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May 30, 2006

US policy to shoot refugees in Korean War

American forces in the Korean War were officially instructed to shoot South Korean refugees approaching their positions, according to a recently discovered letter:

More than a half-century after hostilities ended in Korea, a document from the war's chaotic early days has come to light -- a letter from the U.S. ambassador to Seoul, informing the State Department that U.S. soldiers would shoot refugees approaching their lines.

The letter -- dated the day of the Army's mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950 -- is the strongest indication yet that such a policy existed for all U.S. forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the U.S. government. [WaPo]

The US was afraid that North Koreans would infiltrate US-held territory by sneaking across the border with South Korean refugees. American troops may have killed hundreds of unarmed civilians at No Gun Ri in 1950, but the public didn't learn about the killings until an AP report in 1999. The Pentagon inquiry that followed concluded that the three-day killing spree at No Gun Ri was not officially sanctioned. The newly-discovered letter casts doubt on the Pentagon's findings.


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I seem to recall an old black and white movie starring Robert Mitchum (I think), that had this incident in it. Anyone else remember this or are my neurons just firing randomly?

No Gun Ri, My Lai, and now Haditha.

And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

We need more Hugh Thompsons, and less Lt. Calleys. BTW, I linked to Hugh Thompson's Wikipedia article over at Jesus' General today in this article's comments section. I couldn't help it. This Haditha massacre story has got me all messed up and I felt a need to at least remind myself that there are a few true heroes out there in the world.

Do you have any interest in topics that don't make the USA look terrible?

" Liberals " often profess to hate it when " conservatives " fly the flag, profess love of country, express the importance of the Pledge of Allegiance. The rebuttal goes along the lines " We're just as patriotic as you! You've Hijacked these symbols! "

But as I looked around a few conservative sites yesterday -- LGF, Red State, others -- I saw pieces on Memorial Day on each of them. I did not see one here. It was " Pope Ratz ", where we so cleverly make fun of the name of the leader of the Catholic Church and go on from there. The day after Memorial Day, it is " US Policy to Shoot Refugees ".

Do you think this is a flawed country that is basically good, or do you think it is an evil country that has to be brought to heel?

I think that the latter is much more in tune with " liberal politics ", whose practioners profess to love the country and respect religion, etc. but which many of them absolutely do not. I think many liberals despise this country.

By all means criticize the US for the bad things that it does, but, hasn't it done anything right that you could mention, once? Isn't it in the right once in a while? Isn't the liberal position wrong and the conservative position correct once in a while?

Just wondering.

We had such fun with the Tom Delay perp walk, but I don't remember any comment about your Democrat buddy with the $100,000 in his freezer right next to the Haagen-Dazs.

Now, lets all start moaning about the " troll " hijacking the thread.

Shorter Phantom: You have to love the US just like I do, like a five-year loves his mommy, or you really hate it.


I quite disagree. It's the best hope for freedom and justice that I've ever seen, and I've been to a lot of places. You don't need to close your eyes to America's flaws...but isn't seeing only the flaws just as prejudiced? Not critical, prejudiced.

Oh, my apologies then to the Phantom. I wan't quite correct.

Shorter Phantom: You have to love the militarist Republican vision of the United States like I do, like a five-year-old loves his mommy, or you really hate it.

Hate to say it, but has the paper been verified as real? Keep in mind the North Koreans find "pleasure girls" from WWII i.e. japanese sex slaves almost weekly. Last time one of these stories broke in South Korea (about MacArthur) it turned out a Korean general had slaughtered refugees.


Many liberals love their country so much that we're willing to keep pointing out its flaws, in hopes that we will avoid those flaws in the future, and when possible, to alleviate some of the wrongs of the past.

Many conservatives often seem to have an attitude of "well, we did it, so it must be okay, and if we apologize it's a sign of weakness."

I am suspicious of conservatives flaunting of their patriotism. It often seems more a tool to get their way than a real love of country. For example, if conservatives love their country so much, why are they so reluctant to pay for it?


Well, any conservatives that are like that are idiots--self-criticism and self-awareness are indeed essential to know where you stand, or to advance.

But patriotism is usually not jingoism or anything like that. I wrote these few words on my blog, along with a photo from the neighborhood. Is that jingoistic?

There can be a legitimate argument about whether taxes should be high or low, what services a government should provide. But is flying the flag of all the people a controversial thing, and is saying a word or two on the occasion of the one national holiday designed to honor the dead and living veterans,is that asking too much?

Without the sacrifice of those veterans, the Aushwitz of the ugly " Pope Ratz " comments would have been open for business for many more years.

Pointing out flaws is very good. We'd all better be doing that on a regular basis. But only seeing the flaws, and being dismissive towards what is good, is a form of hatred.

I guess we all have better things to do than stand around congradulating ourselves on how great we are. Still more work to do, y'know?

This is how jingoism masquerading as patriotism drives us nuts.

--I guess we all have better things to do than stand around congradulating ourselves on how great we are.--

Or maybe you hate think that the country is fundamentally evil, leading a lot of you to have a quiet hatred for the place. But don't question your patriotism, because that would be so wrong.

BTW, I have friends who are pretty hard left, much more hard-left than the me-too types that you tend to find here, and some of them are very unashamedly and sincerely patriotic. A patriotism that doesn't only show itself as " this country sucks " because of a, b, c...

