Why America Forgets—and China Remembers—the Korean War

Mike Gallagher & Aaron MacLean

Foreign Affairs | July 2023

Congressman Mike Gallagher and Aaron MacLean of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies reflect on the lessons of the Korean War:

Seventy years ago this week, the armistice that froze the Korean War was signed. During a year of savage battlefield maneuvering and two more of bitter stalemate, nearly 40,000 American troops gave their lives. Several thousand more allied troops also died, as did millions of Koreans, many of them heroically in combat against communist aggression, and even more as its civilian victims. The southern half of the Korean peninsula, now a thriving democracy, took decades to recover. The northern half never has, remaining impoverished, oppressed, and a source of instability.

…In its last war with China, Washington failed to deter its adversaries, failed to prepare its military, and prolonged the fighting, ultimately accepting outcomes in 1953 that would probably have been available in 1951 had it adequately projected its own resolve.

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