We won in Korea and Vietnam, and stopped another world war

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America won!

When the Korean War ended 60 years ago, July 27, 1953, soldiers returned home to little fanfare and a growing belief that their efforts ended in a tie.

Forty years ago, at the conclusion of the war in Vietnam, Aug. 15, 1973, soldiers returned home to abuse, shunning and knowing they lost.

Sixty and 40 years later, it is time to tell the truth: The United States of America won the wars in Korea and Vietnam.

This is contrary to what everyone “knows.”

Our national folkway has come to define Korea as a draw. That war ended in an armistice rather than in surrender – an agreement to stop fighting rather than capitulation by the loser. This is true, but also meaningless in terms of victory or defeat. World War I ended in an armistice, yet was a decisive win for the Allied powers.

And it’s hard to even start talking about Vietnam when most Americans “know” the U.S.A. was driven out of the jungles and rice paddies as “documented” by that last iconic helicopter abandoning desperate hordes on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.

Nationally and worldwide, the inchoate feeling is Korea was a tie because things ended where they began and Vietnam was a loss because the U.S.A. is gone and the Vietnamese are still there.

These feelings are not evidence. Worse, most historians to this point remain opinionated agenda-promoters. If a disinterested observer were to look at both wars without preconceptions and use a measurable standard rather than feelings, the answer would be: The United States of America won in Korea and Vietnam.

To understand this, we must clarify the notion of “winning.”

THREE LEVELS OF war – tactical, operational and strategic – are the military’s measuring sticks. Success can occur at any of these levels and generally, for the U.S. military, continued success tactically, operationally and strategically means winning.

But that’s not enough for a nation-state to define winning or losing in war. Why do nations war at all? Strategist Carl Von Clausewitz said, “War is an act of violence intended to compel our opponent to fulfill our will ... War is a continuation of policy by other means.” Thus, a nation wars to force a desired behavior and to inflict its national will upon another.

If war is chosen by a nation-state, how is winning determined? Tactics, operations and strategies do not mean national victory. They are processes and tools to gain victory, but they are not victory. For a nation-state to chalk up a win it comes to this: The political goals of the national leadership are achieved.

If we audit the Korean and Vietnam wars through this objective lens – whether outcomes sought by the elected leaders of the United States of America were achieved – the impartial observer will agree America won.

The second key to understanding these two victories is to understand why our soldiers fought there at all. That key is (brace yourself) that neither the nations nor peoples of Korea and Vietnam mattered. The lands, the resources, the locations, the populations – none of them were important. The countries were isolated, underdeveloped, under-resourced backwaters, and the populations insignificant. Korea and Vietnam were battlegrounds only because other battles in more important places with more important populations had to be prevented. This is harsh, but it is true.

The enemy was not small-scale communism in Korea or Vietnam. The enemy was the Soviet Union and, to a much lesser degree, China. By fighting in Korea and Vietnam, World War III was prevented and half the world’s population saved from the aggressive expansion of totalitarianism.

Understanding National Security Council Report No. 68, dated April 14, 1950, explains this. NSC-68 identified the Soviet Union as the main threat to the U.S.A. and world peace. It created the policy of containment of communist expansion. The central theme was how to contain Soviet/Sino adventurism while at the same time avoiding a nuclear war:

“FOR SEVERAL CENTURIES it had proved impossible for any one nation to gain such preponderant strength that a coalition of other nations could not in time face it with greater strength. The international scene was marked by recurring periods of violence and war, but a system of sovereign and independent states was maintained, over which no state was able to achieve hegemony.

“(Now) the Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world ... any substantial further extension of the area under the domination of the Kremlin would raise the possibility that no coalition adequate to confront the Kremlin with greater strength could be assembled.”

So, Korea was about preventing World War III in Eastern Europe. Vietnam was about keeping aggressive communism out of India, the Middle East, Indonesia, the Southwest and Western Pacific, and Japan. Those places mattered. Those populations were significant. Lines had to be drawn in the sand, and those lines were drawn in Korea and Vietnam.

The war in Korea was won because all the national goals of the United States were met, Europe was secured against the Soviet threat and World War III never happened. The war in Vietnam was won because the ever-changing goals of each successive U.S. president were met, threats against India, the Middle East and Indonesia were turned back, and World War III deterred.

The United States terminated both wars and left both countries under terms set by our own presidents. Because battlegrounds were chosen in Korea and Vietnam, the real enemies – Russia, and to a lesser degree China – changed their behaviors and U.S. goals were accomplished.

The United States won in Korea and Vietnam.

