Deterrence doesn’t do you any good unless the enemy knows that.
Books by Victor Davis Hanson are here.
Deterrence doesn’t do you any good unless the enemy knows that.
Books by Victor Davis Hanson are here.
Find the full documentary at PBS.org.
The good . . .
The film follows previous Burns works in providing poignant footage mixed with compelling interviews and a backdrop of good music, starting in this case with Bob Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall.
The bad . . .
Despite the counter-cultural veneer, however, and admirable efforts to provide a Vietnamese perspective, Burns and Novick’s film in its first episode provides conventional analysis about the war’s outbreak and can be understood as a sophisticated exercise in empire denial.
The film is misleading at the outset in quoting an American soldier who recounts the pain of his homecoming, insinuating that veterans were maltreated in the United States–a trope often used to blame antiwar activists for creating this allegedly anti-veteran and divisive climate.
The indictment only gets worse. Here Burns and Novick justify Washington’s mass murder. I wonder. Did Burns and Novick not see these images?
I find sometimes that the war monsters need reminders. But they may find offense in such a suggestion, for they feel that their fight embodies ideals than mere mortals are poorly equipped to understand. Yet it is precisely body count of mortals that counts for a win or loss in American military engagement. So the objectives change when it suits them in the press. They’ll even tell their soldier, again mere mortals, what’s at stake, and what’s at stake for soldiers is obviously different than what’s at stake for civilians at home. But we don’t know anymore because the U.S. bombs indiscriminately any town it wants. Civilians are clearly targets. They might be called soft targets used to destabilize the enemy or demoralize him. Either way, each man and woman on this planet is within range of a U.S. military target. How many victims does the U.S. need to cool its jets? See this man who survived the atomic blasts at Hiroshima. The perpetrators of this deed are not heroes; they are monsters. And the U.S. has been exporting war . . . well always. For those of you born in the 20th century, can you remember a time when the U.S. hasn’t bombed, mass murdered, droned, poisoned, or otherwise killed folks from another nation, always under the dumbest pretense of national security somewhere on the other side of the globe?
But I digress.
The ugly . . .
Burns and Novick mislead viewers further by showing footage of North Vietnamese migrating to the South fleeing communist terror and interviewing a woman whose family fled while leaving out the fact that the CIA worked to sabotage North Vietnam’s economy, created a fake resistance movement and coerced many Catholics and others to flee by spreading false rumors about Vietminh atrocities and promising them 40 acres and a mule.
Burns and Novick depict the southern guerrilla movement as being controlled by the Hanoi Politburo when the National Liberation Front (NLF) was founded in direct response to the 10/59 law passed by South Vietnamese premier Ngo Dinh Diem that allowed for the execution of regime opponents after a military trial.
Burns and Novick also leave out some of the sinister aspects of nation building in the late 1950s, such as the police training program led by CIA advisers working under the cover of Michigan State University (MSU) who imported surveillance equipment and built up Diem’s secret police.
It’s disappointing to see this. I’ve liked Burns’ previous documentaries, not all of them, but the ones on the Dust Bowl and Baseball. But here he is toeing the official line, the official narrative which never brings restitution or free trade or freedom only a mountain of skulls.
This was staggering
U.S. bombings destroyed 100% of Sinanju, 95% of Sariwon, 85% of Hungnam, 80% of Wonsan and Hamhung, and 75% of Pyongyang.
As tensions between North Korea and the United States reach a fever pitch, it’s worth remembering the origins of the hostility: the Korean War.
The general parameters of the war are well known. The conflict began when Kim Il-sung’s forces invaded South Korea in June 1950 with the tacit (if reluctant) support of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. Kim’s forces quickly overran their southern counterparts and were on the brink of unifying the peninsula before U.S. forces intervened under the guise of the United Nations. They quickly pushed the North Korean forces back across the thirty-eighth parallel and threatened to unify the entire peninsula until a massive force of Chinese “volunteers” intervened and pushed the American and South Korean forces back to the thirty-eighth parallel. Thereafter, the two sides settled into a stalemate that more or less persisted until an armistice was signed in 1953.
