By John LaForge
â€œWe went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or anotherâ€¦ Over a period of three years or so, we killed off, what, 20 percent of the population?â€
â€” General Curtis LeMay, inÂ â€œStrategic Air Warfare,â€ by Richard H. Kohn
The US public wants to know why North Korea is so paranoid, militarily hostile and boastful. And why do the leaders in the capital city Pyongyang point their fingers at the US every time they test another rocket or bomb? Sixty-five years after the US burned down every town in North Korea, the US military is now simultaneously bombing or rocketing seven different non-nuclear countries. The US conducts military exercises with South Korea off the Northâ€™s coastline twice a year.
The US regularly tests Minuteman-3 long-range nuclear missiles Â¾ from Vandenberg Air Base in California Â¾ that can reach and obliterate Pyongyang. Several presidential administrations have called North Korea â€œevil,â€ a â€œstate sponsor of terrorism,â€ and â€œthreatening.â€ US military officials have called North Koreaâ€™s tiny, backward, nearly failed state the â€œprinciple threatâ€ to the US security. North Korea may have reason to worry.
North Koreaâ€™s rocket tests mostly fail but are nevertheless called â€œprovocativeâ€ and â€œdestabilizingâ€ by the State Dept., the Council of Foreign Relations, and the White House. This is regardless of which party is in power. Bill Clinton said in 1994: â€œIf North Korea ever used a nuclear weapon, it would no longer continue to exist.â€ Likewise today, Defense Secretary Jim â€œMad Dogâ€ Mattis used similarly bombastic language discussing North Korea August 8. John Walcott reported for Reuters that Mattis said the North must stop any action that would â€œlead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.â€
Consider Living Memory
In Robert Neerâ€™s 2013 book â€œNapalm,â€ the author reports that General Lemay wrote, â€œWe burned down just about every city in North and South Korea Â both â€¦ we killed off over a million civilian Koreansâ€¦â€ Eighth Army chemical officer Donald Bode is quoted as saying, on an â€œaverage good dayâ€ â€¦ pilots in the Korean War â€œdropped 70,000 gallons of napalm: 45,000 from the U.S. Air Force, 10,000-20,000 by its navy, and 4,000-5,000 by marinesâ€ Â¾ marines who nicknamed the burning jellied gasoline â€œcooking oil.â€
Neer found that a total of 32,357 tons of napalm were used on Korea, â€œabout double that dropped on Japan in 1945.â€ More bombs were dropped on Korea than in the whole of the Pacific theater during World War II Â¾ 635,000 tons, versus 503,000 tons. â€œPyongyang, a city of half a million people before 1950, was said to have had only two buildings left intact,â€ Neer wrote. This is still living memory in North Korea.
Howard Zinnâ€™s â€œA Peopleâ€™s History of the United Statesâ€ says, â€œPerhaps 2 million Koreans, North and South, were killed in the Korean war, all in the name of opposing â€˜the rule of force.â€™â€ Bruce Comingâ€™s 2010 history â€œThe Korean Warâ€ says, â€œof more than 4 million casualties â€¦ at least 2 million were civilians. â€¦ Estimated North Korean casualties numbered 2 million including about 1 million civilians… An estimated 900,000 Chinese soldiers lost their lives in combat.â€
After Truman fired Gen. MacArthur in May 1951, the former supreme commander testified to Congress, â€œThe war in Korea has already almost destroyed that nation of 20 million people. I have never seen such devastation. I have seen, I guess, as much blood and disaster as any living man, and it just curdled my stomach, the last time I was there. After I looked at that wreckage and those thousands of women and children â€¦ I vomited.â€
Demâ€™s Take Finger Off the Button (For a Minute)
Two democratic presidential hopefuls said in 2007 that theyâ€™d take the threat of nuclear attack â€œoff the table,â€ hinting at their discomfort with the idea of the Bombâ€™s deliberate mass destruction. In April 2006, then New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton was asked in a TV interview about her position toward Iran. She said, â€œI have said publicly no option should be off the table, but I would certainly take nuclear weapons off the table. This [Bush] administration has been very willing to talk about using nuclear weapons in a way we havenâ€™t seen since the dawn of the nuclear age. I think thatâ€™s a terrible mistake.â€
On August 2, 2007, Barak Obama said to the AP, â€œI think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,â€ pausing before he added, â€œinvolving civilians,â€ The New York Times reported. Obama quickly retracted the statement saying, â€œLet me scratch that,â€ but his intent was loud and clear Â¾ and needs repeating: The long-standing U.S. threat to â€œkeep all options open,â€ that is its willingness to use nuclear weapons against human beings, must be abolished. H-bombs cannot be used without indiscriminately killing of hundreds of thousands if not millions of civilians, creating deadly radioactive fallout that drifts into non-conflict areas, and causing long-term environmental damage, all in violation of the laws of war, the UN Charter, and the Geneva Conventions.
Clintonâ€™s and Obamaâ€™s public put-downs of nuclear weapons attacks are both rare and bold in their implications for the nuclear weapons establishment. More such talk should be encouraged.
At least a dozen former nuclear war planners â€” Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Melvin Laird, Generals George Butler, Charles Horner Â Andrew Goodpaster, and Admirals Stansfield Turner, Noel Gayler, and Hyman Rickover, among others â€” have denounced nuclear weapons and called for their elimination.
What is it exactly to threaten to destroy an entire countryâ€™s people? Is it terrorism? Trumpâ€™s fire and fury â€œthe likes of which the world has never seenâ€ would have to be beyond the half million dead in the US Civil War; 18 million overall deaths in World War I and 50 to 80 million dead in World War II; 3 million dead Vietnamese and at least 2 million dead Koreans. As usual, Mr. Trump cannot be taken seriously, or he is frighteningly unhinged.
Even, the late Paul Nitze, Reagan White House presidential adviser, a rightwing Cold War hawk, and a founder of the anti-Soviet Committee on the Present Danger, wrote in 1999, â€œI can think of no circumstances under which it would be wise for the United States to use nuclear weapons, even in retaliation for their prior use against us.â€
John LaForge, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and is co-editor with Arianne Peterson of Nuclear Heartland, Revised: A Guide to the 450 Land-Based Missiles of the United States.
1 comment for “North Korea Has Many Reasons to Fear the US but the US Has Few to Fear North Korea”