Chapter 13 – Three post-war holocausts
by Peter Cohen
“Yes, this is a war between the rich and the poor. The rich have chosen it, and they are the aggressors. The only problem is that the poor fight back, so when the rich refer to the people they claim that ‘this animal is so ferocious it defends itself when it’s attacked’”.
Louis-Auguste Blanqui, 1806-1881, French revolutionary socialist, at his trial in the Court of Assizes, 1832.
People such as David Irving and Robert Faurisson who for various reasons deny the mass judeocide known as the Holocaust are correctly accused of falsifying history. In some countries, including Germany, Holocaust denial is a crime.
As indicated in Chapter 12, several holocausts during the period 1918-1945 are denied in the sense that they are either not acknowledged as such or are virtually absent from the mainstream version of history, including the files of the Swedish government’s Forum for Living History. This also applies to the general holocaust generated by the capitalist system after 1945, as well as the historical record presented in Chapter 8. Three post-1945 holocausts are discussed below.
Safeguarding imperial dominions
The survival and victory of the Soviet Union in World War 2 provided a strong stimulus to anti-imperialist forces throughout the world, particularly in Africa and Asia. Post-war liberation movements in the colonies usually comprised Communist parties and groups with whom they shared the common goal of driving out imperialist forces and achieving self-determination.
The Western capitalists who controlled the various imperial systems were not prepared to retreat and forego the handsome profits to which they had become accustomed, especially since the riches of the Soviet Union remained out of their reach. In 1945 another War of Intervention was out of the question.
The attitude of the Western governments was expressed by Winston Churchill in 1936 when he approved French violence against rebellious Moroccans, stating that the French “…have a purpose and are not ashamed of it. Their purpose is not to hand over the country to its inhabitants”.
Churchill clarified his position at the end of World War 2 when he said “I have not become the King’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire.”
It has already been pointed out that the Western ruling classes had identified the Soviet Union as the chief barrier to their ambitions while World War 2 was still going on. The war had scarcely ended before they were engaged in combat with Communist and nationalist movements that they insisted were directed by Moscow. It was unthinkable that the subject peoples could have ideas of their own and organizational abilities that would enable implementing them. Western capitalists needed to secure the natural resources, markets and investment opportunities required for maintaining and boosting corporate profits, which would be difficult to say the least if such movements were to succeed.
The Communist movement was and is anti-capitalist and therefore anti-imperialist. Containing the spread of Communism was of necessity a cornerstone of Western imperial policy, and people who were “influenced” by it would have to pay a heavy price for their foolishness. Three major holocausts took place in Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia.
The holocaust in Korea
In 1945 the Truman administration unilaterally decided that a demarcation line would be established to divide the Korean nation. Wikipedia:
The 38th parallel was first suggested as a dividing line for Korea in 1902. Russia was attempting to pull (sic!) Korea under its control, while Japan had just secured recognition of its rights in Korea from the British. In an attempt to prevent any conflict, Japan proposed to Russia that the two sides split Korea into separate spheres of influence along the 38th parallel. However, no formal agreement was ever reached, and Japan later took full control of Korea.
Wikipedia does not specify the nature or origin of the “rights” that Japanese capitalists had in Korea. Nor does it indicate that Japan assumed full control of Korea and transformed it into a colony on the basis of an agreement with the US in 1905 (Taft-Katsura Agreement) which gave Japan a free hand in Korea in exchange for recognizing US “rights” in the Philippines and Hawaii. This was a typical imperialist arrangement for defining so-called spheres of influence with no regard for the people who happen to inhabit them. Among other things, Japanese capitalists were anxious to secure access to mineral resources in Korea which were crucial to industrial growth. Wikipedia continues:
After the surrender of Japan in 1945, the parallel was established as the boundary by Dean Rusk and Charles Bonesteel of the US State-War-Navy Coordinating Committee in Washington during the night of 10-11 August 1945, four days before the complete liberation of Korea. The parallel divided the peninsula roughly in the middle. In 1948, the dividing line became the boundary between the newly independent countries of North and South Korea. On 25 June 1950, North Korean forces crossed the parallel and invaded South Korea, sparking the Korean War.
The phrase “newly independent countries” neatly avoids the facts. The two nations were established as a result of unilateral action by the US to divide Korea in order to maintain control of at least half the peninsula. The war that erupted between the two artificial countries was actually a civil war, and it did not start on 25 June 1950 (see below).
In 1945 the Soviet Union had agreed to accept a temporary demarcation line at the 38th parallel, apparently in the naïve belief that the US would honor the Teheran agreement as well as the UN Charter, both of which stipulated that the people of liberated countries would have the right to choose their own government.
However, Washington had decided that it had to control Korea, partly because of the country’s strategic position relative to Japan, China, and the Soviet Union.
The Japanese occupation of Korea
Martin Hart-Landsberg’s Korea: Division, Reunification and US Foreign Policy (1998) is an excellent and well-documented account, as is North Korea, by Bruce Cumings(2004). Much of the information below is derived from these two books.
Korea had been a unified nation since at least the second half of the 14th century. It was ruled by a single dynasty from 1392 to 1910, when the Japanese occupied the country. Korean history was marked by struggles for independence as well as internal revolts against the class hierarchy, which like most pre-capitalist societies was built on control of land by a minority and exploitation of the peasants.
The rapid development of industrial capitalism in Japan during the latter part of the 19th century involved a continuously growing demand for mineral resources to supplement the limited domestic deposits. Armed with the Taft-Nokamura agreement, which obviously had precedence over the wishes of the Korean people, in 1910 the Japanese government formally made Korea a protectorate and seized control of its economy. Korea became a supplier of minerals and foodstuffs to Japan.
Capital supplied by Japanese investors stimulated the growth of industry in Korea. By 1939 manufacturing, mining and forestry accounted for 40% of the Korean Gross National Product. The share of the chemical industry in manufacturing was 34%. The Korean and Japanese economies became closely linked. Korea became Japan’s principal export market, and by 1939 manufacturing accounted for close to 50% of Korean exports to Japan.
Hart-Landsberg shows that the industrialization of Korea led to significant changes in the class structure. A new class of Korean capitalists came into being, complementing the big landowners in the social hierarchy. As both Japanese- and Korean-owned industry expanded, the number of industrial workers rose to 700,000 in 1940 and 1.3 million in 1943. However, this figure does not include several hundred thousand other Korean workers in the mining and transportation sectors, as well as in Manchuria and Japan.
The wages of these workers declined by 50% from the mid-1920s to the start of World War 2, while the normal industrial working day was increased to 16 hours in the interest of maximizing profits.
In the years following the Russian Revolution, the resistance of Korean workers and peasants involved the foundation of the Korean Communist Party in 1925, the same year that the Korean Labor Federation (KLF) was established. The stated mission of the KLF included the following text:
- Our purpose is to liberate the working class and to build a completely new society.
- We will fight the capitalist class with the collective power of the workers until a final victory is won.
- We will fight for better welfare and economic improvement of the present working class.
Political consciousness among the mass of the Korean people was so high that in the opinion of president Truman’s special ambassador Edwin Pauley “Communism in [postwar] Korea could get off to a better start than practically anywhere else in the world”. This statement is the key to developments in Korea after Japan surrendered in 1945.
The US moves in
In the summer of 1945 the Japanese occupation authorities in Korea had realized that Japan would be forced to surrender, and they tried to establish an interim Korean government that would protect their lives as well as Japanese property. They contacted Yo Un-hyong, a left-of-center politician who was a nationalist but not a member of the Communist Party. He proposed establishing the Committee for the Preparation of Korean Independence (CPKI), on condition that the Japanese release the 30,000 political prisoners immediately, guarantee supplies of food for three months, and refrain from interfering in Korean peacekeeping or independence activities. The Japanese agreed, having no other choice.
The CPKI quickly organized 145 branches throughout the country – north and south – by the end of August. Industrial and agricultural labor unions were formed, and many large Japanese plants were taken over by workers. Early in September, shortly before US troops arrived, the CPKI held a meeting in Seoul and established the Korean People’s Republic (KPRE), with an interim administration of 55 members, of whom 42 were politically left of center. Many of them were not Communists. The list included right-wing Koreans in exile. According to Hart-Landsberg, “The decision to include conservative nationalists (as opposed to collaborators) reflected an attempt to build the broadest possible political base for the new Korean government”.
The program adopted by the KPR is extremely interesting, and was supported throughout the country by workers’ and peasant unions as well as women’s and young people’s organizations. Hart-Landsberg: “In the week following its inaugural assembly, the KPR made explicit its commitment to social revolution. Its twenty-seven-point platform, presented on September 14, was a sweeping program of action that called for confiscation without compensation of lands held by the Japanese and collaborators; free distribution of that land to peasants; rent limits on non-redistributed land; nationalization of such major industries as mining, transportation, banking, and communications; and state supervision of small and mid-sized companies. The program also guaranteed basic human rights and freedoms, including those of speech, press, assembly, and faith; universal suffrage to adults over the age of eighteen; equality for women; labor law reforms including an eight-hour day, a minimum wage, and prohibition of child labor; and ‘establishment of close relations with the United States’”.
