Harry S. Truman photo

The President's News Conference

November 30, 1950

THE PRESIDENT. Good morning, everybody. Sit down.

[1.] I have got a statement I want to read to you. There will be copies available when you get ready to leave here. I will take it as slowly as I can.

[Reading] "Recent developments in Korea confront the world with a serious crisis. The Chinese Communist leaders have sent their troops from Manchuria to launch a strong and well-organized attack against the United Nations forces in North Korea. This has been done despite prolonged and earnest efforts to bring home to the Communist leaders of China the plain fact that neither the United Nations nor the United States has any aggressive intentions toward China. Because of the historic friendship between the people of the United States and China, it is particularly shocking to us to think that Chinese are being forced into battle against our troops in the United Nations command.

"The Chinese attack was made in great force, and it still continues. It has resulted in the forced withdrawal of large parts of the United Nations command. The battlefield situation is uncertain at this time. We may suffer reverses as we have suffered them before. But the forces of the United Nations have no intention of abandoning their mission in Korea."

[The following sentence is in the statement as released by the White House but was not read by the President.]

"The forces of the United Nations are in Korea to put down an aggression that threatens not only the whole fabric of the United Nations, but all human hopes of peace and justice."

[Reading] "If the United Nations yields to the forces of aggression, no nation will be safe or secure. If aggression is successful in Korea, we can expect it to spread throughout Asia and Europe to this hemisphere. We are fighting in Korea for our own national security and survival.

"We have committed ourselves to the cause of a just and peaceful world order through the United Nations. We stand by that commitment.

"We shall meet the new situation in three ways.

"We shall continue to work in the United Nations for concerted action to halt this aggression in Korea.

"We shall intensify our efforts to help other free nations strengthen their defenses in order to meet the threat of aggression elsewhere.

"We shall rapidly increase our own military strength.

"In the United Nations, the first step is action by the Security Council to halt this aggression. And Ambassador Warren Austin is pressing for such action. We shall exert every effort to help bring the full influence of the United Nations to bear on the situation in Korea.

"Some had hoped that the normal peaceful process of discussion and negotiation, which is provided through the United Nations, could be successfully entered into with the present Chinese Communist delegation at Lake Success. There is, however, no indication that the representatives of Communist China are willing to engage in this process. Instead of discussing the real issues, they have been making violent and wholly false statements of the type which have often been used by the Soviet representatives in an effort to prevent the Security Council from acting.

"We hope that the Chinese people will not continue to be forced or deceived into serving the ends of Russian colonial policy in Asia.

"I am certain that, if the Chinese people now under the control of the Communists were free to speak for themselves, they would denounce this aggression against the United Nations.

"Because this new act of aggression in Korea is only a part of a worldwide pattern of danger to all the free nations of the world, it is more necessary than ever before for us to increase at a very rapid rate the combined military strength of the free nations. It is more necessary than ever that integrated forces in Europe under a supreme command be established at once.

"With respect to our own defense, I shall submit a supplemental request for appropriations needed immediately to increase the size and effectiveness of our Armed Forces. The request will include a substantial amount for the Atomic Energy Commission in addition to large amounts for the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.1

1 See Item 296.

"I expect to confer tomorrow with congressional leaders and ask them to give urgent consideration to these new appropriations.

"This is a time for all our citizens to lay aside differences and unite in firmness and mutual determination to do what is best for our country and the cause of freedom throughout the world. This country is the keystone of the hopes of mankind for peace and justice. We must show that we are guided by a common purpose and a common faith."

All right. Ask any questions now.

[2.] Q. Mr. President, do you think, in view of this situation, that we should delay any further general mobilization and control of materials and prices and supports and--
THE PRESIDENT That matter is being constantly considered. I do not intend to answer the question.

[3.] Q. Mr. President, are you about to name a supreme commander then?

THE PRESIDENT. I have been ready to name a supreme commander for a long time.

Q. You are waiting on European--

THE PRESIDENT. I am waiting on agreement with our European allies.