Less well remembered, at least in the United States, is that America waged a mercilessly air campaign against North Korea during the conflict. As the eminent historian on the war, Bruce Cumings, puts it: “What hardly any Americans know or remember . . . is that we carpet-bombed the North for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.”
Indeed, Maj. Gen. Emmett O’Donnell, who led the Far East Bomber Command of B-29s that participated in the bombings, described the plan as going “to work burning five major cities in North Korea to the ground, and to destroy completely everyone of of about 18 major strategic targets.” Curtis Lemay boasted that Strategic Air Command “burned down just about every city in North and South Korea both.” He also estimated that “over a period of three years or so, we killed off . . . 20 percent of the population.” And future secretary of state Dean Rusk, who also served in the State Department under the Truman administration, would say that the United States bombed: “Everything that moved in North Korea, every brick standing on top of another.”
The sheer number of explosives used is absolutely astonishing. As Tom O’Connor has recounted in Newsweek, the “U.S. dropped 635,000 tons of explosives on North Korea, including 32,557 tons of napalm.” To put this in perspective, throughout the entire Pacific Theatre in World War II, the United States dropped 503,000 tons of bombs. And that was throughout an area that was multitudes larger than North Korea (Japan alone is roughly three times the size of North Korea). Not surprising, then, that the historian Charles K. Armstrong has written, “The U.S. Air Force estimated that North Korea’s destruction was proportionately greater than that of Japan in the Second World War, where the U.S. had turned 64 major cities to rubble and used the atomic bomb to destroy two others.”
North Korea’s lack of industrialization limited the number of enticing targets for strategic bombing. Consequently, as Armstrong again points out, “By the fall of 1952, there were no effective targets left for US planes to hit. Every significant town, city and industrial area in North Korea had already been bombed.” This is barely hyperbole: the bombings destroyed 100 percent of Sinanju, 95 percent of Sariwon, 85 percent of Hungnam, 80 percent of Wonsan, and Hamhung, and 75 percent of Pyongyang.
Thereafter, American and allied aircraft turned their sights to North Korea’s hydroelectric plant and the the twenty dams in North Korea that controlled 75 percent of the country’s water, which was needed for agricultural and the production of rice. In May 1953, U.S. forces knocked five of these dams out, causing massive flooding. It also put millions in North Korea at risk for starvation, although the worst of that was prevented because of a massive influx of food aid from the Soviet Union and China. The bombings did cause widespread electrical outages, and by the U.S. Air Force’s estimates destroyed all but 4 to 5 percent of North Korea’s railways.
As the official U.S. Air Force history noted of this time period: “During the last year of the Korean hostilities, American air power executed the dominant role in the achievement of the military objectives of the United States and of the United Nations. . . . No single air operation so gravely affected the Communists as the simple destruction of two agricultural irrigation dams, for this operation, too terrible to execute in its entirety, portended the devastation of the most important segment of the North Korean agricultural economy.”
Most outside analysts are far more skeptical that the U.S. strategic bombing campaign had much impact on the course of the war. The political scientist Robert Pape argues that North Korea and China’s major concessions in 1951 were the result of the air campaign weakening their military forces’ ability to achieve their objectives (coercion by denial) rather than the strategic bombing (coercion by punishment). Many others have argued that air power’s most effective contribution to the Korean War was in the interdiction of enemy lines. In particular, aircraft focused on destroying the bridges near the Yalu River to cut off Chinese and Soviet support. Still, since these bridges were often heavily defended by antiaircraft weapons, and the aircraft of the day had severe limitations, this campaign also had only limited success.
North Korea actually repaired the war damage faster than South Korea, which had been far less damaged during the war. A more enduring impact of the bombing is that it has been used as a propaganda tool by the Kim regime to instill hatred in all their citizens from a very young age. As Bruce Cumings explained: “Every North Korean knows about this, it’s drilled into their minds.”
Zachary Keck is the former managing editor of the National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.
This is superb.
For me at least is one of the repellent and unanswered questions surrounding any advocacy for communism or socialism is how do these socialists account for the 100 million [plus] dead?
