NOT WORTH A
Tribune averred that the battle for the Korean peninsula
was not worth the life of a single American and wondered why
we were going to war over the fate of a small nation when
we had not done so over the fate of a much larger one China.
Conservative columnist John O'Donnell doubted whether the
entire nation of South Korea was "worth a black eye on the
face of one American soldier."
CROMWELLIANS: NOT A DIME'S WORTH OF DIFFERENCE
Dennis, the isolationist intellectual and accused "seditionist,"
who had been put on trial by FDR and smeared as a "fascist"
by the War Party, remarked that the battle between the Korean
factions reminded him "of the Battle of Tippermuir in 1644,
when the Knoxite Presbyterians fought the Cromwell religious
fanatics, the two gangs being as much alike as two peas, under
the banner proclaiming 'Jesus and No Quarter.'" The dictatorship
of Syngman Rhee differed from the North Korean Communists
only in their choice of slogans, leaders, and foreign sponsors.
Robert A. Taft who supported the war, albeit reluctantly
and tentatively noted that Truman had failed to ask Congress
for a declaration of war: a precedent was set, and from that
moment forward the power to unleash American military might
once reserved to the people's representatives was usurped
by the chief executive. At the time, with war hysteria obscuring
most conservatives' devotion to the Constitution, this omission
was little noted: we are paying for it, today, and it spades.
Let those Republican congressmen who demanded to know by what
authority President Clinton was taking us to war in Kosovo
investigate the complicity of their Republican predecessors.
a writer and journalist with the Chicago Tribune, presciently
declared that the American occupation of the Korean peninsula
would reward us with "a ravaged country on our hands, a discredited
Korean government, and a Korean army impotent to fight its
own battles." Even worse, the start of the Korean conflict
augured a new and dangerous course for the United States:
we were, Morgenstern predicted, well along on the road to
"world power, aggrandizement, and exploitation of everyone
else." Writing in the conservative newsletter Human Events,
Henry Beston noted that American pilots spoke of a bombing
raid as "a perfect peach of a big fire" and sadly commented
that "it is the talk of a culture which has lost its natural
THE TRUTH COMES
after Beston's comment, the Associated Press has documented
the brutality and atrocities carried out by American "liberators"
in that unwinnable and entirely avoidable war. As the AP reporters,
in interviews with veterans and the survivors of the massacres,
show: American soldiers machine-gunned hundreds of civilian
refugees under a railroad bridge near the South Korean village
of No Gun Ri, some 100 miles southeast of Seoul. The AP report
demonstrates that the cultural rot that had inured us to the
destruction of Dresden and the atomic bombing of the two Japanese
cities really began to set in during the Korean war.
big news in America: it is old news in South Korea. For years,
the survivors of the massacre have been petitioning the South
Korean and U.S. governments, demanding recognition of the
crime and compensation. They were simply ignored, or brushed
off, and told that there was no evidence pointing to war crimes
committed by American soldier's, either at No Gun RI or anywhere
else. Now, the Associated Press has unearthed that evidence,
and it seems Beston's diagnosis "of a culture which has lost
its natural humanity" is optimistic, at best. The Korean War
seems to have been the beginning of a descent into barbarism
a retrogression that has devolved quite naturally into
the carpet-bombing of Iraq and the "humanitarian" devastation
of the former Yugoslavia.
of Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, was there that day in late July.
He quotes his captain as saying: "The hell with all those
people. Let's get rid of all of them." Norman Tinkler, of
Glascoe, Kansas, was there too. He says, "We just annihilated
them." Yet another veteran of that noble war, Edward L. Daily,
of Clarksville, Tennessee, sums up the whole grisly episode
with a bit of prose worthy of Stephen King: "On summer nights
when the breeze is blowing, I can still hear their cries,
the little kids screaming."
WHO WILL PROTECT
US FROM OUR PROTECTORS?
No one knows
how many South Koreans were murdered in this way: the incident
at No Gun RI alone involves several hundred. "The command
looked at it as getting rid of the problem in the easiest
way," says Daily, and "that was to shoot them in a group.
How many North Koreans were in there, I can't answer that.
But we ended up shooting into there until all the bodies we
saw were lifeless." We were slaughtering the very people we
were telling the world were in danger from the "Communist
threat" when the real and most immediate threat to them
was from their own "liberators."
A MATTER OF
I will not
dwell on the numerous horrifying details, amply supplied in
the original Associated Press article, but merely point out
the lesson for today: that the goal of governments in wartime
is the same as it is in peacetime to cover up their crimes
and even give them a gloss of necessity if not nobility. Even
today, with the evidence broadcast around the world, the Pentagon
continues to deny any knowledge of what was apparently military
policy in the Korean non-war, aptly and succinctly summed
up by Mr. Hesselman's nameless captain: The hell with all
those people. Let's just get rid of them.
A LESSON FOR
As the AP
story dryly put it, "From the start of the Korean war, there
were numerous reports of North Korean atrocities, including
the killing of civilians and summary executions of prisoners.
But the story of No Gun RI was not told, beyond sketchy news
reports in 1950 implying that American troops might have fired
on refugees. The reports were apparently not pursued." As
the editorial Jannisaries of the Cold War until the Vietnam
debacle, most reporters were not inclined to follow up any
story that would put the war effort in a bad light just
as, today, they are not inclined to pursue the story of just
what is happening to the people of Iraq, and how US bombers
rained death on helpless Yugoslav civilians from 30,000 feet.