[4.] Q. Mr. President, in what detail were you informed about these MacArthur moves? 2

THE PRESIDENT. Every detail.

2On November 23 General MacArthur had launched an assault on the Communist forces in Korea in an attempt to end the war. On November 28 he issued a special communiqué stating that the United Nations forces faced an "entirely new war" with an enemy force of 200,000 men, including a major segment of the Communist Chinese army.

Q. Did you or the State Department raise the question of whether this offensive would affect the chances of a negotiated settlement with the Peiping government?

THE PRESIDENT. The whole matter was clearly discussed with General MacArthur every day.

Q. Mr. President, there has been some criticism of General MacArthur in the European press--

THE PRESIDENT. Some in the American press, too, if I'm not mistaken.

Q.--particularly in the British press--

THE PRESIDENT. They are always for a man when he is winning, but when he is in a little trouble, they all jump on him with what ought to be done, which they didn't tell him before. He has done a good job, and he is continuing to do a good job. Go ahead with your question.

Q. The particular criticism is that he exceeded his authority and went beyond the point he was supposed to go?

THE PRESIDENT. He did nothing of the kind.

[Slight pause]

Well, what's the matter with you?

[5.] Q. Mr. President, a few months ago this Government declined the offer of Chinese Nationalist troops. Has that been up for reconsideration, in view--

THE PRESIDENT. The offer of Nationalist Chinese troops was refused for the reason that we hoped not to be involved in a world war. That situation still continues.

[6.] Q. Along the same line then, our Formosa policy of neutralization--

THE PRESIDENT. Still continues.

[7.] Q. Mr. President, since the Chinese delegation has shown no inclination to resolve the difficulties, what can be done then?

THE PRESIDENT. We are still working on the thing from every angle. The best thing that can be done is to increase our defenses to a point where we can talk--as we should always talk--with authority.

Q. Mr. President, how wide an increase do you expect to authorize in mobilization of the military--

THE PRESIDENT. I will answer that question when I send up the request for the appropriation.

Q. Can you say how large that appropriation will be, sir?

THE PRESIDENT. No. I will give it to you when I send it up, which will be in a day or two.

Q. Is it to go up tomorrow?

THE PRESIDENT. Well, I don't think it will be ready. I hope it will be, but I don't think it will be.

[8.] Q. Mr. President, what congressional leaders will you see?

THE PRESIDENT. The usual ones.

Q. Will that include Republicans--

THE PRESIDENT. They will come in the White House. It's the usual conference that I have--with the usual agenda.

Q. Will it include Republicans?

THE PRESIDENT. It always does. Of course it will. Don't you remember? Remember back, there have been 9 or 10 of these conferences. If you will look back and edit them, you will find that your question will be answered.

Q. My editor tells me not to take anything for granted. [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. That's too bad. Of course, that is one of the things that's the matter with the country. It just exactly states--you have answered a national question when you said that. Confidence in your Government is the first thing to keep it running as it should.

[9.] Q. Mr. President, will the United Nations troops be allowed to bomb across the Manchurian border?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question this morning.

[10.] Q. Mr. President, in increasing our military strength, do you consider using the Japanese manpower?

THE PRESIDENT. Using what?

Q. The Japanese manpower, in increasing our military strength--speaking of the United Nations?

THE PRESIDENT. We will cross that bridge when we come to it.

[11.] Q. Mr. President, will attacks in Manchuria depend on action in the United Nations ?

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, entirely.

Q. In other words, if the United Nations resolution should authorize General MacArthur to go further than he has, he will--

THE PRESIDENT. We will take whatever steps are necessary to meet the military situation, just as we always have.

[12.] Q. Will that include the atomic bomb ?
THE PRESIDENT, That includes every weapon that we have.

Q. Mr. President, you said "every weapon that we have." Does that mean that there is active consideration of the use of the atomic bomb?

