Marines.Together We Served

Monday, November 27, 2006

World War III? (Part II)

Picking up from two weeks ago, I had written about wars and the ways nations typically find themselves embroiled in them. What I have presented in the previous article and what you will read now are the ways the United States has become ensnared in various major wars during her history.

Just after the conclusion of WWII, the United States found itself confronted on the world-wide scene by a muscular, robust Soviet Union. When the Tsarist regime was toppled in 1917, communist forces, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, established a new political government known as Communism. Communism spread rapidly, incorporating the basic teachings of Karl Marx. This form of Communism became known as Leninism. This set in motion a movement under the general banner of Communism which has caused the United States decades of challenges and problems.

Ironically, though the United States was ardently opposed to Communism, the Soviet Union became an ally during WWII in our struggle against Hitler and the Third Reich. So devastating was the German military advance into Soviet Russia that it is said that the Soviet Union lost an entire generation of men. Because we shared a common enemy (in this case, Hitler’s Germany), we were allies. But we were not friends. The old adage is true, “My enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

Since the Second World War allowed the Soviets to become a world force, they made moves into Asia: specifically, China. Communism had made huge inroads into China during the 1920s & 30s. Chiang Kai-shek, became the ruler of China in the 1920s. He attempted to eradicate Communism from China during a twenty-two-year-long civil war. The Communist Chinese prevailed and took control of this massive country in 1949. Chiang Kai-shek took his military forces and retreated to Taiwan. It was his dream to rebuild his army and retake what was now known as The Peoples Republic of China. We in the West have called it “Red China,” the color associated with Communism. As a kid in the 50s there was a common saying: “I’d rather be dead than Red!” My first roommate in college in 1966 was a Chinese kid from Taiwan. He was an ardent follower of Chiang Kai-shek, believing he would return to Taiwan to join his leader in militarily retaking China.

Once Communism was entrenched in China, it began to expand rapidly. The northern part of Korea embraced this philosophy, placing them at odds with their southern brothers. The United States, still recovering from the effects of WWII, was asked by the United Nations to help stop the spread of Communism in the Korean Peninsula. This led to the Korean War. After a back and forth struggle for several years, the “Forgotten War” as it was known, ended in a truce, with the geographic 38th Parallel line now separating the two nations of North Korea and South Korea. It should be pointed out that American forces were not just fighting North Korean troops, but Chinese troops as well. There were also Soviet advisors working with the North Korean and Chinese forces.

Communism was making its way into Indochina, (Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos). Northern Vietnam was coming under the influence of Communism. The southern portion of Vietnam was fearful of Communism’s advance. In the 1950s, President Dwight Eisenhower cautioned the U.S. against getting involved in a conflict in Southeast Asia. President John Kennedy provided American military advisors to the Diem regime in South Vietnam. However, South Vietnam’s President Ngo Diem, had lost influence with world leaders, and also with his own military. In a coup held November 2, 1963, Diem was assassinated. The U.S. had promised to stay out of the way. Oddly, President Kennedy was assassinated twenty days later.

Under President Johnson, the United States committed troops to South Vietnam in 1965. For the next ten years we fought a war in an effort to halt the spread of Communism. It was during President Nixon’s administration that the United States exited Vietnam, causing our Vietnam veterans to bear the scorn of having lost a war – something that had never happened in our country previously.

Now here’s a bit of history you may not be aware of. We, the United States, lost the Vietnam War. This is true. But it was not the military that lost the war. In fact, our military never lost a single battle in Vietnam. We lost this war back home. The American people grew tired of the war dragging on, with the nightly news giving the daily tally of dead American soldiers. Domestic concerns were taking center stage. We endured the assassinations of two dynamic and popular leaders: Bobby Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King. There was ongoing unrest on college campuses. Coupled with that was the racial unrest and rioting in the inner-cities. The counter-culture movement was in full swing with its free love, hedonistic lifestyle. Add to that the Watergate break-in with an increasingly paranoid President Nixon, and Vietnam was old and tired news.

This bit of historical background is important if we are going to understand where we are today, and how we got here. If the United States is going to survive a far graver threat than Communism, we had better wake up. The threats of world leaders and nations such as Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Hirohito’s Imperialist Japan, Lenin’s Soviet Union, Ho Chi Min’s Vietnam, Mao Zedong’s China, or any other dictatorial leaders, pales by comparison to the threat of radical Islamists.

This will be continued next week.

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