Denuclearize the United States? An Unthinkable Thought

An early challenge to the United States’ self-declared right to manage post-World War II global affairs from the banks of the Potomac came in 1950, when Korean forces joined by Chinese troops pushed back against the United States’ invasion of North Korea. Washington responded with a merciless bombing campaign that flattened much of the country. U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay boasted that “we burned down every town in North Korea.” LeMay proudly guessed that the gruesome U.S. assault killed a fifth of North Korea’s population. The attack included napalm and chemical weapons and the bombing of dams – a war crime for which Nazis were hanged at Nuremberg. The scale of the devastation was soul-numbing, enough to disgust even many veteran U.S. military observers. As Korea expert John Feffer has written:

“The U.S. used massive bombardments to erase North Korea from the map, destroying  75 percent of all physical facilities and using napalm on a large scale for the first time…Three million civilians fled south to escape the saturation bombings…In June 1953, the United States bombed irrigation dams and the retaining wall of the Toksan reservoir, flooding cities and undercutting the capacity of North Koreans to grow food, acts considered war crimes when the Nazis did much the same to the Dutch.”

These monstrous transgressions went down the United States’ “memory hole” even as they took place – and even as the leading public U.S. military journals…

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