Korean vs. Vietnam Wars Comparison
The Korean War lasted three years between 1950 and 1953, during which the communist portion of North Korea, reinforced by the support from the USSR and China, fought against the anti-communist population of South Korea. The war started when North Korea’s army invaded across the thirty-ninth parallel, which was the line dividing the North and the South established after the Japanese lost in World War II. Under Truman’s administration, the US joined the Korean War to withstand the communist regime, help the South stand against the oppressor, as well as forcefully liberate North Korea from communism. It was the first military action within the Cold War opposition. The war was among the most immensely destructive military conflicts in the modern years, with around five million fatalities, as well as a more significant rate of civilian deaths than the Vietnam War or WWII (“Korean War,” 2020). Even though the US did not want to initially insert itself in a military invasion, the course of events caused the government to change its course. Specifically, the denotation of the USSR’s first atomic bomb, as well as Mao Zedong’s announcement regarding helping China’s North Korean allies fueled the USA’s desire to stand behind South Korea.
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The Vietnam War lasted longer than the Korean War; it started in 1954 and ended in 1975, two years after President Nixon’s order of US troops’ withdrawal (“Vietnam War,” 2020). The communist versus non-communist agenda was also the reason for the war as Vietnamese communists (Viet Cong), led by Ho Chi Minh, began their attack on the Southern government (“Vietnam War,” 2020). The conflict was exacerbated by the tensions associated with the ongoing Cold War, which was draining the US and USSR’s military capacities. The reason for the US’s involvement in the war was linked to the Domino Theory, which suggested that if one country in South Asia were communized, many other countries in the region would follow it (“Vietnam War,” 2020). As a result of the fears of the possible threats, the administrations under Kennedy’s and Johnson’s leadership deployed more troops to provide support to South Vietnam so it can stand against the attacks of the Viet Cong. A landmark event that increased the US’s involvement was the North Vietnamese attacking US warships in the Gulf of Tonkin, with the country having to send more troops to the South as a retaliation (“Vietnam War,” 2020).
Thus, both the Korean and Vietnam wars occurred because of the civil war over the government as to communism versus democracy; the US involved itself in the conflicts to stop communism from spreading, while China and the USSR supported the communist regimes in both countries. Although it remains a controversy as to whether the US was justified in entering both wars, the decision to get involved was based on preventing a global expansion of communism reinforced by authoritarian regimes. One cannot argue that either Vietnam or Korea bore importance to the US; however, it was the high risk of the countries falling under the communist regime that prompted the US to get involved. Moreover, after the end of WWII and the surrender of Japan, the US had an implied obligation to protect and support South Korea, thus, the unification of the country by communists’ conquest was not a viable option for the US.
Korean War. (2020). Web.
Vietnam War. (2020). Web.