There were only two centers of power in the world, and the United Nations was neither of them

Monday, July 13th, 2020

The lessons America learned from World War 2 might not have been the right lessons, as T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

At the end of World War II, American military policy, digesting the Japanese lessons in China, was to control air and sea lanes throughout the East but never to engage in ground hostilities on the Asian mainland.


The only war that military planners could envision was a big one between the United States and the Soviet Union.


The military continued to plan for the only kind of war they had been told to plan for: worldwide, atomic holocaust.


They knew that military considerations, as they foresaw them, required the removal of troops from the Korean periphery, but also that the “rat leaving the sinking ship syndrome” was very prevalent in Asia.


The pragmatists in the high echelons of foreign policy could accomplish many things by fiat or executive agreement, but they could not raise troops or money against the popular will. This was a basic weakness to the policy of containment inherent in any parliamentary democracy, and as it proved in Asia, an insurmountable one, that would recur again and again, in China, in Korea, and finally in Vietnam.


There were only two centers of power in the world, and the United Nations was neither of them.

Stalin, who had asked how many divisions the Pope had, knew exactly how many divisions the U.N. maintained: none.


  1. Adar says:

    Vietnam in part was not highly popular [or even at the most basic level popular] with the USA military high command as a suitable place for American troop involvement.

    Asian adversary with tremendous manpower resources and able and willing to use that manpower in a profligate manner.

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