I loved Peterson’s ending remarks in this video:
There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever to put forth Marxist doctrines as the bomb that’s administered by the compassionate to the downtrodden. 100 million corpses is enough: if it’s not for you, then you should do some serious thinking about your historical thinking or your moral character.
The Korean Armistice Agreement of 1953 brought the hostilities to a close with a cease fire. The U.S. broke the agreement in 1956:
“Paragraph 13(d) of the Armistice Agreement mandated that neither side introduce new weapons into Korea, other than piece-for-piece replacement of equipment. In September 1956 the U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Radford indicated that the U.S. military intention was to introduce atomic weapons into Korea, which was agreed to by the U.S. National Security Council and President Eisenhower. However paragraph 13(d) prevented the introduction of nuclear weapons and missiles. The U.S. unilaterally abrogated paragraph 13(d), breaking the Armistice Agreement, despite concerns by United Nations allies. At a meeting of the Military Armistice Commission on June 21, 1957, the U.S. informed the North Korean representatives that the United Nations Command no longer considered itself bound by paragraph 13(d) of the armistice. In January 1958 nuclear armed Honest John missiles and 280mm atomic cannons were deployed to South Korea, a year later adding nuclear armed Matador cruise missiles with the range to reach China and the Soviet Union.”
UPDATE: August 10, 2017
US Foreign Policy puts its own people at risk. Foreign policy is not a policy of a national security. That concept is a joke. Read Rozeff’s follow-up:
The 1953 Armistice in Korea was followed two months later by the “Mutual Defense Treaty Between the United States and the Republic of Korea“. This commitment on the part of the U.S. was a mistake. It was an entangling alliance with far-reaching consequences. This brought S. Korea under the nuclear bomb protection umbrella of the U.S., and this gave N. Korea an incentive to develop nuclear weapons. It lent permanence to the U.S. as an enemy of N. Korea. It gave the S. Koreans a negative incentive to negotiate a permanent peace with N. Korea.
The two Koreas on 19 February 1992 committed themselves to a treaty ban on nuclear weapons. However, they could not agree on inspections. Joint military exercises of S. Korea and the U.S. were a sticking point, again being negative fallout from the U.S. defense treaty with S. Korea.
When and if, or even before, N. Korea has the capability to launch a nuclear-tipped missile aimed at Washington or Los Angeles or a city in between, there arises a strategic problem that stems from that 1953 defense treaty but was entirely unforeseen at that time: Why should Washington be willing to defend S. Korea and open itself to such a nuclear threat? Why should Washington be willing to exchange Washington for Seoul?
Since Washington is not willing to face such an exchange, there exists now a hair-trigger situation. The more that N. Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities mature and the more that its leader threatens the U.S., the closer the U.S. gets to a pre-emptive attack on N. Korea. Furthermore, the U.S. is getting closer to an attack triggered by some military movements or preparations in N. Korea that can be construed as precursors to an attack of some sort.
The Syrian Civil War began in 2011, six years ago.
February 23, 2017: Peace talks begin in Geneva. Starting February 23, 2017 through to March 3, 2017, Syrian and its opposition forces held peace talks under the auspices of the UN.
The Geneva peace talks on Syria in 2017, also called the Geneva IV talks, were peace negotiations between the Syrian government and the Syrian opposition under the auspices of the United Nations. The talks took place between 23 February and 3 March 2017, trying to resolve the Syrian Civil War.
The warring sides did not get to face-to-face negotiations, but for eight days no party walked away, while Russia talked with the parties separately.
Here is the real kicker. Following peace talks where Assad sits down with the opposition forces, the U.S. comes out with a wildly exaggerated claim that Assad gases his own people. Really? So the leader of a sovereign nation, who spent weeks in talks toward resolution out of the blue gases his own people?
April 4, 2017: U.S. claims Assad gassed his own people. Given the timing of the event, one month after the Geneva peace talks, does that really make sense?
April 7, 2017: The U.S., trying to make its lies stick, acts on its propaganda and launches 59 tomahawk missiles on Syria. CNBC calls it a “proportional strike.” Hmm. 59 missiles with most of them way off target. Proportional, my green back. It’s not just the Pentagon, the U.S. government, but then it’s also the media that is poised and ready to lie for the regime.
