Day By Day

Sunday, August 03, 2008

American War Crimes

During the Korean War.

From AP:

SEOUL, South Korea - South Korean investigators, matching once-secret documents to eyewitness accounts, are concluding that the U.S. military indiscriminately killed large groups of refugees and other civilians early in the Korean War.

A half-century later, the Seoul government's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has more than 200 such alleged wartime cases on its docket, based on hundreds of citizens' petitions recounting bombing and strafing runs on South Korean refugee gatherings and unsuspecting villages in 1950-51.

Read about it here.

Naturally, they want reparations.

We will probably hear a lot more about this, and we should. War crimes can never be condoned. They should be exposed and their perpetrators condemned. What we are not likely to hear, however, is an attempt to discredit the entire Korean conflict, which produced a prosperous and free Korean state. Nor will we hear much condemnation of President Truman, Secretary of Defense Lewis Johnson or his successor, George Marshall, who presumably covered up the incidents. There is little political advantage to be gained from such denunciations and it is easy, given the passage of time, to place these incidents within a reasonable context.

Those who would condemn the present administration as being immoral would do well to remember what happened in other wars under other administrations. Bad things happen in wars and the lapses associated with the current conflict are no worse than what happened in other wars. If we are to condemn President Bush we should with equal fervor denounce Harry Truman, Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Abraham Lincoln, and other wartime chief executives, because horrific things were done in their administrations too.

UPDATE: As I write this, Ralph Peters is on C-SPAN talking about his latest book. He just made an apt comparison. The casualties we have suffered in five years of conflict in Iraq would be "one bad day" during the Civil War, or "two bad days" at Normandy. He also said that attempts on the Left to compare Guantanamo to the Holocaust or other such crimes against humanity are not only "repugnant", they are "morally evil."

I agree.