Hart-Landsberg quotes Bruce Cumings, The Origins of the Korean War, Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes 1945-47 (1981) (emphasis added):
Without foreign intervention, the KPR and the organizations it sponsored would have triumphed throughout the peninsula in a matter of months”.
However, it was clear that a program such as the KPR’s would not be viewed with approval by the US government or the capitalists whose interests it promoted. Something had to be done. The policy implemented by the US resulted in the destruction of the KPR, the division of Korea, the installation of a right-wing government in the south that was highly unpopular and extremely repressive, and the Korean War.
The Americans arrive
Truman had unilaterally announced that the US would accept a Japanese surrender in Korea at a location south of the 38th parallel. American troops were scheduled to arrive in Korea in September 1945.
Since the US wanted to gain control of Korea to the greatest possible extent, the KPR was immediately identified as an obstacle. According to Hart-Landsberg, “even the conservative leaders of the KPR were considered too nationalistic and independent”. It is therefore not surprising that the American troops who landed in Korea in September were told by their commander General John R. Hodge that Korea was an enemy of the US, according to Hugh Deane, The Korean War, 1945-1953 (1999). Deane worked as a journalist in Korea in the 1940s.
General Hodge tried to establish a government south of the demarcation line that combined the remnants of the Japanese colonial administration with Koreans who had collaborated with them. He was forced to abandon the project because of widespread popular resistance and Washington’s insistence on caution. Hodge then ran a military government with the assistance of Japanese advisors as well as members of the Korean Democratic Party (KPD), which consisted of wealthy businessmen, large landholders, and former collaborators with the Japanese, none of whom had any popular support.
In an attempt to gain support, Hodge called in the anti-Japanese Syngman Rhee, a Korean who had been living in exile since the early 1920s. One of Rhee’s first public statements was a denunciation of the highly popular KPR, and of the Soviet Union.
With Rhee as a figurehead, the military government banned strikes, ejected workers who had taken over factories, and arrested many members of the KPR. In October 1946 Hodge organized elections to a legislative assembly in Seoul. He appointed half the legislators and had veto power over all decisions. Unsurprisingly, the result was a right-wing victory. The people living on the island of Chenju elected their own left-wing candidates, who were kidnapped and killed when they arrived in Seoul.
A widespread revolt spread throughout the south and was violently repressed by American troops. Hart-Landsberg quotes the head of the American Civil Liberties Union, who visited southern Korea in 1947: “The country is literally in the grip of a police state”.
In response to developments in the south, the Soviets supported Communist and progressive political forces in the north. A major reform program for distribution of land to poor peasants was implemented, and in the summer of 1946 a law guaranteeing equality for women was enacted, banning concubinage, prostitution and female infanticide. Major industries and businesses were nationalized. Hart-Landsberg writes that knowledge of these popular reforms fueled the anger of people in the south against the Americans and their puppet Syngman Rhee. Hart-Landsberg (emphasis added):
Many U.S. and South Korean scholars argue that [Soviet actions in the north] prove that the Soviets and north Koreans pursued division. But their actions must be seen in the context of developments in the south. Cumings observes that the sequence of events put the south in the role of instigator of policies leading toward division: ‘The early and preemptive action toward the creation of separate regimes occurred in the south, during the last three months of 1945. It was only in the aftermath of the results of southern policies that the north began to follow suit. We could argue, of course, that a separate northern regime was inevitable. But the sequence remains undeniable: the south moved first’”.
An interesting view of North Korean society was provided some years later in a summary of interviews with American POWS who returned from North Korea:
American studies based on interviews of prisoners of war during the Korean War paint the north Korean regime as strict but fair in its treatment of citizens. One prisoner said that the police were ‘severe,’ but ‘no third degree measures were ever used.’ As a result, the people looked upon the police as ‘guardians of peace.’ More generally, these studies showed that, “Although many respondents disliked the tight control of the regime, most were laudatory of the social revolution, which opened new careers to millions and raised the educational level of the entire population within a few years. The opening of the educational system to children of the poorest classes was frequently cited, given the importance Koreans place on education and the traditional elitism of the system. People did not cower under a totalitarian dictatorship, but tended to support the regime willingly because they got concrete status and material benefits from it; most had little understanding of ‘communism,’ but they did like to get land and jobs’ (Eckert et al, Korea Old and New, A History, 1990).
Over the next few years Koreans north and south of the demarcation line repeatedly demanded nation-wide elections with candidates of their own choice Tension continued to increase as the US and the Soviet Union discussed the possibility of forming a nation-wide government.
At a meeting of a UN Commission in May-June 1947, the Soviets proposed that all foreign troops be withdrawn, which would enable the Korean people to choose their own government without outside interference. The US refused.
President Truman had already made clear as far back as 18 September 1945 that “assumption by the Koreans themselves of the responsibilities and functions of a free and independent nation… will of necessity require time and patience”. Declaring the lower classes incompetent to govern has been a staple of ruling-class propaganda since the Roman Empire, at least.
The Truman administration finally decided that the Korean people’s resistance was too strong to enable the US to control the entire peninsula, and that Korea would be divided into two countries, irrespective of the wishes of its inhabitants. In May 1948 the US organized an election in South Korea that was restricted to candidates approved by Washington. The Republic of Korea (ROK), corresponding to the portion of Korea south of the 38th parallel, came into being with Syngman Rhee as president on 15 August 1948. The US had achieved its goal of dividing the nation. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was established in the north on 9 September of the same year.
In the name of anti-Communism the US engineered the division of a country in order to serve the interests of US capitalists and the domestic bourgeoisie, as it did later in Germany and Vietnam. The typical attitude of the Korean capitalists is illustrated in Cumings:
In June 1950 the veteran industrialist Pak Hŭng-sik showed up in Japan and gave an interview to The Oriental Economist, published the day before the war began. Described as an adviser to the Korean Economic Mission, he was also said to have ‘a circle of friends and acquaintances among the Japanese’ (a bit of an understatement; Pak was widely thought to be the most notorious collaborator with the colonial regime, and his factories fueled the Japanese war effort). In the years after Liberation, a lot of anti-Japanese feeling had welled up in Korea, Pak said, owing to the return of ‘numerous revolutionists and nationalists.’ Today, however, ‘there is hardly any trace of it.’ Instead, the Republic of Korea (ROK) ‘is acting as a bulwark of peace’ at the 38th parallel, and the central figures in charge of national defense are mostly graduates of the former Military College of Japan.’ Korea and Japan ‘are destined to go hand in hand, to live and let live,’ and thus bad feelings should be ‘cast overboard.’
The Japanese should buy Korean raw materials, he said, of which there was an ‘almost inexhaustible supply,’ including tungsten and graphite; the Koreans will then buy ‘as much as possible’ of Japanese merchandise and machinery. They will also invite Japanese technical help with Korea’s textile, glass, chemical, and machine industries. Pak himself owned a company that was an agent for Ford Motors: ‘[We] are scheduled to start producing cars jointly in Korea before long.’ The problem today, Pak said, was the unfortunate one that ‘an economic unity is lacking whereas in prewar days Japan, Manchuria, Korea and Formosa [Taiwan] economically combined to make an organic whole.’ Pak Hŭng-sik was the embodiment of the Japanese colonial idea – having been born a Korean his only unfortunate, but not insurmountable, fate. Between him and Kim il Sung, the only question was who killed whom.
As a Korean capitalist Pak Hŭng-Sik was understandably nostalgic for the days when Korea was a subordinate entity in the Greater Southeast Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere that Japan had established, in which prosperity was reserved for Japanese capitalists and the quislings who served them in colonies like Korea. In 1950 he looked forward to a future as a subordinate of US capitalists.
A guerilla war was launched by the southern population against the ROK government as early as March 1948. It started on the island of Chenju and then spread to the mainland, where ROK soldiers refused to fight against their own people, deserted and seized weapons. The revolt on Chenju lasted until March 1949, when it was crushed by US-trained troops of the ROK. About 40,000 people were killed, and 230 of the 400 villages on the island were destroyed.
Although the ROK was nominally independent, US troops were indispensable for dealing with the rebellion. Military operations were planned and directed by US officers. But it was not until May 1950 that resistance finally ended.
Meanwhile, armed clashes were occurring between the forces of the two Koreas. One of the first major battles was initiated by the south in May 1949. Both sides crossed the border on repeated occasions, but General William L. Roberts, head of the US Military Advisory Group, admitted that the ROK was mainly responsible for the fighting.
The civil war continues
The basic fallacy – or lie – underlying the containment policy in Korea and the mainstream version of history was that North Korea was a “satellite” of the Soviet Union. But the indigenous Communist movement in Korea was not being directed by the Soviet Union. The war was not the outcome of a decision by Moscow to “take over” the whole of Korea, as claimed by the US administration.
Hart-Landsberg shows that while the leaders of the DPRK were anxious to achieve the unification of Korea by force, the Stalin government was opposed to an offensive, on the grounds that “if military actions begin at (sic!) the initiative of the North and acquire a prolonged character, then this can give the Americans cause for any kind of interference in Korean affairs”. But Moscow did not oppose a counterattack by the DPRK if South Korea attacked first.
