The highest grossing Chinese movie of all time is The Battle at Lake Changjin (2021), a three-hour film depicting the 17-day battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. It was financed as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda campaign leading up to the 100th anniversary of the Party’s founding.

While Chinese leaders still celebrate Mao Zedong’s decision to send “volunteers” to fight in Korea, in America—despite 40,000 killed and 100,000 wounded—the Korean War remains the “Forgotten War.” To understand why this war matters and why America’s foremost adversary thinks it matters, we will focus on T. R. Fehrenbach’s This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History. Fehrenbach, a World War II and Korean War veteran, originally published his work in 1963 with the subtitle “A Study in Unpreparedness.” It remains a perennial part of general officer reading lists and war college curricula.

We forget the Korean War at our own peril. As an early test of America’s ability to resist communist expansion in the old Cold War, and the last time American and Chinese troops met on the battlefield, the Korean War offers lessons for how we win the new Cold War (and ensure it stays cold). As an undeclared and unresolved war, a “police action” paused since 1953 by an armistice agreement, the Korean War should shed light on the growth of executive authority when it comes to Constitutional war powers and America’s often reluctant leadership of the Free World.

With Fehrenbach’s This Kind of War as our guide, we will use the early Cold War to better understand our present-day confrontation with China.

Photo by Corporal Peter McDonald, USMC

Rep. Gallagher Outlines Vision to Deter CCP Invasion of Taiwan

Faculty

Mike Gallagher

Congressman Mike Gallagher served seven years on active duty as a Human Intelligence/Counterintelligence Officer and Regional Affairs Officer for the Middle East and North Africa, earning the rank of Captain. He was recently selected to serve as Chairman of the Select Committee on China.

Aaron MacLean

Aaron MacLean is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Previously, he was senior foreign policy advisor and legislative director to Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas. Aaron served on active duty as a U.S. Marine for seven years, deploying to Afghanistan as an infantry officer in 2009–2010.

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