Sixty years ago this summer, the United States was figuratively caught with its pants down on the other side of the world. What we have come to know as the Korean War began on 25 June 1950, when six North Korean infantry divisions and three border constabulary brigades swept across the 38th parallel and invaded South Korea. Approximately 100 Soviet-built T-34 tanks supported the communist solders.
Five years earlier, the United States was at a pinnacle in terms of world power after having contributed vast amounts of manpower and national treasure to defeat determined German and Japanese enemies. But then came the Cold War, as both the Soviet Union and the United States continued to vie for supremacy. "Godless communism" became the new foe, and the administration of President Harry S. Truman opted for a policy of containment, that is, seeking to limit the expansion of communist power. The policy was notably successful in Italy and Greece, not nearly so in Asia, where Mao Tse-tung's communists prevailed on mainland China.