Why the occupation is no accident


I took this photo on my way into Ramallah in Palestine this summer.  Any Palestinian town or city can be shut in, nothing comes in and nothing comes out without the Zionists say so and they make movement a BIG hassle. This causes economic and every other type of stagnation for  Palestinian life.

The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories by Ilan Pappe, Oneworld Books (2017)

As early as 1963 – four years before the 1967 War – the Israeli government was planning the military and administrative takeover of the West Bank, according to The Biggest Prison on Earth, a new book by the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe.

The planning for that operation – codenamed Granit (granite) – took place over a month on the campus of Hebrew University in the Givat Ram neighborhood of western Jerusalem. Israeli military administrators responsible for overseeing Palestinians within Israel joined military legal officials, interior ministry figures and private attorneys to create the judicial and administrative decrees required to rule over the one million Palestinians then living in the West Bank.

These plans were part of a larger strategy for placing the West Bank under military occupation. That strategy was codenamed the Shacham Plan for the Israeli colonel, Mishael Shacham, who authored it, and was formally presented by the Israeli chief of general staff to the army on 1 May 1963.

Pappe has long maintained that the 1967 War and the occupation that followed was not the “accidental empire” described by liberal Zionists. A “Greater Israel” was envisioned as early as 1948, Pappe argues, and planning for it occurred as early as the 1956 Suez War.

What is new in The Biggest Prison on Earth is Pappe’s detailed accounting of exactly what the Israeli planners were contemplating in 1963; namely, “the largest ever mega-prison for a million and a half people – a number that would rise to four million – who are still today, in one way or another, incarcerated within the real or imaginary walls of this prison.”

System of control

Pappe’s description of the Givat Ram meetings is reminiscent of the way he opened his best-selling book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, with its depiction of the Red House in Tel Aviv where Plan Dalet (Plan D) – to expel nearly a million Palestinians – was hatched about 15 years earlier.

And in a sense The Biggest Prison on Earth completes a trilogy, including also The Forgotten Palestinians: A History of the Palestinians in Israel, encompassing the history of the Palestinian people under Zionism from 1948 until today.

Pappe argues that the Israeli government understood in 1963 that it would be unable to carry out massive expulsions on the scale of the Nakba, the forced removal of Palestinians in 1948, due to international scrutiny.

That explains why it set about designing a system of control and partition that would ensure a successful colonization of the West Bank, deprive Palestinians of their fundamental human rights by not granting citizenship and guarantee that their status as non-citizens in their own country would never be subject to negotiation.

Although the 1967 War did result in the expulsion of another 180,000 Palestinians (according to the United Nations) and perhaps as many as 300,000 (according to Robert Bowker’s book, Palestinian Refugees: Mythology, Identity, and the Search for Peace), the Givat Ram meetings and those that followed envisioned a kind of prison administration for the remaining Palestinians, Pappe argues.

As early as 15 June, three days after the conclusion of the war, a Committee of Directors General, comprising all the government ministries responsible for the newly occupied territories, began building what Pappe calls an “infrastructure for the imprisonment” of Palestinians. All of this planning, he writes, is now available in two volumes of public records totaling thousands of pages derived from the minutes of the committee meetings.

Almost immediately upon conclusion of the war, Israel began implementing a plan envisioned by Yigal Alon – a member of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. The plan was to create de-Arabized “wedges,” chains of Jewish-only colonies in the West Bank “that would separate Palestinians from Palestinians and essentially annex parts of the West Bank to Israel.”

These wedges, initially in the Jordan Valley and the eastern mountains, would later be perfected by Ariel Sharon, Israel’s housing minister and later prime minister. Eventually, they would assume the concrete manifestations of a prison in the form of checkpoints, an apartheid wall and other physical barriers.

Pappe takes issue with the argument that the Jewish settlements, illegal under international law, resulted from a messianic religious nationalist movement, an argument advanced most articulately by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar in their book Lords of the Land: The War Over Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007.

Instead, he provides evidence showing that secular Zionist governments, including that of Golda Meir of the Labor Party, courted this movement and used it to promote Israel’s expanded colonization.


