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Interview with Author, Arthur J. Paone
May 2, 2013
Transcript from interview with author, Arthur J. Paone, recorded May 2nd, 2013 in Belmar, NJ by interviewer, Paul M. Surbera:
Paul M. Surbera: Why did you write this book?
Arthur J. Paone: I want the American public to understand why North Korea behaves the way it does.
Paul M. Surbera: And why do they behave that way?
Arthur J. Paone: It goes back to two events: the political and physical partition of the Korean peninsula by the Soviets and Americans at the end of WWII; and secondly, the American intervention into the Korean civil war in 1950.
Paul M. Surbera: What do you hope to accomplish with this book?
Arthur J. Paone: I want a changed public opinion to press our leaders into negotiating honestly and reasonably with North Korea. Up to now, except for a short period late in President Clinton’s second term, we have just been hard-nosed, disdainful and “sanctions”-obsessed.
Paul M. Surbera: Don’t you agree that the leaders of North Korea today are being reckless with their nuclear testing and wild threats?
Arthur J. Paone: No, not at all. They have been entirely rational and consistent over the years — don’t attack us or we will do everything we can to hurt you and your friends.
Paul M. Surbera: But nobody in their right mind would think that the US would attack North Korea?
Arthur J. Paone: Oh. No? Back in 1950, with the memories of the awful carnage of WWII still raw in people’s minds, nobody in their right mind then thought that we would mercilessly destroy all of Korea; that the most powerful nation in the world would indiscriminately bomb and napalm into ashes one of the most defenseless and impoverished nations on earth, killing in the process three to six million people, mostly civilians, just to “teach a lesson” to the “godless” Communists of China and Russia. We did it before; we could do it again.
In fact, just recently we sent North Korea a very blunt message that this time around we would do much worse. During already provocative military exercises with South Korea right in the face of North Korea, we flew two nuclear capable B-52’s from the US and dropped dummy bombs on an island off Korea. “Now we will NUKE you!”
Paul M. Surbera: North Korea is a very poor country, why would they spend so much of their resources on developing nuclear bombs and missiles?
Arthur J. Paone: The answer is simple — to DETER the US from doing again what it did to it during the Korean War.
Paul M. Surbera: What was the cause of the Korean War?
Arthur J. Paone: The path to civil war was set by the US and the Soviets in 1945 when they decided that this erstwhile Japanese colony was not yet ready for independence. We set up a five year trusteeship and arbitrarily divided the thousand-year-old country into two at the 38th Parallel. From that day on the people living in the north and in the south passionately wanted to reunite their country. It was only a question of who would move first.
Paul M. Surbera: You are very critical of President Harry Truman in your book. Why is that?
Arthur J. Paone: President Franklin Roosevelt had carefully and with great foresight guided us through WWII in alliance with the Soviet Union which by itself had been breaking the back of the German Army. FDR earned the trust of the suspicious Stalin and the two of them learned to live and cooperate with each other for the sake of victory and the planning of the post-war world. FDR died when victory was all but complete. Then suddenly Harry Truman, who had been Vice President for only weeks, came onto this huge stage – totally clueless. Through ignorance, arrogance and a parochial, if not cartoonish, view of the world he began blithely to lob monkey wrenches into the complicated system of cooperation that FDR had worked out with Stalin. There followed an entirely unnecessary Cold War; nuclear proliferation and the Korean War under Truman, with the spadework done which would lead us inevitably into the Vietnam War under subsequent Presidents.
Paul M. Surbera: But if President Truman had not intervened in the civil war, the north would have won and all of Korea would have gone Communist.
Arthur J. Paone: So What? We fought the same type of senseless war 10 years later in Vietnam, but this time we definitely lost, were thrown out of Vietnam and all of Vietnam went Communist. Well. Today Vietnam is still Communist — but it is also a regular trading partner with us and a tourist attraction for Americans.