Today In History: UN Permits Armed Force To Be Used Against North Korea (1950)

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This day in history the United Nations ordered that armed force could be used against the North Koreans in 1950. The international organization permitted any member nation to use all the force necessary to repel North Koreans aggression. Some days previously the North Korean army had invaded the South. The hoped by a swift that they would conquer the South fo Korea and in this way to unify the Korean Peninsula.

The country had long been occupied by the Japanese, who had brutally suppressed any form of Korean nationalism. However, in the dying days of WW II, the Red Army had invaded Northern China and had driven the Japanese from that region. They continued to advance until they had entered the Korean Peninsula. They occupied the North of Korea and they installed a puppet communist regime. In the south, the Americans were the occupying force and they installed  a pro-western government.

KumRiver_Howitzer
US howitzers in action in Korea

The communist regime in the north wanted to reunify Korea and it secretly built up their forces. The south had hardly any army. The Korean communist leadership decided to invade the south, despite the presence of American troops. One night the North Korean army launched a devastating attack, which sent the South Koreans and the Americans into headlong retreat. Many believe that Stalin ordered the attack, but many historians argued that in fact, the North Korean leadership decided on the attack.

The world was shocked by the North Korean invasion. In the west, it appeared that the communists were once more on the march and that their aim was nothing else that worldwide conquest. The invasion occurred during the start of the Cold War. Many believed at the time that Korea may cause World War III.

The recently formed United Nations was set up to enforce international law and to promote peace.  It was convened to discuss the Korean War and how to calm the situation. The Soviets were key members of the UN and a member of its Security Council. The Soviets had boycotted the particular meeting where the UN were discussing the Korean conflict. The western powers cleverly used the absence of the Soviet Unions to pass a resolution to allow armed force to be used against the North Koreans. If the Soviets had been present they would have certainly vetoed it. The UN vote allowed many western countries to join the war in Korea.

On the same day that the UN allowed military force to be used against the North Korean Communists, President Truman ordered the mobilization of the American army and ordered more troops to Korea. The UN resolution was to escalate the war and eventually it was to pit North Korea and China against America and its allies.

 

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