Contrary to the mainstream version, the evidence shows that it was the South that triggered what is called the Korean War by moving across the 38th parallel in force on the morning of 25 June 1950. Hart-Landsberg points out that there is no evidence connecting Moscow with the fighting on 25-26 June. The ROK troops were driven back by the DPRK forces, which then crossed the parallel and drove toward Seoul.
Apart from military considerations, an attack by the North would not have made sense politically. Elections had been held in the South in May, and Syngman Rhee and his allies had suffered a major defeat. The newly elected members of legislative assembly were in favor of negotiating with the North and discussing the possibility of a Korea-wide election, and the North had therefore launched a “peace offensive”.
The most reasonable explanation is that the Syngman Rhee government started the fighting, knowing that the US would intervene. In The Hidden History of the Korean War (1969), I. F. Stone showed thatthe Truman administration was determined to start a war in Korea.
As soon as the first reports of DPRK troops in South Korea reached Washington, Secretary of State Dean Acheson convened a meeting of the UN Security Council. The Soviet Union was boycotting the Council because of its refusal to allow the new People’s Republic of China to replace the old pre-revolutionary China as a Council member. In the absence of a veto by the Soviet Union, the US was able to devise a Security Council Resolution that authorized “UN” military action in Korea. The resolution was actually blanket permission for the US to launch military operations without any accountability to the UN. But Truman ordered US forces to go into action before the resolution was passed.
He explained his decision in The Autobiography of Harry S. Truman, Ed. Robert H. Ferrell (1981):
Communism was acting in Korea, just as Hitler, Mussolini and the Japanese had ten, fifteen, and twenty years earlier. I felt certain that if South Korea was allowed to fall, Communist leaders would be emboldened to override (sic!) nations closer to our own shores. If the Communists were permitted to force their way into the Republic of Korea without opposition from the free world, no small nation would have the courage to resist threat and aggression by stronger Communist neighbors.
In Truman’s words a civil war between Koreans is transformed into an invasion by the abstract “Communism”. He does not mention that the US established the ROK in defiance of the wishes of the people who became its inhabitants, that they rebelled against the government of the artificial state, that the war was provoked at the direction of the US, and that it was not necessary for Communists “to force their way into the ROK”, since many of them already lived there. The “nations closer to our shores” that would have been taken over by “Communism” have never been identified.
Truman had ordered US air and sea forces into action on 27 June. Early in July the US Eighth Army engaged units of the DPRK army, which by the end of August had advanced deep into South Korea, driving US and ROK forces before them. This was evidently a complete surprise to US leaders, partly because their view of Koreans was based on a racial contempt that was analogous to the Nazi classification of Slavs and other Eastern Europeans as sub-humans.
Cumings quotes MacArthur soon after the North Korean People’s Army (KPA) moved into South Korea:
’I can handle it with one arm tied behind my back’… the next day he remarked to John Foster Dulles that if he could only put the First Cavalry Division into Korea, ‘Why, heavens, you’d see these fellows scuddle (sic!) up to the Manchurian border so quick, you would see no more of them.’ A few days later the generalissimo thought he would turn the KPA around at Suwón, just south of Seoul. On June 29 it now appeared that two full divisions would be required, and two weeks into the war he called for ‘the equivalent of not less than four to four and-a-half full strength infantry divisions.’ By mid-July he had developed some respect for the Koreans: ‘The North Korean soldier must not be underestimated. He is a tough opponent, well-led, combines the infiltration tactic of the Japanese with the tank tactics of the Russian of World War II. He is able to march and maneuver and to attack at night with cohesion…These are the troops who served in China… [the] tank work is extremely efficient and skillful’.
John Foster Dulles could not understand why the North Koreans were “fighting and dying, and indeed ruining the whole country, to the end that Russia may achieve its Czarist ambitions.” Cumings cites the New York Times’ respected military editor, Hanson Baldwin, three weeks into the war:
We are facing an army of barbarians in Korea, but they are barbarians as trained, as relentless, as reckless of life, and as skilled in the tactics of the kind of war they fight as the hordes of Genghis Khan… They have taken a leaf from the Nazi book of blitzkrieg and are employing all the weapons of fear and terror…
Baldwin feared that the barbarians were being supported by “Mongolians, Soviet Asiatics and a variety of races”… some of “the most primitive of peoples.” Baldwin compared the Koreans to invading locusts.
Cumings also quotes Telford Taylor, chief counsel for war crimes at the Nuremberg Trials (emphasis added):
The traditions and practices of warfare in the Orient are not identical with those that have developed in the Occident… individual lives are not valued so highly in Eastern mores. And it is totally unrealistic of us to expect the individual Korean soldier… to follow our most elevated precepts of warfare.” This presumably means that the North Koreans could not be expected to bomb civilians with napalm… Edgar Johnson, a former Marshall Plan administrator in Korea, lambasted the “wild, adolescent chauvinism” of the North Koreans in their “shocking, shameful, criminal invasion” in June. They were “half-crazed automatons” in the orbit of “a monolithic slave- and-master world.” An American who had worked in the occupation told the Far Eastern Economic Review that Koreans were “a hard, fierce and cruel people,” possessed of “ferociousness and wildness.” Korea was a “hotbed of scoundrels, wild men, semi- barbarians.”
USA General Matthew Ridgeway complained that the North Koreans were fanatical and the ROK wouldn’t fight, having left equipment for ten divisions on the battlefield. Ridgeway found this hard to explain. It obviously never occurred to him that the North Korean soldiers were fighting for the unification of their country, while the ROK soldiers were mercenaries or conscripts, who deserted to the KPA in large numbers when they had the chance.
By September the KPA forces were overextended, without air or naval support, and the Americans were pouring troops into Korea. The KPA retreated northward under counter-attacks by the Americans, who had absolute air superiority and used napalm generously on both military and civilian targets. The first orders to burn towns and villages in South Korea were given to US Air Force units in August 1950. On 6 August the obliteration of three South Korean cities was ordered, and the B-29s continued to rain napalm on civilian targets in the following weeks and months.
Typical results of napalm bombings are described in Cumings, as in his personal observation:
In 1968 I was walking through the streets of Taej On, a city south of Seoul. On a street corner stood a man (I think it was a man, or a woman with broad shoulders) who had a peculiar purple crust on every visible part of his skin – thick on his hands, thin on his arms, fully covering his entire head and face. He was bald, he had no ears or lips, and his eyes, lacking lids, were a grayish-white, with no pupils. He had a sandwich-sign with a story that went on at some length; at the time my Korean wasn’t good enough to understand it. But judging by the dates on the sign, it clearly referred to some awful episode during the war. I did not know, until reading a recent book on the American air campaigns in Korea, that this purplish crust resulted from a drenching with napalm, after which the untreated victim’s body was left to somehow cure itself.
Cumings quotes from Cry Korea, by Reginald Thomson, a British journalist:
Handfuls of peasants defied the immense weight of modern arms with a few rifles and carbines and a hopeless courage…and brought down upon themselves and all the inhabitants the appalling horror of jellied petrol bombs [napalm]… Every village and township in the path of war was blotted out… the slayer needs merely touch a button and death is on the wing, blindly blotting out the remote, the unknown people, holocausts of death, veritable mass production of death, spreading an abysmal desolation over whole communities (available at http://reportagepress.com/download/AI/AI-CryKorea.pdf).
In early September the KPA forces had lost the initiative and began retreating northward, while the US Air Force continued to bomb villages and cities in the south. By the end of September the KPA had withdrawn across the border into North Korea. The US had begun bombing North Korea in mid-August, and by the end of the month B-29s were dropping 800 tons of bombs per day on it, of which a large part was napalm.
As the US forces advanced, the Truman administration decided that the time had come to “liberate” North Korea and seize control of the entire peninsula. Although the Chinese government had stated in August that it would intervene if North Korea were attacked, Truman paid no attention. On 1 October US and ROK units entered North Korea. General MacArthur had told Truman that the risk of Chinese intervention was minimal, but the Chinese army went into action in North Korea early in November and began forcing US and allied troops southward.
MacArthur’s response included ordering the total devastation of thousands of square miles of the DPRK. The bombings were to be intensified in order to destroy every “means of communication and every installation and factories and cities and villages. The destruction was to start at the Manchurian border and to progress to the south” (cited in Cumings).
On 8 November the city of Sinuiju was hit by 350 tons of incendiary bombs, which “removed it from the map”. Less than three weeks later a large part of northwest DPRK was “more or less burning”, and soon became a “wilderness of scorched earth”. As the Chinese and North Koreans launched an offensive to drive the UN troops out of North Korea the bombings intensified, and continued until an armistice was agreed upon at the end of July 1953. Syngman Rhee’s government refused to sign it.
Earlier in the year the US Air Force had bombed and destroyed major dams in North Korea, which resulted in disastrous floods. Cumings writes that the number of peasants killed is unknown. The Air Force regarded the peasants as legitimate targets, since they were providing “direct support to the Communist armed forces”, which according to Cumings means that “they were feeding the northern population”. An article he cites in the periodical Air University Quarterly claimed that the bombings “gave the enemy a sample of the totality of war… embracing the whole of a nation’s economy and people”, which had been the aim of the US air offensive when it began in August three years previously.
