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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 7:58 am 
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nationalinterest.org

China vs. America: Why the Korean War Was Total Hell (And It’s Not Over)
Robert Farley

The Korean War dragged on for nearly two years after the settlement of the key strategic issues became clear. Nevertheless, poor communication between Washington and Beijing, combined with reputational concerns on both sides, inflated minor issues—such as POW repatriation—and extended the war well beyond its productive limits. That the United States viewed its conflict with China as a proxy war complicated the problem, as American policy makers became obsessed with the message that every action sent to the Soviet Union. In any future conflict, even as political questions associated with escalation and reputation loom large, Beijing can likely count on having Washington’s full, focused attention.

In November 1950, China and the United States went to war. Thirty-six thousand Americans died, along with upwards of a quarter million Chinese, and half a million or more Koreans. If the United States was deeply surprised to find itself at war with the People’s Republic of China, a country that hadn’t even existed the year before, it was even more surprised to find itself losing that war. The opening Chinese offensive, launched from deep within North Korea, took U.S. forces by complete operational surprise. The U.S.-led United Nations offensive into North Korea was thrown back, with the U.S. Army handed its worst defeat since the American Civil War.

The legacies of this war remain deep, complex and underexamined. Memory of the Korean War in the United States is obscured by the looming shadows of World War II and Vietnam. China remembers the conflict differently, but China’s position in the world has changed in deep and fundamental ways since the 1950s. Still, as we consider the potential for future conflict between China and the United States, we should try to wring what lessons we can from the first Sino-American war.

Initiation

In early 1950, the politics of the Cold War had not yet solidified around a pair of mutually hostile blocks. Nevertheless, the contours were visible; the Soviets had spent several years consolidating control of Eastern Europe, and the Chinese Communist Party had ridden the victories of the People’s Liberation Army to power in Beijing. The stage was set for a zero-sum interpretation of the global struggle between Communist and non-Communist powers. It was just such an interpretation that dominated Washington’s thinking as North Korean forces escalated the Korean civil war with a massive invasion across the 38th parallel.

Inside the United States, tension over the collapse of Nationalist China remained high. The Nationalist government possessed an extremely effective public-relations machine in the United States, built around the Soong family’s relationship with Henry Luce. This influential domestic lobby helped push the United States towards both intervention and escalation, while at the same time undercutting the advice of experts who offered words of caution about Beijing’s capabilities and interests.

The initial Chinese victories in late fall of 1950 resulted from a colossal intelligence failure on the part of the United States. These failures ran the gamut from political, to strategic, to operational, to tactical. The politicization of American expertise on China following the establishment of the PRC meant that U.S. policy makers struggled to understand Chinese messages. The United States also misunderstood the complex relationship between Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang, treating the group as unitary actor without appreciating the serious political differences between the countries.

On an operational level, advancing U.S. forces paid little heed to warnings of Chinese intervention. The United States failed to understand the importance of the North Korean buffer to Beijing, failed to detect Chinese preparations for intervention, failed to detect Chinese soldiers operating in North Korea and failed to understand the overall strength of the Chinese forces. This lack of caution stemmed from several sources. The U.S. military, having had experience with Chinese Nationalist forces during World War II, had little respect for the capabilities of the PLA, especially outside of Chinese borders. Americans overrated the importance of air superiority at the tactical and operational level, not to mention the relevance of nuclear weapons at the strategic level.

Conduct

The People’s Liberation Army appreciated the significance of U.S. air superiority over the battlefield, as well as the effectiveness of U.S. armor and artillery. The PLA (or PVA, as the expeditionary force in North Korea was dubbed) attempted to fight with the hybrid insurgent tactics that it had used to prevail in the Chinese Civil War. This involved using light infantry formations, designed to move and attack at night, in order to avoid U.S. airpower and concentrated American firepower. These tactics allowed the PLA to surprise U.S. forces, which were uncertain of the magnitude of Chinese intervention until it was too late to do anything but retreat.