It did not take long, however, before the government’s scheme engendered mass resistance, beginning with the first intifada of 1987-1993. The Oslo accords attempted to address this resistance

Pappe shows that the Oslo accords were never meant to result in Palestinian statehood and merely codified the creation of small cantons resembling apartheid South Africa’s bantustans with the added benefit that the costs and responsibilities of the occupation were largely transferred to major international donors and organizations – notably the European Union – and the newly created Palestinian Authority.

Here is where Pappe’s prison metaphor becomes most perceptive. As long as the PA carries out its security responsibilities and Palestinian resistance is muted, Palestinians can live in a minimum-security prison “without basic civil and human rights” but with the illusion of limited autonomy. As soon as resistance manifests itself, however, Israel imposes the controls of a maximum-security prison.

Thus, in the ensuing years, the West Bank became the minimum-security prison and Gaza – with Hamas leading the resistance – became the maximum-security prison. Palestinians, Pappe writes, “could either be inmates in the open prison of the West Bank or incarcerated in the maximum security one of the Gaza Strip.”

Everything that followed the 1967 War, notes Pappe, follows the “logic of settler colonialism” and that logic in turn foresees the eventual elimination of the indigenous Palestinians. That outcome, however, is not inevitable. An alternative is possible, Pappe maintains, if Israel decolonizes and makes “way for the logic of human and civil rights.”

Rod Such is a former editor for World Book and Encarta encyclopedias. He lives in Portland, Oregon, and is active with the Occupation-Free Portland campaign.

Netanyahu’s devious campaign to sit at the world’s top table


Stung by support at the UN for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Israel now wants a seat on the Security Council.

There is a great irony in Israel seeking a seat on the UN Security Council. Since its establishment amid the ruins of Palestinian cities and villages in 1948, Israel has had the most precarious relationship with the world’s largest international body. It has desperately sought to be legitimized by the UN, while doing its utmost to delegitimize the UN.

After a resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014 condemning Israel’s human rights abuses in the Occupied Territories, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu described the UN as absurd and vowed to “continue to denounce and expose” its “procession of hypocrisy.”

For years, Israel has undermined the UN and its various bodies and, with unconditional support from Washington, ignored UN resolutions on the illegal occupation of Palestine.

To a certain extent, the strategy has worked. With US vetoes blocking every UN attempt at pressuring Israel to end its military occupation and human rights violations, Israel was in no rush to comply with international law.

But two major events have forced an Israeli rethink.
First, in December 2016, the US abstained from a UN resolution that condemned Israel’s illegal settlement activities. After decades of shielding Israel from international censure, it appeared that Washington’s allegiance to Tel Aviv was uncertain.

Second, the rise of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement began changing the dynamics of international politics regarding the Israeli occupation.

The movement, which began as a call by Palestinian civil society to hold Israel accountable for its human rights violations, grew rapidly into a global movement. Hundreds of groups multiplied around the world, joined by artists, academicians, union members and elected politicians.

Within a few years, BDS has become a serious tool of pressure to denounce the occupation and demand justice for the Palestinian people. The UN Human Rights Council said it would release a list of companies that must be boycotted for operating in illegal settlements, and there were repeated condemnations of Israel’s human rights violations as recorded by the UN cultural agency, UNESCO.

UN bodies with no veto-wielding members grew in their ability to challenge the Security Council, spurring a determined Israeli-American campaign to delegitimize them.

Stung by support at the UN for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Israel now wants a seat on the Security Council.

The Trump administration and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, have has waged a war against the UN, using intimidation and threats to withhold funds.

Nevertheless, UNESCO stood firm and the UNHRC said it would publish its list by the end of the year. It is thought to include Coca-Cola, TripAdviser, Airbnb, Priceline and Caterpillar, along with Israeli companies and two large banks.

Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said the UN was “playing with fire,” and the US and Israel would work together to start a “revolution” at the Human Rights Council.

Signs of this oddly termed “revolution” are already apparent. Aside from choking off funds to UN bodies, Israel is lobbying countries that have traditionally shown solidarity with Palestinians because of common historical bonds of foreign oppression and anti-colonial struggles.

Netanyahu has just visited Latin America, and in Mexico he offered to “develop Central America.” The price, of course, is for Latin American countries to support Israel’s occupation of Palestine and turn a blind eye to its human rights violations in Palestine.

The irony that escaped no one is that, in January, Netanyahu declared his support for Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it.

Netanyahu’s charm offensive was supposed to include an Israel-Africa Summit in Togo in October, but it was canceled because over half of African countries planned to boycott it.

