The American Way of War

No, not really. I don't have either the time or the patience to find links, so I'm going to take a lot of quotes from one article out of context, and I'll generalize them.

The article is Korea: forgotten nuclear threats.

Napalm was invented at the end of the second world war. It became a major issue during the Vietnam war, brought to prominence by horrific photos of injured civilians. Yet far more napalm was dropped on Korea and with much more devastating effect, since the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had many more populous cities and urban industrial installations than North Vietnam.

and a bit further down:

“Men all around me were burned. They lay rolling in the snow. Men I knew, marched and fought with begged me to shoot them . . . It was terrible. Where the napalm had burned the skin to a crisp, it would be peeled back from the face, arms, legs . . . like fried potato chips” (2).

That's a quote about friendly fire, napalm being dropped on American troops, here's what they did to the civilians:

“The inhabitants throughout the village and in the fields were caught and killed and kept the exact postures they held when the napalm struck - a man about to get on his bicycle, 50 boys and girls playing in an orphanage, a housewife strangely unmarked, holding in her hand a page torn from a Sears-Roebuck catalogue crayoned at Mail Order No 3,811,294 for a $2.98 ‘bewitching bed jacket - coral’.” US Secretary of State Dean Acheson wanted censorship authorities notified about this kind of “sensationalised reporting”, so it could be stopped (3).

One of the first orders to burn towns and villages that I found in the archives was in the far southeast of Korea, during heavy fighting along the Pusan Perimeter in August 1950, when US soldiers were bedevilled by thousands of guerrillas in rear areas. On 6 August a US officer requested “to have the following towns obliterated” by the air force: Chongsong, Chinbo and Kusu-dong. B-29 strategic bombers were also called in for tactical bombing. On 16 August five groups of B-29s hit a rectangular area near the front, with many towns and villages, creating an ocean of fire with hundreds of tons of napalm. Another call went out on the 20 August. On 26 August I found in this same source the single entry: “fired 11 villages” (4). Pilots were told to bomb targets that they could see to avoid hitting civilians, but they frequently bombed major population centres by radar, or dumped huge amounts of napalm on secondary targets when the primary one was unavailable.

MacArthur’s orders were “to destroy every means of communication and every installation, and factories and cities and villages. This destruction is to start at the Manchurian border and to progress south.” On 8 November 1950, 79 B-29s dropped 550 tons of incendiaries on Sinuiju, “removing [it] from off the map”. A week later Hoeryong was napalmed “to burn out the place”. By 25 November “a large part of [the] North West area between Yalu River and south to enemy lines is more or less burning”; soon the area would be a “wilderness of scorched earth” (7).

Without even using such “novel weapons” - although napalm was very new - the air war levelled North Korea and killed millions of civilians. North Koreans tell you that for three years they faced a daily threat of being burned with napalm: “You couldn’t escape it,” one told me in 1981. By 1952 just about everything in northern and central Korea had been completely levelled. What was left of the population survived in caves.

This is what the American military does best. In Iraq, the American invasion and occupation is directly and indirectly responsible for around 600,000 deaths.

That's only 600,000 though. I'm wondering when the Americans are going to get moving and kill off another million or two as they did in Vietnam. That's one good thing about modern media though, it keeps the Americans on notice that there's someone watching. So they only massacre piecemeal these days, instead of killing off a million civilians a year.

It's unfortunate that the American civilians don't learn anything. All they care about are the American dead and wounded. All they learn after another war is how to minimize American casualties by increasing enemy and civilian casualties.

I can hope that the international media can keep the Americans from Nuking Iran or North Korea, but given that George Bush is a nut (probably more of a nut now than when he started, frustration does that to nuts), as are most of his neoconservative cronies, although possibly Cheney is just in it for the war-profiteering, more war, more business for Halliburton), I don't bet too much on that. I'm not an American though and can't do anything about this situation. The Americans will have to clean it up for themselves. But since they don't learn, well, I don't have too much hope for that either. Maybe they'll kick out a lot of Republicans this November, but what good will that do? It'll probably just push Bush over the edge, that much closer to nuking someone, anyone.

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