Friday, November 30, 2007

November 29, 1952:

Ike Goes to Korea

In late 1952, Dwight Eisenhower visited Korea, a highly unusual bit of travel for a president-elect. But during his campaign for the presidency, he had said he would "go to Korea." Remarkably, he did so, arriving on November 29.

"During the presidential campaign of 1952, Republican candidate Eisenhower was critical of the Truman administration's foreign policy, particularly its inability to bring an end to the conflict in Korea," noted the History Channel. "President Truman challenged Eisenhower on October 24 to come up with an alternate policy. Eisenhower responded with the startling announcement that if he were elected, he would personally go to Korea to get a firsthand view of the situation. The promise boosted Eisenhower's popularity and he handily defeated Democratic candidate Adlai E. Stevenson.

"Shortly after his election, Eisenhower fulfilled his campaign pledge, though he was not very specific about exactly what he hoped to accomplish. After a short stay he returned to the United States, yet remained mum about his plans concerning the Korean War. After taking office, however, Eisenhower adopted a get-tough policy toward the communists in Korea. He suggested that he would 'unleash' the Nationalist Chinese forces on Taiwan against communist China, and he sent only slightly veiled messages that he would use any force necessary (including the use of nuclear weapons) to bring the war to an end unless peace negotiations began to move forward. The Chinese, exhausted by more than two years of war, finally agreed to terms and an armistice was signed on July 27, 1953. The United States had suffered over 50,000 casualties in this 'forgotten war,' and spent nearly $70 billion."

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