And the blog you link to has some good points in it.

Lindsay, you're just like the liberal media: You must HATE America. Why can't you run a story about a soldier getting an Iraqi child's cat out of tree? Or how about a grand opening of a Taco Bell in Mosul? Here, I'll get you started:

30% of Baghdad residents expected to have electricity and potable water by end of year, touts Jafari
Kidnappings/murders also expected to dip below 1000/month

A kind word about the soldiers we claim to have empathy for would have been nice. Instead, its the Pope Ratz razz ma tazz. That's all.

I think I did say a kind word about a soldier, though he was from a previous war: Hugh Thompson. I have not seen anyone here ever blast ALL servicemen and women. If someone does something heroic like Hugh Thompson, then I truly want to hear about. I'm willing to bet that there are heroes like him right now in Iraq and we simply haven't heard their stories. Their stories of heroism NEED to be told, however it's going to be hard to get these stories out when, oh geez, let's say, the whole fucking country is falling apart due to mismanagement at the highest levels of our government. And when our own men become terrorists towards Iraqi civilians then we damn well better find out about it and discuss it so that the god damn situation can be rectified.

I'm all for kind words about our men and women in uniform. Hell, I was in the Navy, so I know what it's like to desire a modicum of respect for serving my country. But I ain't about to give a pass to the motherfuckers responsible for Haditha out of fear of offending the armed forces at large. Those pieces of shit who committed this atrocity are a disgrace to their uniforms, their country, and their species. They make me ashamed to be an American and a human being. Their crimes MUST be exposed and rebuked in the strongest terms possible. To do anything less is the same as brushing it under the rug. Not if I can help it.

Trystero, that's a wonderful link. Many thanks.

A kind word about the soldiers we claim to have empathy for would have been nice.

I think it's also this kind of compulsary flag-waving that raises our ire.

Earlier Phantom: Or maybe you hate think that the country is fundamentally evil, leading a lot of you to have a quiet hatred for the place. But don't question your patriotism, because that would be so wrong.

Well, yeah, I think that unwarranted patriotism-questioning is pretty low. It's a schoolyard ad hominem attack.

I was all wound up earlier to respond to Phantom's comments, but then the Kung-fu Monkey post said it better.

But: I am a patriot and I love this country, so it pains me even more when I see this country that I love do wrong. Sometimes American Exceptionalism is derided, but we are one of the few countries founded on ideas/ideals, and when we fail to live up to them, it is a greater pain.

Also, as much as I love the ideas/ideals of this country, can I not feel compassion for the needless death/suffering of other people elsewhere?

Case in point: On the other night's CBS news, Bob Schiffer toatled up the "war" dead an wounded. No mention whatsoever of Iraqui dead and wounded. Like their lives dont matter at all


There's no compulsory flag-waving anywhere. But if you're uncomfortable with displaying the US flag, please don't ever complain that the " right " has " co-opted " this symbol of national unity.

Just because you're not comfortable with the flag, does not mean others cannot use it, right?

--can I not feel compassion for the needless death/suffering of other people elsewhere?--

Who the hell says that you shouldn't? Again, it was the US Military ( along with the Red Army ) that put an end to the death camps, including the one that " Pope Ratz " spoke at. It was the US Military that kept South Korea from becoming the nation-sized death camp that North Korea remains now. It was the US Military that gave the most effective tsunami relief

So, big-picture, being pro-US Military is one of the very most compassionate things you can ever do. There's more to be spoken about than only Haditha or the much-hyped Abu Ghraib.

We're terribly observant round here. I'm only observing you far more closely than you might prefer. But I'm not questioning your patriotism

All too often I see the falsely heartfelt one-liners about our troops used as a facade by those who, by their actions, abuse them callously. It reeks of insincerity. I don't want to associate with it. I don't want to be seen like them. I can not write it. If I want to write anything like that, I would have to go to great lengths to make clear exactly what I feel and why I feel it. That would take quite a while to do, and I am not a very good writer.

I can think of no better metaphor for the false patriotism we see than the car-flags after 9/11. People strapped, taped or tied flags to their car any old way they could - to show their patriotism. In the next weeks, I saw at least a hundred flags shredded by the wind, dragged down the highway or left fluttering in the gutter. For too many people, patriotism is a show. I'm not saying they are faking it, I'm saying they really believe patriotism is all about display, not actions. Anything that contributes to this mass delusion is harmful.

Thanks for the thoughtful commentary. We continue to disagree, but I understand where you're coming from.

On a related topic, right-wing bloggers have been trying to change the subject regarding Haditha. They don't want the story to be about war crimes that might have been committed by Americans, they want it to be about John Murtha "convicting" soldiers before they've been tried.

Fortunately, their version doesn't seem to be gaining much traction. I think most Americans are decent people, and are appalled when U.S. troops do horrible things.

If only the power structure were the same way--remember, only one person, Lt. William Calley, served any time for the atrocities at My Lai, and he served a grand total of 3 1/2 years, all of it under house arrest.

So far, nobody has ever been charged for the killing rampage by Tiger Force in Vietnam.

Let me provide the truth for you, if you really want to hear it, because the mythology around this incident seems to be preferred as the truth to the left than what actually happened:

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