Similarly, the United States fought with the tactics (and often the weapons) that it had used in World War II. Although North Korean armor and artillery had outmatched unprepared U.S. ground forces in the opening weeks of the war, by the time of the Chinese counteroffensive, the United States was fielding mobile, armored forces and employing combined arms tactics. These weapons and tactics allowed the United States to inflict severe losses on Chinese forces, even as it gave up wide swaths of territory.

The U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy expected to conduct sea and air operations in what we now refer to as a permissive environment, without significant interference from Communist forces. The Navy was right; the Air Force was wrong. Expecting overwhelming advantages in training and material, the U.S. air forces found cagey Communist forces equipped with the MiG-15 interceptors, which could outfight American piston-engined aircraft and most early jets. Formations of B-29s attempted to conduct daylight precision bombing raids of North Korea, finding that MiG-15s could cut them to pieces. U.S. forces, fresh from the bloody organizational fights that had birthed the U.S. Air Force, also struggled to develop a compatible, cooperative ground-air doctrine. Still, despite the problems, the United States managed to establish and hold air superiority for most of the war, using that freedom to inflict severe damage on Chinese and North Korean forces, infrastructure and logistics.

Lessons and Legacies

The most important legacy of the first Sino-American War is the enduring division of the Korean Peninsula. Following the exhaustion of the Chinese counteroffensive, neither side really threatened to throw the other off the peninsula. The relationships between Seoul, Washington, Beijing and Pyongyang have changed mightily over the years, but the conflict remains frozen along the geography established in 1953.

Many of the problems have stayed the same, despite the fundamental transformations that have overtaken global politics. Beijing has grown tired of the antics of its North Korean client, just as South Korea has grown significantly in wealth and power. But North Korea can still threaten the security and prosperity of the Republic of Korea, and threats to the DPRK are still felt in Beijing.

China and the United States remember this conflict much differently. For the United States, the Korean War represents an odd aberration; a war fought for justice, but without satisfactory resolution. Americans’ most enduring memory of the conflict came through the television show M.A.S.H., which used the war as a proxy for talking about U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Even this memory has begun to fade, however.

For China, the war represents a remarkable victory over imperialism in the face of overwhelming odds. It introduced the People’s Republic of China to the international system with a (literal) bang. At the same time, the legacy of the war complicated China’s international situation. In part because of the memory of Chinese intervention, but also in combination with China’s domestic politics, the United States managed to keep the PRC isolated from the international system into the 1970s. Today, the PRC poses a quasi-imperial threat to neighbors all along its vast periphery, while at the same time representing one of the three major tent-poles of the growing global economy.

Militarily, the political, social and technological conditions that produced mass infantry warfare in Korea in the 1950s no longer hold. The United States has grown accustomed to fighting opponents who excel in hybrid warfare, but the People’s Liberation Army has been out of that business for decades. The ground forces of the PLA are now transitioning between mechanized and postmechanized warfare, while the air and sea forces are in the process of perfecting the world’s most extensive anti-access/area denial system. If conflict were to happen again, China would challenge U.S. control of the air and seas in a way that it never did during the Korean conflict.

The most interesting, useful lessons may involve botched war termination. The Korean War dragged on for nearly two years after the settlement of the key strategic issues became clear. Nevertheless, poor communication between Washington and Beijing, combined with reputational concerns on both sides, inflated minor issues—such as POW repatriation—and extended the war well beyond its productive limits. That the United States viewed its conflict with China as a proxy war complicated the problem, as American policy makers became obsessed with the message that every action sent to the Soviet Union. In any future conflict, even as political questions associated with escalation and reputation loom large, Beijing can likely count on having Washington’s full, focused attention.

Conclusion

There was nothing good about the last Sino-American War, not even the “peace” that resulted from it. The experience of this war, now nearly forgotten on both sides, should serve as a grim lesson for policy makers in both Washington and Beijing. The Korean War was anything but accidental, but miscalculation and miscommunication both extended and broadened the war beyond its necessary boundaries.

