On Korean War's anniversary, U.S. victory still often ignored

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The youngest veterans of the Korean War are at least 80 years old. Since 1953, they’ve listened to the lie that they fought to a draw.

On this weekend’s 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War, the truth must be told: All the express political goals of the United States and the United Nations were met. Based on achieving the national outcomes sought by our elected leaders, America won!

To begin with, understand that Korea was just not important. It was not worth fighting over. Preventing European/nuclear World War III and stopping the spread of Russian and Chinese communist expansion was important. President Harry Truman, adopting the conclusions of 1950’s National Security Council Report No. 68, drew his line in the sand at the 38th Parallel.

Communist North Korea invaded on June 24, 1950. In response to the onslaught, Truman’s national policy was immediate and clear. On June 25, 1950, he said: “If we are tough enough now, if we stand up to them like we did in Greece three years ago, they won’t take any next steps. But if we just stand by, they’ll move into Iran and they’ll take over the whole Middle East. There’s no telling what they’ll do, if we don’t put up a fight now.”

The United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 82, calling the North Korean attack a “breach of the peace,” for the immediate cessation of hostilities, and for North Korea to withdraw to the 38th parallel.

RESOLUTION 83 followed on June 27, recommending “the Members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore international peace and security in the area.” The entire Korean War was fought under the aegis of the United Nations, with significant support from nearly 50 other nations, but under overall U.S. command and with a preponderance of U.S. soldiery and equipment.

We all know the early phases of the war: initial success by North Korea, the outgunned Task Force Smith, the Pusan Perimeter, then the U.S. build-up, the brilliant end-run landing at Inchon and a routed North Korean Army. The U.S. advance north to the Yalu River was followed by the insubordination and crack-up of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the sudden – but not unanticipated – counterattack of the Chinese.

U.N. forces retreated, taking heavy casualties. This led to discussion about expanding from a limited war with limited objectives into a general war against China.

Nuclear-weapons use was on the table. At this time, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Omar Bradley made his famous comments that expanding into full, general war against China was terribly wrong: “Red China is not the powerful nation seeking to dominate the world. Frankly, in the opinion of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, this strategy (total war against China) would involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.”

But the Eighth Army firmed up, held and then regained ground and mooted the question.

The United States and United Nations overreached going to the Yalu in the hope of winning a unified democracy, and the Chinese overreached in the hope of gaining a unified communist nation. Peace was inevitable, only a matter of time and saving face. All Truman needed to do was hang on to enough territory and kill enough communists to bring North Korea and China to the table, with as few American casualties as possible.

THE TRUMAN administration official policy was to uphold the United Nations mandate to restore the 38th parallel and maintain a freely-elected, independent government in South Korea. U.N. forces – overwhelmingly U.S. troops led by U.S. generals – achieved this national goal throughout Truman’s term of office.

The 1952 election of Dwight D. Eisenhower was assured when he promised to “go to Korea” and seek an end to the fighting.

It was clear to all observers Eisenhower was going to get peace. The heavy lifting already had been done by Truman and American soldiers. Ike’s choice was either total war with the Chinese, including nuclear weapons, or a continued stalemate with 1,000 U.S. casualties every week. Neither type of slaughter was acceptable to him, and he rightly judged China was just as eager to get out.

Ike chose peace. An armistice was signed July 27, 1953. South Korea existed as a representative democracy, its border restored.

The United Nations was satisfied with the result of the Korean War, and perceived it as a victory. General Assembly Resolutions 711 (VII) and 712 (VII) approved the armistice and congratulated U.N. forces.

Truman believed he won in Korea, and kept dominoes from falling around the world: “We prevented Tito from taking Trieste right after the German fold-up, we forced Stalin out of Iran, we saved Greece and Turkey, we stayed in Berlin, and we knocked the socks off the communists in Korea; we gave the Philippines a free government.”

North Korea, China and Russia suffered 1.5 million casualties and another 1.5 million civilian deaths. U.S. combat deaths were about 34,000. Total allied casualties were half of the North’s total, and overwhelmingly South Korean civilians. China and North Korea abandoned their attack on South Korea. They ceased their undesirable behavior and yielded to the will of the U.S.A.

THERE ARE TWO nations today, and even a superficial glance shows the fruits of U.S. victory. South Korea is a strong democracy, with a thriving capitalist economy, holding a powerful position in the First World. North Korea is a stunted, cult-of-personality military/Maoist state, still haunted by famine, much of it without electricity or running water.

