The Temptations of Victory: Korea

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The Temptations of Victory
Korea

Stoessinger, in his analysis of the Korean War, begins this chapter with many speculations. Speculations as to why the war broke out, speculations as to which nations were involved and why. He states that “though the causes of the offensive remain uncertain, it does appear probable that Stalin was behind the North Korean attack.” (Stoessinger 64) He does not, nor can he state that Stalin was certainly behind the war, all that he leaves us with are assumptions. Another thing that caught my attention throughout the chapter was Stoessinger’s strong use of language. He delivered his message strongly, a message that misperceptions played a major role in the disastrous end of the war, a message that the UN was merely a tool that the United States utilized to the fullest extent. I was also impressed by the divisions of the chapter, between the president’s decision, the role of the UN, General MacArthur’s role, and the intervention of the Chinese military. Particularly, interesting was his integration of the role that Korean War plays in today’s world.

“The reasons for the outbreak of the Korean War remain a mystery.” (Stoessinger 63) We do not know the reasons but we can think about it and come to a conclusion. One thing is for sure, to the North, attacking the South was part of their vital interest. Vital interest is interest that a nation is willing to go to war over. As Stoessinger points out however, the North Koreans may have wanted to go to war because of a push from other nations, such as the Soviet Union. What started out somewhat as a civil war, became a proxy war between the United States as China. The Korean Conflict cannot be referred to as a full on civil war, because Korea had already been separated by the 38th parallel as two separate countries. This conflict was not fought between two different ideologies existing within the same country, which is what a civil war is, however it was fought between to...
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