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Korea V. Vietnam

Korea V. Vietnam

There are a number of differences between the Korean and Vietnam wars. These include their duration, the financial cost, loss of lives, the origins and outcome. However, the key differences were in the varying degrees of in the domestic support and international reaction which each war received.

Historically Korea and Vietnam had both been occupied by colonial powers and were struggling for their own independence post World War Two. Korea had been occupied by Japan and Vietnam had been occupied by France.

Korea was a short war, it lasted only three years, from 1950- 1953 whereas the American military was openly participating in Vietnam from 1964-1975. Both of these wars were expensive, the Korean War cost the US $67 billion and Vietnam cost $140 billion .

The Korean war commenced on 25 June, 1950 with the invasion of South Korea by North. At this time Kim Il Sung's made a national address in which he stated "The war which we are forced to wage is a just war for the unification and independence of the motherland and for freedom and democracy."

The Americans took this act as a sign that Kim II Sung was utilising a communist take-over, thus in October of the same year America, with UN sanction, invaded North Korea.

The Korean War became the first American war ever waged solely as an ideological war.

"For the first time in the nations history Americans were asked to fight and die to contain an idea". The Korean War was extremely popular domestically because it was part of the Cold War. The Cold War was a result of World War Two, it caused the two ideologies, capitalism and communism to each struggle for control over the Post war world. This is important because America as the leader of the capitalist ideology could not afford to let Korea fall to the North, as they believed that to do so would essentially relinquish control to the communists.

America gained UN approval for military action against North Korea on July 7th, 1950, the United Nations Security Council passed an emergency resolution (S/1588) calling for the assistance of all UN members in halting the North Korean invasion. It said, "having recommended that the members of the United Nations furnish such assistance to the Republic of Korea as may be necessary to repel the armed attack and to restore peace and security in the area."

Despite this support, America's Korean campaign was unsuccessful, this was to some degree the fault of President Truman, who had not believed that the Chinese government would be prepared to intervene and he also underestimated the military power of China. Therefore, not wanting to engage in an all-out war with China and the Soviet Union, which would most likely have led to the Third world war, Truman was forced to negotiate, and thus the Korean War ended in stalemate on July 1953 after long negotiations for peace a cease-fire was finally signed. However it is an uneasy peace and to this day the two Korean nations have not reunified. Most South Koreans believe that the North are "engaged in a deceptive peace offensive in a bid to cover up their aggressiveness by misleading world opinion"

America too keeps a watchful eye on North Korea, knowing that this communist country has nuclear capability.

The Vietnam War commenced very differently from Korea, the Korean War originated internally when North attacked South, but Vietnam was started externally by the United States. "In August 1964, on the pretext of a North Vietnamese attack on U.S naval craft off the North Vietnamese coast, Johnson ordered air attacks on communist military instalments along the northern coast"

Vietnam commenced under the shadow of Koreas failure, the presidents reigning during this period feared the political views which may have been taken had they settled for a stalemate such as in Korea, losing Vietnam

The Vietnam War brought an end to the domestic support towards U.S. cold war policy, this war was not supported by either the UN or domestically. "the war was lost primarily at strategic, diplomatic, and domestic political levels" .

In fact, the Johnson administration had to use propaganda to avoid public discontent at the use of Agent Orange and the slaughter of the Vietnamese people. "The picture of the worlds greatest super-power killing or seriously injuring 1,000 non-combatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission…is not a pretty one." (US Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara, 19 May 1967)

Despite their efforts however as the war escalated, the public became increasingly concerned and unhappy. In 1965, a number of university campuses broke out in protest and the media began to investigate and question the war. And despite governmental attempts to quell this growing discontent, this rebellion on the Vietnam War haunted the administrations that followed Johnson's.

On 30th April 1975, South Vietnam fell to the communists, and America lost the war against communism.

Vietnam was labelled by the American people as immoral and the returned veterans suffered Vietnam Syndrome. Essentially the Vietnam war was a disaster not only did the US lose the war, but because the government deception and failure to gain approval from its people meant that it was a complete loss. Historian, Neil Sheenan believes that Vietnam will have been a war in vain only if we fail to draw wisdom from it. . However he seems to be merely trying to justify why American wasted eleven years, billions of dollars and millions of lives and achieved nothing.

Thus the key differences between the Korean and Vietnam Wars are; Korea was to a degree successful, using the support of the American people and the UN America managed to remove the North Koreans form the South and although there is still a communist threat, the South Koreans remain free. Vietnam however was catastrophic, it was an embarrassment to the American government, to not only be beaten but for its own people to object to its war, nor was the United States internationally backed in this endeavour.



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