What Was the Forgotten War?

Abandoned military block post in the Donbass region of the Ukraine.
Abandoned military block post in the Donbass region of the Ukraine.

Wars like the world wars are talked about in most circles, and their veterans looked at with awe and respect for their role in shaping the history of the world. However, some wars have not received the same recognition. Thus the branding of ‘forgotten wars.’ Most governments almost dismiss the existence of these wars and even deny their involvement in those wars. Even during their occurrence, the wars were treated as footnotes on the news. Only a few details of these wars are known.

The War of 1812

The War of 1812 was between the US and Great Britain following disagreements on merchant's vessels. The US was for many years caught between France and Britain’s struggle to keep each other from trading with the US. The US attacked the British colony of Canada in an act of aggression towards Britain after Britain violated US maritime rights. The war, which took place during the reign of President Madison, received little recognition and many do not understand most of its details. The war ended in December 1814 after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.

The Korean War

The Korean War was fought for three years from 1950. The war was between North and South Korea with major supporters being China, the Soviet Union, and the US. After North and South Korea split, differences arose regarding which of the two was the legitimate government of Korea. Both south and north did not recognize the boundary set between them and were in constant conflict. When the UN brought in peace forces, it was seen as an invasion of North Korea. The war ended with the ratification of an armistice and the formation of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.

The Donbass War

The Donbass War is an ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which began in 2014. The battle began soon after the Ukrainian revolution. The entry of Russian armed forces under the guise of humanitarian convoys triggered the start of the war as Ukraine viewed this as a direct invasion by Russia. The call for a ceasefire did not help in maintaining peace between the two as both sides breached the truce. More than ten ceasefire agreements later, and the two countries are yet to resolve the conflict.

The Laotian Civil War

The Laotian civil war lasted from 1959 to 1975. The war broke out soon after Laos gained independence from the French. The war was fought between the communist group, the Pathet Lao, assisted by several North Vietnamese and on the other side was the Royal government of Laos. The war involved the US troops, the army from North Vietnam, the army from South Vietnam, and the army of Thailand who were involved either directly or through proxies. Since the country was a neutral ground during the Cold War, most participants including the US denied their involvement in the war. The US fought in support of the government and the Hmong tribe. The US initiated an intensive bombing of the country, leaving behind a trail of destruction years after the war ended. It took the US government up to 1997 to acknowledge its involvement in the Laotian civil war. Laos was bombed with about 2 million tons of bombs by the US between 1964 and 1973, almost equivalent to the bombs the US dropped in Europe and Asia during WWII, standing at 2.1 million tons. Laos has held the infamous record as the world’s heavily bombed nation on earth relative to its population size.

Legacy of the Forgotten Wars

Many of the forgotten wars are rarely talked about. The worst part about these wars is that even the number of casualties and war practices are often shrouded in mystery. The soldiers who fought in these wars are hardly regarded as heroes. These wars had an impact on communities and countries like all other major wars in history. For instance, it is estimated that Laos had about 78 million unexploded ordinances when the war ended which has continued to affect and maim the citizens to date. About 300 Laotians are injured or killed by the ordinances every year.


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