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

Comments (18) Add comment
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Riverman1
94350
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Riverman1 07/21/13 - 04:28 am
7
1
Kissinger Should be Appreciated

Absolutely true. If we had not delayed the communist advances in Korea and Vietnam, the ideology that subjects everyone to the state would have spread over Asia creating a powerful, unstoppable wave of Communist dictator controlled countries. All these countries banded together to end capitalism…and the U.S.

Henry Kissinger pleaded with Americans to stay the course delaying communist advances. He accurately explained the Soviet Union would soon fall if we could just hold on a little longer. It was close, but that’s what happened. A victory as important as WW II.

deestafford
32259
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deestafford 07/21/13 - 07:55 am
5
2
Very interesting column

We would have won politically in Viet Nam if the LBJ would have let the generals fight the war and not micromanaged it from the White House. He was picking targets over North Viet Nam which should have been being done by a colonel or general on the ground at the Air Force HQ in VN.
The initial phase of the Gulf War was successful because Pres HW Bush gave the military the mission and got out of the way. The failing was he listen to the politicians and stopped the military from finishing in Baghdad. (Colin Powell had become a politician at the time even though he was still in uniform)
What has truly been the winner in South Korea has been capitalism, which is also starting to take hold in Viet Nam. Capitalism raises more people out of poverty and reduce the likely hood of war better than any economic system ever. That is what is needed in the Middle East rather than democracy for which the only culture capable of handling there is Israel and maybe Turkey if it doesn't go Muslim/Shia rule.

Bottom line is the author is putting together a thoughtful piece though breaks some new, or at least not noticed, ground.

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:50 am
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0
Wars are fought for land, money, power, influence peddling. All
Unpublished

political victories for the KING.

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:51 am
0
0
Who wins in a war? The KING, the soldiers or the peasants?
Unpublished

Who wins in a war? The KING, the soldiers or the peasants?

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:52 am
0
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Rewriting history. A noble cause cost 56,000 US lives.
Unpublished

Rewriting history. A noble cause cost 56,000 US lives.

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:53 am
0
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JFK did not want to support a corrupt SV government. JFK died.
Unpublished

JFK did not want to support a corrupt SV government. JFK died.

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:54 am
0
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The corrupt leader of SV was killed 2 days before JFK was killed
Unpublished

The corrupt leader of SV was killed 2 days before JFK was killed

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:55 am
0
0
RFK did not want a war in SV. He was killed.
Unpublished

RFK did not want a war in SV. He was killed.

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:56 am
0
0
MLK Jr wanted American resources in America. He was killed.
Unpublished

MLK Jr wanted American resources in America. He was killed.

soapy_725
44151
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soapy_725 07/21/13 - 08:58 am
0
0
World Domination is the Game. Human lives are the price to play
Unpublished

World Domination is the Game. Human lives are the price to play

afadel
547
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afadel 07/21/13 - 09:25 am
4
8
Ridiculous Advocacy for Militarism

Another title for this could be, "How I learned to ignore facts and love war."

#1, to dismiss the genocidal consequences of the wars in Korea and Vietnam on those populations is a major moral failure.

#2, the idea that had the United States not prosecuted those wars, the Soviet Union would have taken over southwest Asia and Europe is hardly a given. To then conclude that the wars in Korea and Vietnam "worked" because Europe and southwest Asia did not become communist is just like the "scientist" Sir Bedevere in Monty Python's "The Holy Grail" explaining how sheep's bladders "may be employed to prevent earthquakes."

http://www.hark.com/clips/crfnljdlll-this-new-learning-amazes-me-sir-bed...

#3, the article ignores the tremendous cost in USA casualties and treasure. Even assuming that these wars stopped communism's expansion, might there have been a better way to do it? For example, might supporting Vietnamese independence from the French been a better way to stop Communism in Vietnam than assuming the mantle of French colonial control?

faithson
5531
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faithson 07/21/13 - 09:40 am
4
4
ignores the COST of war...

the incredible cost incurred by the people is the issue. I don't know of any politician that incurred the 'real' costs of their marble palace decision to go 'kick some arse'.

deestafford
32259
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deestafford 07/21/13 - 10:33 am
4
4
afadel,To call our actions in Korea and South Viet Nam is an

outrageous insult by someone who knows not what they are talking about. The communists were the ones conducting genocide. If you had gone into a South Viet Nam village as I have and found the village chief tied to a pole in the middle of the village with his genitials stuffed in his mouth. This was done before he was killed after he had watched his wife and young daughters raped and gutted just for cooperating with the Americans.

Don't you ever talk about America conducting genocide after all you have done is read some left wing, anti-American horse squeeze!

