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Ending America’s longest “war”.

April 30, 2018

Our longest military involvement in a war isn’t in Afghanistan. It’s in Korea.

Back in 1950, 68 years ago, America got into what would turn out to be a military quagmire of epic proportions, as a part of a United Nations peacekeeping force.

On June 27, 1950, President Truman, under what is now called the Truman Doctrine,  committed the military to “defending the world from the spread of Communism.” on the Korean peninsula.

Russia (not China) is said to have given North Korea permission to invade South Korea two days before.

As have presidents since, Truman vastly underestimated the strength and ability of the enemy, and the North Koreans essentially handed the Americans their butts at Osan.

In October of 1950, China joined the fight on the side of the North, and then things really got nasty.

Three years later, on July 27 1953, North and South Korea agreed to a truce, but only after peace talks lasting over two years failed to formally end the war, or as it was known then, the police action.

In the meantime over 38,000 American soldiers lost their lives in that theater of war, and a reported 17,842 died in Korea-related events, for a total of over 54,000. As of 2017, 7,747 were still MIA.

Technically, Korea isn’t still our war, because the troops aren’t actively fighting with North Korea, but we are still entangled in North and South Korea’s problems.

Since the truce, the United Nations has maintained a peace-keeping force at the demilitarized zone, with the average number of U.S. troops currently stationed there averaging about 24,000.

It’s unclear how much protection they actually provide for the United States, given the North’s commitment to developing nuclear warfare capabilities.

The direct cost to us is somewhere in the vicinity of $1.4 to 1.6 billion, although South Korea is said to be paying for approximately half that amount.

Pardon us for noting it, but in terms of Washington spending that isn’t exactly a budget buster. Nevertheless, it’s still money the military could use for better things, like planes that don’t fall out of the sky.

So you might ask, what does it matter if the two Korea’s finally sign a formal peace treaty?

For one thing, it might, and we emphasize might, allow the North Korean people a glimpse of how the rest of the world lives. Finding out that most of us aren’t starving could be a real eye-opener for them.

Some of the troops now committed to guarding the DMZ could be deployed to other areas, or even brought home to defend our own country, relieving some of the recruiting pressure on the military.

This treaty, if it happens, will not and maybe should not necessarily reunite the two Koreas, but it might make it easier for the two countries to coexist with each other.

If the next step after the treaty becomes the denuclearization of the North, it will back the advance of the Doomsday clock off considerably.

There are certainly some flies in the ointment here, some downsides to letting North and South Korea finally handle their own problems.

But if nothing else, a treaty will finally put a period on the Korean War.

From → op-ed

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