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Negotiating while Fighting

  • Callum A. MacDonald

Abstract

Despite the move towards an armistice in July 1951, it proved difficult to end the fighting. The armistice rapidly became the subject of bitter debate. Since it was recognised that a political settlement was unlikely and that a cease-fire would define future developments on the peninsula, compromise was difficult. Both sides sought to end the war, but not at any price. The problem was complicated, not only by the ideological gulf between the protagonists, but also by a racial and cultural divide. Ridgway condemned his opponents as ‘treacherous savages’, an attitude reciprocated by the Chinese and North Koreans, compensating for decades of humiliation at the hands of ‘foreigners’1 Despite its distaste for Asian communists, Washington was anxious to avoid a breakdown and showed some flexibility. It was recognised that if talks collapsed, the administration would face public pressure to adopt MacArthur’s recipe for ‘ending the war and getting the boys home’. As General Bradley remarked, it was better to make concessions than to risk all-out war with China.2 At the same time, there was concern lest negotiations be ‘unduly prolonged’. In this case, the American people might prefer ‘clear-cut victory’ to an indefinite stalemate.3

Keywords

Atomic Weapon Neutral Zone Demarcation Line 38th Parallel Military Necessity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Callum A. MacDonald 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Callum A. MacDonald
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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