Statistics

Wars Without Congressional Declaration of War

Wars without a Congressional Declaration of War II The decision by President Harry Truman to fight the spread of communism in Korea in 1950 set the precedent for engaging in a protracted military conflict without the benefit of congressional approval as stipulated by the Constitution. Despite the loss of 33,686 American lives, it was judged by history as largely successful. The two major wars that followed, Vietnam and the present war in Iraq was enjoined with no formal declaration of war but both will likely be viewed as a tragic loss of American men and women as well as American credibility. Still, many question whether the death of thousands of Americans was worth the gains in South Korea. Of those killed in the Korean War, 4,759 died while missing in action (MIA), 2,806 perished in prison camps (POW) and 2,484 died of wounds received (All POW, 2001). More than 8,000 soldiers are still listed as missing. Of the 1.7 million American troops deployed to Korea, the official number killed was more than 33,000 but when including those who died from illness, accidents and wounds received after they came home, the number rises to approximately 53,000. U.S. expenditures exceeded $64 billion dollars on the war (Yan, 2003). The most deadly battles all occurred during the first year of the war. Three thousand six hundred three American soldiers died in the initial battle, the Pusan perimeter that lasted from August 4 through September 16, 1950. Another 1,641 were killed at the Chosin Reservoir, November 27 – December 9 and 1,194 at Kunu-Ri, November 29 – December 9 (The Forgotten War 2007). The hard lesson learned, seemingly, from America’s involvement in Vietnam was that possessing an overwhelming military force does not guarantee victory. Though three million enemies were killed compared to 58,156 on the American side, the ‘big dog’ in the fight eventually had to run home with its tail between its legs, beaten and humiliated. More than 2,594,000 U.S. military personnel were sent to South Vietnam from 1965 through 1973 in addition to the 50,000 ‘advisors’ prior to that. Of those, 75,000 were classified as severely disabled with more than 23,000 soldiers classified as 100 percent disabled. The MIA total was 2,338 and 114 of the 744 POW’s were killed (Duffie, 2004). The U.S. entered the Vietnam War and the recent invasion of Iraq to spread democracy to oppressed peoples (the official representation) and with great optimism for victory. Both conflicts supplied a similar paradigm: the ability of America to use its military power as an ideological, social and political tool is limited. According to the prophetic words of a current world leader, If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem, George W. Bush, Jan. 2000 (Vice President, 2000).As of October 9, 2007, 3817 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq and 28,093 have been wounded according to official statistics (Casualites, 2007). However, this figure does not include an additional 7,533 who have been injured and needed medical air transport and another 21,112 who have become ill and needed medical air transport. The total number of service members who have been wounded, injured, and stricken with a disease in Iraq is 56,654 (Button, 2007). One and a half million Americans have been deployed to Iraq and/or Afghanistan since the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. According to the Congressional Budget Office, $430 billion has been spent on Bush’s ‘war on terrorism’ with an additional $9 billion being spent every month (Estimated Costs, 2007). The current conflict in Iraq proves that if this important lesson learned from the involvement in Vietnam was not understood and the U.S. is finding itself in other foreign relations quagmire which is weakening its military, economic stability and political standing within the world community. This is a lesson the defunct Roman Empire never learned and a similar fate waits America if it continues to repeat the same mistake that was Vietnam and is now Iraq. Works CitedAll POW/MIA Korean War Casualties. Washington Headquarters Services. June 1, 2000. Directorate for Information Operations and Reports (WHS/DIOR). October 9, 2007 Button, Wendy. 56,654 Hurt in Iraq. (2007). The Huffington Post. October 9, 2007 Casualties in Iraq. Anti War.com. October 9, 2007 Duffie, Tim. Vietnam War Statistics. (2004). October 9, 2007 Estimated Costs of an Iraq War. About.com. October 9, 2007 The Forgotten War…Korea. (2007). October 9, 2007 Vice President Gore And Governor Bush Participate In Presidential Debate. (2000). CNN.com. October 9, 2007. Yan, Li. Korean War: In the View of Cost-effectiveness. (2003). New York: Consulate General of the Peoples Republic of China. October 9, 2007

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