This paper explores the particulars of the Korean War (1950-1953), as the proxy war that the USSR fought against the U.S., and describes the effects of this War on the formation of the socio-cultural and geopolitical aspects of the Cold War era.
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The Korean War of 1950-1953 is now being referred to as one of the 20th century’s bloodiest military conflicts. Even though it initially started as merely a civil war within Korea, it did not take too long for the ensued hostilities to transform into a full-scale military clash between the forces of Capitalism and Socialism in the arena of international politics.
In fact, it appears to have been merely incidental that the Korean War did not lead to the outbreak of WW3 between the U.S. and the USSR – the development that most political observers of the time used to find fully plausible. Therefore, this War does deserve to be closely studied; as such that contains a number of important clues into the essence of geopolitical dynamics in the world.
The most important of these clues is that the significance of political developments in the world is best assessed within the conceptual framework of the Realist theory of international relations, which insists that these relations are defined by the never-ending confrontation between the world’s most powerful states, and which refers to a war as merely the most pervasive form of diplomacy (Sterling-Folker 78).
In my paper, I will aim to explore the validity of this suggestion at length, in regards to the discursive aspects of the Korean War, while promoting the idea that the historical event in question does teach many important lessons about what the notion of geopolitics stands for – something that should prove to be of particular relevance nowadays, when the U.S. and Russia once again contemplate the possibility of declaring war on each other.
I will also promote the idea that the Korean War can be best discussed in terms of the so-called ‘proxy war’ (a war that is being waged by one country on another, without the official declaration of hostilities), fought by the USSR against the U.S.
Ever since the end of WW2 in Europe, the allied relationship between the USSR and the U.S. began to deteriorate rather rapidly – the process that led to the famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech by Winston Churchill, delivered on March 5, 1946. On one hand, the U.S. and Britain feared that it was only a matter of time before the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin would try to occupy Western Europe and to install a Communist rule there.
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The Soviet government, on the other hand, was perfectly aware of the fact that the American agenda of promoting ‘democracy’ all over the world was in essence concerned with limiting the sphere of the Soviet geopolitical influence, which in turn created the objective preconditions for the USSR and the U.S. to cease considering each other allies. In fact, even as early as in 1946, the American government was giving it a thought to subject the Soviet Union to a nuclear attack – we refer to the operation Dropshot, well known to historians.
Nevertheless, as of 1945, the formal alliance between these countries was still there, which in turn explains the actual origins of the Korean War. From 1910 until the end of the WW2, Korea remained under the yoke of Japanese occupation. According to the terms of alliance-treaty between the U.S. and the USSR, the latter declared war on Japan on August 8, 1945.
This meant that the Soviets would take part in the disarmament of the Japanese Kwantung Army (in the aftermath of the eventual capitulation of Japan), which at the time had the bulk of its soldiers stationed in Korea.
It was agreed between Joseph Stalin (Soviet leader) and Harry Truman (American President) that the Soviet army enters Korea from the North and continues to liberate the country from the Japanese until it reaches the 38th parallel – a boundary between the Soviet and American occupation zones. The Americans were supposed to liberate the Southern part of Korea. The Russians reached the line by August 18, 1945. The Americans did the same on September 7, 1945.
It was agreed between the allies that the future of Korea was to be determined by the U.N., which in turn proclaimed that there were to be held all-national elections in this country by the year 1948. However, after having taken control of the Northern part of Korea, the Soviets declared that it was solely up to The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), headed by Kim Il-sung, to be in charge of forming the country’s government. Therefore, they forbade holding any U.N.-sponsored elections in the territory under their control.
This was the reason why, even though these elections did take place as planned (May 10, 1948), only the half of Koreans were able to participate in them – specifically, those who resided in the country’s southern part, which at the time was still remaining under American control.
Consequently, this particular development led to the creation of two states in the Korean peninsula – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (with Kim Kim Il-sung as its Communist leader) and the Republic of Korea (or South Korea), with Syngman Rhee as its President. Each country claimed to be the only legitimate one while referring to its antagonist across the 38th parallel in terms of a ‘puppet state.’ As Zhihua noted: “Both Korean regimes hoped to unify Korea through military means.
Military clashes and fighting never stopped along the 38th parallel. The South Korean leader Syngman Rhee continually churned out war propaganda and repeatedly initiated military provocations after U.S. troops withdrew. In North Korea, Kim Il-sung actively considered an attack on the South” (47).
