in a way that it felt as though WWIII was about to begin
WWII had two theaters which eventually combined and became a global war
people in 1950 still had this in mind
June 1950, Korean War starts
September 1950: Americans get enough forces so that they can turn the tide
America controls the air and the sea
launches a high-risk invasion behind North Korean lines, collapses resistance
British, French, and Turks are sending troop contingents
American forces begin to overrun North Korea
there are arguments in hindsight that the U.S. should have stopped after that invasion and not keep going north
there was no chance that they would have chosen that, given the precedent in WWII, that fact that you had to crush and utterly defeat dictators to win a war and not just push them back
the goal was the control the peninsula and organized along the lines provided by the United Nations
North Korean allies' response
Soviet Union argues that China needs to go to war against the United States and the United Nations
a large fraction of the Chinese leadership does not want the larger war
they want to concentrate on building the new People's Republic
the chief advocate for the war is Mao Zedong himself
Mao is asking Stalin for assurances in equipment and supplies, and air cover
one can very quickly see how this could turn into WWIII
Stalin's arguments:
USA is not ready for a big war
Japan is not yet capable of giving much help to the Americans
USA will be compelled to yield to China
USA will have to also give up on Taiwan
of course, this could all set off a chain reaction which involves China more deeply, and then the Soviet Union
but if a war is inevitable, let it be waged now and not after Japan and Germany have regained their military strength
Mao accepts this reasoning and brings China into the fight
October/November 1950
Chinese have hundreds of thousands of soldiers for a mass offensive
but the USA has complete control of the skies and the seas, and have much better fire power
the Chinese offensive can work if the US forces are scattered over a mountainous countryside
not in prepared positions
Douglas MacArthur continues to scatter his forces across the map of North Korea
the Chinese, lightly armed, cut these forces off, at night, in the winter, in the mountains
what MacArthur could have done is held a solid line across the peninsula
MacArthur was over-confident wanting to have troops home by Christmas
U.S. flees in retreat fighting China
by January 1951 Mao and Chinese push south
U.S. declares national emergency and triples the defense budget over night just at it did at the outbreak of WWII
Douglas MacArthur is replaced by Matthew Ridgway
are able to hold the line Korea with United Nation troops
the Chinese lose hundreds of thousands of soldiers
American forces are now integrated, black and white
America decided not to widen the war into World War III
Douglas MacArthur, however, had argued to widen war but Truman finally removed him in April 1951
in spite of this, MacArthur comes home to ticker tape parades