21 September 2017     home | more politics

Korean War versus Vietnam

Enjoying "The Vietnam War," by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. I'd like to mention one important difference between our going to war in Korea and going to war in Vietnam. In Korea we were on the side that supported elections to unite the north and south. (It was a mistake to divide Korea into occupation zones, with the north put under Soviet occupation.) In Korea it was the Stalin-backed regime in North Korea that was against elections to unite the country. The north defied the United Nations on the issue and ended up in a war against United Nations forces — led by the United States military (with MacArthur appointed as head of the United Nations Command. In Vietnam we were on the side of those denying the elections that in 1954 (at Geneva) had been promised the Vietnamese — giving the French a couple of years to withdraw. The undemocratic Diem regime was against any such election, knowing that with that election it would lose power. And the US sponsor of the Diem regime — the Eisenhower administration — opposed the elections, knowing that Ho Chi Minh and company (communists) would win. In Vietnam, the US went down the path of siding with the unpopular, trying to win hearts and minds, but it was not about to shake off the image of intruding against Vietnamese self-rule.

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