Skip to main content

Cold War Battles

June 2024
1min read

As the Cold War seemingly came to an end with the disintegration of the Soviet Union in December of 1991, I recalled your December 1986 issue and the article by John A. Garraty entitled “101 Things Every College Graduate Should Know about American History.” Entry 78 of that article contained the 1947 quotation by George F. Kennan on containment, which was the seed of the policy that our government adhered to for the next fortyfour years while it waged the not entirely cold Cold War.

It now appears that the policy of containment worked. Maybe other policies would have achieved the same or a better result, but that is something we cannot clearly tell as yet. Because it did work, I think it is time we took a new look at the Korean War and the Vietnam War and view them not as wars but as battles in that longer Cold War.

No nation expects to win every battle of a war. It only expects to attain ultimate victory. We did achieve that end. People who view the Korean War as not a victory and the Vietnam War as a defeat might well now readjust those conclusions.

Our neglected Korean War veterans and our tortured Vietnam War veterans should be encouraged to see that their participation in those battles was part of an overall Cold War plan that was successful. We could then, at last, afford them the gratitude that their service and sacrifice earned them.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.