Robert Farley is a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce. His work includes military doctrine, national security, and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money and Information Dissemination and The Diplomat. Follow him on Twitter: @drfarls.

This first appeared in 2014.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:06 am 
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nytimes.com

Bad News, World: China Can’t Solve the North Korea Problem
Max Fisher


President Xi Jinping of China last month. China’s reticence toward North Korea is often portrayed as a matter of will. Analysts say it is much more complicated than that. Pool photo by Andy Wong After each North Korean provocation, a soothing mantra echoes through the halls of government and think tanks in the United States.

China, it is frequently said, could solve this seemingly unsolvable problem, finally reining in North Korea, if Beijing were just properly motivated.

But this oft-repeated line contains three assumptions, none of which has held up well in recent years.

It assumes that outside pressure could persuade North Korea to curtail or abandon its weapons programs. That China has the means to bring about such pressure. And that Beijing will do so once it is properly cajoled or coerced.

Each assumption has been tested repeatedly in recent years and, time and again, has collapsed. Yet three consecutive presidents — George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald J. Trump — have invested their hopes and their strategies in China coming to the rescue.




Asked whether this were possible, even in the abstract, John Delury, a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul, answered, “No, the Chinese can’t fix this for us.”

What China Can and Cannot Do
If China complied with every American request to cut trade, it could devastate North Korea’s economy, which especially relies on Chinese fossil fuels.

But repeated studies have found that sanctions, while effective at forcing small policy changes, cannot persuade a government to sign its own death warrant. North Korea sees its weapons as essential to its survival, and tests as necessary to fine-tune them.

Jeffrey Lewis, who directs an East Asia program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, called notions that China could impose costs exceeding the benefit North Korea draws from its weapons “sad and desperate.”

Imagine, Mr. Lewis said, that you are Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, and China turned against you, joining your enemies in pressuring you to disarm.

“The last thing you would do in that situation is give up your independent nuclear capability,” he said. “The one thing you hold that they have no control over. You would never give that up in that situation.”

When sanctions aim at forcing internal political change, they often backfire, hardening their targets in place.

In the 1960s, the United States imposed a total embargo on its neighbor and onetime ally, Cuba. Fidel Castro, the Cuban leader, ruled for half a century, even surviving the loss of Soviet support.

When Americans rage at Beijing for failing to toughen sanctions, Mr. Lewis said, “The Chinese response is, ‘Because they’re not going to work.’ And the data is on their side.”

A Venn Diagram With No Overlap
North Korea may be especially resistant to such pressure.

The Chinese, Mr. Delury said, “can keep reducing their already minuscule trade and investment ties to North Korea, but it will not deflect Kim Jong-un because one thing the North Korean system is especially good at is absorbing pain.”

Even a total trade ban would impose less suffering than what North Korea has already proved it can endure.

In the 1990s, when Russian subsidies disappeared, a famine killed up to 10 percent of North Korea’s population. But North Korea neither collapsed nor sought to end the crisis by opening up to the outside world.

Overriding its calculus, then, would require imposing costs greater than destruction or famine but short of war, which would risk a nuclear exchange. That may be a Venn diagram with no overlap.

And North Korea, unlike Cuba, has nuclear weapons, which frees it to retaliate conventionally against what Mr. Castro merely endured.

In 2010, it shelled a South Korean island, killing four. It was also accused of sinking a South Korean Navy ship that year, killing 46. Its nuclear deterrent, now strengthened, allows it to act even more aggressively.

“Let’s say there’s a famine in North Korea that kills a million people,” Mr. Lewis said, imagining, though not condoning, the harshest possible Chinese action. “Do we think North Korea doesn’t haul off and sink some ships?”

How Weak States Win LeverageChina’s reticence toward North Korea is often portrayed as a matter of will. Because Beijing is technically capable of inflicting harsher pain, it would do so if it cared enough.

