Atomic Bombing of China During Korean War
After his successful Inchon landings in September 1950, led to the collapse of the North Korean invasion during the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur vigorously pursued the routed enemy northward up the Korean Peninsula. Despite repeated warnings, MacArthur blithely dismissed mounting evidence that China would directly intervene in the war if his forces approached the Sino-Korean border, and insisted that the Chinese would do nothing.
MacArthur turned out to be wrong, and soon after his forces reached the Yalu River marking the border with China, the Chinese began pouring across in the hundreds of thousands, successfully evading detection. They struck in November 1950, surprising MacArthur and catching him completely off guard, and within weeks had defeated and pushed his demoralized forces out of North Korea and back across the border into South Korea.
His judgment and estimate of Chinese reaction having been proven catastrophically wrong, and his forces chased back down the Korean Peninsula by the Chinese even faster than they had raced up in pursuit of the North Koreans, a humiliated MacArthur reacted with histrionics and insisted that atomic bombs be dropped on China. His plan was to drop up to 50 atomic bombs in Manchuria on Chinese cities, military concentrations, and communication centers, and to seal off the Korean Peninsula from China by creating a radioactive belt across Manchuria, stretching from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea.
President Truman, whom MacArthur had confidently assured only weeks earlier that China would do nothing if his forces marched up to the Chinese border, balked, and declined to trust MacArthur’s further confident assurances that the Soviets would do nothing if the US dropped dozens of atomic bombs on their Chinese ally. When MacArthur publicly contradicted Truman’s position, he was ordered to clear any further statements on the subject with the State Department first. MacArthur violated those orders, and again challenged Truman publicly on the use of atomic weapons in the Korean war, so Truman fired him.