Nevertheless, despite the fact that throughout the course of 1948-1950, the DPRK and South Korea continued to grow increasingly hostile towards each other, they were able to refrain from resorting to the military means of advancing what represented the official agenda of each of these countries – uniting Korea within the boundaries of one state.
The main reason for this had to do with the fact that both: Stalin and Truman were not in the big rush to react positively to the pleas of their Korean allies (Kim Il-sung and Syngman Rhee, respectively) to provide them with money and weapons so that they could proceed with unifying Korea. Apparently, Stalin and his American counterpart were perfectly aware that their positive decision to intervene, in this respect, could result in bringing about the outbreak of WW3.
The mentioned state of indecisiveness, on the part of the Soviets and the Americans, did not last for too long. Two major events predetermined the escalation of political tensions in the Korean peninsula into a war – the founding of NATO, and the creation of the People ’s Republic of China in 1949. After having been refused to join the newly created organization of NATO, the USSR began to perceive it in terms of an acute geopolitical threat to its very existence.
Essentially the same can be said about the reaction of the U.S. to the victory of Communism in China – the U.S. government rightly considered it a threat to its ability to exercise much influence in Southeast Asia. The successful test of a nuclear bomb by the Soviets in 1949 did not help the matters – as time went on, more and more Americans were beginning to think of the USSR as the ‘evil empire,’ committed to the cause of enforcing Communism throughout the world.
This partially explains the rationale behind the adoption of the Proposition 68 by the National Security Council in 1949, according to which the main objective of America’s foreign policy was to oppose the Soviets in their attempts to expand the sphere of the USSR’s geopolitical influence in the world (Fautua 94). It needs to be mentioned that America’s fear of the prospect of having to deal with the Soviet dominance on the planet was not altogether groundless.
As of 1948: “The Soviet army had 2.5 million troops, with 31 Soviet divisions and 90 satellite divisions in Eastern Europe. The Soviet air force could field some 500,000 men and 15,000 aircraft… Soviet forces could overrun Western Europe very quickly advancing to the channel and neutralizing Britain” (Young 31).
In its turn, the creation of Communist China helped to persuade Stalin that he was indeed in the position to give ‘go-ahead’ to Kim Il-sung’s plans to invade South Korea, in order to impose a Communist rule there, without risking the chance of any direct military confrontation with the U.S. It would be up to the Communist Chinese and not the Soviets, to provide Kim Il-sung with ‘cannon fodder’, in case he comes up with the request of assistance.
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Nevertheless, Stalin did agree to supply Kim Il-sung’s army with weapons and assured the North Korean leader that the USSR would provide all the necessary diplomatic support for the intended war-effort, on his part. According to Tucker: “In 1949, Stalin sent word to Kim that he was prepared to render military assistance and then received Kim in Moscow for a secret meeting in April 1950, after which he sent Kim on to Beijing to secure Mao’s approval of the planned invasion, which began on 25 June 1950” (277).
Thus, as of spring 1950, the ground was set for the war between the DPRK and South Korea to be triggered at any moment. The development in question took place on June 25, 1950, when the North Korean force of nine infantry divisions, one tank brigade and one mechanized regiment (75.000 strong), crossed the 38th parallel and began advancing in the Southward direction.
This marked the beginning of what later became to be known as the Korean War, and which turned out to be the first proxy war between the U.S. and the USSR.
On June 7, 1945, the U.N. Security Council denounced the aggression by North Korea and authorized the use of military force by country-members to help the South Koreans fighting off the Northern invaders. The reason why the Soviet representative in the U.N. Security Council at the time did not veto this resolution, is that he was not physically present during the concerned Council Session while protesting the Council’s decision to allow Taiwan to take China’s seat.
The U.S. was put in charge of leading a military operation against North Korea. The USSR declared America’s decision to become involved to be the blatant violation of international law and announced that it would be willing to provide the North Koreans with modern weapons.
Throughout the early phase of the war, the KPA (Korean People’s Army) was able to advance deep into the territory of South Korea, while indulging in the successful battles with the ROK (Republic of Korea) army and with the units of the U.S. Army, stationed in the country.
Among the most notable of these battles can be named the Battle of Taejon (July 14–21, 1950), in which North Koreans captured Major General William F. Dean as a war prisoner. During this period, the KPA was able to capture Seoul and to take control of about 90% of South Korea’s territory. As a result, the U.S. troops found themselves under siege in the port city of Pusan.
