Britain & Japan in Korean & Gulf Wars

Compares nations’ roles, political, economic & military responses, public views in conflicts of 1950s & 1990s.

Britain and Japan are both island nations and former empires. But, despite their similarities, their economic and military experiences since World War II have been shaped by their roles as victors and vanquished in that war, as well as by their divergent cultures. A comparison of their roles in the Korean War and the Gulf War more than 40 years later teaches some important lessons about national character as well as the persistence of historical memory.

When the Korean War began in 1950, Great Britain’s economy was rebounding but was still only in the beginning stages of recovery from five years of war-related overspending. It was also struggling to absorb the economic shock of the first stages of withdrawal from its far-flung empire. As the generally benign…