LETTER TO THE EDITOR
BY THOMAS C. STURTEVANT
To the Editor:
According to your Oct. 27 story, Secretary of Defense William Cohen plans to send "an Army investigative team to South Korea to begin the field inquiry into allegations of a Korean War massacre of civilians by U.S. soldiers."
While in South Korea, the team should look into another massacre of civilians by the U.S. a week before the Nogun village incident. Bruce Cummings, an authority on Korea and the war, wrote in the Oct. 25 Nation that: "…according to 10 witnesses who spoke to a North Korean army detachment that arrived there on July 20, U.S. troops herded some 2,000 civilians into the mountains near Yongdong and then slaughtered them, apparently mostly from the air, although the account also said several women were raped before being shot…"
With time on its hands, the team could also venture into North Korea to investigate a crime of more horrendous proportions.
According to the May 15 Nation: "On May 13, 1953, in Korea the U.S. Air Force attacked and destroyed the Toksan dam near Pyongyang. The aim was to wreck the system irrigating three-quarters of North Korea’s rice farms. Adjacent dams were bombed on succeeding days, while the armistice talks went on…"
In their book, "Korea: The Unknown War," Jon Halliday and Bruce Cummings quote from the main U.S. Air Force study of these bombings: "These strikes, largely passed over by the press, military observers, and news commentators … constituted one of the most significant air operations of the Korean War …" [and] ‘that attacks in May would be most effective psychologically when the arduous labor of rice transplanting had been completed but before the roots became firmly embedded.
"Flood waters bursting through the destroyed Toksan dam ‘scooped clear 27 miles of valley below,’ drowned the civilians in the shelter … and sent floods into Pyongyang. The USAF study tranquilly stressed, "To the Communists the smashing of the dams meant primarily the destruction of their chief sustenance—rice. The Westerner can little conceive the awesome meaning that the loss of this staple food commodity has for the Asian—starvation and slow death."
For ordering the opening of the dikes in Holland in the final months of World War II, which flooded 500,000 acres of land, the German High Commissioner in Holland, Seyss-Inquart, was sentenced to death along with 23 other Nazis at Nuremberg.
And while Cohen’s investigative team is in Asia, it may want to drift south and check out the U.S. bombing of dikes in South Vietnam, U.S. complicity in the deaths of 200,000 East Timorese or Cohen’s cozy connections with Kopassus, the Indonesian army’s special forces legendary for their cruelty.
Awareness of atrocities committed by combatants on both sides led me to join a national organization called Veterans for Peace, founded in Maine in 1984 by a former Marine, whose brother was killed in Vietnam, and several other Maine veterans. It now includes members and chapters in most states and several nations.