One of the reasons why the KPA succeeded rather spectacularly in combating the army of South Korea at the time is that in the summer of 1950, the former enjoyed the overwhelming air-superiority. In its turn, this was made possible by the fact that prior to having invaded the South, the KPA received 87 Yak-9 (fighter) and 110 IL-10 (ground-support) aircraft from the USSR.
Even though these Soviet planes were considered obsolete at the time (piston-engine), they nevertheless came as a hugely valuable asset for the North Koreans – especially given the fact that, as of summer 1950, the Air Force of South Korea had in its possession only a few dozen of trainer-planes.
It is important to understand that despite its name, the KPA represented a thoroughly professional and well-trained military force. The reason for this is that the Korean People’s Army emerged as a regiment of the Soviet Army in 1942 when Kim Il-sung (who at the time held the rank of captain in the Soviet Army) was entrusted with the task of raiding rearwards of the Japanese Kwantung Army in Manchuria (Lankov 56).
Throughout the years 1945-1950, the KPA’s officers used to undergo military training in the USSR, which in turn explains why the North Korean army’s approach to conducting warfare closely matched that of the Soviet Army. Specifically, throughout the War, the KPA’s top-commanders favored the strategy of subjecting the enemy formations to the concentrated artillery barrage and using tank-regiments to ensure the speedy encirclement of these formations.
However, the North Koreans forces did not enjoy being victorious for too long. After having been substantially reinforced, the U.N. Army (headed by General McArthur) launched a counteroffensive on September 15, 1945, and quickly recovered the lost ground. The U.N. forces captured the North Korean capital Pyongyang on October 23, 1945.
The allied success, in this respect, came largely as a result of McArthur’s insistence to have the arriving Allied troops equipped with the most advanced weapons available, such as P-80 jet-fighters, B-29 bombers, and M-24 (Pershing) tanks. Thus, it will not be much of an exaggeration to suggest that the Korean War became a proxy war for the Soviet Union as early as the time of the development in question.
After all, it now represents a well-established fact that at least a few Soviet pilots flew some of the North Korean Yak-9s and IL-10s, mentioned earlier. It was specifically throughout this period of the Korean War that the Soviets have grown to regard the Americans as their natural enemies, which in turn contributed rather substantially towards the intensification of political tensions between the USSR and the U.S.
That this was indeed the case can be illustrated, in regards to the fact that even the earliest phases of the Korean War have been marked by the tendency of mass media in both countries to represent the opposing side as the embodiment of evil. For example, people in America were encouraged to believe that the USSR had the agenda of conquering the whole world and is that it was only a matter of time before the Soviet bombers would show up in the American skies. In this regard, the Soviets did not fall too far behind.
Whereas the Pre-war Soviet propaganda used to refer to the evilness of Capitalism in somewhat general terms, this ceased to be the case in the months following the outbreak of the Korean War – the ‘American imperialism’ was officially proclaimed by the Soviets as the greatest menace that humanity has ever faced (Casey 65).
Nevertheless, it was, namely, throughout the third phase of the Korean War that the proxy confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union has reached its peak. The beginning of this phase is assumed to have coincided with the time when Communist China decided to become actively involved in the War in order to prevent the capitulation of North Korea. There can be only a few doubts that the mentioned scenario was indeed thoroughly plausible.
After all, it was not only that through the second half of 1950, the U.N and the South Korean armies were able to retake much of the previously lost territory, but they also succeeded in decimating the KPA’s manpower rather substantially. For example, it is being estimated that at least 100.000 North Korean soldiers were taken prisoners in the aftermath of McArthur’s capture of Seoul. By October 1950, the forces of Kim Il-sung faced the prospect of being defeated.
However, McArthur’s eagerness to report to Washington the complete victory over the North Koreans as early as this point in the War proved rather unjustified. The reason for this had to do with the fact that, while faced with the prospect of having the American troops advancing all way up to the border with China, the Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung came to realize that China could not tolerate such a scenario.
Having been an ardent Communist, Mao-Tse-tung could not help regarding the military successes of the U.N. invasion-force in Korea, as such signified Capitalism’s ‘planetary offensive.’ He managed to convince the rest of China’s top-ranking officials to choose in favor of sending the Chinese troops to help the North Koreans in their struggle with American imperialism. As Campbell pointed out: “Mao’s decision to intervene was driven by his assessment of U.S. strategic moves.