Cumings points out that this type of “total war” is a war crime according to international law, and that toward the end of World War 2 the Americans had decided not to bomb agricultural dams and dikes in Holland because they knew it would be a war crime. Cumings:
In 2003 I participated in a conference with American veterans of the Korean War. During a discussion about napalm, a survivor of the Changjin (Japanese name, Chosin) Reservoir battle who lost an eye and part of a leg, said it was indeed a nasty weapon – but ‘it fell on the right people.’ Ah yes, the right people, as in a ‘friendly fire’ drop on a dozen American soldiers: ‘Men all around me were burned. They lay rolling in the snow. Men I knew, marched and fought with begged me to shoot them… It was terrible. Where the napalm had burned the skin to a crisp, it would be peeled back from the face, arms, legs…like fried
…George Barrett of the New York Times found ‘a macabre tribute to the totality of modern war’ in a village north of Anyang (in South Korea): The inhabitants throughout the village and in the fields were caught and killed and kept the exact postures they held when the napalm struck – a man about to get on his bicycle, fifty boys and girls playing in an orphanage, a housewife strangely unmarked, holding in her hand a page torn from a Sears-Roebuck catalogue crayoned at Mail Order No. 3,811,294 for a $2.98 “bewitching bed jacket – coral.”
…Dean Acheson wanted censorship authorities notified about this kind of ’sensationalized reporting’, so it could be stopped.
Cumings quotes a Hungarian journalist, Tabor Meray, who had been in North Korea during the war. He left Hungary in connection with the revolt there in 1956.
According to Moray “everything which moved in North Korea was a military target”, including peasants in the fields. He wrote that in August 1951 in North Korea he saw “complete devastation between the Yalu River and Pyongyang” and that there were “no more cities in North Korea”.
The group Moray was with had to travel at night because of the continuous bombing.
We traveled in moonlight, so my impression was that I am traveling on the moon, because there was only devastation… every city was a collection of chimneys. I don’t know why houses collapsed and chimneys did not, but I went through a city of 200,000 inhabitants and I saw thousands of chimneys and that – that was all.
Moray’s comments are consistent with a US Air Force ROTC manual, Fun-
damentals of Aerospace Weapons Systems, as quoted by Cumings, which defines a “military target,” as
Any person, thing, idea (sic!), entity, or location selected for destruction, inactivation, or rendering non-usable with weapons which will reduce or destroy the will or ability of the enemy to resist.
General William Dean was captured by the DPRK army in July 1950 and taken to the North. He said later that most of the towns and villages he saw were “rubble or snowy open spaces”. Even Winston Churchill, who had authorized poison-gas bombings of Iraqi villages in the 1920s, complained that napalm was not supposed to be “splashed” on a civilian population.
After the US and ROK forces were driven out of North Korea by a Chinese-KPA offensive, the front in Korea stabilized near the 38th parallel in the spring of 1951. But the US continued to bomb North Korea until the armistice was signed in 1953, in a gratuitous display of wanton killing and destruction.
The deadly assault on the working class
In the late autumn of 1950 virtually all of North Korea was occupied by the US and ROK armies. Cumings writes “To my knowledge, the late Callum MacDonald (a British historian) and I were the only Western historians to examine the occupation using primary evidence”. Like many other uncomfortable historical facts, the occupation became a non-event.
On the other hand, the mainstream version attributes endless atrocities to the Communists. In a popular book on the Korean conflict, The Forgotten War (1988)Max Hastingsargues that such atrocities legitimize the war, although as MacDonald indicated Hastings “does not catalog or verify them in any detail”.
A typical treatment in the official US history of the war referred to by Cumings claims that 5,000-7,000 people in the South Korean city of Taejon were massacred by North Korean Communists. Cumings writes that the killings were in fact the work of the ROK, in the presence of American officers, and that “the United States not only knew the truth about what happened at Taejon but had American photographers on the scene to record it”. Other massacres by ROK forces as the North Koreans withdrew from the south were confirmed by a variety of witnesses, including a CIA agent who observed the systematic slaughter of 1,800 political prisoners:
I stood by helplessly, witnessing the entire affair. Two big bull-dozers worked constantly. One made the ditch-type grave. Trucks loaded with the condemned arrived. Their hands were already tied behind them. They were hastily pushed into a big line along the edge of the newly opened grave. They were quickly shot in the head and pushed into the grave.
This resembles the massacres perpetrated by the Germans in the Soviet Union, and it was only one of many such crimes committed by the anti-Communist forces of the ROK with US approval and US supervision.
A secret report by the North Koreans described the massacre of 29,000 people in Seoul by the ROK and the US Army, widespread impressments for slave labor, extensive torture, and the establishment of a brothel in which 300 female Communists and sympathizers were imprisoned and raped continuously by South Korean and US soldiers. Cumings asks “This report may be false, but then why would DPRK officials lie to their superiors in secret internal materials?”
The killings in the south were a bloody prelude to the slaughter in the north during the occupation by the ROK and the US. Cumings shows that the Americans, including Dean Rusk, then Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs and later one of the prime movers of the holocaust in Vietnam, were not only aware of the atrocities but had their own program of political murders, similar to the operations of theGerman Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union during World War 2.
The targets were naturally Communists, but the members of the North Korean Labor Party and the North Korean Workers’ Party were also on the lists, irrespective of whether they were members of the Communist party.
Results of the holocaust in Korea
The deaths generated by the Korean conflict included more than 3 million North Koreans, about one million South Koreans, and almost a million Chinese, for a total of at least 5 million.
The responsibility lies squarely with Washington. If the US had not insisted on dividing Korea and preventing the Koreans from establishing their own government, Communist or not, there would have been no war. Like World War 2, the Korean War is traceable directly to the Western capitalists’ fanatical hatred and fear of Communism in general, and in this particular case to the mortal threat to which they believed they were subjected by the workers and peasants of Korea.
The holocaust in Vietnam
In 1919 the French colony of Indochina included the countries now known as Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. In June of that year a 29-year-old Vietnamese named Ho Chi Minh was living in Paris. He sent a memorandum to US Secretary of State Robert Lansing (see Chapter 3), who was attending the Versailles Peace Conference. Ho referred to President Wilson’s principle of self-determination and asked Lansing to apply it by effectively recognizing “the sacred right of all peoples to decide their own destiny”.
The memorandum also referred to the French ideal of universal brotherhood, and listed a number of claims on behalf of the colonized peoples that included a general amnesty for those who had been condemned for political activity, equality before the law, freedom of the press, speech and assembly, freedom to emigrate and travel abroad, access to education, including technical/professional schools, and the right to send a delegation to the French parliament.
Lansing did not respond, probably because the US government had no intention of renouncing the right of the US and its European allies to decide upon the destiny of the large portion of humanity that Mark Twain epitomized as “the person sitting in darkness”.
In any case the French were running a very profitable business in Indochina, and Lansing was certainly aware that they were not interested in abandoning it. They had arrived on the east coast of Vietnam in 1850, and by 1884 had annexed the territory and partitioned the land. As in other colonies, the natives were forced to work for their new masters at starvation wages. They revolted repeatedly without much success, partly because they lacked a nation-wide organization, and partly because the Vietnamese upper class collaborated with the French.
The first major step toward organizing a broad national front for liberation was taken in 1930, when the three existing Communist parties merged into one and adopted a political program that focused on mass organization of workers and peasants in order to end French colonization and take power from the Vietnamese ruling class. The independence movement gained strength throughout the 1930s, despite punitive military and police action by the French.
The extent of the French holdings in Indochina in 1930 is illustrated by the following description of the Michelin plantation that provided the rubber needed by French industry. On the 10,000 hectares that it comprised,
…there is only one master… Three thousand two hundred coolies, seven thousand rubber trees, a factory, transport services… The shareholders are only interested in their dividends, without regard for anything else… The traditional designations exist on the map of Indochina: Annam, Tonkin, Cochinchina, Cambodia, Laos. But these are of little value. The real demarcations are Rice, new Rubber, Coal, Cement, Cotton, Zinc, Copra. These are the states… The sovereign head of them is no longer the general government… the only ruler is money… (cited in Jean Lévy and Simon Pietri, De la République à l’EtatFrançais, 1996).
On the eve of World War 2 the Communist party was the undisputed leader of the Vietnamese struggle for independence, with a powerful mass organization in urban as well as rural areas. It was recognized by the French as the main threat to their rule. In January 1940, four months before Germany attacked France, the Governor General of Indochina announced that
We have launched a total and swift attack against the Communist organization; in this struggle it is necessary to annihilate the Communists so that Indochina may live in peace and remain loyal to France. We have no right not to win. The state of war [officially declared in September 1939] forces us to act without mercy (cited in Levy and Pietri).
In June 1940 the French capitulated to the Germans, and the so-called Vichy government was established. The Japanese overran Indochina in the autumn, and the colony was administered by them with the collaboration of the French bourgeoisie under Bao Dai, a puppet monarch who had been appointed previously by the French government. In May 1941 the liberation movement was renamed the Viet Minh. It established a popular front that included all social classes, political organizations and religious groups. The common goal was to drive the French and the Japanese out of the country.
