The Korean War started in the aftermath of World War II. When the Great War that ended all wars resulted in the defeat of Japan, a new power arose in the Pan Asian area, the specter of USSR. Stalin’s tight rein on the country and its quick and vicious rise to superpower status caused Americans to fear that the Soviet Empire would attempt to spread communism throughout the world. Eastern Europe had already been engulfed and President Truman was weary of the possibility of the rest of Asia falling into the grasp of communism.
Therefore in Korea, America made a stand for democracy (Ridgeway, 15). The United States called this policy “containment”, to contain the spread of communism because it attempts to encroach on America’s philosophy of democracy (Ridgeway, 15). The very policy of containment arose out of fear from Secretary of State Kissinger that the Soviet Union’s eventual plan is to dominate the politics of the Pan Asian Alliance and eventually threaten the rest of Europe.
The Korean War rose out of these circumstances as a battle against communism (Ridgeway, 15). Northern Korea threatened Southern Korea through a series of hostile attacks, and after the South Korean Army with help from the US decimated the Northern Alliance, China’s quick intercession quickly changed the tides of war. Korea was not an isolated two nation battle; rather it represented a political ideological struggle between westernization and communism (Ridgeway, 15). China wanted to exert its presence following its own communist revolution as chose Korea as the testing grounds for its new army operations. When Korea was finally split in half after indecisive battles, its role in history was forever termed as the “Forgotten War”.
Vietnam occurred under similar circumstances. The Soviet Union’s powers were at its peak during this time, having proved that they were now a nuclear power; this is the first time that these two nations met indirectly (Moise, 130). Vietnam became the first major war in the post nuclear weapons era and it was motivated by the continuance of the theory of containment.
Although large amounts of troop activity was already taking place during the John F. Kennedy era, President Johnson’s term saw the escalation of troops and combat within the region. The North Koreans were constantly supplied via underground shipments from the Soviet Union and China, thus the war did not seem like it would end (Moise, 130). The conclusive withdraw of US troops during Nixon’s presidency represented the first major victory and breakthrough for the communists in Asia. As a result, the specter of the Cold War continued to loom over the world.
The Iraqi war placed the United States in a unique position. Since September 11th, the war on terrorism is very much different from the war on communism in that there are no tangible enemies. Following unsuccessful attacks on terrorism in Afghanistan, the target of Iraq represented President Bush’s strategy of First strike defense, or preemptive strike (Roberts, 23) This theory contends that as Iraq has an obvious hatred of the United States and has shown in that past to have harbored and still harbors weapons of mass destruction.
Destroying it before it could target the United States either through direct attack or through helping terrorist cells (Roberts, 23),. This philosophy is very much motivated by a number of policies, among them was the previous attack on Iraq in Operation Desert Storm which severely weakened Saddam Hussein’s military power in the region. However, since there was no eminent threat to the United States, there was no international consortium as large as the ones during Korea and Vietnam (Roberts, 23).
Therefore, the war on Iraq is viewed by many in the international community as illegitimate and unsanctioned. As such the political pressures from around the world are very much negative. Even in victory, the Iraqi war now seems to have bear consequences that has harmed the United State’s position in the world political circle. The current negotiations with the United Nations to aid in the Iraqi effort has met with resistance as the world community repeatedly contends they will not help George Bush clean up the scene of his crime. The political undercurrents of this war may turn negative much like the results of the Vietnam resolution (Roberts, 23).
Ridgway, Matthew B. He Korean War. Boston: Da Capo Press, 1988.
Moise, Edwin E. Tonkin Gulf and the Escalation of the Vietnam War. North
Carolina: UNC Press , 1996.
Roberts, Paul. The End Of Oil: On the Edge of a Perilous New World. Seattle:
Mariner Books, 2005.
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