June 25 is the Korean war commemoration day. Many insigts could be taken from it, not just for the future of Korean people, but also for entire of the world. As noted in history, The Korean war is a special one. It was a turning point from the fledgling nuclear era. And Harry Truman was a key figure in the turning point process. Though this man also released the nuclear war on Hiroshima, after replacing Rosevelt who died on April 12, 1945.
Truman’s decision not to use nuclear to North Korea or China who came to back up Kim Il Sung, gave birth to the era that was called by Thomas Schelling in his Nobel Laureate speech as the “nuclear taboo” era, which later became one of the most important international institutions of the century, named nuclear restriction agreement. If in the Korean War Truman decided otherwise, not only would the Korean peninsula be different, but even the world would look very different today.
After Chinese troops crossed the Yalu River and pressed American forces back into South Korea, in November 1950 Truman insisted on keeping the war confined to the level of conventional warfare. Truman rejected MacArthur’s temperamental request to use the atomic bomb on China as well as to help Chiang Kai-shek’s troops who had just lost the Chinese civil war, then withdraw McArthur from the Korean war before the war ended (ceasefire).
Truman did act inadvertently in June 1950, because former Secretary of State Dean Acheson excluded the Korean peninsula from the American defense line (today US pacific defense strategy called “three island lines”, where the center of the first island line is South Korea). Now it has really changed. There are 28,000 more US troops in South Korea, today (notes: the second line center is in Guam, the 49th US state in the Pacific, 3 hours from Tokyo, and the third is in Hawaii). As a result of those negligence of Truman and Dean Acheson, US had some weaknesses at the time, especially in making the preparation of American troops.
Under these conditions, not using nuclear means an endless and uncertainty war, although at that time Truman only wanted to implement Woodrow Wilson’s vision of collective security as stated in the UN Charter (mean not to use nuclear). As a result, the political risks of the endless war for Truman were quite painful. His aproval rating sloped and finally had to get out of the White House in the 1952 election (out of the White House in 1953 after inagurationof precident Dwight Eisenhower).
Trumanchosed not to participate in the party nomination to run for president in the 1952 election, although there was still one period chance. Because Truman’s initial status in 1944-1948 was only a viseprecidentcandidate of Rosevelt , so in the 1948 election his candidacy was only counted as a first presidential candidate and entitled once again for the 1952 election. Due to these conditions, Truman refused to go forward, just like Lyndon Jhonson who refused to use the second chance because of the Vietnam war.
Now, it has been 70 years after the turning point war. The two fragments of the Korean peninsula are still two different state entities and are often at odds relationship. One is still a pure communist state as legacy of Stalin, Russia, which is continued by Beijing. And the other is a pretty liberalist who is still guarded by Washington. Two countries have been embracing different systems for the future. That’s why, therivality will probably be still long. So the next level projections is that tensions among America, China, and Russia will also stands on the same ground.
But in the middle of neighbor’s pressures and any kind of tensions, South Korea has become not just a large economy either, but it moreover punches far above its weight in a number of critical industries: it is among the world’s top three producers of ships, of semiconductors, and of numerous types of advanced electronics. It is also the second most powerful country in the Indo-Pacific region after Japan, with which the United States also has a security alliance. So in the same perspective, I am pretty sure, South Korea will do many great things for the country and the world in the future, regardless of whether or not the results of the agreement with North Korea. And America could keep playing its function as a superpower ally which will actively participate in raising dignity, economy, defenses, and any other kind of developments for its alies around the world.
But unfortunately, today the world is again overshadowed by nuclear forces that continue to fight each other. Even the nuclear capacity of each of these countries has also increased. No one really knows how much capacity and destructive power have been really developed by each of these countries today. Israel versus Iran, America versus China and Russia, India versus China, etc, are all in tensions that are difficult to soften. Mutual suspicion and jockeying for influence in international institutions take place in ways that are difficult to reconcile, including th US decision to come slowly out of international institutions that could end badly for the world’s future.
However, US as a dominant superpower must continue to struggle to find ways in order to all of international bodies have a crucial role in ensuring the future of all humanity, because that is how a superpower should behave. US should be back to the lesson given by the Korean war event 70 years ago. Weakening the role of international institutions will only bring the world closer to the tension of nuclear weapons, even though it started with an exit from WHO and the WTO. If America has a problem with China’s influence in international bodies, America should fight them in the available internal legal mechanisms and agreed by all of members. If not, US will put the entire world on the brink of destructive divides