On this day, June 25, 1950, 70 years ago, the Korean War began as Communist North Korea invaded the Republic of South Korea.
It is often termed “the forgotten war”, as many Americans seem to think, due to poor education, that Vietnam was the major war right after World War II, highly regrettable that so few know of the sacrifices of American soldiers in that horrid conflict.
The United Nations, under American leadership of 21 nations, entered the war under the US authorization of President Harry Truman, although it was an undeclared war, never subject to Congressional vote, and instead was termed “a police action”.
Some have argued it was an “illegal war”, and that it started the abuse of power of Presidents in sending troops overseas in foreign conflicts, including the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War, and many other interventions, often not even known or paid attention to by American news media.
The Korean Conflict, which seems as a more appropriate name since it was not a declared war, went on until there was an armistice on July 27, 1953, and in those 37 months, over 33,000 Americans were killed, and many thousand of more troops wounded. The conflict has never resulted in a peace treaty.
About three million people died in that conflict, the majority of whom were civilians, and it was the deadliest conflict in east Asia, more than the Vietnam War or the Chinese Civil War. All of the major cities of the Korean peninsula, both in North and South Korea, were laid waste, and families were divided permanently for many decades.
The same Communist government that started the war has gone through three generations of leadership–grandfather, father, and now son, and Kim Jong Un seems on the road to provoking a new war with South Korea, which has become very democratic and prosperous.
Every American President has been dogged by the problem of the Korean peninsula, but now even Donald Trump has been bested by the North Korean dictatorship, and it seems likely that Kim Jong Un could be a threat not only to South Korea, but to Japan, and to American territories in Guam and the state of Hawaii, and the entire Pacific Coast of the United States. His development of nuclear weapons makes North Korea a potential threat over time even to the east coast of the United States, including Washington DC and New York City as the key targets, as was the case for Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001.
So when Joe Biden, God willing, becomes the 46th President in January 2021, he will face the daunting task of, hopefully, preventing a new war, whether nuclear or conventional.
The Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington DC deserves every American visiting, and reflecting on the losses and damage done in the name of saving South Korea from becoming part of a united Communist dictatorship, but the future is gloomy.