January 25, 2011

Even in 1951 people were sick of hearing about it.

News on this day in 1951 was mostly about the economy, partly about wage and price controls and pretty much all about the Korean War and what was going on, or not going on.

In this broadcast of Edward R. Murrow And The News from January 25, 1951, Murrow lays it out how the public was feeling:

Edward R.Murrow: “In this reporters opinion, there has been considerable time for clear thinking. It has been just about two months since General MacArthur, announcing the arrival of massive Chinese formations in Korea said ‘the United Nations forces now face a totally new war’. Generally, a new war involves a new policy and some change in grand strategy. If there has been any change in policy or grand strategy it has escaped our notice. There mere labeling of China as an aggressor, even if we’re able to bring that off at the U.N. isn’t a policy, it’s a gesture. Meanwhile, we have the testimony of General Marshall that we require replacements at the rate of 15,000 a month for Korea. It is important to understand that this does not mean reinforcements. It means 15,000 bodies to replace those who have, in one way or another been consumed by the fires of war. We have at the same time increasing evidence in public opinion surveys and in the mail to Congressmen that the American public believes that we should get out of Korea.

It is also clear beyond doubt that the majority of the free world will not participate in effective steps to repulse Chinese aggression in Korea. I have seen this whole situation no better put than by Walter Lippman in his column of today where he says; ‘our people feel that it is intolerable that American soldiers should be suffering in a war which can no longer be won, which can no longer achieve the aims for which it was begun yet, a war which was undertaken, not for a national purpose but for a principle. They feel, continues Mr. Lippman, naturally and rightly that there is something decisive that should be done about it all. What the decisive something is, they do not know. They cannot be expected to know. They have a right to expect their government to tell them what it is. Their government tells them nothing. Day after day the casualties continue and the young men are called up to replace them’. That’s the end of the quotation from Walter Lippman’s column of today. Two months ago we were confronted with what General MacArthur called a ‘wholly new war’. The record does not show that we’ve expounded or adopted new strategy or new policy. Mister Truman says today, obviously this is no time for rash or unwise action. This is a time for clear thinking and firmness. Admirable sentiments with which most of us would agree. But two months of firmness and clear thinking ought to produce, perhaps not a solution, but at least a new policy to meet a new situation. We cannot fight todays wars with tomorrows weapons. And we cannot pursue in a new war the old policies.”

And some things just never change.

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