Netanyahu has made African diplomacy a pillar of his foreign policy. In June he visited Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda, with a large delegation of business executives.

He promised West African leaders at a summit in Liberia that Israel would supply them with agricultural technology to prevent drought and food scarcity, provided they opposed UN resolutions critical of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Not all African leaders allowed themselves to be manipulated.

Israel’s aim is to undercut support for the Palestinians at the UN General Assembly, and sabotage the work of UN bodies outside the realm of US power.
Meanwhile, it also wants a seat on the UN Security Council.

The assumption is that, with the support of Haley at the UN, this is not far-fetched. In addition to the five permanent veto-wielding members, ten countries are elected for two-year terms. Israel’s charm offensive in Latin America, Africa and Asia is meant to win it a seat in the 2019-2020 term. The vote will take place next year, and Israel will stand against Germany and Belgium.

Israel’s strategy of elevating its status at the UN can also been seen as an admission of the failure of its antagonistic behavior. However, if it wins that seat it will use the new position to strengthen its occupation of Palestine, rather than adhere to international law.

It is unfortunate that the Arabs and the Palestinian Authority are waking up to this reality late. Israel has been plotting it since 2005 under the premiership of Ariel Sharon, but the PA is only now requesting an Arab League strategy to prevent it.

Palestinians are counting on the historical support they have among many countries around the world, especially in the global South. Most of these nations have experienced colonization and military occupation, and have had their own costly and painful liberation struggles.

They should not allow a colonialist regime to sit at the summit of the UN, obstructing international law while preaching to the world about democracy and human rights.

• Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California. Visit his website: www.ramzybaroud.net.

Co-Authors Reflect Ten years After Publishing Controversial Book, ‘The Israel Lobby’

A really interesting (and revealing) conversation, you should have a listen!

The 2007 book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy argued that a loose coalition of interests, which supports Israel, lobbies the U.S. government to skew U.S. foreign policy to Israel’s favor.

The authors also assert this reality damages, both America’s and Israel’s, long-term interests. “The Israel Lobby” ignited a firestorm of debate. Critics accused the authors of giving voice to historic anti-Semitic slurs. Supporters hailed the book as opening a door to needed dialogue on a taboo subject.

 Ten years later, the book’s co-authors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, join Worldview to discuss the changes in Middle East dialogue in the decade since they wrote the book. Mearsheimer is professor of political science at the University of Chicago and authored numerous books including, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics.
 Walt is a professor of International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also authored the book, Taming American Power: The Global Response to U.S. Primacy.

Pro-Israelists ‘Herd shaming’ Jews

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“What’s wrong with you people?! Why do you tear down other Jews instead of building them up? We have to be united.”

Translation: “How dare you disagree with us?! Why do you tear down our ideology instead of blindly agreeing with us? We can’t allow any dissent.”

The above comment with its accompanying between-the-lines translation is indicative of the attitudes of many. The call for “unity” in the name of Jewish brotherhood being a seemingly invincible trump card to counter all criticism of Zionism.

Herd shaming has become de rigueur for Pro-Israelists, a convenient and fun-filled way to instantly label dissenting opinions as heartless and their proponents as self-hating Jews.

The method in which some plead for rapprochement is telling.

“Why even talk about it? The state is here for over close to seventy years, any talk is superfluous. Let’s just live together in peace.”

Notice the undertone of the message. “We’ve won. Just admit defeat graciously and move on. Stop talking about it.”

“Can’t we all just get along?” is the standard liturgy for Zionist supporters. The victors, Zionists, affably tell the losers, anti-Zionists, that it’s time Judaism, untouched by nationalist tendencies, threw in the towel, G-d forbid.

The denouement of this opera is that the victorious creed will allow the vanquished Torah Jew to believe in something but, from now on, there will be a new hierarchy. State first, G-d second.

One god, under nation.

“Unity” is a useful word. Those who can’t/won’t agree to the new Unity’s terms can automatically designated as impossibly contentious, unwilling to live and let live. It’s akin to one combatant offering “peace” in terms that he knows are impossible for the other side to accept.

“Israel”, incidentally, is a masterful practitioner of this style.

