Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Teaching (M.S.T.) in History






United States -- Foreign relations -- 1945-1953



Physical Description

1 online resource (3, 94 leaves)


This paper is an examination of conflicting views regarding American defense policy which surfaced in a debate during the winter and spring of 1950-51 between the Truman Administration and its supporters and a group of conservative Republicans. The research problem involved unraveling the debate’s manifold issues, determining its outcome, and analyzing the impact of that outcome on the future of American foreign policy, particularly in Asia. The debate’s principle issues centered around American defense of Europe versus defense of Asia and the reliance on ground troops rather than on sea and air power. The Administration, while believing the United States should help repel the Communist invasion of South Korea, also advocated sending additional troops to Europe. Republican critics disagreed, arguing there was no overt Communist threat in Europe, only in Asia, and American efforts there should be redoubled. Furthermore, they claimed that whatever defense of Europe was necessary could best be accomplished through the use of naval and air power, not the infantry. The immediate result of the debate was victory for the Administration. A majority of senators was convinced that additional American troops were needed in Europe, and the Senate passed a resolution expressing that opinion in early April, 1951, ostensibly ending the debate. The victory was short-lived, however. The debate had repercussions at the polls in 1952 and helped sweep the Republicans into office. The ultimate outcome of the debate was to bring the conservative arguments to the fore and remold American foreign policy so that it conformed to those views. The information used in this paper was collected from books and contemporary periodicals, newspapers, and government publications. The only leading conservative critic still living, William F. Knowland, did not respond to a letter requesting clarification of statements he made during the debate. The memoirs of President Truman and Dean Acheson, his Secretary of State, received special attention. Works on and by Senator Robert A. Taft, the Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, The New York Times and The Times of London, and the Department of State Bulletin were particularly useful. One potentially important primary source, a paper written by the National Security Council in 1950, remains classified and was thus unavailable.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

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