He interpreted the Korean intervention, sending of the U.S. fleet to the Taiwan Strait, and aid to the French in Indochina as parts of an American ‘invasion’ of Asia” (18). It needs to be noted that Stalin did play an important role in Mao’s decision to intervene.
In fact, it was named on account of Stalin’s promise to supply the Chinese with the most advanced weapons that Mao Tse-tung agreed to give ‘go-ahead’ to the invasion force of 36 infantry divisions (combined in 12 armies) to cross the 38th parallel. Officially speaking, however, the actual Chinese army did not have anything to do with the development in question; because the country’s government proclaimed that the Chinese military units in Korea were made of ‘volunteers.’
This again can be referred to as yet an additional indication that the Korean War does deserve to be referred to as the Soviet proxy war. After all, it was Stalin behind Mao’s decision to get involved in the conflict. While knowing perfectly well that the Chinese invasion would result in the deaths of thousands of American soldiers, the Soviet leader nevertheless chooses in favor of intensifying the escalation – the Soviet government could not allow the U.S. to solidify its presence in Southeast Asia.
While understanding perfectly well that the successes of the U.N.-led military campaign in Korea were predetermined by the fact that the U.S. Air Force continued to enjoy aerial superiority, Stalin decided to send the Soviet 64th Fighter Aviation Corps (230 MiG-15 planes and 1100 pilots) to take part in providing aerial support to the invading Chinese forces.
Aerial combat between the Soviets and the Americans in the Korean skies accounts for the most notable ‘proxy clash’ between both geopolitical superpowers early in the Cold War. Even though Stalin did agree to assist the Chinese militarily, there were a number of conditions under which the Soviet pilots had to fight. The main of them were as follows:
1) The airstrips were to be built in China in order to prevent them from being subjected to the retaliative bombings by the Americans. The reason for this is that, as it was implied earlier, China was maintaining semi-neutrality in the Korean War, while being simultaneously allied with the USSR. What this meant is that by attacking China, the U.S. would face the risk of being declared war upon by the Soviets.
2) The Soviet pilots were forbidden from flying closer than 100 kilometers to the frontline in order to exclude even a slight possibility for some of the top-secret MiG-15 planes to be captured by the U.N./South Korean forces because this would expose the Soviet Union as a blatant violator of international law. As a result, the international reputation of the USSR would suffer a great deal of damage.
3) The Soviet pilots had to wear North Korean uniforms, to fly planes adorned with the North Korean insignia, and to use Korean or Chinese language while communicating with each other over the radio during the combat. The requirement to speak Korean or Chinese proved unattainable.
As Pepelyayev pointed out: “The worst thing was the order to speak only Korean or Chinese language on the radio… It was impossible psychologically in the heat of battle to use a foreign language you hardly knew. So, after a week or two, we (Soviet pilots) just decided to ignore the order” (par. 16). Still, most of the deployed measures to conceal the participation of the Soviet pilots in the Korean War proved rather effective – throughout the War’s entirety, there has not been even a single incident of the Americans had captured a Soviet pilot alive.
Even though the number of aerial wins/losses, scored/sustained by the Soviet pilots, continues to remain the subject of speculation, there can be only a few doubts that the squadrons of Soviet MiG-15s in Korea did contribute rather substantially towards ensuring the success of the Chinese invasion. It also helped to reduce the effectiveness of the U.N./American aerial presence in the area. According to McCarthy: “Altogether, the Soviet forces claimed 1,309 American kills, while admitting to losing some 350 aircraft and approximately 200 pilots.
American records generally agree that U.S. combat losses numbered around 1,300 but acknowledge that only 139 were lost to air-to-air kills (the rest being lost to anti-aircraft fire), and claim a total of 823 MiG-15s (792 claimed by F-86 pilots), an unknown number of which were piloted by Russians” (37). Still, it would be quite inappropriate to suggest that Stalin’s desire to help Kim Il-sung to take over Korea was the lone motivation behind the Soviet leader’s decision to become involved in the conflict.
It is important to understand that, as it happened to be the case with just about any other proxy war fought by the USSR (such as the 1936 Spanish Civil War), the Korean War provided the Soviets with the unique chance to test their new weapons in the real-combat environment.
Despite the fact that, in the technological sense of this word, the Soviet fighter-planes MiG-15s were far ahead of their American counterparts F-86s, many Russian pilots lacked the experience of operating these planes in combat. Moreover, as of this time, the Soviet Air Force’s aerial combat tactics did not differ much from those that were used by the Soviet pilots during WW2 – prior to the advent of the jet-engine era.
