The Vietnam War and Korean War had many similarities. First of all, the decision to start both wars had the ideological background. According to the Truman Doctrine, the government of the United States supposed that in case if Korea and Vietnam choose communism as the ideology, the United States have to stop this process.
Such measure seamed only one good solution used in order to prevent the expansion of communism around the Asian continent and around the world. However, the way battles, the use chemical weapons and millions of victims demonstrated that those wars were unfair regarding to the citizens of Korea and Vietnam. While the United States and the URSS were solving their ideological conflicts, millions of the local citizens were involved in this process.
Although the Vietnam War and Korean War had the same ideological roots, methods of battles, both countries were separated for two parts where North parts were favored communism and South were favored democracy; there were also a number of differences such as the way of development of the conflicts where the Korean War was during three years and the Vietnam War was the prolonged struggle, the participation of the Chinese troops in the Korean War, the use of chemical weapons in Vietnam and the different outcomes.
After the World War II, the world faced with the new way ideological wars. In fact, the world was separated between the United States and the URSS, democracy and communism. Considering the expansion of the communism among the Asian countries, the United Stated had to develop the measures which could stop the expansion of communism and to spread the ideas of democracy and liberalization on the Asian continent.
In the end of 50s, when the Cold War started to be more open and clear, the United States and the URSS decided to find out which political system is stronger. According to the article The Cold War, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam, “it grew out of long-standing disagreements between the United States and the Soviet Union over which type of government and economic system produced the most liberty, equality, and prosperity” (The U.S. Department of State publication).
Obviously, both of the systems did not want to start the open conflict and especially to do it on their territory. They chose Vietnam as the base where both systems could examine their forces, fighting with each other. In fact, such politics was the continuation of colonial rule that always existed in this part of the earth but with different face.
The conflict of two economical and political systems, communism and liberalism, cause a number of problems and led to the several military conflicts. The Vietnam War and Korean War were two of those conflicts. After the World War II, the leaders of Vietnam started to accept the system offered by the URSS and considered communism as the only one possible and acceptable system for this country.
The conflict occurred in the middle of 50s and located in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (Edwards 1998). At the beginning, it was not an evident war, it was rather hidden, latent conflict overage to the serious and prolonged war. According to the Digital History, the project of University of Huston, “between 1945 and 1954, the Vietnamese waged an anti-colonial war against France and received $2,6 billion in financial support from the United States” (Digital History).
Obviously, the United Stated did everything in order to get the support and to provide the protection to this area. Thereby, when Vietnam decided to choose communistic way of development, the United Stated did not want to lose their power in the country and had to answer.
The county was divided into two parts: North and South. The United States sent 2,000 soldiers in order to help the South Vietnam which preferred liberalism. In 1963, a number of the U.S. soldiers in this area was about 63,000 (Digital History). The conflict lasted until 1970s and ended only in 1973 when the U.S. forces were withdrawn. South and North Vietnam were reunited only in 1975.
The situation in Korea was different. This war started as the evident military conflict when in 1950 North Korea with help of the URSS crossed the border with South Korea. North Korea favored communism, while South Korea tried to build the country based on the liberalism.
Again, as it was in case of Vietnam, the country was a base on the confrontation of two political and economical systems supported by the United States and the URSS. One important difference between the wars in Vietnam and Korea lies in the presence of the third force. The Chinese troops participated in Korean War as the country had its own interest in this area and wanted to protect it.
The United Nations attitude and influence on the Vietnam War and Korean War was similar. The war is always terrible event that should be stopped as soon as possible. No matter who started the conflict and why, the UN have to do everything in order to make the both sides arrange the peaceful agreement.
However, in case of the Vietnam and Korean Wars, the UN did not provide an appropriate solution. It is evident that the UN could make something and prevent the conflicts. However, during the Cold War, the situation in the world was complicated and even the UN were unable change this.
The UN supported the South Korea during the War. The United Nations Security Resolution decided to help the South Korea and to stop the forces of North Korea. In case of the Vietnam War, the UN helped the US and Korea to arrange the peaceful agreement in 1975. In honour of this agreement, North Vietnamese Prime Minister Tho and the US Secretary of State Kissinger got Nobel Peace Prize.
In both situations, the United States wanted to protect their interests as well as the Soviet Union tried to help the communistic regime. It would be wrong to claim that the United States only particularly participated in the conflicts. The United States and the URSS supplied the Vietnamese or Korean armies and, in fact, both the U.S. and the URSS started those wars; moreover, both countries wanted this to happen.
Because it was a real chance to prove their strengths. Although it sounds terrible but, actually, the Vietnam War and Korean War were the games of two world’s superstates. Although the UN could not stop the wars, they had to forbid the use of chemical weapons. Besides, after more than 40 years since the Vietnam War, one can notice that no one was punished for the crime towards the Vietnamese nation.
Differences of battle way consisted in the various weapons used in those wars. Thus, first of all, the Vietnam War is noted by the use of the chemical weapons and the terrible consequences for the nation. As the result, the Vietnam War “cost the United States 58,000 lives and 350,000 casualties; it also resulted in between one and two million Vietnamese deaths” (Digital History).
As it was mentioned before, this war started as the latent conflict; therefore, the way of battles was different than during Korean War. Although the United Stated provided weapons, ammunition and military advisors for both South Korea and South Vietnam, the way of ballets in Vietnam was more aggressive and terrible. As the result of the use of chemical weapons, millions of Vietnamese were infected and got terrible diseases. Even today the nation can still feel the influence of those events.
Although both the Vietnam and Korean Wars were caused by the same reasons, the circumstances and the peculiarities of them were quite different. The similarities of two wars were the same ideological background, the confrontation of two super nations, the US and the URSS, and their economical and political systems. Vietnam War was the prolonged struggle and lasted more than 10 years, while Korean War – only three. Vietnam War was the most unpopular event in the history of the United States.
The chemical weapons were used during the Vietnam War. Two wars had different outcomes: the US protected South Korea but lost South Vietnam. Besides, the territory of Vietnam was exposed to the serious damage including people’s loss, spreading of diseases and mass destruction of the cities and villages.
Digital History, n.d. Learn About the Vietnam War, http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/modules/vietnam/index.cfm (accessed March 31, 2012).
Edwards, Paul M., ed. 1998. The Korean War: an annotated bibliography. US: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.
The U.S. Department of State publication. n.d. The Cold War, Korean Conflict, and Vietnam. In USA History in Brief, http://www.america.gov/st/educ-english/2008/June/20080610230508eaifas3.126597e-02.html (accessed March 31, 2012).