Hawkeye joked a lot about Korea and the army at the 4077th. But he hated the blood. He hated pulling lead out of chests. He hated the violence. And if you think M*A*S*H showed even a hint of realism to what American G.I.’s and Koreans suffered in the Korean War, a sequel to the real shooting war would be worse than anything imaginable.
Some elements would stay the same, like young troops falling under a massive exchange of fire, civilian losses, urban devastation, and more ordnance than all the hairs on our heads. Some conditions would be strikingly different. If ever committed to conflict, the North Koreans would face an American military with recent combat experience and the latest technology. The carnage would ramp up with GPS bombs, cyber weapons, satellites and a toy store full of drones. Special Forces, an elite system of operatives never seen in the 1950s conflict, would wreak havoc on the enemy.
We always pray for a brief affair, but warfare never submits to a timetable. Weather, disease and terrain can bog down even the strongest force. Prisoners, no doubt showcased by rapid-fire media, will complicate things. And there is a risk that a trampled North Korea would resort to nastier weapons. All this confusion and bloodshed on a peninsula slightly larger than Utah.
When warhawks parry with diplomats, let us trade worry and dread for simple hope. Let us hope that angry rhetoric is soon forgotten, that tempers subside, that deployments are brief, and that regional leaders begin to see a brighter future than the dreary moments behind and before them.