Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind, Out Of Our Minds

From Forget About It by Dennis Perrin:

I was nudged into these thoughts by a recent AP story about mass graves being unearthed in South Korea, showing that in 1950-51, the US-backed South regime slaughtered untold thousands of citizens, many of whom, women and children included, were killed execution-style, then dumped into trenches. It's the kind of human rights nightmare that, had it been attributed to Saddam or Milosevic, would be denounced as fascist terrorism. Yet so far I've seen no serious American commentary about what these mass graves mean, given that the US was in charge of the South Korean military that committed the massacres. Of course, defenders could point out that South Korea was at war with the North, and that grisly actions were bound to occur. But Saddam and Milosevic used the same reasoning to explain their killing fields, and I don't recall many stateside commentators who accepted that as a reasonable defense.
Mr. Perrin then goes on to explain what the United States did in Korea:
Mass executions are indeed savage, but even in this awful case, these killings were hardly the "most tragic and brutal chapter of the Korean War." US air strikes went far beyond shooting someone in the back of the head. The US firebombed Korean villages and towns into smoldering graves, dropping hundreds of tons of napalm in the effort, killing millions. On top of all that, the Truman administration seriously debated using nuclear weapons in Korea (the insane Douglas MacArthur, who proposed that the US drop up to 30 nuclear bombs, was thankfully kept outside of the inner-policy debates). As I put it in "Savage Mules": "In the end, nuclear weapons were not used, and really weren’t necessary. Destruction of the Korean peninsula, North and South, was so vast, the death toll so high, that all nukes would have added was a radioactive exclamation point."

This aerial destruction built upon the firebombing of Japanese cities at the end of World War II, and set the stage for the murderous assaults on Vietnam.
Mr. Perrin rightly points out that many Americans are ignorant of this and other savage parts of our history. This ignorance is upsetting enough, but what truly upsets and confounds me are the people who are informed of this side of our history and see it as necessary and just. With their support, and the tacit approval of the ignorant, the United States continues to commit atrocities all over the globe. The people calling for an end to this are marginalized, mocked, and labeled as kooks. Dennis Kucinich, Jeremiah Wright, and Noam Chomsky come to mind, off the top of my head. The main message of Kucinich, Wright, and Chomsky is one of peace. One of stopping all the killing. Yet they are generally considered to be nuts. Why? It is sickening to me to see them not be taken seriously. Who would choose war over peace, killing and destruction over not killing and destroying? Who would choose the insanity of massacre over the logic of negotiation? American history is filled with examples of us choosing the violent way. We are out of our minds.

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