During the struggle 1941-45 the colonial authorities impounded huge quantities of rice. Their purpose was to “cause hunger and starvation among the population in order to dampen their revolutionary spirit as well as to bring in the necessary food supplies for the French themselves and the Japanese”, according to a French resident quoted in Gettleman, Franklin et al, Vietnam and America.The resulting famine killed 2 million people in the northern region alone, or about 25% of the population there.
The combat culminated in a general insurrection in August 1945, which put an end to colonization as well as the monarchy. The people were in control. Bao Dai abdicated at a public ceremony and declared the Vietnamese monarchy abolished. On 2 September in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh presented the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) and read the Declaration of Independence, which referred to the opening of the American Declaration of Independence regarding inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, as well as the French Declaration on the Rights of Man in 1791, which states among other things that “All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free with equal rights”
The Vietnamese Declaration included the following:
We are convinced that the Allied nations which at Tehran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Vietnam.
The United Nations had set up an Advisory Commission for the Far East, which was supposed to resolve a range of problems following the defeat of the Japanese. On 17 October 1945 Ho Ch Minh sent a telegram to President Truman, protesting that the French were represented in the Commission but the independent DRV was not. He pointed out that France was not entitled to representation, because “she had ignominiously sold Indochina to Japan and betrayed the Allies”, while the DRV was qualified for representation under the Atlantic Charter and subsequent peace agreements. Ho asked Truman to inform the UN of his request, as well as the governments of the UK, the USSR and China. Truman never answered the telegram.
The First Vietnam War – the French attempt to reconquer Indo-China
Vietnam was the first European colony to become independent under the leadership of a Communist party, which meant that it immediately qualified for destruction by Western capitalists.
As early as September 1945, the French assaulted Saigon, using US weapons and supported by British troops. They were commanded by General Jean Leclerc, who expressed himself in Churchillian terms: “I did not return to Indochina to give it back to the Indochinese”.
The French were not strong enough to attack the North until November 1946, when they killed more than 6,000 civilians in the port of Haiphong, according to their own reports. Hanoi was next on the list. Paris demanded that the DRV government dissolve its military and police forces and turn the capital over to the French army. The Vietnamese refused.
In accordance with the normal procedure, the Vietnamese resistance was denounced in the West as “Communist aggression”, demonstrating the truth of Louis-Auguste Blanqui’s statement that the rich view the people as an animal that “is so ferocious it defends itself when it’s attacked’”.
If the US had not supported the French effort to reconquer Indo-China, the First Indo-China War would then have never taken place, and without the First there would certainly never have been a Second Indo-China War. But long before the United States financed 78 percent of the cost of the French Indochina war in 1953/54, their war had to some extent also become America’s war (Joseph Buttinger, Vietnam: The Unforgettable Tragedy, 1977, cited in Gettleman, Franklin et al.).
The battle to re-conquer Vietnam and secure the interests of French capitalists continued, with massive economic, material and moral backing from the US government. In April 1946 the US recognized the legitimacy of the control that the French attempted to exercise over Vietnam. But despite heavy bombing, “pacification programs” and “sweep and clean” operations that killed thousands of civilians, the French were being pushed back, and by the end of 1953 the Viet Minh controlled more than two-thirds of the country.
In Washington, Vietnamese resistance was seen as a sign of Communist aggression and the Soviet strategy for global domination. This had been explained by US Secretary of State Dean Acheson in May 1950, a little more than one month before Truman decided to begin military operations in Korea:
The United States Government, convinced that neither national independence nor democratic evolution exists in any area dominated by Soviet imperialism, considers the situation to be such as to warrant its according economic aid and military equipment to the Associated States of Indochina and to France in order to assist them in restoring stability and permitting these states to pursue their peaceful and democratic development.
This was not the first time that the servants of Western capitalists equated colonization with peace and “democratic development”.
However, it seemed at times that the brain behind “Communist aggression” in Vietnam inhabited Beijing, not Moscow. For example, in 1953 Secretary of State John Foster Dulles referred to Korea and Vietnam as two flanks of an attack from “Red China”, which he identified as the principal enemy.
On 21 June 1949 the US suddenly announced that there was a new government in Vietnam, headed by none other than Bao Dai, who had abdicated the fictive throne of the country in 1945. Washington claimed that Bao Dai’s regime was “the legitimate representative of the Vietnamese people”, recognized it officially, and then pressured the French into doing the same.
As the fighting continued, the long series of military setbacks had led to increasing popular demands in France to call a halt and start negotiations with the Viet Minh, which the French government was apparently prepared to do. But Washington would not allow it, and according to the Pentagon Papers (1971) cited in Gettleman, Franklin et al.,“sought to convince the French that military victory was the only guarantee of diplomatic success”.
Early in 1954 the US National Security Council ordered that “the US should employ every feasible means to influence the French Government against concluding the struggle on terms inconsistent with the basic US objectives…
A nominally non-Communist coalition regime would eventually turn the country over to Ho Chi Minh with no opportunity for the replacement of the French by the United States or the United Kingdom”.
In plainer English, Washington was not ready to allow the French to make peace with the Vietnamese – which would save lives – unless US or UK armed forces could gain control of the region. The US succeeded in convincing the French to follow the correct course of action, and also began to play an active role in the fighting. Military “advisers” were sent to Saigon, two US aircraft carriers were dispatched to the Gulf of Tonkin, and 250 US pilots went into action. Washington was obviously prepared to do more.
In March 1954 the Viet Minh launched what turned out to be the decisive attack, against the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu in northern Vietnam. President Eisenhower wrote to Winston Churchill that the French must unequivocally recognize the independence of Bao Dai’s Vietnam, “so that US entry into Vietnam would not have the taint of colonialism”. It would surely have the distinction of a brave and selfless action in defense of The Free World.
Time had run out, however. The French surrendered at Dien Bien Phu on 7 May 1954. The First Vietnam War came to an end, but the major assault on the Vietnamese people was yet to come.
Another agreement betrayed by the West
In July 1954 a cease-fire was arranged at a conference in Geneva that was attended by representatives of France, the DRV, the Soviet Union, China, the UK, the US and Bao Dai’s fictional State of Vietnam. It was agreed that a demilitarized zone was to be set on each side of a temporary demarcation line near the 17th parallel of latitude. The French would be allowed to withdraw peacefully, and neither side would take any offensive action. No arms, ammunition or war materiel in general was to be introduced into Vietnam, nor were any new military bases to be established.
The final declaration of the Geneva Conference in July 1954 stated unequivocally that (emphasis added):
…no military base under the control of a foreign State may be established in the regrouping zones of the two parties [neither north nor south of the 17th parallel]… The Conference recognizes that the essential purpose of the agreement relating to Vietnam is to settle military questions with a view to ending hostilities and that the military demarcation line is provisional and should not in any way be interpreted as constituting a political or territorial boundary.
The Bao Dai so-called government of the French “State of Vietnam” refused to sign the Geneva agreement or abide by the final declaration. The Eisenhower government declared that the US was therefore not bound by anything agreed upon at Geneva.
One of the principle reasons for the US decision was expressed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff early in 1954 in a report to the Defense Department. They blamed the success of the Communists on a “superior capability in the field of propaganda” which enabled promoting false claims that the issue at stake in Vietnam was “a choice between national independence and French colonial rule”, although everyone in Washington knew that it was not. The JCS also stated that (emphasis added):
…current intelligence leads the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a belief that a settlement based on free elections would be attended by almost certain loss of the Associated States of Indo-China to Communist rule.
The judgment of the JCS was confirmed by Dwight Eisenhower in his memoirs:
I have never talked to or corresponded with a person knowledgeable in Indo-Chinese affairs who did not agree that had elections been held at the time of the fighting, possibly 80 per cent of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho Chi Minh as their leader rather than Chief of State Bao Dai.
However, such statements were not included in the assessments of the situation in Vietnam that were communicated officially by Washington to the citizens of The Free World, as in the following announcements by Secretary of State Dulles and Vice-President Nixon in 1954. Dulles:
If the Communist forces won uncontested control over Indochina or any substantial part thereof, they would (sic!) surely resume the same pattern of aggression against other peoples in the area. The propagandists of Red China and Russia make it apparent that the purpose is to dominate all of Southeast Asia…
Under the conditions of today, the imposition on Southeast Asia of the political system of Communist Russia and its Chinese Communist ally, by whatever means, must be a grave threat to the whole free community. The United States believes that that possibility should not be passively accepted but should be met by united action. This might involve serious risks. But these risks are far less than
those that will face us a few years from now if we dare not be resolute today.
The United States as a leader of the free world cannot afford further retreat in Asia. It is hoped the United States will not have to send troops there, but if this government cannot avoid it, the Administration must face up to the situation and dispatch forces… This country is the only nation politically strong enough at home to take a position that will save Asia…
Negotiations with the Communists to divide the territory would result in Communist domination of a vital new area. Communist intransigence in Korea will perhaps teach the French and the British the futility of negotiation and bring them over to the plan of “united action” proposed by Secretary of State Dulles…
It should be emphasized that if Indochina went Communist, Red pressure would increase on Malaya, Thailand, and Indonesia and other Asian nations. The main target of the Communists in Indo-China, as it was in Korea, is Japan. Conquest of areas so vital to Japan’s economy would reduce Japan to an economic satellite of the Soviet Union…
As far as I know, neither Nixon or anyone else provided any evidence indicating that the Soviet Union intended to make Japan an economic satellite.
