The Korean War
Most of the other chapters in this volume explore the ways various presidents have marketed wars, both hot and cold, to an often reluctant public. This chapter takes up the other side of the marketing process and examines how the public responded to the selling of a war. Rather than focus on presidential salesmanship, it addresses issues of public acceptance and resistance, as reflected in the press, movies, literature, and opinion polls. These sources reveal that the Korean War was a hard sell from the outset—even in the age of McCarthy, the public responded with ambivalence to “Mr. Truman's War” on the Korean peninsula. The chapter contends that the consistently unpopular Korean conflict that presidents were faced with left them with the dilemma of either extricating the country from the conflict to salvage public support or continuing to prosecute an unpopular war and suffer the political consequences.
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