This war was fought between North Korea and South Korea, beginning on the 25th of June, 1950. The North Koreans were supported by China and the Soviet Union, while the South Koreans had the United States of America as their primary support. North Korea instigated the war by attacking and invading South Korea, and the United Nations aided South Korea to surmount this challenge.
Up until World War II ending, Imperial Japan had dominion over all the territory of Korea. However, when Japan entered into an agreement with the United States, Soviet Union declared war on them, leading to the liberation of Korea north. As this was during the Cold War period, the United States military moved into Korea south, effectively splitting Korea into two regions. These two regions had separate governments. Nevertheless, both these governments proclaimed that they were the legitimate government over the whole of Korea and refused to recognize the other government. They also refused to recognize that the border was permanent, leading to further conflict.
This conflict escalated to full out war, when Soviet and Chinese spurred North Korea invaded South Korea. Two days later, the United Nations Security Council stepped in, sending UN forces to dispel the incursion, officially recognizing it as an invasion by North Korea. At first, the UN forces comprised majorly of US military, however, as time went on about twenty one nations contributed their military forces to the Korean War.
The beginning of the Korean War saw the South Koreans and the dispatched United States forces at the brink of defeat. The first two months pushed them to the Pusan Perimeter, which is a small area in South Korea. However, this all changed with a UN initiative in the name of an amphibious counter offensive aimed at Inchelon. This out flanked many North Korean troops, trapping them. Most of them were captured. Those who weren’t captured had to beat a retreat back to the north. Not willing to give up so soon, the United Nations forces pressed their advantage, running the retreating troops down as far back as the Yalu River, which shared a border with China. Nevertheless, the Chinese surprised everyone by sending a massive complement of troops across the river, effectively entering the war in October, 1950. This intervention by China led the UN troops to retreat until middle of 1951.
Seoul changed hands between North and South Korea four times. After mid-1951, the Korean War disintegrated into a war of attrition and the front line was close to the 38th parallel. Even though there was a stalemate in land warfare, the air situation was a different scenario. The South Korean forces bombarded North Korea heavily, and for the first time in history fighter jets engaged each other in air-to-air combat, with many Soviet Pilots flying under cover for North Korea, their communist ally.
An armistice signed on the 27th of July, 1953 ended the war, leading to the creation of the Korean Demilitarized Zone. This Zone, which was created by the armistice, separated North Korea and South Korea. The armistice also enabled prisoners of war to be returned to their countries. In spite of the armistice, no peace treaty exists between the two nations. Therefore, based on this technicality, the two nations are still at war.
The Korean War led to the term “police action” coming into common use, since the war wasn’t declared by all participants. Also, the Korean War led to the passing of Resolution 377 that sought to bring a balance of power to the United Nations. This resolution, passed in 1950, led to the creation of the General Assembly, which then became the primary organ of the United Nations, displacing the Security Council from this role.
The then President of the United States, President Harry S. Truman, referred to the war as “police action” because the U.S did not declare war, but rather went to war under the agency of the United Nations. The war also goes by many names in English speaking countries, such as The Forgotten War or The Unknown War. One reason for this is because the war largely went on unnoticed by the general public. This lack of attention may have resulted from the fact that it was nothing when compared with the global scale of World War II. Even now, the Korean War is still largely unknown. One reason for this may be because when put side by side with the Vietnam War it pales in compassion to the angst and bitterness the Vietnam War provoked.
The South Koreans refer to the Korean War as 625, reflecting the date the war began (26th of June). The North Koreans refer to the Korean War as Fatherland Liberation War. The Chinese refer to the Korean War as “War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korean”.
There have been several incursions conducted by the North Koreans since the armistice was signed. The axe murder incident is one of these incursions. It occurred in 1974 and was widely known. Another incursion occurred in 2010, when a submarine belonging to North Korean sank a corvette belonging to South Korea. This lead to the death of 46 sailors. Also, two soldiers and two civilians were killed when the North Koreans shelled the Island of Yeonpyeong. This led to fresh sanctions being imposed by the UN on North Korea. However, North Korea replied, claiming to have invalidated the armistice signed in 1953. On the 30th of March, 2013, North Korea declared war on Korea, effectively answering the question of whether the Korean peninsula was at peace or at war.
In 2013, the United States Secretary of Defense notified the press that North Korea had approved the use of nuclear weapons on the US, Japan, and South Korea. This led the US to dispatch anti-missile defense systems to Guam as a result of this nuclear threat. In 2016, North Korea agreed to peace talks with the United States. However, because they were unwilling to discuss nuclear disarmaments the talks halted. After a fourth nuclear test by the North Koreans in January, 2017, all hopes for a peace talk vanished.
