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I’ve been thinking of what kind of problems ensue when leaders try an armistice to end a war rather than insist on the enemy surrendering. I’m sure that experts can provide instances where it has worked well but consider these two important examples:
- WW 1 ended in an armistice between the western powers and Germany. For the next 20 years Germany moved from serious poverty to a major power in the world — and filled with notions of anger and revenge. This armistice ended when the biggest and most murderous war in history started.
- The Korean War ended in an armistice between Korea, China and the United Nations (mostly the Unites States). We are now faced with a rather putrid result in North Korea.
If North Korea starts another major war or major conflict then it seems we have every reason to agree with Douglas MacArthur that we should have gone in against the Chinese and settled things permanently. I’m not belittling the risks with that nor do I know enough to authoritatively criticize what the leaders were up against but I really do think that the Chinese Communists couldn’t stand up to us and Mao needed to be slapped down. It’s clear also that the Soviets were behind the whole thing, too — that definitely makes one wonder what to do. However, giving Mao a defeat and uniting Korea into a western-oriented government could well have been better.
Think about the arguments these days about how we shouldn’t have forced unconditional surrender terms on Germany and Japan. Also, with regard to the Civil War, Lincoln and Grant wanted a clear defeat of the South. These two conflicts generated some problems, I admit (Cold War and balkanization of the South) but we ended up with the major points being resolved and two good and worthy allies in Western Germany and Japan. Instead, WW1 ended up with the Germans fuming and filled with hatred and North Korea has caused mischief all over the world and is now a possible flashpoint for a major conflict or war.Published in