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.
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”.
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”.
“They target the areas where there are big families in one building for the higher body count”
In July 2014, Israel began a military assault on the Gaza Strip, including an indiscriminate bombing campaign and a brutal ground invasion. In total, the assault killed 1,545 Palestinian civilians, including 556 children, and made 11,166 families homeless.
Three years on, no justice has been attained for victims and survivors of the attack. While 500 Palestinian complaints were filed with Israeli military courts over the 2014 Gaza war, only three soldiers were convicted as of August 2016, for minor felonies such as credit card theft.
Military commanders and politicians — those most responsible for the massive loss of life — were never held accountable for their role in violations of International Law and International Human Rights Law.
The sole legal recourse for Palestinians in Gaza is the Israeli military court system, a kangaroo court run by the same military which carried out the attack.
As the Israeli human rights organization B’tselem explains, “the military is more likely to lose track of a file altogether than to press charges based on a file.”
Visualizing Palestine, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, and Adalah The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights have produced a series of visuals to mark the third anniversary of the 2014 attack on Gaza.
All the data is sourced from research conducted by Al Mezan on the ground in Gaza during and in the aftermath of the attack, and re-verified in the year following the attack.
How the Israeli Military’s “Justice” System Shields an Illegal Occupation. Hagai El-Ad, B’tselem. https://www.opensocietyfoundations.org/voices/how-israeli-military-s-justice-system-shields-illegal-occupation
Israel Lobby Pushes for US Action Against the Syrian Government (to weaken Iran)
In Russia Today’s recent Crosstalk program on Syria, guest James Morris was brave enough to incisively point out the taboo fact that the Israel lobby has been in the forefront in pushing a hardline interventionist approach for the US toward that divided country.
The host and the two other guests on the show pooh-poohed the idea on the grounds that (in their minds) it would not be in Israel’s national interest to topple the secular Assad regime and possibly bring about an Islamist state that could be even more hostile to Israel.
But when one moves from speculation to an analysis of the actual position of members of the Israel lobby, one can see that Morris was completely correct.
Moreover, Morris was completely correct in pointing out that the Israel lobby’s position has nothing to do with ending oppression, and everything to do with Israeli security, as members of the Israel lobby have perceived Israel’s interest (which might not be the same as the Crosstalk threesome.)
The neoconservatives, the vanguard of the Israel lobby, have especially been ardent in their advocacy of a hardline, interventionist position toward Syria.
Evidence abounds for this finding, but it is best encapsulated by an August 2011 open letter from the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (an organization which claims to address any “threat facing America, Israel and the West”) to President Obama, urging him to take stronger measures against Syria.
Among the signatories of the letter are such neocon luminaries as: Elliott Abrams (son-in-law of neocon “godfather” Norman Podhoretz and a former National Security adviser to President George W. Bush); the Council on Foreign Relations’ Max Boot; “Weekly Standard” editor Bill Kristol; Douglas Feith (Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under George W. Bush and an author of the “Clean Break” policy paper); Joshua Muravchik (affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute [AEI], the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and “Commentary”); Frederick W. Kagan (AEI, co-author of the “surge” in Iraq); Robert Kagan (co-founder of the Project for the New American Century PNAC); James Woolsey (head of the CIA under Clinton and chair of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies); Randy Scheunemann (former President of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq and foreign affairs adviser to John McCain in his 2008 presidential campaign); Reuel Marc Gerecht (former Director of the Project for the New American Century’s Middle East Initiative and a former resident fellow at AEI); Michael Makovsky (advisor to the propagandistic Office of Special Plans, which was under Douglas Feith); John Hannah ( senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy [WINEP] and a former national security adviser to U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney); and Gary Schmitt (AEI and former President for the Project for a New American Century).
As Morris notes in his presentation, elimination of the Assad regime in Syria was not an idea conceived by either the neocons or the broader Israel lobby; rather it can be traced back to the Israeli Likudniks, being articulated by Oded Yinon in his 1982 piece, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.”
