Did Eisenhower S Nuclear Threat End The Korean War
American Secretary of State John Foster Dulles often bragged about how nuclear brinkmanship by the United States finally brought the other side to agree to a negotiated settlement of the Korean War in July 1953. According to him it proved that the threat of massive retaliation or a "a bigger bang for a buck" could work. It is true that America let it slip that atomic weapons being placed in Okinawa, that Chiang Kai-shek was being permitted to attempt attacks on the Chinese mainland, and that Nehru was being told to issue the Chinese with an ultimatium.
This was the widely spread perception by the Presidential administration at the time and the view that gained wide acceptance. Mostly likely because it is what most people wanted to believe. It was a view that was perpetuated by Eisenhower’s administration as well as other presidents and prominent newspapers. For example in 1968 Richard Nixon told a group of Republican delegates that the Korean war ended because Eisenhower diplomatically implied threat and even the New York Times stated the belief that Ike ended the war with his quiet threat of nuclear bombs.
However Edward Friedman and Rosemary J. Foot have both discounted Eisenhower’s threat as being the main reason for the Truce in July 1953. Friedman has stated that Dulles argument is ‘is self-serving and unconvincing.’ And both have argued that the Chinese were far from running scared or humiliated, instead they were pleased with their ability to push America from the Yalu River down to the 38th parallel. In fact according to Friedman, the party most unhappy with the truce was actually the U.S military, so much so that they formed a "never again" club within the army.
It suggests that the Eisenhower administration was far from a dominant in control power that scared their enemy into submission but rather that they rather eagerly wanted to end the war in Korea and were willing to compromise more