WORTH A BLACK EYE
Chicago 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."
VERSUS 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 peoples' 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
Morgenstern, 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 humanity."
TRUTH COMES OUT
years 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.
is 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 such evidence pointing
to war crimes committed by American solidiers, 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. For what
the facts suggest is far bleaker should be: in the sense that
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.
Hesselman, 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."
WILL PROTECT US FROM OUR PROTECTORS?
one knows how many South Koreans were murdered in this way:
that one 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."
MATTER OF POLICY
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.
LESSON FOR TODAY
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.
CAN'T HAPPEN HERE?
you 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?
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.
IN THE CROSSFIRE
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 A DIVERSION
is 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, D.C., 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 the case 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
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.
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.
I'm 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."
years 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 imperial overstretch.
THE ROAD TO A CONSISTENT VISION
as 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 Myrmidons 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.
is as good a time as any to thank all the wonderful people
who have so far contributed to our fund appeal. I won't mention
any specific figures, since the donations are still coming
in and being tabulated, but I just want to say thank you
in the best way I know how and I can conceive of no
better way than by sending a thank you gift. I am delighted
to be able to send to all our donors of $40 or more a copy
of Ronald Radosh's classic study of the Old Right conservatives,
Prophets on the Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics
of American Globalism. Boy, we were so lucky to
get our hands on these the book is long out of print.
With his insightful profiles of such Old Right heroes as Robert
A. Taft, John T. Flynn, Charles A. Beard, and Lawrence Dennis,
Radosh, a noted scholar, does a masterful job in presenting
the unknown history of conservative noninterventionism. Reading
it will give you the whole context in which the massacre a
No Gun Ri took place: Radosh gives voice to the suppressed
history of those noninterventionists who opposed the cultural
degeneration, noted above by Beston, that is the saddest consequence
of the Cold War. Now there is yet another reason to
donate to our Fall Fundraising Campaign: not only our continued
existence, but your own intellectual enlightenment.