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North Korea Invades the South
The Korean War begins with an attack made by North Korean forces across the 38th parallel dividing North and South Korea. The attack took place on June 24th 1950, and was a complete surprise to the American administration. It was feared that this attack heralded the beginning of World War III.

The image of Chamberlain's 1938 Munich capitulation to Germany, immediately provoked American policy makers. They seemed to feel that it was better to fight a small war in the present, than a large-scale one later on. The Soviet Union was boycotting United Nations sessions, and therefore the United States was able to obtain a resolution calling for a U.N. force to oppose the invasion. The U.S. thus fought under the United Nations flag.

North Korean forces managed to advance far to the south, trapping Americans forced in a small area of South Korea near the city of Pusan. A brilliant, amphibious landing in Inchon in September turned the tide of the war. By November, American forces had almost reached the Chinese border. Chinese troops intervened, however, forcing back American forces.

Finally, the military positions stabilized, not far from the original border where the war had began. General MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander of the U.N. Forces, called for the use of additional power against the Chinese, including the use of nuclear weapons. The President and the rest of the Administration decided instead that it was more important to concentrate on defending Europe. (Many in the Administration were concerned about a possible Soviet attack in Europe.) When MacArthur continued to speak out against the administration's policies, President Truman fired him. It took another two years to reach a cease-fire agreement.

A major consequence of the war was a largescale rearmament of U.S. forces.