Following the prevailing logic, casting doubt on the “Israel” is subversive and clinging to what they considering a troublesome and inexplicably tenacious position become symptoms of baseless hatred against fellow Jews, a hackneyed allegation.

To level with our readers, True Torah Jews does what it does because of its concern for the safety and well-being of other Jews in particular and the world in general.

They fight so Judaism’s authenticity won’t be muddied or lost. The unity that’s being promoted by anti-Zionist detractors is that of a mass of lemmings racing headlong into oblivion.

With the death toll of Jews alone nearing fifty thousand since the establishment of the state, the price of “unity” seems to be rising inexorably higher.

Solidarity amongst Jews is a good thing. If it were to be characterized by Torah values and a commitment to truth.

Today, though, this concept is an oratorical weapon brandished at those who won’t tow the party line. For those who won’t drink the Kool-Aid.
Asking for the Pro-“Israel” Lobby to reconsider their views is far-fetched at the moment, but we at True Torah Jews do have one request.

Just say what you actually mean instead of camouflaging it in the guise of brotherly harmony.

NATO Gearing up for Regime Change in Russia with False Flag Ops?

Professor Filip Kovacevic discusses the articles from four Russian newspapers: Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Izvestia, Kommersant, and Komsomolskaya Pravda. He discusses the recent sinking of the Russian spy ship ‘Liman’ in the Black Sea, the interview with the Russian permanent representative to NATO Alexander Grushko, the summit meeting between the German chancellor Angela Merkel and the Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the claims about the potential ‘false flag’ terrorist attack in Kiev during the Eurovision song contest.

Zionists eat up more Palestinian land rights in Hebron, Palestine

HEBRON, PALESTINE— Zionist Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman granted Aug. 29 hundreds of Jewish squatters in settlements in the Old City of Hebron independence from the city’s municipality affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

His decision raised Palestinian public and official ire due to its serious repercussions on the city’s already deteriorating geographic and humanitarian situation.

Liberman’s move would lead to the establishment of an Zionist-run municipality. Squatters would receive services from Zionist authorities, whereas they were previously tied to the Palestinian-run municipality of Hebron granting services to Palestinian residents and squatters alike.

Sara Daajna, a resident of the Old City of Hebron, said that the decision pushed Palestinian governmental, factional and civil associations in Hebron to call for meetings because they know the bad implications of the Zionist decision on the citizens.

As per the decision, Zionists would take administrative control thus preventing the Palestinian-run municipality from providing services due to obstacles from settlers after establishing a new Israel municipality in the Old City of Hebron, she told Al-Monitor.

Daajna said, “The Zionist’s decision aims at implementing the settlement vision to evacuate the Old City of its citizens and Judaize it, and thus transfer the privileges of Palestinian citizens and Jewish squatters to the Zionists. The new decision is dangerous, and everyone [involved] should be held accountable.”

Daajna said that the repercussions of the decision on the ground will be worse than ever, noting, “The Zionist blockade on the Old City of Hebron persists as dozens of checkpoints are spread throughout. Citizens are facing a clampdown, and the decision will add insult to injury.”

Walid Assaf, the head of the Colonization and Wall Resistance Commission in the West Bank, told Al-Monitor that the Zionist decision will divide Hebron and pave the way for the Judaization and division of the Old City.

Assaf said, “The decision will affect the lives of thousands of citizens in the Old City and its surroundings as well as the workers and home owners. It will also affect the interaction between the different neighborhoods of Hebron and will strip the municipality of its properties and transfer them to squatters as per the comprehensive settlement plan.

It will also increase pressure on citizens to expel and forcibly displace them.”

In January 1997, the PA signed the Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron with Zionists to divide the security control of the city. Area H1 was put under the security and administrative control of the PA, while Area H2 falls under the Palestinian administrative control and Zionist’s security grip, in the presence of international observers. The Old City is located in Area H2, where Jewish squatters and Palestinian citizens live.

The director of the legal department of the Gaza-based International Commission to Support Palestinian People’s Rights, Islam Sukkar, told Al-Monitor, “The Zionist’s latest decision annuls the protocol it signed with the PA and transfers the Palestinian administrative control to a municipality the Zionist will build for squatters in Hebron.”

He added, “The illegal measures and policies that the Zionists took against Palestinian citizens and land by transferring some squatters to the Palestinian territories and expelling the citizens of the occupied land violate the provisions of international law and the United Nations resolutions, as well as the PA-Zionist  agreements such as the Hebron protocol. Legally, this shows that the Zionists do not respect bilateral understandings.”