Having dispensed with the Geneva Agreement and the Final Declaration, the US was free to take charge of arranging the future of the Vietnamese people. This involved:
- Inventing a new country called the Republic of Vietnam (RV), which comprised the territory south of the 17th parallel (cf. Germany and Korea).
- Installing a government for the RV and appointing a prime minister named Ngo Dinh Diem, whose credentials included fervent anti-Communism as well as acquaintance with several influential Americans.
- Setting up the Saigon Military Mission and initiating covert military action against the northern half of the country.
Diem was also a devout Catholic. His faith was shared by a small minority of Vietnamese, some of whom lived north of the parallel. Diem convinced them that they were in mortal danger from the Ho Chi Minh government and that they could find a haven in the south. The Geneva agreement allowed free movement of civilians across the parallel, and about 900,000 Vietnamese moved south, the vast majority of them being Catholics. The “refugees” were also attracted by a US-financed aid program which paid about USD 89 per head, in a country where the average annual per capita income was USD 85. They were also given extensive land grants in the south.
The Washington propaganda apparatus claimed repeatedly that the flow of refugees into the South was proof that Communist terror prevailed in the North, although no explanation was given for the movement of almost 200,000 civilians in the opposite direction.
As both overt and covert US military action against the North increased, claims of Communist aggression against the South intensified. At the same time, the Diem government became increasingly dictatorial and repressive, aiming at both non-Catholic religious groups and political opponents.
The US pumped large amounts of money into Vietnam and claimed that Diem had performed an economic miracle. In fact, the economy of the RV was totally dependent on cash from Washington. As the Wall Street Journal admitted on 2 April 1959, “…the accomplishment [Diem’s economic miracle], so far, rests on American aid. Without that there would be no Vietnam” (emphasis added).
The nation-wide election that was scheduled for July 1956 was not held, and the US made it quite clear that it never would be. The Vietnamese protested continuously at this and other breaches of the Geneva accords, including the continuous introduction of military personnel and materiel by the US.
In 1959 the Vietnamese decided that they had no choice but to start an armed rebellion against the Diem regime. The guerilla forces were called the Viet Cong, and the rebellion was organized and implemented in the South. Washington repeated the standard line about Communist aggression, this time emanating from the North, the evil Democratic Republic of Vietnam. Armed units of Communist soldiers were said to be perpetually infiltrating the South and terrorizing villagers to provide support. They traveled south along a fiendishly complex jungle highway system called the “Ho Chi Minh Trail”. The weapons used by the Communists originated in Moscow or Beijing and were supplied through Hanoi.
Gettleman et al. refer to George K. Tanham of the RAND Corporation, then America’s leading think-tank, who visited Vietnam and in 1961 reported (Communist Revolutionary Warfare, Praeger 1961) that:
The so-called Ho Chi Minh trail is no more than a series of paths that run north and south through the mountains and are not suitable for large arms shipments…To judge by equipment and arms that have been captured from the Communists, they have been fighting largely with home-made weapons and with such material of French and American make as they have been able to steal or capture…
However, the crucial fact today is that the Communists are arousing the people to fight and work for them. It is easy but wrong to attribute their success solely to terrorist methods. They are systematically creating the ‘sea’ that Mao thought essential for military success and eventual political control. Diem has been unable to win popular support either on a nationalist basis or with personal loyalty as a motivating force. Until his government has the active and continuing support of the Vietnamese masses and the troops, all the economic and military aid in the world, though it may delay it, will not halt the Communist advance.
The US government’s own White Paper of October 1961 admitted that most of the guerillas in the South were in fact native southerners, but claimed that they had been terrified into service through terror and kidnapping. The paper confirmed Tanham’s statement about the source of the Viet Cong’s weapons:
The weapons of the Viet Cong are largely French, or US-made, or hand-made on primitive forges in the jungles…The Communists have avoided a large-scale introduction of Soviet-bloc arms into South Vietnam, for this would be too clear evidence of their direct involvement.
A skilled interpreter of the mainstream version of history would naturally draw the conclusion that the direct involvement of the Soviets was proved by the fact that they did not supply arms to the Viet Cong. This meant that the indigenous rebellion against Diem was decisive evidence of the international Communist conspiracy to take over the world.
Nonetheless it was becoming increasingly clear that the corrupt Diem regime was losing control of Vietnam despite the continuous increase in financial and military resources from the US. A comment in TIME magazine on 21 November 1960 was an ominous sign of the future that awaited the puppet leader, for when the mainstream media criticize a ruler who is officially sanctioned by Washington he is in deep trouble:
All Diem has done in six years in office is indulge in nepotism. He has generals who don’t even command a company. He lives in an ivory tower surrounded by his family…Pleading the Communist threat, Diem has ruled with rigged elections, a muzzled press, and political re-education camps that now hold 30,000. His prosperous key advisers are four brothers and a pretty sister-in-law.
Three years later, the US government arranged for Diem to be assassinated, in the same month that John F. Kennedy was killed. Over the next few years the RV was ruled by a succession of corrupt military commanders, almost all of whom came from the North and had served with the French.
In 1963-64 plans were prepared in Washington for a substantial intensification of the covert war against the North, by air, land and sea. The need to transform the US commitment into a major overt military campaign was inescapable if Vietnam was to be rescued from the Communist menace. As in other similar cases, the aggression was to be justified by accusations that the people who were to be attacked had started the fighting. The proof of the accusations had to be invented at a suitable moment.
In August 1964 Lyndon Johnson’s government fabricated the story of the so-called Tonkin-Bay Incident. The official line was that a US destroyer had suffered an unprovoked attack by patrol boats of the DRV navy. This meant that the US would reluctantly have to go to war in Vietnam. During the election campaign Johnson had promised that he would never send “American boys to do the fighting for Asian boys”. But the time had come for the US to once again shoulder its responsibilities in defense of Civilization, and in doing so would ensure its ability to obtain “certain things we need from the riches of the Indo-Chinese territory and from Southeast Asia”, although this argument was not for public consumption.
The killing fields of Vietnam
The US-led assault on the people of Vietnam included a murderous ground war in which about 7 million tons of artillery ordnance was rained on Vietnamese soil. It also included continuous aerial bombardment of both military and civilian targets. More than 5 million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos between 1965 and 1972, which was more than the total for all bombings in World War 2 by all belligerents. Napalm was used continuously to bomb civilian targets.
Virtually the entire territory south of the 17th parallel was turned into a “free-fire” zone. Everything that moved was a legitimate target for US soldiers, from water buffaloes to children and pregnant women. The helicopter gun-ship was widely and indiscriminately used. An American author of sentimental novels named John Steinbeck wrote several articles for the International Herald Tribune during the second half of the 1960s. In one of them he described an exhilarating ride aboard a gun-ship, during which he had been allowed to fire one of the heavy machine-guns at living targets and experienced the ecstasy of what he called “the glory feeling”.
Down on the ground where the targets lived, search-and-destroy missions routinely burned villages and massacred their inhabitants, in the proud tradition that the US Army had long ago established on the North American continent and in more remote areas such as the Philippines. Given the officially authorized carnage in South Vietnam, it is difficult to understand why the term “killing fields” is reserved for Cambodia under Pol Pot.
The torture program that had been initiated in the late 1950s with the help of so-called psychologists from Michigan State University was enlarged and intensified. By the time Lyndon Johnson launched the full-scale war in 1964 the CIA had established Intelligence Coordination Committees (ICC) with their own prisons, known as Provincial Interrogation Centers, in each of the more than 40 provinces of South Vietnam. The committee staffs had been trained in CIA torture techniques, which included refinements such as electric shock applied to the genital organs of both men and women, beatings and rape (McCoy, Alfred W, A Question of Torture, Metropolitan Books 2006). A US military intelligence officer quoted by McCoy said that the advanced techniques also included “insertion of a six-inch dowel in the ear canal” of a detainee and then “tapping [it] through the brain until he died”,
In the following year the CIA organized Provincial Reconnaissance Units, or terrorist gangs that consisted of “local hoodlums, soldiers of fortune, draft-dodgers and defectors” according to a report in the New York Times cited by McCoy. Their tasks mainly comprised kidnapping, torture and murder of persons suspected of belonging to the Viet Cong civilian infrastructure.
In 1967 the various types of terrorist gangs organized by the CIA were coordinated in the Phoenix program, which was one of the most extensive torture and assassination projects ever launched. McCoy:
…the agency [CIA] was now operating a nationwide network of interrogation centers that used torture to generate intelligence, providing a limitless supply of human subjects. [It] produced many casualties but few verifiable results.
Civilian suspects were either murdered outright or kidnapped and tortured, which was called “interrogation”. The military intelligence officer quoted above told a Congressional Committee that none of the suspects who were interrogated had ever survived.
The Phoenix program was directed by William Colby, who in 1973 was appointed head of the CIA as a reward for his labors in the fields of anti-Communism. Colby claimed that between 1968 and 1971 almost 21,000 Vietnamese had been killed under the Phoenix program. The government of South Vietnam claimed almost 41,000 deaths. The exact figure may never be known, according to William Blum.
