Sunday, February 7, 2010


The Cold War was really begun in 1950 when North Korea's army invaded the Republic of South Korea unexpectedly. North Korea was a Communist government and the Republic of South Korea had a democratically elected president named Syngman Rhee, elected in 1948. Truman ordered all U.S. troops out of Korea at that time. But, in June of 1950 North Korean troops invaded South Korea and shortly thereafter the capitol city of Seoul fell. A U.N. Resolution demanded that NK withdraw its army from the Republic of Korea, or South Korea as we now know it, but the NK troops continued to advance down the Korean Peninsula and Truman committed U.S. troops to enforce the UN Resolution. This was the beginning of the Korean War for all intents and purposes.
The first MASH unit was set up in July of 1950 with twelve US Army nurses. Most of those born after WWII are familiar with the long running program MASH...and their knowledge of the Korean War is limited to this, unless they studied the US involvement in this war in a college level course. This is the forgotten war in our history. Truman appointed General Douglas McArthur of South Pacific fame to lead the UN offensive. Later he would fire him. And, while this is the "forgotten war" its toll was more than 64,000 dead and more than 103,000 wounded. Additionally, there were more than 8,000 POWs, that were not exchanged and considered MIA.. By all considerations, compared to the 58,000 killed in the Vietnam War over ten years, this was a much deadlier war, lasting for three years only. We still have 33,000 troops in South Korea.

"Though most attention has focused on the Korean War's first year, bloody fighting persisted throughout the entire war. Half of our dead were killed after the truce talks began, while people talked and postured, at Panmunjom."

The draft was still active and the participants in the Korean War were, for the most part draftees. The cost of war is usually counted by the numbers killed and wounded, but the cost must also be defined as the increase in the National Debt. There is much talk now of the increase in the National Debt being the result of spending for domestic programs, in honesty we must subtract out the costs of all wars since the end of WWII. There was a change in our national angst when the Communist North Koreans invaded the Democratic South Korea. While Russia and China had been our Allies in WWII, and in fact without the Russian Front in Germany it is undoubted that the war in Europe would have been prolonged beyond the spring of 1945. Suddenly these former allies  were seen as enemies of the US due to their Communist form of government. The most expensive war of all was the Cold War that commenced in the Eisenhower administration and the "Domino Theory" that resulted proposed that  if we allowed one country in Southeast Asia to have a Communist form of government that would cause all of the countries in South East Asia to fall to that form of government; it was labeled the "Red Menace" and was perceived to have infiltrated our own government. The US has expended its lives and fortunes because of this perceived menace for the last sixty years.  Construction of Cold War weapons systems and outposts were really begun in 1952 with the building of Missile Silos all over the west coast, including where we lived in the upper Sacramento River Valley. The construction of the Dew Line (Distant Early Warning System) across the northern tundra of the Territory of Alaska was begun on Barter Island on the west and extended across the Yukon. Eisenhower's warning to "beware of the Military and Industrial Complex", has been realized. Gaining riches over the course of WWII this combo was greedy for new profits and what better way to realize them than in constant war. I believe that the Bush/Cheney push for the Iraq invasion was intended to continue this enrichment. There were plenty of jobs during these years, and the huge growth of the GDP can be said to be  attributed to the construction and manufacturing that filled the need for new weapons systems and construction of new military bases.

Quotation from Korea Timeline: Result of Google Search for photograph of installation at Barter Island


Will (Astra Navigo) said...

My mother was one of the nurses in the second MASH (Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) units deployed to Korea.

The cost in blood is never counted against the cost in treasure; such comparisons are considered gauche, and as such never make it to the headlines.

We've bankrupted ourselves in a mistaken 'fight' against ideologies.

Hecate said...

Excellent and informative post my friend. These wars come and go. Men and women fall in the line of duty, but who are these shadowy people who get rich - but never rich enough. I hear the Republicans mouthing off about bombing this country or that. Are they nuts? Don't they get it? I guess that comes of gaining much and losing little.