Korea Divided
M. Wernimont

How can Acheson’s speech be given credit as giving the North Koreans the green light to attack South Korea?

The following hyperlink leads to Dean Acheson’s speech Jan 12, 1950

  • Before We can talk about Dean Acheson and his speech we need to know some background information about Korea and how it came to be divided.

The Control of Koreaexternal image KOREA38THPARALLEL.JPG

Korea was under the control of Japan during the years of 1910 to 1945. Japan began to gain its control in 1905 through the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905 (This treaty is also known as the Eulsa Treaty). This gave Japan the control of Korea’s foreign policy and any political happenings in the country. In 1910 Japan annexed korea, Japan annexed Korea because they felt it was the best for the country. It was to keep the country stable and prosperous. In 1910 Korea was now under Japans full power. Korea stayed under Japans power until 1945, when Japan was defeated in World War II. After Japans defeat Korea when under the power of the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States. Korea was split at the 38th parallel where it was divided evenly and became North Korea and South Korea. The U.S.S.R. had control over North Korea and the U.S. had control over South Korea. The U.S.S.R. left Kim Il-Sung in control of North Korea and the U.S. gave Syngman Rhee the power over South Korea.

Dean Achesonexternal image gallery.jpg

Dean Gooderham Acheson was born in Middletown, Connecticut on April 11, 1893. Acheson Graduated from Yale in 1915 and then from Harvard Law school in 1918. He then went on to be Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis’ private secretary. He became an addition to a law firm in Washington D.C. in 1921. Then in 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Acheson to be the undersecretary of the treasury. In 1949 Harry S. Truman appointed Acheson to secretary of state. Acheson is one of the people that aided with the development of NATO and he also helped create the U.S. foreign policy during the cold war. Like all political figures, Acheson had his fair share of critics and many believe that Acheson's speech can be given credit as giving the North koreans the green light to attack South Korea.

Dean Acheson's Speech Jan 12, 1950

In the first sentences of Dean Acheson’s he states that Asians are so diverse and not one policy could cover every one of them. His solution is that the approach should be of similarities and the action should have dissimilarities. He says that the asians do not want to accept poverty or foreign leaders and he states that many believe the fall of the Nationalist Government in China was the Americans fault because they were incompetent. But Acheson believes that is was China’s own fault and that they just let their government fall and that the communists didn’t create it either, they only took advantage of the situation. The Soviet Union had begun to take parts of China and even though America can’t stop this they must stay true to china and they must not stray form their priorities. America must defend their defensive perimeter but it is not guaranteed that the countries in this perimeter are safe from attack. The country must also fight, themselves and can only decide who can help them.
In the speech Acheson had said that the defensive perimeter ran through Japan, the Ryukyus and the Philippines and not the Republic of Korea or the Republic of China. Then a little time after North Korea attacked South Korea and almost defeated South Korea. Many believe that Acheson was giving North Korea the green light to attack South Korea because he stated that there was no Guarantee that U.S. Military would be there to defend South Korea. No until later did the world learn that North Korea had plans to attack South Korea before Acheson gave his speech.

Acheson, Dean . "Speech on the Far East." teachingamericanhistory.org. 30 Mar. 2011. <http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/index.asp?document=1612>.

"Dean Acheson Biography." biography.com. 30 Mar. 2011.

"Dean Gooderham Acheson, 1893-1971, head and shoulders portrait, facing left." loc.gov. 29 Nov. 30 Mar. 2011. <http://www.loc.gov/pictures/static/data/media/200/200567/200567978/2005679788/gallery.jpg>.

"Korea 38th Parallel." sdpb.org. 30 Mar. 2011.

Lankov, Andrei . "Eulsa Treaty." The Korean Times. 17 Dec. 2009. Mar. 2011.

Matray, James I. "Dean Acheson's Press Club Speech Reexamined." 31 Mar. 2011. <journals.hil.unb.ca/index.php/JCS/article/download/366/579 >.

Linked Sources

Korean War