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Limited War Sets the Stage for the POW Odyssey

Charles S. Young

in Name, Rank, and Serial Number

Published in print May 2014 | ISBN: 9780195183481
Published online April 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780199344796 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183481.003.0002
Limited War Sets the Stage for the POW Odyssey

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The global Cold War shaped the Korean conflict and limited its scope. The United States entered the war under the assumption that fighting could be limited to the Korean peninsula. It was part of a much bigger competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, communism and capitalism. The Cold War would be won by persuading other countries which bloc was more dynamic, powerful, and attractive. Image was all-important. The tactics of psychological warfare fit well with the Cold War ideological rivalry. Militarily, the Korean War stalemated in summer 1951. This shifted the focus of the struggle to politics; each side used the armistice talks as platforms for scoring points with the international audience. This allowed prisoners of war to become central. The Chinese used American prisoners to denounce the war, while the United Nations Command began a campaign in its prison camps to persuade POWs to defect.

Keywords: Larry Zellers; 38th Parallel; Kim Il-sung; NSC-68; Project Troy; containment; limited war; armistice; psychological warfare; psyops

Chapter.  5928 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas ; Military History

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