Therefore, it was of crucial importance for these pilots to be able to try out their new MiG-15s in dogfights with F-86s. What added even more to the acuteness of the necessity in question is that MiG-15s were designed to intercept the American strategic bombers, and it lingered in the air whether these planes would prove to be the effective dogfighters, as well.
It needs to be mentioned that, even though the Americans did know perfectly well that the pilots who flew MiG-15s were overwhelmingly Russian, they were not in the big rush to admit publicly of such their awareness.
In fact, the U.S. Department of State tried its hardest to keep information about the Soviet involvement in the Korean War well concealed from the public: “The American policy of disavowing knowledge of Soviet involvement in the Korean War was maintained fairly successfully throughout the duration of the conflict, and was assisted by the Soviet preference not to publicize its role.
Following the armistice in the summer of 1953” (McCarthy 43). As of today, it is commonly suggested that the rationale behind this policy had to do with the U.S. commitment to trying to avoid a war with the USSR. This suggestion, however, cannot be regarded as such that represents an undisputed truth-value.
The reason for this is that the Korean War was not only the proxy war of the USSR against the U.S. but also the other way around. As it was implied earlier, by the year 1947, there were remaining only a few doubts that it was only a matter of time before both countries would declare war on each other – in full accordance with the principle of historical dialectics. Yet, as the practice of the WW2 showed, America is only able to win wars in the aftermath of having ensured the complete dominance of its Air Force in the skies over the area of combat.
Therefore, the bombing raids of B-29s deep into North Korea, the majority of which took place through the second and third phases of the War, appear to have served the main purpose of testing the effectiveness of the Soviet air-defense system.
Apparently, before deciding in favor of declaring war on the USSR, Truman needed to gain a preliminary insight into what would happen to the squadrons of B-29s sent to drop nuclear bombs on Soviet cities. This allows us to identify yet another reason why proxy wars are being fought in the first place – they make it possible for countries to resort to the military (the most effective) means of resolving a particular geopolitical conflict, without having to come up with the formal declaration of war on each other.
The above-stated also helps to pinpoint what can be deemed the main inconvenience of having to fight a proxy war – the fact that the country’s chances of victory in such a war cannot be predicted with certainty. For example, it is quite clear to just about any military specialist that, unlike what it was the case with the Germans during WW2, the Soviets did succeed in preventing the U.S. bombing raids from being able to have a strong effect on the overall outcome of the Korean War.
What it means is that, in the technical sense of this word, the U.N. forces did sustain a defeat in Korea. This, however, does not seem to undermine the sheer strength of people’s belief that the Korean War proved victorious for the U.S, in the long run.
The reason for this is apparent – due to being unable to take credit for thwarting the U.S. aerial offensive in Korea, the Soviets had no option but to agree with their American counterparts that MiG-15s have been indeed ‘beaten’ by F-86s, even though that is the reality this was the other way around.
The effects of the Korean War on the continuation of the Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR were indeed numerous. Among them can be named:
1) The Korean War triggered the expansion of NATO, on the one hand, and of the Warsaw Treaty Organization, on the other. This eventual development was predetermined by the fact that, in the aftermath of the Korean War, both: the U.S. and the USSR have grown to realize that the future war between them would be of a truly global magnitude – something that required both countries to apply an additional effort into securing more and more allies.
The military theoreticians in the U.S. also realized the benefits of conducting a proxy war against a particular country – something that continues to define America’s approaches to tackling geopolitical challenges across the world up until today. After all, the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Ukraine are best defined in terms of a global proxy war that the U.S. is nowadays waging against Russia.
2) The Korean War increased the power of the warmongering lobby in the U.S. body politic. The fact that the U.S. troops have sustained heavy losses in the Korean War resulted in creating an atmosphere of fear among the Americans – hence, making them favor the political initiatives concerned with the increase of military expenditures.
According to Jervis, “Korea produced public support for a greatly enlarged military budget because the Communist threat seemed more vivid and a great deal of money was needed to maintain the troops fighting in Korea” (112). In its turn, this contributed rather substantially towards legitimizing the ‘witch-hunt’ policies of the sixties, when one’s affiliation with the Left used to be considered a crime.
3) The Korean War revealed the existence of a certain antagonism between the USSR and China, which will later develop in the ideological schism between these two countries. Apparently, Mao Tse-tung was not entirely happy with Stalin’s reluctance to take an active stance in regard to the situation in Korea.