The Vietnam War goes by many names. The Vietnamese people knew it as the “Resistance War Against America”. It is also known as the Second Indochina War. It is also referred to as the American War in some quarters. This war started on the 1st of November, 1955 and ended on the 30th of April, 1975. This war, in spite of its name, was fought in Laos and Cambodia as well as. It is one of the wars fought between the South and North governments of Vietnam—the second to be precise. These warring governments had support from other countries. The communist North Vietnam received support from Soviet Union, China and several other communist states. South Vietnam received support from the United States, South Korea, Australia and other countries opposed to communism. Much like the Korean War, this war is known as one of the proxy-wars fought during the Cold War period.
The Vietnam War was a peculiar war as the anti-communist nations fought on two fronts, from within and from without. They fought the Viet Cong, who were sponsored by the North. And they also fought the North in the conventional military way. The Viet Cong, referred to as National Liberation Front, fought guerrilla style warfare. The role of the main army of the North, North Vietnamese Army, grew as time went on and this led to a reduction in the role of the Viet Cong.
The major military advantage the U.S and South Vietnam had was air superiority. The air force of these nations conducted extensive search and destroy campaign that saw them obliterate ground forces. Also, North Vietnam was subject to strategic air bombardment.
The United States intervened in the war in its bid to prevent the spread of communism in the area. However, the North Vietnamese people were fighting to restore unity in their lands. To them, this was a colonial war, a mere continuation of the Indochina wars.
The US didn’t really get involved in the war until 1960s, when there was a massive deployment of troops to the area. Following the Gulf of Tonkin incident, the then United States President received authorization to deploy even more troops to the region. At the height of America’s involvement in the war in 1968, bordering areas became affected by the heavy air bombardment campaign being run by the U.S air force. At about this same time, the North Vietnamese government tried to overthrow the South Vietnamese government through the agency of a launched offensive termed the Tet Offensive. This offensive failed in its goals. However, it awakened the American people that the government was lying when it was saying that it was winning the war, in spite of the length of years the war had been on going.
To this end, the United States began to withdraw its troops from the war in a bid to allow the South Vietnamese people fight their wars themselves. This was referred to as Vietnamization and helped the US end its involvement in the war. America officially exited the war on the 15th of August, 1975. Almost immediately after, Saigon was captured by North Vietnam effectively ending the war in April of 1975. South and North Vietnam were subsequently reunified after a bloody war that lasted several decades and led to the death of almost four million Vietnamese people.
Vietnamization was a Nixon Doctrine that was effected between 1969 and 1972. Nixon envisioned a South Vietnamese Army that was built up and strong enough to defend South Vietnam. During this period, a set of nuclear loaded air bombers were ordered to make a mad run for the Soviet Union border in accordance to the madman theory. This provocative action was to prove to the Soviets that the US President was capable and ready to do anything in order to end the war in Vietnam. Also, Nixon was interested in negotiations with the Soviet Union and China. Although this had the effect of dousing global tension regarding the war, it was a complete fail as the Soviets and the Chinese continued supplying the North Vietnam Army weapons and relief materials for the war.
The antiwar movement in the United States escalated with the revelation of some of the atrocities being committed by US soldiers in Vietnam. One was called the My Lai Massacre involving a platoon raping and murdering civilians. Another was the Green Beret Affair involving Special Forces soldiers apparently murdering a person suspected to be a double agent. These acts sparked international outrage, cementing the antiwar movement in the US.
Though Cambodia was a neutral state, it allowed the communist to maintain a base within its province. However, during the war, the United States pressured the Cambodian leadership to change its policy, which it did in 1969, stating that the communist North Vietnamese people were no longer allowed to maintain a base within Cambodia. As a result, North Vietnam Army invaded Cambodia. The United States responded with an invasion into Cambodia for the express aim of expelling the North Vietnam Army as well as dismantling their bases within the area. This invasion led to a protest all across America majorly because the then President had promised to remove the United States from the war. During this protest, four college students were killed by members of the Ohio National Guardsmen, further fueling the protests and leading to an outbreak of outrage.
The American government’s deception was finally revealed in 1971, when a pentagon document was leaked to the New York Times. These papers detailed how the US government had lied about its involvement in the Vietnam War. After a legal tussle, the Supreme Court decided that there was nothing illegal about the publication of the papers. The American people deserved to know how the military was being run by the government and the government was accountable to the American people for its actions.
The Paris Peace Accord was signed on the 27th of January in 1973. This ended the United States interference in the war. The primary purpose of the accord was to end war in Vietnam and restore peace. A cease fire was declared and a restoring of prisoners of war followed. The Paris Peace Accords allowed for a maximum of 60 days for the United States to withdraw all its troops and military instruments from Vietnam. The accords also called for elections to be held both in the North and South.