The cold war was the name given to the economic, political, military and ideological rivalry that took place between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and their allies after World War II. The two powers never directly engaged in military action because both had nuclear weapons that if used, would have had devastating consequences for both sides. Alternatively, proxy wars were fought. A proxy war results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting one another and is typically initiated by a power that does not itself participate. The Korean and Vietnam wars are two examples of proxy wars because the U.S. and the Soviet Union did not engage each other however, Soviet attempts to spread and unify both Korea and Vietnam under communist rule prompted intervention either by the United States and/or by their allies. Another example of communist expansionism is the Malayan emergency that lasted from 1948-1960 which resulted in a guerrilla insurgency committed to an independent communist Malaya. These three events were just a few effects of the cold war in Asia. This essay will discuss each event individually and in more detail and attempt to convince readers that the Korean and Vietnam wars and the Malayan emergency were the direct results of Soviet attempts to expand communist rule in Asia and the United States and their allies’ policy of preventing and containing such moves. The Korean War
The Japanese occupation of Korea ended after 35 years when they surrendered to both Soviet and American forces in 1945. The plan for the future of Korea was to hold free and fair elections and establish a democratic Korean government. In the meantime, the Soviets and the Americans agreed to occupy the country as a trusteeship. Korea was then divided at the 38th parallel- the U.S. occupied the South and the Soviets occupied the North. In 1948, two separate governments were established - the Democratic People’s Republic under communist rule in the North, and the Republic of Korea in the South. Sunday June 25th 1950, North Korea began its attack on South Korea (with the support of the Soviet Union) starting with a 90-minute artillery barrage and then a full invasion of North Korean tanks and infantry across the 38th parallel into South Korea. The United Nations quickly condemned the invasion and insisted the North stop their advance and retreat. When it was evident that the North was not complying with this demand, President Truman, on June 27th authorized the United States Navy and Air Force to support South Korea. The U.N. gave the United States the authority to choose the supreme commander who would lead the allied mission. President Truman chose General Douglas MacArthur who was experienced and considered an American war hero. On June 28th, three days after the invasion Seoul, the South Korean capital was taken over by the North Korean forces. On June 30th, President Truman commissioned the use of American troops in South Korea. Ultimately, 16 member nations would contribute forces to the mission of repelling the North Koreans. During the first weeks of the war, the communist North took Seoul and continued their invasion Southward with little difficulty. The South Korean army and U.N. forces were pushed back to Busan – an area located at the southeastern most tip of Korea. On September 15th 1950, MacArthur launched a daring but necessary allied counteroffensive involving about 70,000 troops at Inchon. This purpose of this landing was twofold – first, catch the North Koreans off guard and second, disrupt both communications and supply lines. Now at a disadvantage upon success of MacArthur’s counteroffensive, the North Koreans began to retreat. This allowed the “cornered” South Korean army and U.N. forces at Busan to march north and meet up with the other U.N. forces. By early October 1950, all U.N. forces were together at the 38th parallel. Although it...
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