When Secretary of State Dean Acheson outlined, on January 12, 1950, what he termed America's "defensive perimeter" in Asia, his failure to include South Korea went largely unnoticed in the United States. Only when the North Korean dictator, Kim Il Sung, launched the invasion of South Korea five months later did people start questioning Acheson's omission.
What American officials say and, sometimes more importantly, do not say is followed closely in foreign capitals. Everything from speeches and off-the-cuff statements to personnel changes and department budget allocations is scrutinized by trained observers. Most Americans have no idea just how closely.