Sukkar believes the Zionist decision proves that the presence of Zionist squatters in Hebron reflects the Zionist’s serious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions (1949) and the additional first protocol appended to it, describing it is a war crime.

Sukkar added that the Zionists will suffer the consequences of their decision, saying, “The implementation of the decision will prevent the Hebron municipality from providing the needed protection for the city.

It will also grant the settlers’ municipality the right to own lands, properties and spaces, under the pretext of public interest when in fact its objectives are settlement expansion, imposing taxes on Palestinian citizens, restricting their movement and isolating them from the other parts of Hebron.”

Bilal al-Shawbaki, the head of the political sciences department at the faculty of law and political sciences at Hebron University, told Al-Monitor, “The Zionists wants to tell Palestinians that it will continue entrenching its powers and undermining Palestinian existence.”

He added, “The negotiations and a settlement as an option to manage relations between the Zionists and Palestinians have gone downhill. What’s worse, the recent Zionist policy is aimed at winning over the extreme right Zionists and promoting the stability of Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s government.”

Shawbaki noted that the PA cannot do much on the ground in its current structure. It can, however, take serious steps to financially support the citizens of the Old City and Tel Rumeida in Hebron.

He added, “The PA should announce new options beyond the two-state solution and should take advantage of the Zionist policies to justify its new stance before the international community. However, Israel is still safe from any serious international action to control it.”

Member of the PLO’s Central Committee Ahmad Majdalani told Al-Monitor, “The Zionist’s  new decision is different from past ones. The settlers’ municipality to be established has the right to use the properties of absent citizens.

Each empty house would be under the control of settlers who barely amount to 400 people. This aims at connecting the Old City to Kiryat Arba [Zionist settlement on the outskirts of Hebron] and expanding the settlement space to reach the center of Hebron.”

He noted, “The PA needs to take serious steps; condemnation and disdain are no longer sufficient. New sanctions must be imposed on Israel, and it must be held accountable. The PA is moving on all levels, which is pivotal. The United States is playing a key role in convincing Israel to halt settlements, and the door is open for the PA to address human rights groups and the International Criminal Court.”

Netanyahu in Russia begs

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Putin sits on the victor’s platform in Syria, achieving his strategic goal of showing his power in the Middle East, just as the former Soviet Union did. Russia has done so in coordination with its powerful allies.

Iran is not only a military ally, but also a major buyer of modern Russian weapons systems and engineering skill. Russian engineers and scientists also established the Bushehr nuclear facility.

Russia’s arms exports to the Middle East range from $ 1.2 billion to $ 5.6 billion a year from the $ 14.5 billion annual arms export market, Chatham House estimates. In 2016, the two countries announced an agreement to buy Russian tanks and aircraft worth $ 10 billion.

How did Netanyahu think that Putin would abandon his ally and fall into the arms of Israel? What will Putin get back from this, who is victorious in a long war?

The premise of Netanyahu’s trip seems to have been based on more than arrogance, that he can somehow convince the Russian president himself of the Israeli position.

However, the Israeli prime minister made a fundamental mistake in the assessment of the situation, and the world media ridiculed the outcome of the talks and described it on a semi-global level as a failure.

read the full article here ida2at.com

Key Senate Committee Advances Pro-Terrorist Israel Measures

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Antisemitic cartoon? Not I, I don’t hate Arabs!

 Great news: our Zionist occupied government just keep feeding itself and the rest of it’s parasites instead of real people.

On Sept. 7, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a number of pro-Israel measures in the Fiscal Year 2018 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Bill.

The bill provides $3.1 billion in annual security assistance to Israel—fully meeting America’s commitment under the current ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between the two countries. It also provides Israel with $7.5 million for assisting with refugee resettlement.

The legislation maintains key restrictions on help to the Palestinians and adopted the Taylor Force Act, bipartisan legislation that cuts funding for assistance that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority due to its ongoing practice of providing payments to convicted “terrorists” and the families of those who died while committing acts of “terrorism” against Israelis and Americans.
In other words, the landowners are being starved while the parasite gets fat.
Learn more about our ‘special relationship’ with this parasite.

