Korean and Vietnam War Comparison

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The Korean and Vietnam war are very similar in that both were the US's attempt to fight communism by waging war in a distant third world country. Both wars were unpopular in the US and both led to a lack of victory. In fact, remarkable similarities exist between the Korean War and the Vietnam War; from the US support of a dictatorial and corrupt anti-communist regime to its conception of communism as a monolithic entity, under which all communist nations were necessarily allies, rather than individuals to be dealt with separately. However, though those parallels, Vietnam era policy-makers did not apply the lessons of the Korean War to the Vietnam War. Rather, they did not seem to recognize those lessons as lessons at all, and repeated in the Vietnam War many of their previous mistakes. The decision to engage in war in Vietnam and Korea had its ideological root in the Truman Doctrine which found clear expression in MacNamara's so called "Domino Theory". America reasoned that if first Korea and then Vietnam fell to communists, many other nations in proximity would be at risk. The US refused to have a policy of appeasement which had allowed Hitler to fortify Germany leading to WWII. In both Vietnam and Korea, America fought the forces of communism to keep nations free from Soviet control. This was the goal throughout the presidential administrations of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson. Both of these wars were fought for the same reason. Many similarities exist between the Korean and Vietnam Wars. The main reason America fought each of these wars was to keep independent nations from succumbing to communist control. If America allowed soviets to take Korea and Vietnam, other parts of Asia would be at stake. Each case demonstrates a battle between democracy and communism. As one Vietnam veteran said, "the Korean and Vietnam Wars were fought against an ideology, not an individual you can point your finger at." Ho Chi Minh began as a nationalist fighter and only turned to communism in order to support his aims. Another similarity between Vietnam and Korea is that each of these nations became split between the communist north and democratic south. North Korea and North Vietnam were connected to communist China and received supplies, ammunition, and support from them. South Korea and South Vietnam on the other hand, favored democracy. The United States gave weapons, supplies, and military advisors to South Korea and South Vietnam, which soon led to troops actually fighting in each of these wars. Another common characteristic is that both wars ended in negotiations. Neither side won out right like they did in World War II. In Korea, a cease-fire was called and a demilitarized zone was made between the two hostile borders. In Vietnam, under the Paris peace treaty, both sides agreed to a cease fire and America agreed to pull out all military personnel, while North Vietnam agreed to release all American POWs. Although communist North Vietnam quickly violated this treaty and attacked South Vietnam after the US pulled out, both the Korean and Vietnam wars ended in some concessions for both sides. This demonstrates the cold war stale mate between the Soviet Union and the United States. Each side feared the other but neither side achieved a decisive victory. Another factor, although often overlooked, is that both leaders of the democratic countries were Christians. Both Dien Bien Phu of South Vietnam and Syngman Rhee of South Korea followed Christ. Perhaps this did not have a great impact on the countries while at war, but it has certainly had a huge impact now. Korea is now a hub of Christianity. Nearly 25% of it's population professes to be Christian and it sends out more missionaries per capita than any other country. Pastor Paul Yonggi Cho in South Korea has the largest Christian church in the world. In contrast to South Korea where Christianity flourishes, Christians in Vietnam are relatively few in number. They have had to deal...
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