How to Build a Nation: Nearly 60 Years Ago, Americans Marched into a Small, Ravaged Country Thousands of Miles Distant, Determined to Transform It into a Modern Nation. They Could Not Have Imagined How Successful They Would Be-Or How Long the Transformation Would Take

By Ekbladh, David | The Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2004 | Go to article overview

How to Build a Nation: Nearly 60 Years Ago, Americans Marched into a Small, Ravaged Country Thousands of Miles Distant, Determined to Transform It into a Modern Nation. They Could Not Have Imagined How Successful They Would Be-Or How Long the Transformation Would Take


Ekbladh, David, The Wilson Quarterly


It was a grim autumn. The United States was trapped in an increasingly unpopular conflict, with much of the nation's military strength committed to a grinding, seemingly endless struggle. America was confronted by a dangerous new enemy in the world, but critics on both sides of the political spectrum argued that the current battleground was far from the best theater in which to confront it. At the United Nations, the Security' Council was in gridlock as other powers stymied U.S. initiatives. America's allies, including the British, whose troops were fighting beside the Americans, were growing more and more uncomfortable with Washington's bellicose rhetoric, worrying that the Americans' loud talk would inflame the entire region. The United States could reassure itself with the thought that it beaded an international coalition, but this was cold comfort when the U.S. Treasury was paying most of the bills for the foreign troops and local forces. There was no easy way out. Americans realized that military action had committed them inescapably to a prolonged effort to reconstruct and modernize a distant land. To abandon a country shattered by war and decades of authoritarian role would be a poor advertisement for the type of political and economic system the United States wanted to promote.

But the situation in South Korea would improve the following year. Events in 1953 would diminish, to some extent, the anxieties that had marked the end of 1952. Exhaustion on both sides of the conflict brought a tenuous truce. Joseph Stalin's death in March prompted changes in Soviet strategy. In Washington, Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, bringing with him a fresh approach to the Korean conflict, and in New York a new UN secretary general, Dag Hammarskjold, began to revive the organization's reputation, which had declined under his predecessor, Trygve Lie. But even as the military side of the conflict lurched to a conclusion with the signing of an armistice in July 1953, and a degree of equilibrium returned to international politics, the United States was forced to confront once again its seemingly open-ended commitment to building a modern nation-state in South Korea.

That commitment had begun suddenly--almost accidentally--in 1945. We've forgotten today just how deep it has been and how much it has cost in blood and treasure. By 1980, the Republic of Korea had received $6 billion in nonmilitary aid from the United States, much of it during 20 years of intensive effort in South Korea between 1945 and 1965. But the development programs weren't about dollars only. America aimed to remake many aspects of South Korean life in order to lay the foundation for a modern society on a Western model. It was a process subject to constant alteration, negotiation, and opposition.

American involvement in Korea began in the backwash of World War II, but it took on increasing significance as the global Cold War evolved. Success in Korea would allow the United States to prove to the world the superiority of its approach to development. After Japan's defeat in World War II, American and Soviet troops rushed into the power vacuum that bad been created in northeastern ,Asia. Korea was abruptly freed from the colonial rule to which it had been subject since annexation by Japan in 1910. A hasty decision in August 1945 split the peninsula into a Soviet sphere of influence in the North and an American zone in the South. In a late-night meeting at the State Department, Americans suggested the 38th parallel as the boundary between the two--and were surprised when the Soviets accepted. They should riot have been. The demarcation resembled an agreement made some 50 years earlier between Japan and tsarist Russia when both were wing for dominance in Korea.

For the Americans, stability in the South was essential to counter a communist-controlled North and to carry out the larger U.S. strategy in East Asia at a time of uncertainty and peril in the region. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

How to Build a Nation: Nearly 60 Years Ago, Americans Marched into a Small, Ravaged Country Thousands of Miles Distant, Determined to Transform It into a Modern Nation. They Could Not Have Imagined How Successful They Would Be-Or How Long the Transformation Would Take
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.