Korean War + 60 Years

The Atlantic Magazine reminds us with an insightful article that this Saturday 27 July 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the armistice (technically only a truce, not an end to the war) that ended active combat between the US and South Korea, and adversaries North Korea and the Soviet Union.

Nearly 2 million Americans were involved in the Korean War, with more than 40,000 US casualties and missing-in-action. Of course, many hundreds of thousands of Korean military personnel and civilians were casualties of the conflict, along with Soviet and Chinese combatants.

The Atlantic article comments on ‘lessons learned’ from the conflict, among them:

The wars of the last 63 years, ranging from Korea to Vietnam to Afghanistan to Iraq (but excepting Operation Desert Storm, which is an outlier from this pattern) have been marked by:

  • Inconsistent or unclear military goals with no congressional declaration of war.

  • Early presumptions on the part of the civilian leadership and some top military officials that this would be an easy operation. An exaggerated view of American military strength, a dismissal of the ability of the opposing forces, and little recognition of the need for innovation.

  • Military action that is rhetorically in defense of democracy–ignoring the reality of the undemocratic nature of regimes in Seoul, Saigon, Baghdad, and Kabul.

  • With the exception of some of the South Korean and South Vietnamese military units, these have been wars with in-country allies that were not dependable.

  • Military action that is costly in lives and treasure and yet does not enjoy the support that wars require in a democracy.

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