The Still-forgotten Korean War

As of last week, sixty years have gone by since the commencement of the Korean War. However, one can find nary a mention of this landmark date anywhere in the media. Why the silence?
Henry-holzer

Last week — June 25, 2010 — marked the sixtieth anniversary of the North Korean invasion of South Korea.

Important, unanswered questions remain about that war.

Did Stalin use North Korean Communist Kim Il-sung as a pawn to draw Mao Zedong into a war against the United States, thereby preventing a rapprochement between China and America?

Did Truman and Acheson, in order to arouse Congress and the American people from their post-World War II torpor, bait North Korea into attacking, by deliberately defining South Korea as outside the United States' defense perimeter and starving the South's military?

Did the Soviet Union contrive to be absent from the U.N. Security Council when it voted to send MacArthur's Eighth Army north of the 38th Parallel, headed for the Yalu River and on the other side Chinese Manchuria?

Was MacArthur both militarily correct and morally right when he sought to bomb Yalu River bridges and Manchurian hydroelectric plants?

Was MacArthur personally responsible for Chinese intervention, or was Mao's entry into the Korean War not a foregone conclusion and thus an institutional misfortune rather than any one individual's fault?

There are many other such questions, but rarely does anyone today ask, let alone answer, them.

Indeed, all day on June 25th I searched the Internet for essays by prominent American commentators at least mentioning the Korean War, and found virtually nothing. Our local paper had an editorial supporting the recent idea of making V-J Day a national holiday, commemorating the end of World War II. But not a word about the Korean War.

Yet, proportionally more Americans were killed during the three years of the Korean War than in all the years of the Vietnam War.

Journalist Clay Blair famously entitled his book about that conflict The Forgotten War.

Sadly, it's an apt title. And, in a way, also an apt epitaph — not just for the Americans who died there, but for our country's institutional memory of how, once, now long ago, we stood up to forces of darkness in an effort to destroy them.

Then.

No longer!


Henry Mark Holzer is a professor emeritus at Brooklyn Law School and a constitutional and appellate lawyer. He provided legal representation to Ayn Rand on a variety of matters in the 1960s. His latest book is Keeper of the Flame: The Supreme Court Jurisprudence of Justice Clarence ThomasIn addition, he and his wife, Erika Holzer, were instrumental in recovering the beautiful Italian screen adaptation of We The Living, Ayn Rand's first novel.

6 comments from readers  

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Robert O
0 points
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Sadly, I must concur with the author's conclusion.

Speaking strictly personally, I have seen my generation (I'm a leading edge boomer) go from "We shall overcome" to, "We are overwhelmed". Too many questions have remained unanswered, too many have never been formed, to our shame and regret. The forgetten war began an era of forgetting lots of things that should not have been forgotten and taking no as an answer one too many times. We are now living with the consequences of those actions. Very sad.
Small
Fortunately, South Korea remembers, and is grateful. How often do we see that kind of thank-you?
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It would seem that the majority of the news media in this country tries to avoid the sort of direct side-by-side comparisons of capitalism and communism that any mention of the two Koreas would require. Thank you, Mr. Hozler, for inspiring me to learn more about the Korean War.
Small
While I can only speak for my own experience, I too have thought for some time that it is odd how little attention the Korean War receives in comparison to some of the other wars of the last 100 years.

I am my late 20s, and attended a very good public school system for K-12. Even at the time, I always found it odd that history classes would generally focus on events that at latest happened in the 1800s with rare exceptions. These forays into events in the 1900s were generally very brief when they did happen.

At the time, I did ask about it, and the explanation I was given is that because many of the people who lived though these events such as World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam were still living, it was comparatively difficult to cover them in a history class, as there was still a lot of active controversy.

Also, Iâ??d wager that a reason the Korean War doesnâ??t figure as prominently in our contemporary American discourse is that in a timeline of American History, the Korean War is so close to WWII as to be overshadowed by its scale and to Vietnam as to be overshadowed by its controversy. Itâ??s not that it was an unimportant event, but for many, history is not a subject that factors prominently in their interests, and thus it is easier to focus on larger events in decades past, or more contemporary events where it is easier to see how they directly influence the present.
Jeff O
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I started watching MASH when I was 11 years old and I was full grown when it ended. That keeps it alive for me. The insanity, bloodshed, Whole battlions getting wiped out overnight. The Media was talking about Passiondale yesterday. Another stupid bloodbath.

It is my opinion that we should not run peacetime wars. If it be war, let us go there, conquer the enemy, and come home. A peacetime war is just an open wound that is bleeding us out. It must heal, and the quicker the better.
Small
Wow! The commentary is sad - and ominous. What happened philosophically during that time to "forget" the war, the darkness, and thus, to forget America and its sense of clean justice?

I'll try to find some newspaper headlines of that period for indications of landmark changes in atitude and philosophy. I do know the sixties a decade later buried a lot of what was revered and brought America a rung lower to Kantianism.
To post comments, please log in first. The Atlasphere is a social networking site for admirers of Ayn Rand's novels, most notably The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In addition to our online magazine, we offer a member directory and a dating service. If you share our enjoyment of Ayn Rand's novels, please sign up or log in to post comments.