Wednesday, November 24, 2010
The Korean Conflict: A Historical Perspective
"General Bradley said that we must draw the line (against Communist expansion) somewhere. The President stated he agreed on that. General Bradley said that Russia is not yet ready for war. The Korean situation offered as good an occasion for action in drawing the line as anywhere else."
~ From the official minutes of President Harry S. Truman's meeting with his top military and foreign-policy advisers at the Blair House on the evening of 25 June 1950
Here we go, again. Another opportunity for people halfway around the word to die, en masse, for the United States to demonstrate its uncanny ability to enforce a global double standard. While Israel, judging from its recent and not so recent actions, is as reckless and dangerous a government as they come, is allowed to keep its nuclear arsenel without sanctions (and indeed without any mention at all in official U.S. diplomatic circles) while other countries who we don't share a "special relationship" with, are not. In this case, North Korea, representing one third of the Neo-con "Axis of Evil", and already being slowly starved to death by economic sanctions imposed by a U.S.-domininated U.N., is about to take things into some very dangerous territory. Namely, they are about to become the noisy focus of the "Loud Little Handful" of Neo-cons. These are people that would like nothing better than to follow Douglas MacArthur, their ideological ancestor, down the rabbit-hole of nuclear abyss. This is history that could repeat itself, hopefully without a brand new, glowing and radioactive ending. So let's look at that history and clear up in advance some misconceptions that will no doubt be foisted on us again in the coming days by the usual suspects.
At the end of WWII, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were defeated and the world became the domain of the two "liberating" powers. The U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. Even before the last shots were fired in that war, a new ideological war between the two remaining large military powers was beginning. The "Cold War" in which the aspirations of the people of the world were boiled down into capitalist/communist ideological doctrine, would continue to cause turmoil and divert resources from the basic needs of humanity and towards the existance of massive armament stockpiles.
One of the key points of revisionist history is that this massive weapons buildup was able to "keep the peace". In fact, while nuclear war was avoided, dozens of "lower intensity" conflicts raged and millions died. Korea would be joined by a long list of places where Cold War brinksmanship would result in proxy wars, bringing foreign troops, advisors and armament into conflict with eachother.
Most U.S. history books will state that the Korean War began on June 25, 1950 when North Korea invaded South Korea. The true origin is murkier, as offensive actions on both sides of the 38th parallel were occurring ever since this border dividing one country into two was established at the end of WWII. The border was in effect a dividing line between the influence of the two superpowers who had divvied up the Korean peninsula after removing the Japanese army, similar to the military occupation of Germany.
Syngman Rhee, the U.S.-approved ruler of South Korea, suffered an electoral setback a month before the war started as popular dissatisfaction with the pace of reconstruction grew among the South Korean population. The tenuous political position he faced seemed to force his hand towards diversionary tactics, such as increased belligerance towards the North, something we may see happening again if Obama tries to get his groove back after the mid-term elections by proving his foreign policy toughness to the incessant cry of the Neo-cons as amplified by the war-hungry corporate media. The Cold War never ended for these people, it just morphed into another War Without End.