I found your point about MacArthur’s effect on the Vietnam War to be quite fascinating, as well as agreeable. As with several topics throughout our econversation, I find it incredible that I didn’t think of it sooner.
After all, The United States was riding high after World War II. We were the most stable power in the world, and the American people now had an immense sense of national dominance. The winning of the second Great War – along with our newfound collective disdain of Soviet Communism – filled Americans with a patriotic fervor that hadn’t truly been seen since our wars with the British. The United States had its new enemy, as well as a shiny new superweapon – the atomic bomb. If war was inevitable, many believed that our victory would be as well.
Then the Korean War changed all of that. You perfectly summarized the events of MacArthur’s biggest blunder, so I will let your summation speak for itself. While it may be “The Forgotten War” today, Korea was an all-too-remembered dashing of the American ego at the time. If the Cold War ever finally heated up on a massive scale, our victory was no longer a guarantee. The United States felt a sting that would foreshadow its approaching defeat at the hands of the American press, who had a little help from the Viet Cong.
The Korean stalemate infected America’s gung-ho attitude with trigger-shy hesitation. The effects of this hesitation would not be felt immediately, but the cancer was getting ready to spread. Even when the United States had been at its most insignificant position on the world stage, we still felt ourselves big enough to throw another punch at the English crown. America’s sense of military superiority wouldn’t return until the decisive defeat of Iraq in the First Gulf War. Its regained pride in the U.S’s military abilities would then only be reinforced by 9/11.
However, the United States finds itself in another slump of doubt. The failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the continuing spread of Islamist terrorist groups across the world, and the growing threats from Russia and China have left the American people fatigued and frightened by the possibility of further war. I know the idea of World War III frightens me. Einstein once said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” And that was back in 1949, before third rate countries had the power to destroy the world!
So, I now find myself wondering if America can ever answer the call of a just war again. There were many critics of World War II before history showed the evil of Nazism. In a world where escalation to nuclear war is always on the table, would Americans risk it for a worthy cause?