In this article, Yinon called for Israel to use military means to bring about the dissolution of Israel’s neighboring states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of ethnic and sectarian groupings.
Yinon believed that this would not be a difficult undertaking because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-statelets that could in no way confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon’s model for the entire Middle East.
Yinon wrote: “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 51)
What stands out in the stark contrast to the debate taking place today is that Yinon’s rationale for eliminating the dictatorial regimes in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East had absolutely nothing to do with their oppressive practices and lack of democracy, but rather was based solely on Israel’s geostrategic interests-the aim being to permanently weaken Israel’s enemies.
The neoconservatives took up the gist of the Yinon’s position in their 1996 Clean Break policy paper, whose authors included neocons Richard Perle, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, which was presented to then incoming Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It urged him to use military force against a number of Israel’s enemies, which beginning with Iraq would include “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria.”
Once again the fundamental concern was Israeli security, not liberty and democracy for the people of those countries. (“The Transparent Cabal,” p. 90)
Numerous neocons before and after 9/11 expressed the need to confront Syria in order to protect the security of both the United States and Israel, whose interests they claimed coincided. And this position on Syria was concurred in by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who, one month before the US invasion of Iraq, identified it, along with Libya and Iran, as an ideal target for future US action.
Sharon stated: “These are irresponsible states, which must be disarmed of weapons [of] mass destruction, and a successful American move in Iraq as a model will make that easier to achieve.” ( Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 172)
A month after Bush’s 2004 re-election, Bill Kristol would emphasize the key position of Syria in the “war on terrorism.” He wrote in the “Weekly Standard” that because Syria was allegedly interfering with America’s efforts to put down the insurgency in Iraq, it was thus essential for the United States “to get serious about dealing with Syria as part of winning in Iraq, and in the broader Middle East.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” pp. 253-254)
The close ties between Syria and Iran would begin to provide a fundamental reason for the neocons’ desire to take action against Syria. It was this factor that shaped neocon thinking on the Israel’s July 2006 incursion into Lebanon. Some months after the Israeli invasion, neocon Meyrav Wurmser would affirm that it was neocon influence in the Bush administration that was setting US policy on Lebanon, with the aim being a direct Israeli confrontation with Syria. “The neocons are responsible for the fact that Israel got a lot of time and space,” Wurmser stated. “They believed that Israel should be allowed to win. A great part of it was the thought that Israel should fight against the real enemy, the one backing Hizbullah. It was obvious that it is impossible to fight directly against Iran, but the thought was that its strategic and important ally should be hit.” Furthermore, “If Israel had hit Syria, it would have been such a harsh blow for Iran that it would have weakened it and [changed] the strategic map in the Middle East.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 278)
And any action by Iran to protect its Syrian ally would provide a casus belli for the United States to attack Iran, which is what the neocons sought. Michael Ledeen opined, “The only way we are going to win this war is to bring down those regimes in Tehran and Damascus and they are not going to fall as a result of fighting between their terrorist proxies in Gaza and Lebanon on the one hand, and Israel on the other. Only the United States can accomplish it.” (Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 279) Bill Kristol argued the same point in his article, “It’s Our War,” underscoring the need for direct American involvement in the ongoing conflict. America “might consider countering this act of Iranian aggression [arms provided to Hezbollah] with a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.” ( Quoted in “The Transparent Cabal,” p. 279)
As can be seen, the goal of eliminating the Assad Baathist regime has existed among Israeli Likudniks and the neocons for some time. And it currently propels the demand for militant action against the Syrian government. Moreover, action taken against Syria has become viewed as a way of seriously weakening Iran (perceived as a much more dangerous enemy), or even leading to war with it. That Israel might not benefit from regime change in Syria, and that some in Israel might actually fear such a development, does not alter the obvious fact that the neocons and much of the overall Israel lobby support it. And it is they who affect the policy of the United States.