Thursday, July 25, 2013

What We Learned From the Korean War

Sixty years after the signing of a truce, it's clear that this conflict set the pattern for multiple American wars to come.


The demilitarized zone dividing the two Koreas, in Paju, about 55 km (34 miles) north of Seoul (Lee Jae Won/Reuters).
This week marks an important anniversary. Sixty years ago, on July 27, 1953, representatives of the United Nations, led by U.S. Army Lt. Gen William Harrison, met their North Korean counterparts in Panmunjom, Korea, to sign an armistice agreement ending the 37-month-long war. Negotiators had been discussing the agreement for nearly 25 of those months in 158 separate meetings. 

The document was not a peace treaty. It provided for a truce. The historic occasion had no mark of formality and no sense of finality. The representatives signed the agreement without speaking a single word to each other, and no one offered handshakes. The South Korean representatives refused to sign and did not join in the meeting. There surely was no ceremony comparable to the one on the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay in September 1945. The New York Times reported from the treaty site, "Outside the thin wooden walls there was the mutter of artillery fire - a grim reminder that even as the truce was being signed men were still dying on near-by hills and the fight would continue for twelve more hours."
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