Format Type: PDF, Docs
Read Online: 889
"The purpose of this thesis is to analyze the origins of the Korean War in the context of an historiographical approach. There is essentially a traditionalist and a revisionist school of interpretation of the etiology of the Korean War. This paper explores in some depth these two schools of historical interpretation. Shortly after the outbreak of the Korean War, both blocs of Western and Communist countries revealed their sharp reactions concerning the origins of the war. Both respectively attributed the responsibility of the war to the other side; however, most Western countries conceived the war as a Soviet-international conspiracy. The U.N. decision procedure reflects that concept. That concept also provided the Truman Administration with a legitimacy of intervention in the war. Since the Korean War, the revisionists' explanation has been raised by many scholars. We can summarize the main revisionists' arguments under the following headings: (1) Truman's conspiracy theory, (2) Syngman Rhee's conspiracy theory, (3) North Korean self-determination theory. The revisionist theories seize upon the relationships between Truman's dilemma in domestic politics and Syngman Ree's aspiration for a united peninsula as the cause of the war. However, these arguments are unacceptable for the following reasons: Truman's domestic difficulties were insufficient to be the cause of the war and clearly the South Korean Army was not prepared for the war. On the other hand, the traditional explanations have focused on various aspects of Russian and North Korean conspiracies. If one may accept the conspiracy theory, it would be appropriate to examine five different interpretations that the U.S. policy-makers perceived. The five different views included: (1) the testing theory, (2) the diversion theory, (3) the Far Eastern strategy theory, (4) the soft- spot theory, and (5) the demonstration theory. Among the interpretations, U.S. policy-makers were inclined to focus on two hypotheses, the testing theory and the diversion theory. These hypotheses are substantiated by the memoirs of President Truman, George F. Kennan and Charles Bohlen. On the other hand, their memoirs also show that they did not have a clear- cut view of broader Soviet intentions, All five traditional aspects have received ample treatment by traditional scholars. But, among these, most scholars favored the Far Eastern strategy theory. Even within the traditional school, it is interesting to compare the interpretations of pre- and post- Vietnam War scholars. In conclusion, the revisionist school lacked adequate documentation, and overemphasized the role of Korean internal affairs, as well as the influence of U.S. politics without appreciation for the complexities of Far Eastern politics. The traditionalist treatment suffers from a lack of primary sources from the Russian, Korean and Chinese sides. Unless those countries publish the sources concerning the origins of the war, there will always be some confusion regarding the beginnings of that event. Finally, this historiographical survey reveals an overwhelming support of the Western contention that the origins of the Korean War stemmed from the socialist side, and reveals too little evidence to support the revisionist arguments."--Document.