On April 7, 2017, U.S. President, Donald Trump, launched 59 missiles against Syria because he claimed to have evidence that Syria used chemical weapons–get this–against his own people. How odd, particularly when the U.S. has all but assumed that all Americans are enemy combatants. Yet we’re supposed to believe that some sovereign power in the middle east is doing exactly what the U.S. is doing to its own people?
Would Syrian President Assad launch a chemical attack on civilians just as peace talks are about to be held and where government gains against ISIS and al-Qaeda rebels give him the upper hand? He would be literally committing suicide. Who benefits from the attack? Not Assad. But the rebels and the US neocons and the warmongers benefit a great deal. Are we about to be taken to war yet again based on lies? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
June 8, 2017: Assad walks freely to a Syrian market sans any security detail .
June 9, 2017: U.S. forces using white phosphorous in Syria. They’re violating their own rules of war. White phosphorous is a chemical weapon! The Pentagon is murderous, hypocritical, and soulless.
June 18, 2017: The U.S. shoots down Syrian fighter jet.
There was a deconfliction deal. Had you heard of it?
The US did not use its hotline with Russia ahead of the downing of the Syrian government warplane, said the ministry, which accused the US of a “deliberate failure to make good on its commitments” under the deconfliction deal.
June 19, 2017: Russia denounces attack on Syrian jet as aggressive and withdraws its participation with the U.S. in its deconfliction deal.
I assembled the brief timeline above just to give yesterday’s downing of the Syrian jet some context. So what are the claims?
The U.S. shot down a Syrian jet. That Syrian pilot ejected and has been rescued.
The Pentagon argued that because they are allied with the Kurds they were free to attack the Syrian plane under the concept of “collective self-defense,” and added that they “will not hesitate” to take further military action to defend the Kurds, or other partnered forces, from future threats.
Had no idea that the U.S. was in Syria to protect the Kurds. That makes no sense at all. I thought they were there in a coalition effort to shrink ISIS.
The Assad government claims it was in an area of an ISIS stronghold where they were trying to push them back.
The Syrian Army said their operation was part of an ongoing push into ISIS-held territory, and that they view the US attack as a “flagrant” attempt to undermine their anti-ISIS operations. They added that the pilot of the destroyed plane is still missing after the US attack.
The ministry emphasized that Russian warplanes were on a mission in Syrian airspace during the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian Su-22, while the coalition failed to use the communication line to prevent an incident.
“The command of the coalition forces did not use the existing communication channel between the air commands of Al Udeid Airbase (in Qatar) and the Khmeimim Airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.
The ministry considers the move “a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria,” and is thus halting cooperation with the US within the memorandum framework as of June 19, the statement concluded.
The Russian Ministry, in fact, declared that any American jet west of the Euphrates, meaning most of Syria, is a target, an enemy.
“All kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Find the Euphrates.
France led the military intervention. Khadaffi’s son, Seif, had claimed that his father had helped finance French president Nicholas Sarkozy’s election. The vindictive Sarkozy intended to shut up the Khadaffis.
Timeline of U.S. military operations since 2000.
Given the inconsistencies in the U.S.’s position on the war, can any claim by the U.S. be believed? They’ve got their sights on Iran.
Anytime war looms, which is almost every year for the United States, always undeclared, of course, but justified somehow through convoluted rationale of a threat to national security, people, in their last refuge of defending the bombing of innocent people love to reference WWII and how that war brought us out of the Great Depression. “See! War returned us to great prosperity!”
Here Tom Woods explains the economic basics of that ludicrous position that says let’s bomb other people to have prosperity at home.
Woods cites Robert Higgs’s presentation on this topic. Check it out.
Check out the rest of the resources that Woods presents. In his usual, elegant style, Dr. Woods goes meticulously through the reasons why this preposterous claim is wrong. Worth a listen and a read. People actually think there was prosperity during the war. Incredulous. The evidence in economic circles that is presented to defend that claim is never consistent.
The reasons why this preposterous claim is wrong:
The stories behind business, finance, and money
Telling stories through data
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I Strengthen Your Language & Conversation Skills and Your Academic Documents