Trump’s Afghan War: Based on Neocon Lies

Trump’s war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with “an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid,” but rather is based on the profits of Wall Street and transnational corporations.

Moreover, America’s longest war represents a long term business opportunity for the military-industrial complex and, as well, provides further justification for obscene outlays to the Pentagon as it continues its pursuit of the manufactured war on terror, designed to last indefinitely.

READ MORE: Newsbud

Korea: The Forgotten War

Emphasis on 29:09 onward. It sounds like a combination of Catch22 and Dr. Strangelove!

Excepted from Consequences of the ’ forgotten’ war

On 9 July 1950 – just two weeks into the war, it is worth remembering – MacArthur sent Ridgway a hot message that prompted the joint chiefs of staff (JCS) “to consider whether or not A-bombs should be made available to MacArthur”.

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The chief of operations, General Charles Bolte, was asked to talk to MacArthur about using atomic bombs “in direct support [of] ground combat”. Bolte thought 10-20 such bombs could be spared for Korea without unduly jeopardising US global war capabilities.

Boite received from MacArthur an early suggestion for the tactical use of atomic weapons and an indication of MacArthur’s extraordinary ambitions for the war, which included occupying the North and handling potential Chinese – or Soviet – intervention: “I would cut them off in North Korea . . . I visualise a cul-de-sac.

The only passages leading from Manchuria and Vladivostok have many tunnels and bridges. I see here a unique use for the atomic bomb – to strike a blocking blow – which would require a six months’ repair job. Sweeten up my B-29 force.”

At this point, however, the JCS rejected use of the bomb because targets large enough to require atomic weapons were lacking; because of concerns about world opinion five years after Hiroshima; and because the JCS expected the tide of battle to be reversed by conventional military means.

But that calculation changed when large numbers of Chinese troops entered the war in October and November 1950.

At a famous news conference on 30 November President Harry Truman threatened use of the atomic bomb, saying the US might use any weapon in its arsenal . The threat was not the faux pas many assumed it to be, but was based on contingency planning to use the bomb.

On that same day, Air Force General George Stratemeyer sent an order to General Hoyt Vandenberg that the Strategic Air Command should be put on warning, “to be prepared to dispatch without delay medium bomb groups to the Far East . . . this augmentation should include atomic capabilities”.

General Curtis LeMay remembered correctly that the JCS had earlier concluded that atomic weapons would probably not be useful in Korea, except as part of “an overall atomic campaign against Red China”.

But, if these orders were now being changed because of the entry of Chinese forces into the war, LeMay wanted the job; he told Stratemeyer that only his headquarters had the experience, technical training, and “intimate knowledge” of delivery methods.

The man who had directed the firebombing of Tokyo in 1945 was again ready to proceed to the Far East to direct the attacks . Washington was not worried that the Russians would respond with atomic weapons because the US possessed at least 450 bombs and the Soviets only 25.

On 9 December MacArthur said that he wanted commander’s discretion to use atomic weapons in the Korean theatre. On 24 December he submitted “a list of retardation targets” for which he required 26 atomic bombs.

He also wanted four to drop on the “invasion forces” and four more for “critical concentrations of enemy air power”.

In interviews published posthumously, MacArthur said he had a plan that would have won the war in 10 days: “I would have dropped 30 or so atomic bombs . . . strung across the neck of Manchuria”.

Then he would have introduced half a million Chinese Nationalist troops at the Yalu and then “spread behind us – from the Sea of Japan to the Yellow Sea – a belt of radioactive cobalt . . . it has an active life of between 60 and 120 years.

For at least 60 years there could have been no land invasion of Korea from the North.”

He was certain that the Russians would have done nothing about this extreme strategy: “My plan was a cinch” .

A second request

Cobalt 60 has 320 times the radioactivity of radium. One 400-ton cobalt H-bomb, historian Carroll Quigley has written, could wipe out all animal life on earth. MacArthur sounds like a warmongering lunatic, but he was not alone.

Before the Sino-Korean offensive, a committee of the JCS had said that atomic bombs might be the decisive factor in cutting off a Chinese advance into Korea; initially they could be useful in “a cordon sanitaire [that] might be established by the UN in a strip in Manchuria immediately north of the Korean border”.

