We may be asked, ‘How can you judge whether the United Nations, the US and Great Britain, are strong enough to resist Communist aggression in the Far East, and whether that resistance may bring about a major crisis in Europe? Is it possible that the USSR are drawing us all into the Far East so that they can strike in the West?’
My answers to these questions are as follows: action in Korea will not make any real difference to the situation in Europe. The safety of Western Europe from attack depends overwhelmingly on the vastly superior stockpile of atomic bombs possessed by the United States.
However, I have for a long time felt deeply concerned at the Soviet government’s discovery of the secret of the atomic bomb. It is probably already in production. General [Omar] Bradley [US Army Chief of Staff] said recently that in 3 or 4 years the Soviets would have enough of these bombs to cause a major catastrophe whenever they decide.
For this reason, I think it is better that we try to come to a peaceful settlement with them whilst we are in a position of strength, and before they come to possess this devastating power in addition to all the military and air superiority which they undoubtedly possess.
I believe the American superiority in atomic warfare will be an effective deterrent from Communist onslaught. But of course I may be wrong; there is no guarantee. No one can tell.
It might be asked us:
"How can you judge without the fullest information whether the United Nations, the U.S., and Gt. Britain, are strong enough to resist Communist aggression in the Far East, when that resistance may conceivably bring about a major crisis in Europe?
"May it not be" it is said t[ha]t the rulers in the Kremlin are drawing us all into the Far East as a preliminary to striking in the West?"
I answer these questions to myself as follows:- The forces required for the defence of S. Korea or even its recapture will not make any decisive or even appreciable difference to the situation in Europe.
The immunity of Western Europe f[ro]m attack depends overwhelmingly on the vastly superior stockpile of atomic bombs possessed by the United States.
Secondly I h[a]v[e] for a long time past felt deeply concerned at the discovery by the Soviet Govt of the secret of the atomic bomb, and the probability t[ha]t it is already in production.
I saw t[ha]t Gen. Omar Bradley who occupies one of the most responsible executive-positions in the U.S. Army, said recently t[ha]t in 3 or 4 years the Soviets w[oul]d hav[e] a sufficient supply of these bombs to cause a major catastrophe at any time they so decided," or words to that effect.
It is for this reason t[ha]t I think it v[er]y much better t[ha]t we sh[oul]d make a resolute effort to come to a settlement w[ith] them by peaceful means but on the basis not of weakness but of strength before they become possessed of this devastating power, in addition to all the military and air superiority and armour superiority wh[ich] they undoubtedly possess at the present time in Europe & Asia.
It is my belief t[ha]t the American superiority in atomic war-fare will be an effective deterrent upon an immediate Communist onslaught But of course I may be wrong, no guarantee - no one can tell.
An extract from notes written by Churchill in preparation for a speech. The speech was made in the House of Commons on 5 July 1950. The speech was delivered as part of a debate on the crisis in Korea.
The international climate had significantly changed by July 1950. In 1949, the US atomic monopoly had ended when the USSR successfully tested its first atomic weapon. There had also been a communist victory in the Chinese civil war. Now the global balance of power seemed to have shifted in favour of the communist bloc. In June 1950, communist North Korea, supported by communist China and the USSR, invaded South Korea – a democracy and an ally of the USA.
The USA and its allies immediately came to South Korea’s aid. However, the US President, Harry Truman, was concerned that a war in Korea could quickly widen into another world war should the Chinese or Soviets decide to get directly involved as well. Yet he also believed that if the North Korean aggression were not challenged, it would encourage further communist aggression elsewhere. On 27 June, the United Nations recommended that member states provide military assistance to South Korea.
Remember we are hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating whether nuclear weapons made the world a safer place between 1945 and 1951. Sources usually help historians in two ways:
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?||Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?|
|Churchill believes that intervention in Korea would lead to another war in Europe|| || |
|Churchill is deeply concerned by what he has heard from General Omar Bradley, US Army Chief of Staff|| || |
|Churchill is in favour of attacking the USSR before they can strike|| || |
|This source shows us that nuclear weapons helped to make the world safer|| || |
Explore the guide to interpreting speech notes
➜ Source 6