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Osprey Essential Histories 8 : The Korean War

The Korean War was a significant turning point in the Cold War. This conflict in a small peninsula in East Asia had a tremendous impact on the entire international system and the balance of power between the two superpowers. Through the conflict, the West demonstrated their resolve to thwart Communist aggression. Conversely, Communist aggression convinced American leadership of the need to engage in a massive rearmament, setting the tone for the arms races that marked the remainder of the Cold War. Furthermore, it was the only time in the Cold War when the armed forces of the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China, and the United States were in direct combat with one another. Most importantly, the Korean War defined the new strategic context of warfare that emerged in the Cold War. Wars were conducted in an entirely new manner. Before 1945, the aims of most wars had been total - the annihilation of an opponent. After 1945, the advent of nuclear weapons and the increasing costs of conventional weapons made seeking total aims inherently dangerous. The risk of mutual destruction could not be countenanced. Instead of total, limited aims were now sought in most wars. In turn, the means of warfare became more limited as careful measures were taken to reduce the risk of a limited conflict escalating into a Third World War. The Korean War was the first example of such a limited war. The strategies and operational doctrines employed in the Korean War were the first adaptations to the new strategic context. As such, the Korean War was the formative experience in the strategy and operational techniques developed by the superpowers and China throughout the Cold War. Text by Carter Malkasian.

    Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chronology
  • Background to War : Two Koreas, The Superpowers and China
  • Outbreak : The Communists Strike
  • The Fighting : Avoiding a Third World War
  • Portrait of a Soldier : Patrolling, Raiding and Digging
  • The World around War : The Domestic and International Impact
  • Portrait of a Civilian : Kyonshill Kang
  • How the War Ended : Closing Moves
  • Conclusion and Consequences : The Significance of the Korean War in the History of Warfare

 

Osprey Essential Histories


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