June 25, 1950. I will never forget that day when I learned that the Korean War had begun. I was seven years old, walking home from the library, my young feet dragging with worry, that familiar, sinking feeling of DREAD in my solar plexus, the impossible weight of the world on my skinny, narrow shoulders.
Of course, I did not know the real story of the Korean War. All I knew was I felt the horror for three long years, until the war was over and a “truce” was called.
Nor did I know that North Korea has hated the U.S. ever since that terrible war. A war that, as usual, was never taught in school. Nor, of course, were we taught what really went on in that war. Did YOU know that they lost fully 20% of their people to American bombs? Now, regarding latest iteration of American determination to foment regime change, I recognize that the current vitriol foaming from the North Korean leader’s lips (more than matched by Trump’s fiery rhetoric) would not be surprising to the Korean people. And furthermore, that there is good reason why, in a survey taken early this year, that more than 24% of the respondants said the U.S. is the greatest threat to world peace.
For the record, it was the North Koreans, and not the Americans or their South Korean allies, who started the war in June 1950, when they crossed the 38th Parallel and invaded the south. Nevertheless, “What hardly any Americans know or remember,” University of Chicago historian Bruce Cumings writes in his book “The Korean War: A History,” “is that we carpet-bombed the north for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.”
How many Americans, for example, are aware of the fact that U.S. planes dropped on the Korean peninsula more bombs — 635,000 tons — and napalm — 32,557 tons — than during the entire Pacific campaign against the Japanese during World War II?
How many Americans know that “over a period of three years or so,” to quote Air Force Gen. Curtis LeMay, head of the Strategic Air Command during the Korean War, “we killed off … 20 percent of the population”?
Twenty. Percent. For a point of comparison, the Nazis exterminated 20 percent of Poland’s pre-World War II population. According to LeMay, “We went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea.”
Every. Town. More than 3 million civilians are believed to have been killed in the fighting, the vast majority of them in the north.
Douglas visited Korea in the summer of 1952 and was stunned by the “misery, disease, pain and suffering, starvation” that had been “compounded” by air strikes. U.S. warplanes, having run out of military targets, had bombed farms, dams, factories, and hospitals. “I had seen the war-battered cities of Europe,” the Supreme Court justice confessed, “but I had not seen devastation until I had seen Korea.”
I wonder if Vladimir Putin has read Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hitman? These are the two books I recommend as essential reading for those willing to re-educate themselves re: American “foreign policy,” i.e., regime changes the U.S. foments in one country after another — and why. But then, Putin doesn’t have to read these books; he knows first hand that of all the countries the economic hit men would like to get their hands on, it’s Russia itself, by far the largest, nearly-pristine, untapped land mass in the world.
Here are Putin’s views on the current sword-rattling over North Korea:
Meanwhle, Steve Pieczenik views the Korean broohaha in a larger context — as a Trumpian strategy that echoes the way Pieczenik says Trump works his business deals: pretending that it’s one thing when it’s really another. In this case, according to Pieczenik, the current crisis has more to do with China and India than it does with North Korea.
I see this morning that, if Pieczenik is right, then China knows too.