Militarily, by achieving national policy expressed by civilian authority, and considering the long-term success of South Korea and the long-term failure of North Korea, the United States of America won the Korean War!

(The writer is a lifelong military historian, a lieutenant colonel in the Kansas National Guard and an Iraq War veteran. This is the second of a three-part series.)

Comments (6) Add comment
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Riverman1
93832
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Riverman1 07/28/13 - 06:13 am
7
2
As with Vietnam, Korea was a

As with Vietnam, Korea was a critical delaying action until the Soviet Union fell. Communism can't live on its merits vs. freedom and capitalism. It requires force and military expansion.

soapy_725
44121
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soapy_725 07/28/13 - 07:18 am
0
0
The political mission of world domination changed after WWII
Unpublished

The political mission of world domination changed after WWII

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 07/28/13 - 07:19 am
0
0
The political mission of world domination changed after WWII
Unpublished

The political mission of world domination changed after WWII

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 07/28/13 - 07:20 am
0
0
Job well done to the troops on the ground. Politicos, NO WAY.
Unpublished

Job well done to the troops on the ground. Politicos, NO WAY.

soapy_725
44121
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soapy_725 07/28/13 - 07:21 am
0
0
To those who have always fought and died, "Mission Accomplished"
Unpublished

To those who have always fought and died, "Mission Accomplished"

soapy_725
44121
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soapy_725 07/28/13 - 07:22 am
0
0
To those that sit on the hill and order death. Hell awaits you.
Unpublished

To those that sit on the hill and order death. Hell awaits you.

d1zmljqg
997
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d1zmljqg 07/28/13 - 07:30 am
4
2
A very good and well written article

For those too young to remember Colonel Aeschliman has given us an excellent summary of this three year conflict thwarting the Communist movement.

dahreese
4907
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dahreese 07/28/13 - 10:05 am
2
7
"Communism can't live on its
Unpublished

"Communism can't live on its merits vs. freedom and capitalism."

Oh, yes! God love's capitalism!

And those with the most money He loves best.

"Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight" - until it comes to money.

Darby
29314
Points
Darby 07/28/13 - 10:48 am
4
2
Some would love to see satellite photos

showing the same darkness settle over South Korea as that which envelopes the North after the sun sets.

It's not enough just to hate America.

justthefacts
25072
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justthefacts 07/28/13 - 01:20 pm
4
2
Strange

You could be standing in line @ Publics right next to a communist and never know it.

deestafford
31978
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deestafford 07/28/13 - 04:07 pm
3
2
Well written article just like the first; however, I don't

understand the comment about GEN MacArthur "cracking up". I have studied the Korean War a number of years and also served a tour of duty there but have never heard of him "cracking up". Granted he had a different philosophy as how the war should have been thought and some thought he was disrespectful to Truman but never was there any indication of him "cracking up".

GEN MacArthur came from a generation of soldiers and leaders who believed that when you went to war, you went to win not get to a political stalemate that only delayed more fighting.

The embracing of capitalism has been the engine that has driven South Korea to the success it has enjoyed. They are a very proud people who have a very strong and capable military. Some say our military is not there to protect the South Koreans as much as we are to keep the South Koreans from attacking the North.

Communism and hero worship of its leaders have reduce the North Koreans to eating dirt and roots in order to survive. Anyone who thinks communism has any positives just hasn't ever been exposed to it first hand. Their exposure has been only in reading of leftist publications, discussions in classrooms and coffee shops, and lectures by discredited leftists. I just wish those who think communism, socialism, and fascism are so great would just go and live in one of those countries for five years. Then they would appreciate this country and stop running it down.

harley_52
25914
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harley_52 08/03/13 - 01:32 pm
0
0
Excellent Article...

Very thoughtful and well written. Excellent comment by deestafford as well.

We don't fight wars to "win" them any more. We haven't "won" a war since WWII. I totally agree that the military did precisely what they were asked to do in Korea and they did it with selflessness, bravery, and honor. Still, we didn't win...we tied. MacArthur wanted to win. Perhaps the world would be a different place if he had been allowed to try, but he wasn't.

I have the greatest respect for the men who fought (and many died) in the Korean War. It's true, it has, in a way, been the "forgotten" war. That's a pity. The nation owes these men their highest honor and deepest respect. The conditions under which they fought were often beyond the comprehension of many of us. They were gallant and successful, even if our politicians were not.

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