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The Korean War

The Korean War is a war that many people will never forget. All wars in American history fought before the Korean War was based on either national survival or the gain of territory. A strong conflict was created between the Soviet Union and the United States. The conflict was so strong that wars were fought in the midst of this cold war. The Korean War was the first American war that was not fought for national survival, for territory, for manifest destiny or for hegemony. Korea was the first ideological war. (1) The American Revolution was based on national survival.

The people of the thirteen colonies wanted a nation in which they were free of Britains tyranny. They wanted to live as an independent nation and survive as one. The American Civil War was another national survival. President Lincoln had the point that if was the unsuccessful or was pushed in the right direction then the nation would be divided into the north and south. World War One was fought as a result of both the gain of territory and national survival. Austria Hungary was expanding into western parts of Russia and Northern Italy.

It was also conquering the nations to the east and taking control of their governments. The Allied powers sought to stop this expansion and war broke out in Europe. The United States then sent troops to assist France and Great Britain in the conflict. At the end of world war one, Austria Hungary was divided up, its territory formed many new nations. In world war two, much of the same circumstances were present with events that contributed to the escalation of the war, and the involvement of the United States. Germany, under the rule of Hitler was expanding very slowly across Europe.

They took land to the east and west of them, took over many of the new nations created by the Versailles Treaty, as well as disregarding many laws passed during the 2 Versailles Treaty. As the war continued, France was taken over, and Stalin gave Germany a large area of land that belonged to Russia when the country withdrew from the war. These countries needed to be restored and Germany needed to be pushed back to its original boarders. Japan which was also in alliance with Germany, needed raw materials to continue building on its economy. When Japan attacked the United States at Pearl Harbor, it was inevitably drawn into the war.

The United States joined the war effort in order to defend their country at first, then we continued the war. The Korean and Vietnam wars were the next two wars in American History. They were not fought for either national survival or for a gain in territory. These two wars were unique in that they were fought over a belief in politics rather than the traditional reasons the United States had fought wars in the past. The Koreans began in the middle of the cold war. The war was fought as a result of North Korea invading the south. Large movements of troops, tanks. Ordinance and ammunition to the border areas were reported.

This was not suspected as a treat of war because it was thought to be a normal aspect of cold war behavior. (2) When America joined the war under command of General MacArthur, they made a great push north. When they were close to the Yalu River they were ordered to stop and turn around. United States forces were ordered to turn around when they were in visual distance of the Yalu River. (3) When China learned of the position of the Americans they joined the war and pushed the Americans back to the thirty-eighth parallel. When China entered the Korean War, the United States had much control over the land around the Yalu River.

The main objective of China was to eliminate the 3 presence of U. S. Military control in South Korea. Mao Zedong thought the removal of United States troops was necessary to ensure a safe environment for communism to flourish without the persuasion of a capitalistic society. (4) Mao ZeDongs need to clear the U. S. forces because of many reasons or China would be in chaos. U. S forces occupied most of the Yalu River, if this remained, the northeastern defense force of China would be pinned down. Southern Manchuria had hydroelectric plants in the North Korea which could be controlled by U. S forces.

As a result, international and domestic rioting would occur, also the question would arise of whether communistic society that China was using was better than the capitalistic democracy that the United States was using. The Vietnam War was similar in that it was caused by the conflicting ideals of communistic and capitalistic societies, and which would prove to be a better choice. The differences between the two wars was that in Korea, the ideals of communism were already thought to be the better choice by the North Vietnamese. Where as in Vietnam the people were divided in what they thought.

In both countries the south was based upon a capitalistic economy. South Vietnam was influenced to a capitalistic democracy from all of the United States, which was aiding it in the war effort. Northern Vietnam was much the opposite. They already had a one party dictatorship in place and favored a communistic one because of the influence of their supporters. The Vietnam War was mainly a child of the cold war between Russia and America. Northern Vietnam was receiving large benefits from the Soviet Union. They shipped guns, ammunition, money, food supplies, tanks, planes and contributing man power.

Southern Vietnam was being shipped the same from the United States, so the south was in the same situation. The main objective behind hat was driving the politicians to keep the war going was to help an ally, and to show which power was stronger. During the Korean War the United States was very unreasonable. After the Korean War Mao ZeDong even said American imperialists are very arrogant, they are very unreasonable whenever they cant get away with it, if they become a little bit reasonable, it was because they had no other choice. (5) This statement is true.

When China entered the war, Mao ZeDong had made several attempts to solve the matter peacefully and had told them not to send soldiers across the thirty-eight parallel that is what escalated the war. The most unreasonable thing the United States did during the war was consider using the atomic bomb after the war was over, the second most unreasonable thing the United States did was consider using the atomic during the war. (6) At one point in 1953 MacArthur submitted a list of retaliation targets in China and North Korea; this plan required twenty-six atomic bombs.

