In September 1947, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff opined that, “from the standpoint of military security”, the US “has little strategic interest in maintaining … troops and bases in Korea”. Yet, in the early 1950s, the US fought a major, if limited, war on the peninsula and, after conclusion of an armistice, signed a bilateral military pact with the Republic of Korea (ROK). In 1966, the US still maintained over 40,000 troops there as well as tactical nuclear weapons. In this lecture, the speaker will explain how the US thinking toward Korea evolved from 1947 to 1966, employing three categories of analysis: the strategic (concerns about control of territory and resources and/or denial of the same to others, as well as the anticipated cost of doing so), the general psychological (concerns about the impact of events in Korea on the US credibility worldwide), and the bilateral psychological (the state of mind of Americans and South Koreans toward each other). He concluded that, while the psychological categories dominated the US approach to Korea in the early 1950s, important shifts occurred after the armistice to highlight ROK potential as a strategic asset on the Asian mainland. Those categories continue to apply to an understanding of the alliance to the present day, with the international psychological and strategic factors helping to sustain the relationship through difficult episodes in the bilateral psychological relationship.
About the speaker:
Prof Stueck received his BS in Social Science Education from Springfield College in 1967. He then received his MA in History from Queens College in 1971 and PhD in History from Brown University in 1977. After that, he started his research work as a postdoctoral fellow in history at Syracuse University. In 1979, he joined the University of Georgia as their Lecturer in History. He was the Distinguished Research Professor of History from 2001 to 2012 and he is currently the Professor Emeritus of the University of Georgia.
Prof Stueck is one of the leading historians of the Korean War and the US-Korean relations. He has written numerous articles and chapters on the US-East Asian relations and related issues. He is the author of Rethinking the Korean War: A New Diplomatic and Strategic History (2006) and The Korean War: An International History (1995).