Just look at a night time satellite picture of N. Korea versus South Korea and that will show the difference between your beloved communist rule and a country freed and kept freed by the great America's presence.

dahreese
4911
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dahreese 07/21/13 - 11:12 am
6
4
"(The writer is a lifelong
Unpublished

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

One should be careful which historians they choose to believe.

This should be the LAST of a "three part series."
----------------------------------------------
Henry Kissinger is not only a war criminal (benefited from the war), but went behind the back of Congress, along with Nixon, and sabotaged a peace agreement set to begin on Christmas day, 1969; telling the South Vietnamese that he/Nixon could get them a better deal.

Then the war raged on until 1974 - with the same agreement that could have begun in 1969. In the meantime, 1969-1974 American soldiers continued to die - in a politicians war.

Some of you folks need to wake up and stop expecting other countries to punish their war criminals while war criminals in this country go free.

faithson
5531
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faithson 07/21/13 - 12:03 pm
2
4
kept freed by the great America's presence

now here we come to the nub of the issue... Empirialism, you believe in that, you believe in the Violence of WAR... believe if you must, but pleeeeeeeaaaaaassssse don't consider yourself a member of the 'Kingdom' as violence is antithetical to any consideration of our journey to have the 'peace of our risen Lord' and membership in his Kingdom.

seenitB4
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seenitB4 07/21/13 - 12:41 pm
5
3
deestafford

Thanks for putting the cold hard facts on here...some find it hard to believe but you are so right..

If we listened to some on here we would all speak German...the ones they didn't burn that is.

myfather15
57307
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myfather15 07/21/13 - 02:06 pm
3
1
People tend for forget that

People tend for forget that freedom is NOT free, at least not during this dispensation of time!! God expects us to fight for our freedom, just like they did in Biblical times!! If we are on the right side, He will help us!! That's why America, honestly has never lost a war; including Vietnam because we did NOT lose there!!

It simply eats liberals up that America IS the beacon of freedom in the world and the EXAMPLE for the rest of the world to follow!! Because in essence, we are GOD!! We do it HIS way!! He calls for ALL people to come to Him for freedom and happiness!! Well, America has the same system!!

"Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

This is not just a catchy slogan, it's God's motto!!

America is NOT the Country liberal's claim!! We have NOT tried to take over other Countries, but helped them remain independent!! We are the World's 911 when anyone is attacked!! When Communism attempts to spread like the disease it is, we are there with the vaccine!! This TRUTH is what gets under the skin of the America haters!! Because there is nothing they can do about it, besides lie about history and try to change her from the inside!! They attempt to demean and belittle America and her history, all the while ignoring EVERY other Countries atrocities of past!!! Because EVERY Country has them!! But WE have moved past them better than any Country in the world!! Thank you Father for you blessing and opening our eyes!!

corgimom
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corgimom 07/21/13 - 02:54 pm
2
2
"Give me your tired your poor

"Give me your tired your poor your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

No, that's from a poem about immigrants by Emma Lazarus, a Jewish woman, and was referring to Jewish immigrants, and is not God's motto in the slightest.

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

There is not one word about God, or Jesus, in that poem. She is writing it about the Statue of Liberty, which is not a religious symbol at all. Unless you can figure out a religious woman in the Bible that stands with a torch. I don't know of any.

corgimom
38777
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corgimom 07/21/13 - 02:58 pm
4
2
You know what, though. My

You know what, though. My father came back from Korea with a Silver Star, a Bronze Star with oak leaf clusters, and a severe case of PTSD. My father suffered literally until the day he died. When he was on his death bed, he worried about what would happen after he died, because of what he did during that war.

To say that we won that war is an outrage to people like my father and our family, who watched my father suffer tormenting memories for the rest of his life.

This column is an outrage to Korean and Vietnam veterans, their families, and the families of the people that perished in those senseless wars.

studmuffin1533
305
Points
studmuffin1533 07/21/13 - 04:18 pm
3
3
Senseless Wars

I rarely agree with Corgimom, but agree that this column is a slap in the face to vets from both conflicts.
Forty years after the end of the Vietnam war, can we really say that things in VN would be different if we had stayed LBJ/Kissinger's course?

msitua
132
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msitua 07/21/13 - 04:19 pm
2
4
utter nonsense

The US has been an imperialistic nation for decades. What's ok for us is never what is ok for other nations. We can go into Viet Nam and slaughter women and child civilians, but whoa is another country does the same. We pretend we are democratic and want to force democracy down other peoples' throats. Presidents are puppets of the of the industrial, military and medical complex. Both wars were a mistake. Nobody wins. Our soldiers die, their people die and for what? Putting money and power in some elite hands? People think that some higher power made the US special, We are not special, but we are especially good at starting wars in other countries where we don't belong. Read Oliver Stones-The Untold Story of the US if you want to hear the truth.

msitua
132
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msitua 07/21/13 - 04:28 pm
3
1
wrong about Emma Lazarus

she was referring to all immigrants-not just Jewish. Many people of all religions attempted to have their words inscribed the statue, but hers was chosen among many as the best-and one that encompassed all people-not a particular religious group.

dichotomy
37659
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dichotomy 07/21/13 - 05:03 pm
4
2
"This column is an outrage to

"This column is an outrage to Korean and Vietnam veterans, their families, and the families of the people that perished in those senseless wars."