MacArthur also wanted to use atomic bombs to isolate the battle fields. (7) Shortly after the suggestion MacArthur made to the president for nuclear bombs he was fired. The soldiers that were fighting the war were also very unreasonable. Chinese prisoners of war were kept as animals. A British officer reported on the condition of Kaje-do, which was one of the camps holding Chinese POWS. Kjae-do wasnt managed properly, there were far to many men in one enclosure. There was a lot of bronchitis, pneumonia, dysentery, and pinkeye. TB was wide spread. There were men with open wounds that were still draining.

All of them had lice. (8) The American 5 POWs in Chinese camps were not treated with such harshness. In some cases the soldiers were not even captured, they were only inspected and let free. A group of Americans from Almonds X group were captured in November, were inspected by a Chinese officer who gave them cigarettes, a mal of chicken, and then told them to rejoin their own forces. (9) The POW camps the Chinese had were not like the camps that were operated by those of the Japanese and German in World War Two. The camps had no watchtowers, no barbed wire, no machinegun stands.

The only way the camps were guarded was by a few guards in strategically placed areas. Soldiers also extremely exaggerated the number of enemy units approaching, describing regiments as divisions. Chinese tactics mad the United States forces think they were coming from all directions, they used bugles and whistles to create confusion, and they even played sweet music to distract the U. S forces. Many times attacking Chinese were described as sworms, waves, and hordes of Chinese. It seemed this way because they would sneak in at night and create havoc by destroying structures within the base so it seemed like more of the enemy.

In the Vietnam War just the opposite was evident. The United States took this war in a very complicated way and did not send in a mass amount of troops right away. In this war it was mostly the North Vietnamese or the Viet Cong who were the ones that were relenting. Vietnam did have demilitarized zone between the North and South. The zone was not successful, Viet Cong would leave the country and head into Cambodia, or turn left, below the DMZ (demilitarized zone). If they went to Cambodia the would then travel south more and end up no more than fifteen miles away from the capitol of the 6 South which was Saigon.

In many confrontations the Viet Cong would destroy small villages and booby trap areas where civilians still lived. The North Vietnamese made attacks on civilians a centerpiece of its strategy. From 1957 to 1973 the National Liberation front assassinated 36,752 South Vietnamese and abducted another 58,499 people. They mostly focused on the leaders of small villages, medical personnel, social workers, school teachers and others who improved the lives of others. (10) There was no way to tell the Viet Cong apart from the civilians because they dressed the same and would hide guns in bundles of rice, grain and grass that they were carrying.

If an American killed a civilian he received a jail sentence, if a North Vietnamese killed a civilian he received accommodation. One of the most inflated myths about the Vietnam War was that American soldiers were killing civilians. In no way did Americans contribute to those killings, not even when the South Vietnamese were responsible. A famous incident were a napalm strike near the town Trong Bang is thought to be the responsibility of American forces when in reality it was south Vietnamese forces who bombed the town. Tactics and strategies were developed for fighting in open areas such as a field of a plain.

Everything had to be modified for the dense jungle. In the end, in neither war did the United States have any idea who they were really fighting. The great defect in these wars and the cause of the outcomes was that political ideas do not endorse and support a war with non-combatants as successful as national survival. During the Vietnam War, people in the United States were at two extremes. Many did go to war, but those that did not volunteered for war were hated by the masses 7 of people who were against it. Riots were common and anti-war demonstrations plagued the nation.

There was no support for soldiers or the cause of the war. Veterans returning from the war were shunned, they were yelled at, cursed on, spit on, arrested and blamed for fights, they were beaten and scorn by the public. (11) Families were torn apart and desecrated by neighbors. Veterans from previous wars had never before been greeted in this despicable manner. Veterans from the world wars, from the American Revolution, and from the American Civil War were not treated as criminals. They were greeted with respect, honor and proclamations.

The cause, which was national survival and/or the gain of territory, was supported far more than the political ideas of the government during the war. What is ironic about this is that two-thirds of the men that served in World War II were drafted and made to go. They came back respected. Two-thirds of the men that went to Vietnam volunteered for service, they came back and were put to shame. (12) The Vietnam and Korean wars were much different than any war the United States had ever fought before. The wars before had been easier for troops because the enemy was clear and always in front of you.

The enemy had a distinguishing look, he did not look like the average farmer carrying crops. (13) There were set tactics and there were long term plans for battle. The political view was clear as well, there was not as much kind of twisting to get the right results or manipulation of officials. When previous wars happened, the United States always got support form the public, where as in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts that support was not even a memory. People, who did not fight in the war, took an anti-war position.

In Vietnam the Viet Cong took the 8 rotests in America of the war as support. People were so caught up in why we were there, and why we should not have been. The Korean and Vietnam wars were at a different extreme from the wars fought in the past. There was no clear way out of the war, and there was no way to get out of it unscathed. But it is good to know that most men who served in the war are glad they did it and most would do it again. Ninety-one percent of Vietnam veterans say that they are glad they served, and seventy-four percent say they would serve again even knowing the outcome.

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