Arthur J. Paone

Arthur J. Paone

Pundits are scratching their heads and asking: “What does North Korea Want?” or “Is Kim Jong un crazy?”

I suggest that we simply listen to what he says repeatedly. One such statement was on September 14, 2017:

Our final goal is to establish the equilibrium of real force with the U.S. and make the U.S. rulers dare not talk about military options for the DPRL.”

He tells us that his development of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles has the ultimate target not of equality of any sort, but of “the equilibrium of real force” — a balance, a stability, a state of affairs where North Korea and the United States are in a static standoff.

We as a people should ask ourselves just what is so bad about living with another nuclear standoff?  We have been doing such since the 1950’s with the Russians and it has become the normal for both sides. Is it really that difficult to add North Korea to the Mutual Destruction Safe Zone?

The argument of an irrational Kim, notwithstanding its frequent repetition, does not withstand the most cursory scrutiny. A person, like Kim, who has successfully negotiated himself to the peak of power in his country and has orchestrated an unbelievable advance into the world’s most exclusive nuclear club, is per se neither a fool nor insane.

Additionally, there is the Korean War.

Let’s recall that within four months of the initial attack by North Korea, we were mopping up the remnants of the North Korean Army as they tried to escape to China across the Yalu River. General George Stratemeyer, head of our Air Force in Korea, was instructing his subordinate commanders to prepare their final reports.

On October 17, 1950 Stratemeyer wrote in his diary: “Sent a radnote to Lemay strongly urging that O’Donnell remain in this theater until the show is over to complete important reports and ‘also to receive what glory due him for a job well done’.”  A “radnote” is a message by radio. General Curtis LeMay was head of the Strategic Air Command in Washington and General Emmett “Rosie” O’Donnell had up to that point led SAC’s bombers in the war

On October 21st Stratemeyer had signed off on the return of two medium bomber groups to the United States. Our State Department officials, together with a few of our major allies at the UN, were working out detailed plans for the occupation of North Korea, including possible elections there on January 1, 1951. Newspapers in the U.S. speculated as to what we would do with the conquered North Korea. Sigmund Rhee, the leader in the South, who had been sending his policemen into northern towns and cities in the wake of advancing American troops, rounding up and executing “collaborators” en masse, was strenuously arguing with the dubious Americans that he be given control of North Korea. While our troops were pushing toward the Yalu River, back down in Seoul General Walton Walker, Commander of the 8th Army, and other officers and civilian officials, were attending a “Solemn Pontifical Mass of Thanks for UN Victory in Korea” at the Catholic Cathedral.

Nevertheless, General Stratemeyer continued to request his Boss in Tokyo, General Douglas MacArthur, for approval to fire-bomb and destroy without any warning to the population yet more towns in North Korea.

In an October 17th memorandum to MacArthur headed: “Destruction of Sinuiju,” he gave as one of his reasons for the indiscriminate use of the horrific napalm weapon over the entire town of Sinuiju (60,000 to 180,000 people) was that: “It is believed that the psychological effect of a mass attack will be salutary to Chinese Communist observers across the river in Antung.”

MacArthur hesitated at first, but on November 3rd MacArthur gave free rein to Stratemeyer to burn down any town he wanted: “Burn it [Kanggye] if you so desire . . .. Not only that, Strat, but burn and destroy as a lesson any other of those towns that you consider of military value to the enemy”

Two days later on Sunday, November 5th, when 170,000 tons of napalm bombs were used to obliterate the city of Kanggye, MacArthur expressly lifted even the restriction that there had to be a military reason for the burning down of a town. According to Stratemeyer the Boss told his Generals that “Every installation, facility, and village in North Korea now becomes a military and tactical target.”

Thus the towns of Sinuiju, Sakchu and Puckin were then mostly destroyed and burned to the ground, with 85,120 fire-bombs used on Sinuiju alone — General O’Donnell reporting to Stratemeyer that “the town was gone.”

As it turned out the Chinese had already infiltrated nearly 300,000 troops into Korea — with both MacArthur and Washington astonishingly unaware of it. Then for two and a half more years we continued relentlessly to burn and bomb the land of North Korea, this time in an attempt to kill Chinese soldiers. Finally, both sides settled down where it all started, at the 38th Parallel.

We Americans may have either forgotten all this, or may have never known. But this history and the carnage we so cavalierly committed has not been forgotten by the North Koreans. Children in school learn early on what the Americans did to their parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts and the rest of their people.

Thus, there is good reason for the North Koreans to feel they need a deterrent – an “equilibrium of real force.” Is it so bad to let them have it?

The alternative is that we may well do what General Mattis has promised — kill all 25,000,000 people in North Korea. What the General failed to mention was the inevitable corollary: the deaths of millions of our allies in South Korea and Japan, and perhaps thousands of our own troops stationed there, or what the reactions of China and Russia would be. Remember the warning from China, that we shrugged off, about not crossing the 38th Parallel?

Arthur J. Paone

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