IT CAN'T HAPPEN
say, that couldn't happen today, what with all this wonderful
technology we have: why, the Internet has abolished secrecy
and the story of US atrocities would immediately get out.
The reality is that it has already happened in the
two above-mentioned cases and it is likely to happen
again. Sure, the truth is out there, somewhere, on the Internet:
right here, to be exact, @ Antiwar.com. But so what?
The War Party is not exactly sleeping: they never sleep. Their
propaganda fills the airwaves, just as it did in 1950: the
same bipartisan gang of internationalist Republicans and Democrats
who set up tripwires from the thirty-eighth parallel to the
Berlin Wall cross this line, and it is war. Will we
have to wait fifty years before the crimes of the NATO-crats
are uncovered, documented, and publicized?
Those tripwires bedevil us yet, even decades
after the collapse of Communism and the complete isolation
of the North Korean regime. Unable even to feed its own people,
racked with famine, with less than half the population and
resources of its Southern rival in Seoul, the North Korean
regime cannot last and has no interest in provoking a war
with the US, which, to this day, stations tens of thousands
of troops to protect the South Koreans from an invasion that
will never come unless we provoke it.
CAUGHT IN THE
In any case,
the presence of the US army in the wake of these revelations
of atrocities committed against the Korean people is likely
to become much more problematic. American troops are going
to be caught in the crossfire between a rising Korean nationalism
in the South and the increasing instability and desperation
of the Communist regime in the North. While very little news
comes out of North Korea, it is not unlikely that the worsening
famine and increased isolation has created rifts in the leadership.
In the South, the opposition to the US presence will only
increase, and these divisions could, in themselves, provoke
war. The favorite diversion of endangered elites is always
to discover some foreign enemy, whose eradication must be
accomplished at all costs a diversion away from their troubles
on the home front.
THE COLD WAR
what the so-called Cold War was all about: for fifty years,
anti-Communist conservatives were diverted from the main enemy,
which was in Washington, DC, and not in any foreign capital,
including the Kremlin. Conservatives need to learn the real
lesson of the Cold War, and not just the Korean episode: as
in of World Wars I and II, and for the same reasons, we should
never have intervened. For the past few weeks, I have been
writing in defense of Patrick J. Buchanan's wonderful book,
A Republic, Not an Empire, which dares
to suggest that the US should never have allowed itself to
be dragged into World Wars I and II and that the world
would have been a better place for it. I have defended this
important book because this is a big and bold step forward
for the legions of conservatives who are now coming to reclaim
their Old Right heritage of noninterventionism and America
First. But now they need to take another big step, though
not such a giant step as they have taken initially.
COLD WAR REVISIONISM
For if we
are to question the whole rationale for the two World Wars
that destroyed our Old Republic and ushered in the age of
Empire, then we need to see how that Empire was formalized
and made a permanent part of the "capitalist" economy and
the policy of the elites during the Cold War. Pat Buchanan's
revisionist history of two world wars is an excellent introduction
to the general subject of how and why the real story of those
fateful conflicts was buried, distorted, and denied. Now you
owe it to yourself to get acquainted with the revisionist
history of the Cold War.
TIME AND TRAVAIL
not just talking about William Appleman Williams and the "leftist"
school, but the conservative and libertarian opponents
of the Cold War. Their analysis stands the test of time. The
libertarian polemicist Frank
Chodorov penned what he titled "A Jeremiad" in the summer
of 1950, as the Cold War turned hot, which drew a bleak portrait
of a wartime regime that had effectively eliminated dissent,
seized control of the economy in the name of "national security,"
and ushered in a new age of collectivism and perpetual war.
The Korean war, he believed, meant the death knell of liberty
in America, the final consolidation of what had been a republican
form of government into the Warrior State. "There will be
a resurrection," he wrote, "for the spirit of freedom never
dies. But its coming will take time and much travail."
later, after much more travail than Chodorov could have imagined,
the resurrection of the movement known as America First or
the Old Right seems imminent. The creation of an organized
and self-consciously noninterventionist movement on the Right
is a development that would have given even the pessimistic
Chodorov hope. Buchanan's book is a great beginning but
he, unfortunately, explicitly endorses the Cold War as, all-in-all,
justified, in spite of errors made along the way. As I noted
in my original review, while Buchanan covers the history of
America's wars in great detail, from the Spanish-American
War to the annexation of Texas to World Wars I and II, he
glosses over the Cold War in a few pages, attributing the
collapse of Communism to Ronald Reagan and the US military
buildup. That was one crusade that worked but this contradicts
the rest of his book, as at least one reviewer other than
myself has pointed out, an anomaly that stands out like a
sore thumb in an otherwise closely reasoned argument against
ON THE ROAD
TO A CONSISTENT VISION
the Treaty of Versailles and the Draconian "peace" imposed
on Germany led directly to the conditions that gave rise to
Hitlerism and the planted the seeds of World War II, so the
crimes of the Cold War have planted new seeds from which new
will rise out of the blood-soaked earth. Buchanan, to his
great credit, sees this happening, in Russia and in China,
and is bravely sounding the warning: "For god's sake, let's
don't start World War III," he said, speaking against NATO
expansion. But you can't argue against NATO expansion without
understanding and critiquing its origins. Buchananites have
taken the first step on the road to a consistent America First-ism
now they need to take another.
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