But when Americans look at their own options, they understand that they are useful only if they can be used.

The United States could flatten Pyongyang overnight. But this would spark a conflict risking millions of Korean, Japanese and American lives. Washington declines such an option because it is unusable, not for any lack of will.

China faces similar constraints, with drastic options risking unacceptable costs.

In recent years, Beijing has tried to cut off trade or impose limited sanctions. These efforts have changed little or have backfired, with North Korea instead increasing its provocations, often timed to embarrass Beijing.

In these tit-for-tats, Pyongyang is demonstrating that, though the weaker state, it has greater leverage because it is willing to accept more risk.

North Korea has also labored to limit Beijing’s diplomatic influence. It has purged officials thought to be sympathetic to China, including Mr. Kim’s own uncle in 2013. This year, it killed Mr. Kim’s brother, living in exile under Chinese protection. Though Mr. Kim is at times openly hostile to Beijing, he is its only option.

The Alliance Trap
Beijing may simply be trapped. Each North Korean provocation risks war on China’s border. It invites an American buildup in China’s backyard. And it pushes South Korea and Japan further into American arms.

Its sticks and carrots all having failed with North Korea, China worries that increasing pressure will cut off what little influence it has.

Americans might see parallels in their country’s own troubled alliances, particularly in the Middle East.

Egypt, for instance, regularly defies American demands, knowing that Washington will always come crawling back. So does Saudi Arabia, using the threat of a rupture in the relationship to pressure the United States into supporting its disastrous war in Yemen.

Mr. Lewis drew a parallel, if only in the mechanics of alliance politics, with Israel.

For decades, Washington has tried to persuade, induce or coerce Israel into altering its policies toward the Palestinians. Israeli leaders accepted American aid, ignored American demands and, in shows of calibrated defiance, often announced new settlement construction on the eve of American visits.

To the outside world, American unwillingness to impose greater pressure looks like a lack of will. When American diplomats warn that more pressure would only deepen Israel’s calculus and sacrifice American influence, they are blamed for perpetuating the conflict.

For once, Americans can lob such accusations at another power. They have an obvious appeal, portraying the North Korea problem as someone else’s to solve.

“We’re going to blame the Chinese for stabbing us in the back instead of admitting that our policy was dumb,” Mr. Lewis said, calling this “classic scapegoating.”

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 8:11 am 
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John Bolton: ‘Only Diplomatic Option Left’ Is to Have South Korea Take Over North Korea
1K Geller Report by Geller Report Staff



Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said during a Fox News appearance that the only “diplomatic” solution remaining to reel in North Korea’s aggressions would be to have South Korea “take it over.”

His tough talk was met with Fox host Trish Regan with protests.

Breitbart has more:

On this weekend’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” former U.N. ambassador John Bolton argued the only remaining diplomatic solution to the nuclear threat from North Korea was through the unification of the Korean peninsula, which he argued mean letting South Korea take over North Korea.

“The only diplomatic option left is to end the North Korean regime by effectively having the South take it over,” Bolton said.

“Sunday Morning Futures” fill-in host Trish Regan protested and said it was “really diplomatic.”

“Well, that is their problem, not ours,” Bolton replied. “Because anybody who thinks more diplomacy with North Korea, more sanctions, whether against North Korea, or an effort to apply sanctions against China, is just giving North Korea more time to increase its nuclear arsenal, increase its ballistic missile capability, increase the accuracy of its guidance systems and put us, South Korea, and Japan in more jeopardy.”

“We have fooled around with North Korea for 25 years, and fooling around some more is just going to make matters worse,” he added.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:13 am 
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Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said during a Fox News appearance that the only “diplomatic” solution remaining to reel in North Korea’s aggressions would be to have South Korea “take it over.”


Give me a hit off that before you put it out.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:59 pm 
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The last generation, the one all for reintegration has grown up and learned better.

The South Koreans don't want the North. No one does.

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