We got to the Korean War in my history class and my students were genuinely surprised to learn that the war does not have close the significance in the US as it does here. That the war is colloquially called 'the forgotten war" was a surprise as well.

And, I will admit to be surprised that they had not even heard of M*A*S*H, which approaches the totality of civic education about the Korean War in the US...

The fact that there is a significant US troop presence here, and that American culture and language have so saturated the country, the students definitely could be forgiven for thinking that Americans consider Korea vitally important in economic, strategic, and even moral ways.

As my students readily figured out, the dominance of Vietnam in American memory has a whole lot to do with the relative invisibility of Korea.

My personal and professional opinion is that American involvement in Iraq, in what is most likely to be a longterm troop presence in some way, will increase the significance of the Korean model.

The longstanding obsession with WWII will inevitably fade and Korean War's place imbedded in the Cold War could well shift. The fact that David Halberstam's book on the war has just come out is a sign that there is a broader public consciousness surfacing.

South Korea has been such an incredible success economically and politically that Americans could definitely find a worse model for Iraq. But the cohesion of Korea ethnoculturally, the integration of the political economy in the Pacific Rim, and the absence of oil were all strong indicators of future success. Iraq has nothing similar to offer, and, of course, oil is poison and a curse for the even and integrated economic development of any nation.

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