A few months later Congressman Albert Gore (2000 Democratic candidate Al Gore’s father, subsequently a strong opponent of the Vietnam war) complained that “Korea has become a meat grinder of American manhood” and suggested “something cataclysmic” to end the war: a radiation belt dividing the Korean peninsula permanently into two.

Although Ridgway said nothing about a cobalt bomb, in May 1951, after replacing MacArthur as US commander in Korea, he renewed MacArthur’s request of 24 December, this time for 38 atomic bombs . The request was not approved.

The US came closest to using atomic weapons in April 1951, when Truman removed MacArthur. Although much related to this episode is still classified, it is now clear that Truman did not remove MacArthur simply because of his repeated insubordination, but because he wanted a reliable commander on the scene should Washington decide to use nuclear weapons; Truman traded MacArthur for his atomic policies.

On 10 March 1951 MacArthur asked for a “D-Day atomic capability” to retain air superiority in the Korean theatre, after the Chinese massed huge new forces near the Korean border and after the Russians put 200 bombers into airbases in Manchuria (from which they could strike not just Korea but also US bases in Japan).

On 14 March General Vandenberg wrote: “Finletter and Lovett alerted on atomic discussions. Believe everything is set.”

At the end of March Stratemeyer reported that atomic bomb loading pits at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa were again operational; the bombs were carried there unassembled, and put together at the base, lacking only the essential nuclear cores.

On 5 April the JCS ordered immediate atomic retaliation against Manchurian bases if large numbers of new troops came into the fighting, or, it appears, if bombers were launched from there against US assets.

On that day the chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, Gordon Dean, began arrangements for transferring nine Mark IV nuclear capsules to the Air Force’s 9th Bomb Group, the designated carrier for atomic weapons.

The JCS again considered the use of nuclear weapons in June 1951, this time in tactical battlefield circumstances (15) and there were many more such suggestions as the war continued to 1953.

Robert Oppenheimer, former director of the Manhattan Project, was involved in Project Vista, designed to gauge the feasibility of the tactical use of atomic weapons.

In 1951 young Samuel Cohen, on a secret assignment for the US Defence Department, observed the battles for the second recapture of Seoul and thought there should be a way to destroy the enemy without destroying the city. He became the father of the neutron bomb (16).

The most terrifying nuclear project in Korea, however, was Operation Hudson Harbour. It appears to have been part of a larger project involving “overt exploitation in Korea by the Department of Defence and covert exploitation by the Central Intelligence Agency of the possible use of novel weapons” – a euphemism for what are now called weapons of mass destruction.

The ‘limited war’

Without even using such “novel weapons” – although napalm was very new – the air war levelled North Korea and killed millions of civilians. North Koreans tell you that for three years they faced a daily threat of being burned with napalm: “You couldn’t escape it,” one told me in 1981. By 1952 just about everything in northern and central Korea had been completely levelled. What was left of the population survived in caves.

Over the course of the war, Conrad Crane wrote, the US air force “had wreaked terrible destruction all across North Korea. Bomb damage assessment at the armistice revealed that 18 of 22 major cities had been at least half obliterated.” A table he provided showed that the big industrial cities of Hamhung and Hungnam were 80-85% destroyed, Sariwon 95%, Sinanju 100%, the port of Chinnampo 80% and Pyongyang 75%.

A British reporter described one of the thousands of obliterated villages as “a low, wide mound of violet ashes”. General William Dean, who was captured after the battle of Taejon in July 1950 and taken to the North, later said that most of the towns and villages he saw were just “rubble or snowy open spaces”.

Just about every Korean he met, Dean wrote, had had a relative killed in a bombing raid (17). Even Winston Churchill, late in the war, was moved to tell Washington that when napalm was invented, no one contemplated that it would be “splashed” all over a civilian population (18).

This was Korea, “the limited war”. The views of its architect, Curtis LeMay, serve as its epitaph. After it started, he said: “We slipped a note kind of under the door into the Pentagon and said let us go up there . . . and burn down five of the biggest towns in North Korea – and they’re not very big – and that ought to stop it.

Well, the answer to that was four or five screams – ‘You’ll kill a lot of non-combatants’ and ‘It’s too horrible’. Yet over a period of three years or so . . . we burned down every town in North Korea and South Korea, too . . . Now, over a period of three years this is palatable, but to kill a few people to stop this from happening – a lot of people can’t stomach it”.

Bruce Cumings