The holocaust in Vietnam also included dumping about 20 million gallons of highly toxic herbicides throughout the country, drenching about 25% of the southern half. The most infamous of the herbicides was called Agent Orange, one of the most poisonous dioxins ever produced. It was used in a continuation of Operation Ranch Hand, which had two main goals. One was to destroy crops, which the planners in Washington hoped would discourage the Vietnamese from continuing their resistance. The other was to defoliate the trees and bushes that obscured aerial views of the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This would enable airborne forces to identify and destroy the North Vietnamese units that were carrying supplies into the south. The favorite verb in Washington at the time was “interdict”, i.e. obstruct delivery of the supplies.
Agent Orange is known to cause a range of systemic diseases, cancers and birth defects, including Parkinson’s, ischemic heart disease and hairy-cell leukemia. It also cripples the auto-immune system. Many of the US soldiers who handled and sprayed it were affected, as were their children, but for decades the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs denied that there is any scientific proof of a connection between Agent Orange and its effects. On 13 October 2009 the New York Times reported that after 38 years the Pentagon had acknowledged the truth and the VA would guarantee medical care for up to 200,000 veterans.
On 14 June 2004 the BBC reported that there were about 150,000 children in Vietnam with horrible birth defects traceable to Agent Orange, that about 3 million Vietnamese were exposed to it directly or indirectly, i.e. by consuming contaminated food or water, and that at least one million of them have serious health problems. The BBC report at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/ 3798581.stm included the following:
Some of these victims live in the vicinity of former US military bases such as Bien Hoa, where Agent Orange was stored in large quantities.
Dr Arnold Schecter, a leading expert in dioxin contamination in the US, sampled the soil there in 2003, and found it contained TCCD (Agent Orange) levels that were 180 million times above the safe level set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
The Vietnamese will be living – and dying – with the effects of TCCD for many generations to come. As far as I know, no compensation has been offered or paid by the US government for the abomination known as Agent Orange. It is also reasonable to assume that neither Monsanto, Dow Chemical or the eight other companies that manufactured Agent Orange and other defoliants used in Vietnam will ever be penalized for their poisonous contribution to the War on Communism.
According to the BBC:
When former US President Bill Clinton visited Hanoi four years ago, Vietnamese president Tran Duc Long made an appeal to the US ‘to acknowledge its responsibility to de-mine, detoxify former military bases and provide assistance to Agent Orange victims’.
But Washington offered nothing beyond funding scientific conferences and further research.
Nor did Washington ever fulfill President Nixon’s promise to pay USD 4.5 billion in reparations to Vietnam.
The toll of the holocaust in Indochina
- 2 million civilian dead in the north
- 2 million civilian dead in the south
- 1.1 million Vietnamese soldiers dead
- 600,000 Vietnamese soldiers wounded
The figures for dead soldiers include those killed by the Vietcong and the forces of the DRV. According to official US sources, about 58,000 American soldiers died, and 350,000 were wounded.
The above figures do not include close to 3,000,000 deaths in Laos and Cambodia that resulted from massive bombing by the US.
The number of Vietnamese who died in a war that is directly attributable to US capitalists amounted to about 13.5% of the country’s population, which was about 38 million in 1960. The figure for the Soviet Union in World War 2 was about 15%, on the basis of 25 million dead and a population of about 165 million in 1940. The effectiveness of the US performance in Vietnam is therefore comparable to the Nazi achievement in the USSR, and of course to the Holocaust.
The holocaust in Indonesia
“I have never concealed from you my belief that a little shooting in Indonesia would be an essential preliminary to effective change” (Sir Andrew Gilchrist, British ambassador in Jakarta, to the Foreign Office 5 October 1965).
One of the most important of the anti-imperialist liberation movements after the defeat of Fascism in 1945 was in Indonesia, which had been colonized by the Dutch in the 17th century. The Indonesians declared their independence in August 1945, but like other imperialists the capitalists in Amsterdam were not eager to give up control of an area that had contributed so much to their wealth and well-being. After five years of conflict they were forced to recognize the new federal state of Indonesia in 1950, consisting of about 17,500 islands with a total land area of approximately 2 million km2.
Their reluctance is not difficult to understand, given that their purpose in life was to maximize profits. In the words of Richard Nixon, “With its 100 million people and its 300-mile arc of islands containing the region’s richest hoard of natural resources, Indonesia is the greatest prize in Southeast Asia.” The “hoard” includes forests, crude oil, natural gas, tin, copper, gold, chrome, copra and rubber.
Indonesia was also seen in Washington as a vital geo-strategic element in the crusade against Communism. In 1948, when George F. Kennan was head of the Policy Planning Staff of the US State Department, he wrote “Indonesia is the anchor in that chain of islands stretching from Hokkaido to Sumatra which we should develop as a politico-economic counter-force to Communism on the Asiatic land mass and as base areas from which…we could with our air and sea power dominate continental East Asia and South Asia.”
However, President Sukarno’s government in Jakarta was not willing to subordinate the interests of the Indonesians to the need of Western capitalists. The government aimed at maintaining political and economic independence, in the hope that Indonesia could avoid taking sides in the conflict between Western capital and the Soviet Union.
This provoked a covert military campaign by the CIA in the 1950s that included bombing Indonesian territory and arming bands of murderous mercenaries (Blum).
Sukarno demonstrated his obstinacy by convening the 1955 Bandung Conference, at which 29 African and Asian nations declared themselves to be “non-aligned”, and adopted a resolution for “Promoting world peace and cooperation”, based on the UN Charter. It contained ten points:
- Respect for fundamental human rights and for the purposes and principles of the charter of the United Nations
- Respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations
- Recognition of the equality of all races and of the equality of all nations large and small
- Abstention from intervention or interference in the internal affairs of another country
- Respect for the right of each nation to defend itself, singly or collectively, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations
- (a) Abstention from the use of arrangements of collective defense to serve any particular interests of the big powers
(b) Abstention from exerting pressures on other countries
- Refraining from acts or threats of aggression or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any country
- Settlement of all international disputes by peaceful means, such as negotiation, conciliation, arbitration or judicial settlement as well as other peaceful means of the parties’ own choice, in conformity with the charter of the United Nations
- Promotion of mutual interests and cooperation
- Respect for justice and international obligations.
To make matters worse, Sukarno cooperated openly with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), which had about three million members and in size was second only to the parties in China and the Soviet Union. John Pilger quotes Australian historian Harold Crouch: “the PKI had won widespread support not as a revolutionary party but as an organization defending the interests of the poor within the existing system” (“Globalization in Indonesia: Spoils of a Massacre”, The Guardian Weekend 14 July 2001). This in itself was enough to keep the alarm bells ringing in Washington, since as John Foster Dulles said “The poor people are the ones [the Communists] appeal to and they have always wanted to plunder the rich” (cited in Noam Chomsky, Year 501, 1993, Chapter 2, Note 11).
Sukarno’s transgressions also included a program for nationalization of foreign-owned operations throughout Indonesia, such as rubber plantations, mines and oil fields. An internal report on Indonesia to US President Johnson stated that the government occupies a dominant position in basic industry, public utilities, internal transportation and communication… It is probable that private ownership will disappear and may be succeeded by some form of production-profit-sharing contract arrangements to be applied to all foreign investment… the avowed Indonesian objective is ‘to stand on their own feet’ in developing their economy, free from foreign, especially Western, influence (Mark Curtis, The slaughters in Indonesia 1965-66, http://markcurtis.wordpress.com/2007/02/12/the-slaughters-in-indonesia-1965/).
In 1964 a report by the British Foreign Office pointed out that Western interests in Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia were menaced and had to be defended, not least because the region was
…a major producer of essential commodities… [It] produces nearly 85% of the world’s natural rubber, over 45% of the tin, 65% of the copra and 23% of the chromium ore.
Obviously something had to be done. And something was done. The UK and the US arranged for a group of army officers led by General Suharto to overthrow Sukarno and launch a massacre of the PKI’s members and supporters as well as ethnic Chinese, who were accused of being Communist agents of the People’s Republic of China. The rivers of Indonesia ran red with blood and were clogged with bodies.
TIME magazine, 17 December 1966, cited in Wikipedia:
Communists, red sympathisers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands (sic!) army units are reported to have executed thousands of communists after interrogation in remote jails. Armed with wide-bladed knives called parangs, Moslem bands crept at night into the homes of communists, killing entire families and burying their bodies in shallow graves. The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java, that Moslem bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages. The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and Northern Sumatra where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travellers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies.
John Pilger quotes Roland Challis, the BBC’s Southeast Asia correspondent in the mid-1960s:
My British sources purported not to know what was going on, but they knew what the American plan was. There were bodies being washed up on the lawns of the British consulate in Surabayo, and British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops down the Malacca Straits, so that they could take part in this terrible holocaust. It was only much later that we learned the American embassy was supplying names and ticking them off as they were killed. There was a deal, you see. In establishing the Suharto regime, the involvement of the IMF and the World Bank was part of it. Sukarno had kicked them out, now Suharto would bring them back. That was the deal.
