Eisenhower Library, Dulles papers, 1951–1959

The President of the Republic of Korea (Rhee) to the Secretary of State1

My Dear Mr. Secretary: Your letter of 18 June 19542 was read with much interest and deep appreciation.

You are to be congratulated on the successful withdrawal from the Geneva Conference with the unanimous support of some fifteen nations. It was great moral victory, to say the least.

The Conference having come to an end, we should, as suggested in your letter, consult further together. Since the futility of peaceful negotiation with the Communists has been categorically demonstrated to all Allied Nations, we must employ some other means to save the situation before it drifts beyond control. One alternative is renewal of war.

In this connection, I have a definite plan to propose and explain confidentially to President Eisenhower and you. This plan will, I am sure, enable us to push up to the Yalu River with comparatively little sacrifice. This historic boundary line, if properly fortified, will be more easily held against the enemy than any other line to the South. It is quite certain that this conclusive but limited action will not provoke a general war.

President Eisenhower seems, however, to be of the opinion that fighting must not be resumed, no matter what the circumstances. He also appears to be convinced that we cannot fight our way so far North as we wish. The only other alternative then is for President Eisenhower to carry out the plans outlined in his letter to me of 16 April.3 When General Van Fleet came to Korea, it was presumed he would undertake immediately to implement this program of building up our defense forces and we were disappointed when he was required to return to the United States. It is desired that General Van Fleet shall return to Korea immediately and be fully empowered. These plans should be implemented without delay under General Van Fleet, fully empowered to take charge of their execution under the direct orders of President Eisenhower. An adequate appropriation for arming and equipping the additional twenty Army Divisions and Sea and Air Forces to commensurate with the land strength, and for the manufacturing of arms and planes in Korea, should be made. The time element is very important in stemming the growing tide of Communist strength. We are more than disturbed about the daily-worsening situation.

Before I can decide to leave for the United States, I must give our people, as well as our military leaders, a definite assurance of some [Page 1819] action to be taken when I return. Since the failure of the Geneva Conference they have been agitating for a definite measure to rout the Communists out of North Korea, or an immediate increase in strength to ensure our own security against aggression. Our enemy may push down anytime as they did four years ago, taking advantage of our weakness. Some of our military leaders are impatient of my hesitation to order them north. If I were able to promise that action would be taken when I return, the present unrest could be quieted down. Will you please let me know whether you will be able to agree to either or both alternatives mentioned and I will come at once to discuss the matter in detail.

For my part, an official invitation from President Eisenhower to visit the United States would be a great honor, but I think you will understand my situation.

With warm personal regards, I am

Cordially yours,

Syngman Rhee
  1. This letter was transmitted to the Department of State in telegram 6 from Seoul, July 3, 1954. (795B.11/7–354)
  2. Ante, p. 1808.
  3. See footnote 3 p. 1809.