I take extreme exception to that. I think the outrage is people who diminish the value of what was accomplished by the sacrifices made by our soldiers in Korea and Vietnam by calling the wars senseless and by ignoring the international strategic and political situations at the time. I think the writer has hit the nail on the head pretty well. We did not start the aggression in Korea nor in Vietnam. We responded the way things were done at the time. My only regret about Vietnam was that our politicians let a bunch of long haired dope smokers, "me" generation hippies, and draft dodgers talk them into to pulling out instead of standing our ground. As for Korea, I think we should have listened to MacArthur and there never would have been a Vietnam war and North Korea would have lights and cable TV.

But hey, that's just me. I know I'm a relic...a throwback. I just go with my gut reaction from what I saw during my 2 years in Vietnam. And I am sure those who enjoy diminishing the old soldiers from Korea and Vietnam will continue to diminish the soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan by telling them and their families that they gave their lives and limbs during totally unnecessary wars. It's an easy thing to do for them. We know how the world turned out based on what we did in Korea and Vietnam. We DO NOT KNOW how it WOULD have turned out if we had not fought those wars. We cannot disprove an unknown. But apparently the dope smokers and hippies developed some type of clairvoyance or something so they can tell us how much better off the world WOULD have been if we had not fought Korea and Vietnam.

myfather15
57307
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myfather15 07/21/13 - 08:07 pm
1
0
Corgimom

You might want to read Revelations Chapter 12. The woman in that scripture is Mother Freedom!! She fled to a wilderness that was prepared for her; that wilderness was and IS the United States of America.

Also, I don't need the lesson on the poem. I know who wrote it and it's history. I didn't mean that the poem itself was written for Christians. I was only inferring that God's motto is that ALL people come to Him for peace and FREEDOM!! God IS Freedom!! He created us and gave us FREE WILL!! He expects his people to be FREE!! God sent out his prophets and disciples, all over the world to tell people to COME TO HIM!! Seek Him and ye shall find!!

The Statue of Liberty is the woman of Revelations 12 and those words made it onto her for a reason.

dahreese
4911
Points
dahreese 07/21/13 - 08:08 pm
2
1
@Corgimom; I am sorry to hear
Unpublished

@Corgimom; I am sorry to hear about your father.

I apologize, too, for the commenters above who know and understand so little of the real historical conquest of this country via its misuse of its military.

Apparently from a few of the comments above, some who fought in those conflicts still do not understand how they were "used."

Darby
29544
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Darby 07/22/13 - 10:44 am
1
0
"Another title for this could be, "How I

learned to ignore facts and love war."

Another title for your response might aptly be: "The arrogance of ignorance." Or "How hiding my head in the sand has worked for me."

Darby
29544
Points
Darby 07/22/13 - 11:06 am
2
1
Not every "victory" results in a parade down

main street or a formal surrender signed on the deck of a battleship.

Sometimes it has to be enough that we stopped or diverted a greater holocaust.

.
Note: Please, no admonitions from liberals about how using the word "holocaust" cheapens the sacrifice of the Jewish people. You're thinking about The Holocaust.

The word was in use for centuries before Hitler began his atrocities.

It's just that I know libs/progs SO well.

dahreese
4911
Points
dahreese 07/22/13 - 03:37 pm
1
1
"It's just that I know
Unpublished

"It's just that I know libs/progs SO well."

Naw....

You gotta be one to understand one, and most liberals were conservatives 'once upon a time.'

Been there, done that.

Wouldn't go back even if I could.
--------------------------------------------------
That said, I was surprised when "part two" out of "three" was not in today's paper.

Dixieman
17607
Points
Dixieman 07/24/13 - 04:25 am
1
1
Absolutely right

Says this Vietnam veteran (1968-69). Great column and I can't wait to read the next two. Some of the left-wing critics posting here need to go out and find some refugees from South Vietnam and talk to them about their post-1975 experiences with the "benevolent" communist rulers of their country and why they risked so much as boat people to flee and come here.

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