As Campbell pointed out: “U.S. officials saw Stalin as the puppet master for the Communist side, while the Chinese resented being the water carrier for the socialist camp and (along with their North Korean allies) grumbled about inadequate Soviet supply efforts” (2). The U.S. will be able to exploit this schism to its advantage during the sixties when it recognized China to be at the forefront of the Communist movement and proclaimed the USSR’s geopolitical agenda to be essentially ‘imperialistic.’
Thus, it will be fully appropriate to suggest that one of the Korean War’s major effects on the Cold War had to do with the weakening of the Soviet geopolitical power to an extent. The reason for this was that, as a result of having allowed China to take the lead in helping Kim Il-sung’s war-effort, the USSR had lost its right to be considered the only ‘true beacon of Communism.’
4) The Korean War helped to prove the validity of the idea that the USSR and the U.S. were in the position to fight ‘limited wars,’ with the risk for these wars to develop into a full-scale nuclear conflict being reduced to a minimum.
This, in turn, resulted in the popularization of the idea that, while trying to confront the expansion of the Soviet sphere of interests on this planet, the U.S. should invest the ever-increased amounts of money into establishing the network of its military bases in just about every part of the world. Essentially the same can be said about the lessons of the Korean War for the Soviet military strategists – prior to the collapse of the USSR in 1991, the Soviets did maintain a number of military bases abroad.
5) Even though the overall effect of the Korean War on the USSR was rather negative than positive, this war did help the Soviet Union to establish itself as a country that is always ready to help the so-called ‘national liberation movements’ to deal with the legacy of colonial oppression in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
This added considerably to the making of the Cold War, as we know it, in the sense of dividing the ‘developing’ nations of the Third World on those committed to the ideals of Socialism, on the one hand, and those affiliated with the American ‘free world,’ on the other.
6) The Korean War made impossible the fast recovery of the Soviet economy in the aftermath of WW2. This simply could not be otherwise, because despite having participated in this War on the ‘by proxy’ basis, the Soviet Union was required to invest the substantial amounts of economic resources in backing Kim Il-sung’s army, throughout the conflict’s entirety. Consequently, this led many Soviet citizens to end up being disillusioned with the ideals of Communism, even as early as the early fifties.
As a result, it had dawned upon the Americans that the Cold War could be won by the mean of inciting the political and economic dissent among Soviet citizens, so that they would be willing to collaborate with the agents of foreign influence in the USSR – hence, helping to undermine the country’s national integrity from within.
As we are well aware, it is named, the implementation of this specific scenario on the part of the U.S., which made it possible for the Americans to come winners out of the Cold War with the Soviets, and which ensured this War’s ‘bloodless’ nature.
As it was implied in the Introduction, there is indeed a good reason in referring to the Korean War as not having been merely the Soviet ‘proxy war’, but also as such that showed once again that it is namely the Realist theory of international relations, which allows the conceptually valid assessment of the geopolitical developments in the world.
The rationale behind this suggestion has been explored throughout the entirety of the paper’s analytical sub-chapters. After all, what has been mentioned is fully consistent with one of the main principles of Realpolitik – the world’s most powerful nations are bound to remain in the state of continual confrontation with each other, while required to do just about anything it takes to prevent each other from becoming much too powerful, in the geopolitical sense of this word.
The fact that the modernity’s socio-technological realities allow countries to wage proxy wars comes in rather handy, in this respect. This is exactly the reason why, ever since the end of the Korean War, the number of the ongoing proxy wars in the world continued to increase exponentially – the USSR and the U.S. were equally interested in maintaining this state of affairs, as something that helped them to refrain from declaring a formal war on each other.
What is particularly notable here is that the factor of ideology appears to have played a rather neglectful role in the process. After all, nothing prevented China and the USSR from declaring each other enemies during the sixties, despite being Communist countries. Similarly, nothing prevents the U.S. and Russia from waging proxy wars on each other in Syria and Ukraine as we speak, contrary to the fact that both countries are considered ‘democracies.’
This once again emphasizes the full appropriateness of referring to the Korean War, as not only the first proxy war that the USSR had ever waged on America, but also as the conflict that had a powerful impact on defining the qualitative subtleties of the Cold War era. I believe that this conclusion correlates perfectly well with the paper’s initial thesis as to what should be considered the discursive significance of the Korean War.
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