CISTP Co-hosts Changing National Security Landscape, 1945-1953: The Ray Davis ’38 Legacy Symposium
On December 1, 2016 the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy (CISTP) co-hosted “Changing National Security Landscape, 1945-1953: The Ray Davis ’38 Legacy Symposium” with the School of History and Sociology. The symposium honored the legacy of the late General Raymond G. Davis, an alumnus of the Institute, as well as the 65th anniversary of the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, where General Davis earned his Medal of Honor.
The program focused on the Korean War and how the conflict shaped the national security landscape at the beginning of the Cold War. The keynote speaker, General James L. Jones, a former National Security Advisor and 32nd Commandant of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) provided candid remarks about General Davis, for whom he served as aide de camp, and the impression he left on those who served with him.
Melvyn P. Leffler, Edward Stettinius Professor of History at the University of Virginia, followed General Jones by discussing the Korean War in a larger historical context, largely in the context of the evolution of the Cold War and the emergence of the national security state. He claimed that the period between 1950 and 1953 was extraordinarily significant in shaping the Cold War and the institutionalization of the national security state, and provided three reasons why this was the case: 1. The Korean War institutionalized the arms race and made it a way of life for the next four decades, 2. The national security state was consolidated in terms of the institutional and bureaucratic mechanisms of the American government, 3. The Korean War lead to the globalization of the Cold War, shifting it from Europe (where many thought it was being waged) and expanded it to the East and Southeast Asia.
Colonel Mackubin Owens, USMC, Ret., the Dean of Academics of the Institute of World Politics (IWP) in Washington, DC, discussed specifics of the war, outlining that the United States was not prepared to enter the war. He stated that this was a “limited” war from the US perspective, comparing it to the “unlimited” war that was World War II. The Korean War was “limited” for a number of reasons: 1. That it was a diversion for a main Soviet attack against NATO in Europe, 2. The unification of US armed forces and subsequent issues that followed, 3. And the lack of budgetary support to fund a serious effort and face a heightened Cold War.
John Garver, Professor Emeritus at the Georgia Institute of Technology, provided remarks on China’s role in the Korean War, pointedly stating that the Chinese fervently believe that they won the war due to their ability to halt the United States’ advance and force a full withdrawal. He further indicated that China’s intervention in the war was Mao’s decision and went entirely against the advice of Stalin, further establishing China as a growing power.
The symposium concluded with the Legacy of the Korean War Panel, which opened the floor to questions from the audience. Questions ranged from a specific breakdown of units involved in combat, the implications moving forward after the conclusion of the war, and how the Republic of Korea evolved in the decades following the war.