Korean War Korea Won Independence Term Paper

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Korean War

Korea won independence after the Second World War but was partitioned between Russia in the north and the United Sates in the south. Russia had entered into the war against Japan just before the Japanese surrender in 1945 and therefore their army occupied much of Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula north of the 38th Parallel; while the American forces were in residence south of the 38th Parallel. This situation was stabilized by the Yalta Agreement which was only intended as a temporary resolution until a Korean government could be elected.

The basis of the conflict that was to come lay not only in the distrust between the U.S.S.R. And U.S. But was also fostered by underling political contention between North and South Korea. The Russians in the north and the Americans in the south both installed political leaders who reflected their respective political and social viewpoints. These political leaders wanted to control the whole of Korea. The communist Kim II Sung was installed as leader in the North and Lee Sik Man or Sygman Rhee was made leader in the South. Each of these leaders began "... trying to spread their influence to the other side as soon as installed in 1946." (Evanhoe E.)

Against the background of this internal political strife there was a larger political and ideological conflict between Capitalism and Communism that was the basis of the reasons for war. This was exacerbated when Communists throughout the world began to attempt to extend their power and influence. "North Korea's invasion followed a series of Communist advances around the world, including the 1949 revolution in China." (Kalajian, Douglas)Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Term Paper on Korean War Korea Won Independence After the Assignment

Efforts were made to normalize the growing tension in the region and in 1948 an attempt was made to hold elections throughout the country. However, this failed mainly due to the fact that North Korea refused to allow voting observers while demanding full observer access to the voting in the South. The result was that both North and South Korea declared that they had been victorious in the election. Each declared their government as the true representative of the entire Korean people. Against this background there was a growing buildup of military power in the north and south. Each government was aided by their respective supporters - the Russians and the Chinese in the north and the Americans in the South.

It is significant that the Chinese were involved militarily at this early stage and they released more than 30,000 experienced Korean troops who had been fighting with the Chinese Communists to form the core of the North Korean army (Ibid) the Soviet Union also provided equipment and aircraft as well as tanks to bolster this force. The United States also began enhancing the South Korean forces - but to much lesser degree.

In 1949 both the U.S. And Soviet troops left Korea, leaving only small advisory groups behind. The North Koreans were of the opinion that the U.S. would probably not come to the aid of South Korea and decided to invade. There was a vast disparity in the forces and North Korea had overwhelming military superiority.

North Korea had a 90,000 well-trained army, with one out of every three men a combat veteran, equipped with tanks, artillery, aircraft and ships, plus a 45,000-man reserve. South Korea had approximately 50,000 men in their army, few of whom were veterans of the Japanese Army and mostly poorly trained, equipped and armed. South Korea had no tanks, only a few outdated 75mm artillery pieces. about two dozen 105mm artillery pieces, limited ammunition, a few LST landing craft, one Patrol Craft and no combat aircraft. (Evanhoe E) www.korean-war.com/Archives/2001/04/msg00014.html"

At this invasion the United States decided to support South Korea. The Korean War was one of the most destructive conflicts of the 20th century. The extent of the casualties was astounding with an estimated 4-million Koreans dead, two-thirds of which were civilians. Chinese casualties are estimated at one million and over 54-thousand Americans were killed and 103-thousand injured. (Korean War)

The Causes

The Korean War is also known as the 'forgotten war'. One of the reasons for this appellation was because it took place less than five years after the end of World War II. The Korean War and "... was often and perhaps unavoidably compared with and subsumed by the myth and memory of the Second World War. " (Pierpaoli, Paul G., Jr.) the relationship, particularly in terms of political and ideological thinking with the Second World War and the advent of the Cold War is made clear in the following quotation.

A the Korean conflict seemed to have emerged like an unwanted mutation from a linear, Darwinian-like process that seamlessly linked World War II with the Cold War and its early evolutionary process. Thus, from the start, the Korean War became a prisoner of the rigid mentality and ideology of the early Cold War.

The real causes for the Korean conflict are a complex amalgam of various factors that coincided in a certain historical timeframe. Firstly, the end of the Second Word War created a power struggle as well as an ideological struggle between various countries with opposing ideals and ideas about society. Secondly, the advent of the Cold War was a central factor in the decision to go to war in Korea. It can also be argued that one of the central factors that created the climate for war was the desire for world dominance on the part of various countries, including the U.S.S.R. And America.

There are many other aspects that contributed to the causative factors of this war, including economic necessities and America's dependence on the Asian economies. All these aspects point to the fact that the history of the Korean War is firmly entrenched in the power struggle and the mistrust that was the result of the Second World War,

In order to comprehend the underling causes of the Korean conflict it is also important to understand the wide and complex extent of political thought of this time. America not only sought to preserve capitalist independence but also saw this region of the world as a possible partner in the conflict against Russia. There is also a case to be made that America had economic motives as well.

The American involvement in the Korean War fit into a larger schema that viewed Northeast Asia as an integral part of the United States' imperative to maintain and expand liberal capitalism around the world. In this sense too, Japan (and by extension Korea) lay at the epicenter of America's sphere of economic dependency in Asia.

However, the central reasonthat is given by many historians and theorists is that the rationale and impetus for the Korean conflict lie in the underlying conflict with Russia and the fear of its expansionist motives. President Truman's government was aware of this factor and saw the invasion of South Korea as a line which must not be crossed.

In 1945, the United States and its allies bulldozed Germany with overwhelming force and vanquished Japan with two atomic bombs. By 1950, one of our wartime allies had become our greatest threat. The Russians occupied Eastern Europe and built their own bomb. Then they blockaded Berlin, and their fellow communists took over China. The pressure was on Truman to draw the line - but where?

(Kalajian, Douglas)

To a large extent the invasion from North Korea was a great shock to the American Government. It also caused a radical shift in their foreign policy. Before the invasion by the North Koreans, America's foreign policy was based on containment through various treaties and other processes, and not by military methods. This all changed by the North Korean invasion.

Prior to the Korean War, initiatives such as the IMF, the Marshall Plan, GATT, and even NATO would feature economic and political -- rather than military -- containment of the Soviet Union. The shock of the North Korean invasion and the American decision to intervene in Korea led to the militarization of containment and resulted in a sustained, if sometimes episodic, militarization of American foreign policy. (Paul G., Jr.)

2. China and Russia

The Chinese involvement in the Korean War was a crucial factor. It has been stated by many researchers that it was the Chinese military intervention in the war that was the greatest influence on the eventual outcome. At one stage when the U.S. troops seemed to have gained the upper hand, the Chinese troops changed the tide of the battle by their overwhelming force.

Then, without warning, came another dizzying spin. "The Chinese were filtering in secretly," Dareff says. "MacArthur and his staff didn't believe it, even though we captured prisoners who said it was true. Then the Chinese came at us." The U.N. force fell back, then back again. "The Chinese just kept coming in human waves," Dareff says. "It was unbelievable. No matter how many you killed, there were always more." The communists quickly recaptured Seoul.

Kalajian, Douglas)

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