The Korean War, which was fought between June, 1950 and July, 1953, has, with theexception of the China, been a nearly forgotten war. The Chinese considers the outcome of the war to be a victory for them.
The year previous to the outbreak of the war, in 1949, there were other achievements. The Soviets conducted nuclear tests; NATO was established; and the communist forces of China rolled into Beijing. By 1950, a formal Sino-Soviet Alliance was created (Morgan 101).
Basically, the communists in North Korea were exerting their influence over the Korean peninsula and the officials in Washington, D.C. were under massive pressure to work harder to contain the rise of communism in the Korean peninsula (Morgan 101). In reality, the Korean War was fought over the containment of communism.
As far as how this war affected U.S. understanding of the international security environment was that a secret draft blueprint was drawn up in order for there to be an American/Western military buildup, or NSC-68. This blueprint explained to the western powers what must be done militarily (Morgan 102). The NSC-68 was not met with great enthusiasm, but instead, controversy. At the time this blueprint was seen as calling for politically impossible policies and expenditures (Morgan 102).
When the war broke out the western powers were still trying to decide what to do with the NSC-68. NATO played a significant role once the war broke out because President Truman and his officials felt strangely that the alliance, which had been created by an intense political effort in Europe and the U.S., would be undermined should the U.S. not defend South Korea against their enemy to the north (Morgan 102). This war held global significance to the policymakers in Washington (Morgan 102).
Even though President Harry S. Truman was concerned with the NSC-68 and containment in the Korean peninsula, he realized that most of the worst political events he had to deal with during his presidency (e.g. dropping two bombs in Japan), would be, as Truman and his aides called “lessons” (Morgan 102) that they learned and they were extremely relevant in 1950. Besides destroying the cities of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in 1945, Truman was trying to contain the Soviet Union. Within five years, the U.S. government deemed the war “strategically”valuable and symbolically critical (Morgan 102).
One way the United States has understood the international security of Korea was when the two world powers, the Soviet Union and the United States declared a formal pact. The Soviet Union would hold dominance over the communist nations and America would be the leader of the free world and free nations. In addition to the Soviet Union holding sway over the communist lands they would also branch off and create satellite states (e.g. Kazahkstan). This agreement was so unusual that it was deemed “Political Realism”, which ultimately led to “Neorealism.” This held sway for forty-six years of the Cold War (Morgan 103).
As we have seen, the Korean War has affected the United States’ understanding of the international security environment by the U.S. containing the spread of communism throughout the Korean Peninsula and the containment of the new beast, the Soviet Union. Luckily, President Truman and his people was able to contain these two areas in the world at least enough so that the world did not see World War III.