Sunday, August 30, 2020

Review of "The Forgotten War: Korea, 1950-1953," 3 DVD collection


Review of

The Forgotten War: Korea, 1950-1953, 3 DVD collection

Five out of five stars

An accurate description of a war of failure and miscalculation

 When the atomic bombs dropped on Japan led to a quick surrender, the Allies were simply unprepared to deal with the areas of Asia occupied by the Japanese in August of 1945. What was done with two of those areas, Vietnam and Korea, led to extremely destructive and probably preventable wars. When the Second World War ended, the decision to divide Korea at the 38th parallel was made by fairly low-level American officers using a map taken from National Geographic. The Soviet Red Army controlled the northern region and the Allies the south, while the Red Army was strong, the Allied forces in Korea were small compared to those of the Soviets.

 Both sides immediately began working to establish governments favorable to their side in their respective regions. Longtime communist fighter Kim Il Sung emerged as the leader of the north and the equally dictatorial Syngman Rhee as the leader of the south. Both men were determined to unite Korea under their leadership and each requested heavy weapons from their patrons. The Soviets complied while the Americans did not and gave significant hints that what became South Korea was not within the American zone of defense protection. With those two preconditions, it is clear that Soviet leader Stalin gave a somewhat reluctant green light for North Korea to invade the south. This was the first miscalculation in a war characterized by arrogance leading to disaster.

 As a student of history, I was pleased to view the accurate rendition of the actions of General Douglas MacArthur. The Inchon landings were a brilliant battlefield maneuver, one of the best flanking movements of all time. However, this was followed up by an incredible mistake when MacArthur arrogantly believed that the Chinese would not intervene. This was despite the unambiguous messages that the Chinese government was sending and their initial combat probes into Korea. The Soviet Union conducted their first successful test of a nuclear weapon in 1949, so there was the genuine threat of a nuclear war if the United Nations forces were too aggressive.

 Another strong point of the video is the description of the air battles between U. S. and Soviet pilots in what was known as MiG alley. Even though the United States leadership knew that Soviet and American pilots were fighting it out in the skies over Korea, neither side chose to publicize that fact. It was darkly amusing to hear that the best Soviet pilots were called “Honchos” by the Americans.

 Finally, one of the military historians made an accurate assessment of the Korean War, neither side was capable of winning complete victory. As long as the Chinese were involved and could launch human wave attacks, the United Nations forces could not win, and the Chinese were logistically incapable of winning the entire Korean peninsula. That basic fact is still lost on some people that somehow believe that the United States could have won a complete victory in Korea.

 These characteristics, among others, make this a great video about a war that is not recalled with the vigor that it should.

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