At the close of World War Two, the winners (the Allies) divided Germany into east and west Germany, Korea into north and south Korea, and Vietnam into north and south Vietnam.
The division of Germany produced a threat of military conflict for more than four decades. Germany was eventually reunited without war. The division of Vietnam did produce a military conflict that, in retrospect, seems to have been foolish. Vietnam is reunited. The division of Korea produced a war, and that conflict is unresolved.
After Mao Tse Tung gained control of China in 1949, the U.S. supported the losing army which retreated to the island of Formosa (now Taiwan) and established a rump government. That division between Taiwan and mainland China continues to present a potential for military conflict. The U.S. continues to sell military weapons to Taiwan.
The rationale for U.S. support for the division of countries was that we were fighting communism. China and Vietnam have Communist governments, and the U.S. does business with both. China’s investment in U.S. Treasury notes helps finance our government. Vietnam recently offered to allow the U.S. Navy to operate from Cam Ranh Bay, the best deep-water port in southeast Asia.
The U.S. has maintained military forces in South Korea since the cease fire in 1953. North Korea apparently sees our military presence as a provocation and a threat. In response, they have developed a nuclear capability that constitutes a threat to our military forces in South Korea and Guam.
The U.S. is now talking about a military assault on North Korea, or, alternatively, a punishing embargo of material resources going to the country. The U.S. embargoed Iraq for years in the hope that the Iraqi citizens would be induced to overthrow the government. It didn’t work. The Iraqi elite and government officials continued to live well while, according to a United Nations estimate, 500,000 children died of malnutrition and disease because of the embargo.
Dividing countries was a mistake. Fighting wars to keep them divided is nonsense.
Jack Stevenson is retired, served two years in Vietnam as an infantry officer, retired from military service, and worked three years as a U.S. Civil Service employee. He also worked in Egypt as an employee of the former Radio Corporation of America (RCA). Currently, he reads history, follows issues important to Americans, and writes commentary for community newspapers.