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Executive action

“In using whatever means necessary to stem the attack against South Korea, the government of Harry Truman unquestionably acted in the best interests of the United States and of the world. But characteristically, that government took action in a manner that could only make later trouble. As with every major policy decision that Administration had made, it was announced to the public only after the decision was irrevocable. With the orders already speeding to Tokyo, Truman called in the balance of the Cabinet, the Vice-President, congressional leaders of both parties, and told them what he had done. In effect, Truman had engaged the nation in war by executive action. Some of the leaders were understandably shaken. In the afternoon [of June 30, 1950], President Truman issued a terse statement to the press, terming the Korean venture a ‘police action.’ Something new had happened. The United States had gone to war, not under enemy attack, nor to protect the lives and property of American citizens. Nor was the action taken in crusading spirit, as in World Wars I and II, to save the world. The American people had entered a war, not by the roaring demand of Congress—which alone could constitutionally declare a state of war—or the public, but by executive action.” – T. E. Fehrenbach, This Kind of War

Published inThe Korean War

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