How Has the Korean War Changed History?
On June twenty-fifth nineteen fifty North Korean tanks rolled across the thirty eighth parallel the line that separated communist North Korea from US-backed South Korea, as a now, declassified US intelligence cable from Tokyo to Washington concluded, the incursion wasn't just a mere raid, quote the size of the North Korean forces employed, the depth of penetration the intensity of the attack and the landings made miles south of the parallel on the east coast indicated that the North Koreans are engaged in all out offensive to subjugate, South Korea. It was the start of a war that is still not ended a full seven decades later. The Korean war, which ultimately would pit the US against China in the first ever, confrontation between the two superpowers would claim the lives of an estimated two point five million military members and civilians including nearly thirty four thousand Americans the fighting would cease with an armistice on July twenty seventh nineteen fifty three but the Geneva conference of nineteen fifty four failed to produce a peace treaty in the north and south remained tense enemies, and that's the way things have pretty much continued, though in twenty eighteen North Korean dictator Kim Jong UN and South Korean president Mundi een announced that they would work together toward a peace treaty. But after the collapse of February summit between US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong those tensions seemed likely to remain for a while longer. In the US the Korean war is sometimes called the forgotten war, because it's overshadowed by the conflicts that came before, and after it the stirring victory of World War Two, and the lengthy, painful ordeal of the Vietnam war. We spoke with Edward roads. A professor on the faculty of the shar school of policy and government at George Mason University in Fairfax Virginia, who's an expert in American foreign, and national security policy. He said modern Americans don't think about it much. Vietnam was more dramatic. And World War Two is more in victorious. Nevertheless, the overlooked conflict has exerted a powerful influence that still felt today according to roads, the war forever changed the course of US foreign, and national security policy. Compelling the US to accept a permanent military involvement around the globe, even in peacetime. It also helped drive, the creation of a vast US nuclear arsenal to deter possible, communist aggression with the threat of annihilation and a global nuclear arms race. Still continues all this happened, according to roads after career. A nation that had been occupied by the Japanese from nineteen ten to nineteen Forty-five was split into two by the US, and the USSR after World War Two, he explains, it was a practical matter. There were Japanese armies that had retreated into Korea from insurer, and they needed to be disarmed. We split that large task with the Soviet Union the understanding that the Soviets would design the Japanese in the north, and we would do it in the south, but as the Cold War developed between the US and its European allies and the Soviets, the temporary partition turned into a permanent one with the formation of a communist regime headed by Kim Il Sung in the north at an authoritarian pro American government headed by Sigmund, e in the south each regime sought self as the real government of Korea and its rival as illegitimate. Kim Il Sung decided to settle the matter by invading South Korea. And in may nineteen fifty finally obtained reluctant approval from his patron these stallion regime about a month later. Kim launched a surprise attack which initially had devastating result. What's the South Korean forces essentially dissolved the UN Security, Council taking advantage of a Soviet boycott of the body, then passed a measure, calling for member nations to assist the beleaguered South Koreans that mandate enabled US president Harry Truman to respond militarily without having to go to congress for a declaration of war. Up until that point, the US hadn't seen South Korea's having much strategic importance erode said, but when the North Korean tanks rolled across the border, the image that flashed in Truman's mind was that this was a repeat of what the Nazis did his responses to stand up thinking that if we had stood up to Hitler early on the world would have been a better place, an outnumbered contingent of UN forces formed, a desperate line of defense around the only part of South Korea, not yet, captured by the communists and managed to hold off the invaders for two months that gave General Douglas MacArthur, who had been placed in overall command of the UN forces enough time to make an audacious and fibia landing at Inchon near the South Korean capital of Seoul on September fifteenth. Nineteen fifty cutting off the over extended North Koreans MacArthur's forces chased the invaders back north across the thirty eighth parallel and by mid October had captured the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, but MacArthur overconfident kept pushing the North Koreans back to the Yellow River the border with China, China. Responded with a massive counterattack of between thirteen thousand and three hundred thousand troops. This time it was the UN forces who were driven back a bloody stalemate on the ground developed as the US pounded North Korea from the air MacArthur, eventually was relieved of his command by Truman and replaced with general Matthew Ridgway. The US abandoned the idea of total victory and shifted to a holding action against the communist forces road said MacArthur embraced the idea that there's no substitute for victory. You beat the enemy, and they surrender. But Rhodes explained after the Chinese intervention, quote, we're still in a situation where there's got to be a substitute for victory because how are we going to fight the manpower of China? There's a realization that we can't fight this war to victory and it's hard for the American people to accept. The longer. The war stretched on the more popular it became back in the US, many of the soldiers sent to Korea where reservists who had served in World War, Two roads, explained they've got homes and families and jobs, and then they were called up and sent to fight another war. There was a feeling that this wasn't fair. Eventually Truman successor president. Dwight Eisenhower ran on a promise that he would go to Korea and seek an end to the conflict and actually did that a month before his inauguration in nineteen Fifty-three. But though, Eisenhower had ended the fighting the Korean war still shaped his policies road said, Eisenhower looked at this as the wrong war at the wrong time using the wrong weapons, he reaches the conclusion that with the Cold War going on with the Soviets, we have to plan for the long haul. We're going to sustain this kind of military deterrence that led to resources being pumped into the development of a massive nuclear deterrent. The could be used to contain the Soviets. Additionally, Eisenhower began attempting to form licenses with more and more countries in an effort to create a unified front to hold off communist aggression. We also spoke via Email with Charles k Armstrong, the Korea foundation professor of Korean studies in the social sciences at Columbia University. He said, the US was forced to take China more. Seriously as a military power. After fighting twist del mate in the Korean war general MacArthur, had severely underestimated the Chinese military's willingness to confront the US and capacity to fight leading to a bad route for you, enforces, the initial months after China entered the war. China's participation in the Korean war. Also consolidated malls rule and asked the hopes of sub Americans. The communist regime could be rolled back and replaced by Changcai checks nationalists. Armstrong said mouse willingness to support the North Koreans directly as opposed to stallions reluctance helped solidify China North Korean relations, and caused the North Koreans to be more distrustful of the Russians for the US China was seen from the Korean war onward as the primary ally of North Korea. And the primary great power that was an enemy of the US in Korea. Armistice, ended the fighting but North Korea now backed by the Chinese remained as a belligerent enemy to South Korea, the ongoing threatment that US forces couldn't just withdrawn come home Armstrong, notes, the North Korean invasion in the emerging Cold War convinced American policymakers that the US needed a permanent military presence in Asia and Europe in order to contain communist aggression. Additionally, the Korean war helped set the table for another even bloodier, and more painful future conflict, according to Armstrong Korea led directly to the US decision to help the French against communist led insurgency in colonial Vietnam, and then after the French defeat to intervene in support of an anti communist regime in South Vietnam, which blocked an election called for by the nineteen fifty four Geneva conference that helps set the stage for the Vietnam war. Armstrong, said the most lasting legacy of the Korean war for the US was these stablishment of a global military presence over the long term and a commitment to confront communism throughout the world during the Cold War. And for Korea and East Asia ideological and military confrontation that has lasted seven decades that included a US force stationed in South Korea as a deterrent to North Korea, which in turn has a massive array of long range, artillery, and rockets equipped with chemical and biological weapons aimed at Seoul. That's in addition to the nuclear weapons and ballistic missile arsenal. The Trump so far has been unable to persuade the North Korean regime to give up.