Sunday, July 22, 2007

What does the Korean War have to do with it?

Following Japan's surrender in World War II, Korea was arbitrarily divided into zones of Soviet and American occupation, north and south of the 38th north parallel. By 1948, it was clear that reunification of the two countries was hopeless, in May 1948, the Republic of Korea (ROK) was created in the south, with Dr. Syngman Rhee as president, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) was formed in the north. In April of 1948, President Harry S. Truman had stated, "The United States should not become so irrevocably involved in the Korean situation that an action taken by any faction in Korea, or by any other power in Korea could be considered a Casus belli (cause for war) for the United States." Kim Il Sung, the dictator of the DPRK, listened closely. He was finely attuned to the intricacies of political rhetoric, and interpreted the President's comment to mean that the United States would not become involved in any military action on the Korean peninsula. The U.S. withdrew its occupation forces in June 1949.

Possibly, because of this perceived "green light," 93,000 North Korean troops with approximately 100 Russian-made tanks attacked southward early on Sunday morning, 25 June 1950 in an attempt to force reunification. The forces of South Korea were almost pushed into the sea, and communist forces occupied the capital Seoul and much of South Korea....

The Korean "police action" still confuses scholars today. ...

General Douglas MacArthur refused to concede that the Chinese had entered the war until it was almost too late to halt their advance. It was one of the greatest intelligence lapses in American military history. He was ultimately relieved of duty when President Truman felt that his orders were not being properly and promptly obeyed. The goals of the United Nations were so unclear that Lieutenant General James A. Van Fleet answered the question "How will we know when we have won the war?" with the answer, "I don't know, somebody higher up will have to tell me."
Even worse, early in the war the mention of China or the USSR was forbidden in Allied leaflets because there was a fear that such comments might bring them deeper into the war. Later, they were not mentioned because it was feared that the knowledge that China and the USSR were backing the North Korean armed forces might tend to demoralize South Korean civilians. Eventually they were mentioned in Leaflets, but opportunities had been missed. This problem with producing timely propaganda hampered the Allies all through the war. By the time the leaflets were approved at every level, the news was often old and stale.

When the Chinese first attacked southward in October 1950, the UN forbid broadcasting to them because it had not declared war on the Chinese. However, themes to the Korean people included Chinese aims in Korea, Chinese rejection of ceasefire proposals, the claim that Chinese troops were "volunteers," and Chinese looting and imperialism.

What is the main purpose of the leaflet? Wolfgeher explains: "Leaflets are the work-horse of Psywar. ... A properly developed and designed message can have a deep and lasting effect on the target audience. The heading of the leaflet is the most important part because it is what your eyes see first. It has to be forceful and short, gain the interest of the target audience, and contain actual facts and details. Color on a leaflet should contrast sharply with the predominant color of the terrain over which the leaflet will be used. It has to stand out so that the individual would want to pick it up. Through intelligence you can learn the favorable colors of the target audience.

It's another Janus day, and maybe I'm just bored but I think I see a connection between the Korean War and our "War on Terror." Yup, I do.

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