News / Asia

    Legacy of Unresolved Korean Conflict Plagues US Policy

    US veterans leave South Korea's national cemetery in Seoul after paying tribute to their colleagues killed during the Korean War, 23 June 2010
    US veterans leave South Korea's national cemetery in Seoul after paying tribute to their colleagues killed during the Korean War, 23 June 2010

    The end of the Korean War in 1953 did not end the hostilities between North and South Korea, or with the United States. U.S. administrations have been grappling with how to solve a problem like North Korea for decades.

    In Seoul Friday, at a ceremony honoring the Korean War dead, General Walter Sharp, the commander of U.S. forces in Korea sounded a familiar call.

    "True peace cannot exist when North Korea resorts to force and violence. Therefore we call on North Korea to cease its provocations and other aggressive acts."

    General Sharp also warned that further provocations will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

    Seoul's accusation that North Korea sank one of its warships last March has again raised concerns about stability in the region.

    It is a familiar situation for Washington. In 1969, the North Korean military shot down a U.S. reconnaissance plane over the Sea of Japan, sending defense strategists scrambling to come up with a response. Recently declassified documents at the National Security Archive in Washington show that during that time, former U.S. President Richard Nixon considered full-scale war using tactical nuclear weapons.

    Former US President Richard Nixon (FILE)
    Former US President Richard Nixon (FILE)

    President Nixon was quick to demonstrate America's presence in the region said Robert Wampler, a senior fellow at the National Security Archive.

    "Nixon decided to resume reconnaissance flights, you know, more armed escort to in essence warn North Korea that if this happens again, the response will be much more severe,"  Wampler said.

    The newly elected president and his key advisors, including National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, came up with at least two dozen plans targeting North Korea's military. One, code-named FRESH STORM, involved taking out Pyongyang's military air power.  Another, code-named FREEDOM DROP, called for the select use of tactical nuclear weapons on command centers, air fields and naval bases.

    Initial casualty estimates were modest, ranging from 100 to several thousand civilian deaths. But Nixon's team soon realized that striking North Korean targets could escalate into a bigger conflict than they wanted, said Wampler.

    "In the end, it was always seen that the risk of setting off a broader conflict or even war always seemed to be greater than any possible benefit to be had."

    Ultimately, President Nixon and his advisors took no military action, leaving diplomacy the only remaining option. It is a pattern repeated by U.S. presidents ever since.

    After North Korea tested nuclear weapons in 2006 and 2009, analysts say U.S. war strategists debated whether to reign in the Pyongyang government with force. Instead, North Korea's provocations were addressed with sanctions at the U.N. Security Council.

    Since then, said Wampler of George Washington University, military action has become even less likely because of North Korea's increased military strength.

    North Korea says its nuclear program is a key defense against what it considers to be a hostile U.S. policy. It has pulled out of international nuclear talks and shown no indication of returning.

    Despite the dramatic changes in world politics in the last 60 years, the standoff over North Korea appears frozen in time.

    You May Like

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora