Essay Questions About The Korean War

No conclusive winner emerged. Instead, Korea returned to the "status quo ante bellum" (the way things were before the war) and North and South Korea remained divided. The US did succeed in checking Communist expansion; however, it did so at great cost in money and lives. In the larger Cold War context, the Korean War did little to improve the situation, though it also didn't lead to disintegration of relations that it could have.

Why did North Korea cross the 38th Parallel and invade South Korea?

The North Koreans were interested in attempting to reunify Korea under Communist rule, and Stalin most likely gave his approval for the invasion, perhaps as a test of how the US would react (or, as some have hypothesized, a test run for Berlin?). Regardless, the North Koreans were armed with Soviet T-34 tanks. Also, US speeches and policy at the time suggested to the North Koreans and the rest of the Communist world that Korea was not vital to American security and interests.

How did American politics effect the war?

Truman, a Democrat, was afraid of appearing "soft on Communism", lest his Republican opponents attack him. McCarthyism in particular, a rampant paranoid anti-communism sweeping the US, created a particularly hysterical anti-Communist environment. Wihtin this context, though General MacArthur (not to be confused with Senator Joseph McCarthy, who was unrelated) often acted insubordinately, Truman could not take action against him because the general was so popular with the Republicans. In fact, only the combined support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff saved Truman from impeachment after he fired MacArthur. Truman could not negotiate easily with the Communists either, for fear of Republican criticism. Only Eisenhower, a Republican President, was able to make concessions to Chinese and Panmunjom, managing to get a weak treaty signed without criticism.

Why did the US intervene in Korea when it did not intervene in China?

Having just seen China fall, US policymakers had a heightened sensitivity to Communist threats, and considered the North Korean invasion to be a possible test-run for an invasion in Eastern Europe. According to the logic of NSC- 68, a communist attack anywhere should be viewed as an attack everywhere. Under that logic, Korea became "as good a place to draw the line as anywhere."

Describe the role of the UN in the Korean War.

The UN was basically a policy instrument of the US during the Korean War. Especially with the USSR boycotting most UN proceedings, the US used its powerful influence to shape UN policy to meet its own individual needs. The UN International Peace-Keeping Force, made up mostly of American troops (and a few NATO troops), was really just a sham engineered to give the appearance that support for South Korea was more than just a unilateral American action.

Was the Korean War an international war or a Civil War?

Certainly many nations were involved in the Korean War, and in that sense it was a very international war. However, one should remember that Korea had been divided arbitrarily by the US and the USSR after World War II. The 38th Parallel was a made-up boundary with no historical precedent or resonance, and so, in a sense, the North Korean attack might be considered part of an internal, civil war to unify a single country that shared the same culture and language and had historically been unified. It was because of this somewhat ambiguous nature of the Korean War that the UN classified the attack by North Korea as a "breach of peace" rather than a far worse act of "aggression".

Why did the negotiations to end the Korean War go on for so long.

The negotiations at Kaesong and then Panmunjom dragged on for so long (about 2 years) primarily because neither side was willing to make concessions for fear of appearing weak. Specific issues included the fate of Formosa (Taiwan), the dividing line between North and South Korea, and the question of what to do with POWs (Prisoners of War).

Why did the PRC (People's Republic of China) cross the Yalu and start a counteroffensive against the US/UN/ROK forces?

As MacArthur's forces pressed North across the 38th Parallel, the Chinese Communists feared an invasion of Manchuria. Furthermore, MacArthur's meeting with Truman at Wake Island suggested to PRC leaders that a major US offensive was in the works, perhaps a plot to restart the Chinese civil war.

What was the result of Truman's firing MacArthur.

General Ridgway replaced MacArthur as Commander of the Far East. Ridgway held a more conservative stance, followed orders from Washington readily, and did not seek to expand the war as haphazardly as MacArthur did. However, Truman's dismissal of MacArthur upset many MacArthur-loving Republicans in Congress, who threatened to impeach Truman. Fortunately for him, Truman had the unanimous opinion of the JCS behind him, so he wasn't impeached. In the long run, Truman's reliance on the Joint Chiefs of Staff increased the group's power in military decisions over the future Presidents.

