Did the Korean War make a difference?

The Korean War does not get the attention that other “higher profile” wars do today, such as World War II and Vietnam. There is even a book entitled The Korean War: America’s Forgotten War.

Did it make a difference? Did the Korean War achieve anything?

Check out this entry over at Strange Maps before answering that question.

One fellow in the comments on that blog wondered if the picture had been doctored and pointed out that in another picture, such as this one (warning, it’s big) of the globe, you can see a few more lights if you zoom in for a closer look at the Korean Peninsula. However, even in that picture the obvious contrast between life on opposite sides of the 38th parallel is still startling.

3 thoughts on “Did the Korean War make a difference?

  1. johnnypeepers

    It made a huge difference to all of the innocent civilians who got caught in American cross-fire during an illegal war authorized by the United Nations solely because the U.S.S.R. boycotted the vote at the Security Council.

  2. Howdy, Mr. Peepers, and thanks for the comment.

    It is sad that war involves the deaths of innocents, and I look forward to the day when mankind will not learn war anymore (Isaiah 2:4). It’s a tragedy that man is so incapable of creating a world in which deaths in the present are not necessary to prevent even more deaths in the future. Though, I’d hate to calculate the innocent suffering that would have been experienced in the last five decades if Kim Il-sung and Stalin had their way with the South. The current suffering in the North is mind-numbing as it is. Had it not been for the war you call “illegal,” I suspect that satellite image would look a great deal darker.

    And as for your “illegal” label, you judge the events of UNSC Resolution 82 too simply. It’s a matter of interpretation as to whether or not the USSR’s boycott should be defined as a veto or an abstention, and a lot of common sense suggests the latter, regardless of Stalin’s opinion. Now, “illegal” as a U.S. “police action” that was not backed by the U.S. Congress — *that* would be another discussion…

    And it really *is* nice that no “innocent civilians” died due to the North’s unprovoked initial charge over the 38th parallel or due to any of *their* bullets, isn’t it? I have to give you credit: right or wrong, at least you make your bias obvious to even the most casual observer.

    Thanks, again —
    Wallace Smith

  3. In terms of borders and the state of the general Korean conflict, the Korean War did very little. After the back and forth, the status quo was very nearly achieved.

    In terms of lives, it was simply a tragedy, as every war is.

    In terms of the American military, it was the first battlefield influence on many of the military leaders who would lead the 1980’s revolution of our military system. Colin Powell comes to mind, as he spoke at length about how his experiences in Korea and Vietnam shaped his vision for the armed forces.

    In terms of the global political system, it was fairly informative. The political hands of many nations were tipped, in some sense. Students of diplomatic theory got a case study on the politics of the post-WWII, Soviet/American dominated world. We saw the UN tackle it’s first major conflict. We learned how it would handle such a situation. It established operating rules to handle issues that were previously unforeseen, such as the “absentia vs. veto” issue that has been mentioned. In some sense, it set a precedent for the UN’s handling of the First Gulf War by being an example of military intervention for crisis situations (as opposed to more restricted peacekeeping missions that compose the bulk of its troop action). It shaped many details that would greatly affect the later world.

    I’m definitely not saying that these results (I don’t even think I can term them ‘accomplishments’) justify the war. That is not for me to decide anyways. But that is some level of ‘difference’, as in, ‘it was one way before and is another way now’.

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