Adding up to an unexpected sum

“Of the many miscalculations made by both sides during the Korean War, perhaps the most egregious on the Communist side was the misunderstanding of how Western democracies, principally the United States, would respond to a North Korean invasion of the South, that it would be viewed through the prism of Munich. [President] Truman’s thoughts were, as he recalled, of how the democracies had failed the last time to stop Mussolini in Ethiopia and the Japanese in Manchuria, and of how easily the French and British might have blocked Hitler’s moves in Austria and Czechoslovakia. In his mind, the Soviets had pushed—perhaps even ordered—the North Koreans to cross the [38th] parallel, and he believed that the only language the Russians understood was force. ‘We had to meet them on that basis,’ he later wrote.” – David Halberstam, The Coldest Winter

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