Was strategic bombing effective during the Korean War?

For the most part it was not. North Korea was simply not industrialized enough for strategic bombing to have a devastating impact. The infrastructure (especially bridges and roads) that strategic bombing did manage to destroy were usually quickly rebuilt by North Korean laborers. In negotiations as well, strategic bombing, even that aimed against dams and power plants in northernmost Korea, failed to win concessions, and may actually have hardened the resolve of the Communists.

 

Essay questions cold war history

1.

In your opinion, was the Cold War inevitable? If not, was the United States or the USSR more to blame?

2.

Why has the Korean War often been called Americas !for"otten war#? What  purpose did the war serve, and what impact did it have?

3.

Was the United States, the USSR, or Cuba more to blame for the Cuban missile crisis? What impact did the crisis have on U$S$%Soviet relations?

4.

&ow did 'eor"e Kennans containment doctrine chan"e durin" the (ruman, )isenhower and Kennedy administrations? Which president was the most successful in containin" Communism?

5.

$ Why were Americans so terri*ed of Communist in*ltration after World War II? What impact did the Red hunts of the late +-.s and early +/.s have on  American politics and society?

6.

$ What impact did the Korean War have on American forei"n policy?

7.

Why was the launch of Sputni0 I in +/1 so si"ni*cant? What did its launch mean for Americans?

8.

 An unnatural alliance that was bound to fall apart after the defeat of the common enemy#$ (o what e2tent does this statement e2plain the ori"in of the Cold War?

9.

(o what e2tent were Soviet policies responsible for the outbrea0 and development of the Cold War between +-/ and +-?

10.

(o what e2tent did events in the *nal year of the Second World War turn wartime allies into Cold War enemies?

11.

In what ways, and to what e2tent, did mutual distrust and suspicion cause the Cold War?

12.

&ow, and to what e2tent, did the conferences at 3alta and 4otsdam 5+-/6 contribute to the ori"in of the Cold War?

13.

7Althou"h it be"an in )urope the spread of the Cold War to other re"ions was a much more dan"erous development$7 (o what e2tent do you a"ree with this  8ud"ment?

14.

9or what reasons, and with what results, was 'ermany a centre of Cold War tensionbetween +-/%:+?

15.

Compare and contrast the policies of the USA and the USSR towards Korea between+-/ and +//$

16.

Identify and e2plain the si"ni*cance of two of the followin" in the development of the Cold War; C<=)C<> =arshall 4lan >A(< Warsaw 4act$

17.

In what ways, and with what results, did the United States Cold War policy of containment a@ect Cuba after +/?

18.

 Analyse the factors which led to the endin" of the Cold War$

19.

 Analyse the part played by Cuba in the development of the Cold War$

20.

 Assess the impact of the (ruman octrine and =arshall 4lan on the development of the Cold War between +-1 and +:+$

21.

 Assess the e@ects of events in Cuba on the development of the Cold War$

22.

&ow and why did the policies of either the USA or the USSR a@ect superpower rivalry between +/. and +1.?

23.

In what ways, and to what e2tent, did the Cold War become less confrontational after +1.?

24.

 Analyse the importance of dBtente in endin" the Cold War 

25.

)2amine the part played by economic issues in the development of the Cold War 

26.

(o what e2tent did economic problems in the Communist bloc brin" about the end of the Cold War?

27.

 Assess the importance of dBtente and internal opposition to Communist rule in Communist countries, in endin" the Cold War$

28.

&ow far was U$S$ forei"n policy of containment a success?

29.

to what e2tent did the 3alta Conference of uly +-/ contribute to the development of the Cold War 

30.

!(he Cold War came to an end primarily because of 'orbachevs chan"es in Soviet  policies$# (o what e2tent do you a"ree with this statement$

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