“Mr. President, everybody is asking in this country, are we or are we not at war?” a reporter asked Harry Truman at a White House press conference on June 29, 1950. It was a reasonable question: two days earlier, in response to a swift, unexpected advance of North Korean troops, Truman had ordered American forces to South Korea. In keeping with the rules of the time, the reporters asked the President for permission to print his answer verbatim. “The Chief Executive responded that he would allow the news men to use in quotes: ‘We are not at war,’ ” the Times noted. One of the reporters then asked if “police action under the United Nations” would be a more appropriate phrase.
The Name of the Fight
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