America at War Since 1945: Politics and Diplomacy in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan
Gary A. Donaldson
The superpowers often behave like two heavily armed blind men feeling their way around a room, each believing himself in mortal peril from the other, whom he assumes to have perfect vision. This is the perfect analysis of superpower psychology by Dr. Henry Kissinger.
The book in discussion also does this for the American mentality since the end of the Second World War. The 3 part-divided book gives a glimpse of American foreign policy and involvement in wars immediately after the end of WWII.
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1. The first one deals with Washington’s foray into the Korean War, which was seen by the capitalists as a joint coordinated attack by the communist’s expansion in the peninsula. The three long years of this peninsular war resulted in a stalemate between the two warring sides and their supporting blocs.
The American’s burden to liberate now Pyongyang, instead of defending Seoul, from the clutches of Moscow and Beijing led their troops to the bank of the Yalu River or the border of China.
This peninsular war is aptly termed the Accordion War because in it the territorial loss and regaining were so swift that nothing could be perceived and maintained for a long time. Like the Accordion the two sides were pressing and extracting each other. The engagement, attack and negotiating strategy during all three years of war was used by the two sides.
2. The second part touches on the Vietnam War that wrecked the region for twenty years. Just after the end of the Korean War, this was another major conflict in the region involving communist and capitalist blocs again.
Five US presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Nixon tenures in the office were spent in planning and overseeing this War that they considered a potential threat for themselves and their allies.
President Johnson intensified air strikes against Viet Minah guerrillas across North Vietnam but refused to permit a ground attack on them fearing that such a move might likely bring Chinese involvement in the conflict. Nixon’s coercive diplomacy and military strategy yielded no fruitful results for the US.
On April 30, 1975, the North Vietnam Army (NVA) crashed into the gates of the Presidential Palace at Saigon, South Vietnam routing them and ending this two-decade war.
3. The third part deals with Gulf War that just broke out at the end of the Cold War. The then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accused and threatened Kuwait and UAE of deliberately reducing oil prices resulting in financial loss for Iraq from its oil export. The situation became more precarious when Iraqi forces invaded Kuwait on 2 August 1990.
The international community lambasted Iraq for this attack and the US under the UN resolution 678 led a 42-nation coalition for the liberation of Kuwait. This military strategy has two phases, The first was Operation Desert Shield in which extensive bombing of the Iraqi military installation was carried out by the US-led coalition to smother out any resistance of the Iraqi army.
The second phase was Operation Desert Storm in which ground forces entered Kuwait and Iraq to defeat them in the ground battles.
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Most US military officers who took part in the Vietnam War are now in the senior ranks and were planning and strategizing the First Gulf War. They developed new techniques and weapons after the Vietnam debacle.
There was an understood and accepted principle between the White House and the Pentagon that in future wars they would not go unilaterally and they would enrobe their military interventions and exit strategies under the UN and international law, whenever they deem necessary for themselves.
Overall a good read to know about the three major wars Washington fought in the post-WW2 era.
Murtaza Kaleem an educator, freelance writer, movie-watcher, melodious music listener and an avid reader about International Relations and World Politics with a decade long experience of education and teaching to students of different sociological and economic backgrounds. My social links are;