THE PRESIDENT. There has always been active consideration of its use. I don't want to see it used. It is a terrible weapon, and it should not be used on innocent men, women, and children who have nothing whatever to do with this military aggression. That happens when it is used.3

3Later the same day the White House issued the following press release:

"The President wants to make it certain that there is no misinterpretation of his answers m questions at his press conference today about the use of the atom bomb. Naturally, there has been consideration of this subject since the outbreak of the hostilities in Korea, just as there is consideration of the use of all military weapons whenever our forces are in combat.

"Consideration of the use of any weapon is always implicit in the very possession of that weapon.

"However, it should be emphasized, that, by law, only the President can authorize the use of the atom bomb, and no such authorization has been given. If and when such authorization should be given, the military commander in the field would have charge of the tactical delivery of the weapon.

"In brief, the replies to the questions at today's press conference do not represent any change in this situation."

[13.] Q. Mr. President, Senator Byrd4 says not a single dollar for Yugoslavia, and he backed it up this morning with the Southern bloc. Have you any comment? [Laughter]

THE PRESIDENT. No comment. We would expect that from Senator Byrd, however.

4 Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia.

[14.] Q. Mr. President, I wonder if we could retrace that reference to the atom bomb? Did we understand you clearly that the use of the atomic bomb is under active consideration?

THE PRESIDENT. Always has been. It is one of our weapons.

Q. Does that mean, Mr. President, use against military objectives, or civilian--

THE PRESIDENT. It's a matter that the military people will have to decide. I'm not a military authority that passes on those things.

Q. Mr. President, perhaps it would be better if we are allowed to quote your remarks on that directly?

THE PRESIDENT. I don't think--I don't think that is necessary.

Q. Mr. President, you said this depends on United Nations action. Does that mean that we wouldn't use the atomic bomb except on a United Nations authorization ?

THE PRESIDENT. No, it doesn't mean that at all. The action against Communist China depends on the action of the United Nations. The military commander in the field will have charge of the use of the weapons, as he always has.

[15.] Q. Mr. President, how dose are we to all-out mobilization.

THE PRESIDENT. Depends on how this matter we are faced with now works out.

[16.] Q. Mr. President, will the United Nations decide whether the Manchurian border is crossed, either with bombing planes or--

THE PRESIDENT. The resolution that is now pending before the United Nations will answer that question.

Q. Or with troops?

THE PRESIDENT. That question will be answered by this resolution.5

5On December 14, 1950, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution listing its conditions for a cease-fire in Korea (see the Department of State Bulletin, vol. 24, p. 113).

[17.] Q. Mr. President, do you have to ask any congressional action to proceed further in this situation in Asia?

THE PRESIDENT. Money. Always have to ask them for money.

Q. Is it going beyond police action at this time?

THE PRESIDENT. I can't answer that question. That is what we are examining. We have exerted every effort possible to prevent a third world war. Every maneuver that has been made since June 25th has had in mind not to create a situation which would cause another terrible war. We are still trying to prevent that war from happening, and I hope we may be able to prevent it.

All these attacks and speculations and lies that have been told on the members of this Government have not helped that situation one little bit. There's a big one on the front page of the paper this morning, about Acheson having interfered with the command in the Far East. There isn't one word of truth in that, and never has been. Acheson has attended strictly to his business as Secretary of State, and he has done a good job

I am getting tired of all this foolishment and I'm going to "bust loose" on you one of these days. [Laughter]

[18.] Q. You said we are going to-in your statement--intensify our military efforts. Do you mean to step it up more than you had planned to step it up, before the events of the--

THE PRESIDENT. Yes, it will. The end will be attained sooner than we had anticipated would be necessary--that is what it means.

Q. Same size program?

THE PRESIDENT. Probably--probably. Gotten together more rapidly.

[19.] Q. Mr. President, in intensifying our efforts to build up strong free nations, you refer particularly to the North Atlantic pact countries?

THE PRESIDENT. That's correct.

Reporter: Thank you, Mr. President.

Note: President Truman's two hundred and fortysixth news conference was held in the Indian Treaty Room (Room 474) in the Executive Office Building at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, November 30, 1950.

Harry S Truman, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230485

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