The Escalation of the Cold War

Published: 2021-06-29 07:04:48
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Name: _______________________  (     )     Class:__________________         Date:_________________Theme 4: A World Divided and United?Ch 8: The Escalation of the Cold WarCircumstances leading to Korean War Impact of Korean War1) Circumstances leading to Korean WarBefore the Korean War, the Cold War was mainly a European conflict.  The Korean War changed the course of the Cold War as it was the first time that the Cold War became a ‘hot’ war. Troops from the US and Communist China fought with their Korean allies (Ally refers to a country that agrees to help another country and also gets help from the other country) to control the Korea.Rising tensions between North and South KoreaIn 1945 Korean was divided at the 38th parallel by the US and the USSR who tried to set up governments that supported their ideology – the USSR gave their Kim II Sung who became the leader of communist North Korea while the US supported Syngman Rhee who became the 1st elected President of democratic South Korea.  When the US and USSR withdrew their forces in 1949 after World War II, the USSR left behind a well-trained and well-armed North Korean army but the US left behind only a small, poorly-trained and poorly-equipped army.  Both Syngman Rhee and Kim II Sung claimed the right to rule over the whole of Korea.  As a result, there were border raids and conflicts between South Korean and North Korean soldiers along the 38th parallel.  Such incidents resulted in heightened tensions between both Southern and Northern Korea.  Withdrawal of US ForcesIn 1950, Dean Acheson, US Secretary of State, delivered a speech declaring the countries that the US was prepared to defend: Japan, the Ryukyu Islands, the Aleutians and the Philippines.  However, South Korea was not mentioned. The impression created was that Korea was not one of the top priorities of the US. Hence in April 1950, Kim II Jung thought he might have a good chance of unifying Korea by force once the US troops withdrew from South Korea.  Kim thought that the US would not defend South Korea. In addition, Kim managed to persuade the USSR and China to provide him the weapons and advisers to invade South Korea.  This boosted the confidence of North Korea to attack South Korea. Unification of the Korean PeninsulaBesides being encouraged by the perception that the US would not defend South Korea, Kim was motivated by the desire to unify the Korean Peninsula.  Korea had been a unified country for centries. As such, the division of Korea at the 38th parallel was not acceptable to Koreans.  Both North and South Korea took it that the division as temporary.  Therefore, Kim II Sung had the intention of unifying Korea again when he attacked South Korea.At the same time, Kim II Sung also had the intention unifying Korea under a communist government.  North Korea was run by a communist government led by Kim II Sung who wanted to reunite Korea under communist rule.  On the other hand, South Korea was run by a democratic government led by Syngman Rhee who wanted to reunite Korea under a democratic government.2) Impact of Korean WarSuffering2.5 mill Koreans died (85% of whom were citizens),  More than 80% of Korean factors and transport system (roads, railways, bridges) were destroyed. As a result, the Korean economy was badly affected which in turn affected the lives of the people in Korea. Division of Korea at the 38th parallel remained. The Demilitarised Zone or DMZ, is full of soldiers, barbed wire, land mines and weapons and is one of the most heavily armed places in the world. Due to the division Korean families remained separated hence the Korean War resulted in much suffering of the Koreans.  2.        US Network of Alliances The Korean War brought the Cold War to Asia and made the Cold War a global war.  The US saw the importance of ensuring that it establishes a network of allies in Asia. Hence, the US formed military alliances with countries near China e.g. Australia and New Zealand. The alliance formed was called ANZUS. In this alliance, the US promised to protect Australia and New Zealand if another country threatened to attack them. The US also formed an alliance with countries in Southeast Asia in 1954.  This alliance was called Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation (SEATO).  The aim of SEATO was to prevent Communism from spreading to the rest of Asia.The US thus had a network of military alliances around the world (NATO in Europe, SEATO and ANZUS in Asia-Pacific region) to deal with the communist threat.  The US also built up the size of its armed forces in the Asia-Pacific region. Most of these American troops were stationed in Japan and South Korea. Thus the Could had spread to Asia. Japan became a key US partner in Asia and the model of American democracy for other countries in Asia.  Japan was turned into a production and supply base for US troops in Korea. Japanese companies supplied US troops with uniforms, equipment (e.g. trucks) and supplies (e.g. tyres for trucks).  The Korean War helped Japan’s economy to expand after the damage it suffered in World War II.3.        Intensification of Cold War Cold War tension intensified.  China’s entry into the Korean War showed the US that Chinese military could match a world power like the US.  Moreover, during the Korean War, the US had moved so close to the borders of China that China felt threatened.  Therefore, Sino-US relations worsened more than ever before. The USA thought China might use Korean War as an opportunity to attack Taiwan and unify Taiwan under the control of the People’s Republic of China.  US President Truman sent US Navy warships from the US fleet based in Japan to protect Taiwan.  This led to military conflicts between China and Taiwan on three occasions (1954-1955, 1958-1959 and 1995-1996) in the Taiwan Straits.  China launched artillery attacks against Taiwan’s offshore islands of Quemoy and Matsu and imposed trade blockades against Taiwan.After the Korean War, the divisions between the communist countries in Asia (mainland China and North Korea) and democratic countries (Taiwan and South Korea) seemed to become more fixed and harder to remove.  Winston Churchill spoken about an ‘Iron Curtain’ dividing democratic Europe from Communist Europe.  The divisions in Asia are sometimes called the ‘Bamboo Curtain’.As a result of the Korean War, China and the USSR became closer allies.  As these 2 biggest communist countries drew closer to each other, it confirmed US impression that communist countries form a monolithic bloc that would join forces against democratic countries.  This thus heightened Cold War tensions. 4.        Power of Small Countries The Korean War also showed that smaller countries were not always controlled by the superpowers alone.  In the case of Korea, the US, USSR and China were involved in a war started by North Korea.  Both North and South Korea wanted to reunite Korea. Smaller countries were able to use the Cold War to achieve their aims. Since they were not strong enough to do so with their own troops, they made use of the superpowers as allies to achieve their goals.

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