Celebrating the slaughter
In 1977 a report by Amnesty International stated that the number killed was “many more than one million.” Hundreds of thousands of the survivors were interned in concentration camps for many years, where torture was commonplace.
The Western mass media made relatively feeble attempts to apply the usual cosmetics, but could not conceal its approval. The New York Times: “…one of the most savage mass slaughters of modern political history.” The Times nevertheless agreed that the coup and the ensuing slaughter were necessary in order to save Indonesia from Communism.
In 1966 Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Lyndon Johnson and later head of the World Bank, was asked by a US Senate committee whether the US aid to the coup-makers had “paid dividends”. He said that it had, and that the coup was therefore justified. The dividends paid were obviously the enormous profits extracted from Indonesia by Western corporations after Suharto took over.
US News & World Report: “Indonesia – hope, where once there was none”. James Reston, the New York Times’ most influential political columnist: “A gleam of light in Asia”.
The Americans who were involved in the planning and implementation of the massacres were in general agreement. Howard Federspiel, in 1965 the Indonesian expert in the US State Dept.’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research:
No one cared, as long as they were Communists, that they were being butchered. No one was getting very worked up about it.
US Foreign Service officer Robert Martens:
They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad (Kathy Kadane, Ex-agents say CIA compiled death lists for Indonesians, http://www.namebase.org/kadane.html).
The Australian prime minister, Harold Holt, who was visiting the US: “With 500,000 to a million communist sympathizers knocked off,” he said, “I think it’s safe to assume a reorientation has taken place.”
Dividing the spoils
A reorientation had indeed taken place, and payment of dividends began within a short time. In 1967 the Time-Life Corporation arranged a meeting in Geneva that was attended by leading Western capitalists, including David Rockefeller, as well as a number of ministers in Suharto’s government, several of whom were economists trained at US universities. They emphasized the business opportunities that Indonesia offered, e.g. cheap labor, vast resources and a captive market (John Pilger, “Globalization in Indonesia: Spoils of a Massacre”, The Guardian Weekend 14 July 2001).
The meeting coincided with the creation of the Joint Inter-Governmental Working Group, which comprised representatives of the leading capitalist countries, including Japan, as well as the World Bank and the IMF. Pilger:
The Indonesian economy was carved up, sector by sector, at the conference. In one room, forests, in another, minerals. The Freeport Company got a mountain of copper in West Papua (Henry Kissinger is currently on the board). A US/European consortium got West Papua’s nickel. The giant Alcoa company got the biggest slice of Indonesia’s bauxite. A group of US, Japanese and French got the tropical forests of Sumatra, West Papua and Kalimantan.
A Foreign Investment Law, hurried on to the statutes by Suharto, made this plunder tax-free for at least five years. Real, and secret, control of the Indonesian economy passed to the IMF and the World Bank through the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI), whose principal members were the US, Canada, Europe and Australia. Under Sukarno, Indonesia had few debts. Now the really big loans rolled in… as the treasurehouse of resources rolled out. Shortly before the Asian financial crash in 1997, the IGGI godfathers congratulated their favorite mass murderer for having ‘created a miracle economy’.
In 1998 General Suharto was forced to resign. His golden parachute was approximately USD 15 billion, “the equivalent of almost 13% of his country’s foreign debt, much of it owed to the World Bank”.
The cost of the dividends
For many years, North Korea and Vietnam were sheltered from the direct onslaught of the capitalist economy. Indonesia was not. As in other capitalist economies, the cost of extracting and distributing the profits collected by Western companies in Indonesia was borne by the workers and peasants. The environmental cost in terms of pollution and deforestation has been enormous.
Exploitation of the labor force has always been the key to accumulation of capital by the ruling class. It involves paying a worker as little as possible in relation to the value of the goods or services he/she produces. Suharto’s reign of terror ensured that the wages of Indonesians who worked for Western companies were at or below the subsistence level in every sector from mining and forestry to manufacture of clothes and sportswear for European and North American markets.
For example, subcontractors to the US-based Nike company moved production to Indonesia in the 1980s. In 1993 Jim Hightower, Agricultural Commissioner in Texas, reported that
Nike employs thousands of Indonesians today, paying between a dollar and a dollar-sixty-five. Not an hour. A day. They work 11-hour days in hot, dangerous, fume-ridden factories for about 15 cents an hour. Poverty wages… even by Indonesia’s low standards.
Reports of wage-slaves in the neo-colonies surface occasionally in the mainstream Western media, and corporate spokespersons are usually quick to explain that their foreign subsidiaries comply with local regulations and pay minimum wages as required by law. But in 1997 Hightower pointed out that
…minimum wages in Asia are not even minimal, failing to cover the cost of food, much less a decent living.
Suharto’s government had recently raised the minimum wage from USD 2.16 a day to USD 2.36.
But Nike has balked and is seeking an exemption from the new law, asserting that this extra 20 cents would be a ‘hardship’ on the company.
In 2007 the Indonesian government announced that the minimum wage would be increased by 10.3% in 2008, which according to a government spokesperson would correspond to “93.5 percent of the standard for fair living”, i.e. it was below the subsistence level (http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2007/11/26/ afx4375330.html). In 2009 the wage seems to have been about USD 3, but a good deal of the increase in recent years has been offset by the rising cost of basic foodstuffs.
In the early 1940s the German SS was in charge of delivering slave labor to German corporations such as IG Farben, which owned part of Auschwitz, as well as Krupp, Hoechst, Siemens, Bosch and many others. The corporations paid the SS 4 reichmarks for each day worked by an able-bodied male slave (Borkin). At the time, 4 German reichsmarks was the equivalent of about USD 1.60, which is about USD 24.55 in today’s money (Lawrence H. Officer and Samuel H. Williamson, “Purchasing Power of Money in the United States from 1774 to 2008,” 2009, http://www.measuringworth.com/ppowerus/).
The cost of slave labor for the Western corporations that operate in Indonesia is thus about 80% less than for their counterparts in Nazi Germany during World War 2. Few if any in the vast army of slaves that generate profits for Western capitalists in the so-called developing countries are receiving daily wages of as much as USD 24.55.
The above wage rates do not of course reflect the horrific physical living conditions of the slaves in Indonesia and elsewhere, who exist on protein-deficient diets. Inadequate or non-existent sewage systems, polluted water, poisoned air and lack of health care are standard. Working hours and workplace environments are atrocious. Working shifts of 36 hours are not uncommon. Those without work are reduced to combing garbage dumps for food unless they can find Western tourists who are willing to pay for access to their bodies.
However, as an English businessman remarked to Friedrich Engels about the misery in Manchester (see Chapter 8), “…there is a good deal of money to be made here”. And the political leaders of the Western world have repeatedly expressed their appreciation of those who help them deliver the cash to the ruling class, not least in Indonesia. For example, Margaret Thatcher hailed Suharto as “one of our very best and most valuable friends”.
I first heard Mrs. Thatcher’s name when she was appointed as UK Minister for Education in the early 1970s. One of her earliest achievements was to stop deliveries of free milk to schools in the working-class areas of Liverpool. A teacher from Liverpool told me that for many of the children this was the only milk they drank all day.
The slaughter continues – East Timor
In December 1975 US President Henry Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, were in Jakarta on a visit to President Suharto. According to Anthony Lewis of the New York Times, “Kissinger knew Suharto planned to invade East Timor” (http://www.etan.org/et99b/september/12-18/12anthon.htm).
The day after he and Ford left, the Indonesians invaded. They used arms obtained from US aid: a violation of American law. That was pointed out to Kissinger in a cable from his State Department aides, but he angrily rejected the point.
’I know what the law is…but how can it be in the US national interest for us to… kick the Indonesians in the teeth?’’
The invasion of East Timor was yet another component of the crusade against Communism. According to Wikipedia,
Indonesia alleged that the East Timorese Fretilin party, which received some vocal support from the People’s Republic of China, was communist. Fearing a Communist domino effect in Southeast Asia – and in the wake of its South Vietnam campaign [defeat] – the United States, along with its ally Australia, supported the pro-Western Indonesian government’s actions.
The invasion was coincidentally prompted by an interest in acquiring the oil and natural gas reserves of East Timor. This interest was shared by Australian, Indonesian and US capitalists, but was not given much publicity.
Following the invasion several members of the UN attempted to pass and implement resolutions that would require the withdrawal of Indonesian troops and an assurance that they would not return. Their efforts were blocked by the US Ambassador to the UN, Daniel Moynihan.
In A Dangerous Place (1978), Moynihan boasted that
The United States wished things to turn out as they did [Suharto’s regime was to be given a free hand in East Timor], and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success.
The parallel with British, French and American maneuvers to avoid collective action with the Soviet Union against Fascism in the 1930s is obvious.
The toll of the holocaust in Indonesia
Amnesty International estimated that well over one million people were murdered in connection with Suharto’s assumption of power. I have not found any estimates of the death rate among the hundreds of thousands who were interned in concentration camps, nor among the victims of Suharto’s security forces during his 33-year reign.
It is not easy to quantify the misery of the millions of Indonesians who have toiled as slaves for Western capitalists in Indonesia since “the light went on” in 1965, or the numbers who died prematurely as a result of overwork, malnutrition, lack of medical care, or environmental pollution. But the death toll must be in the millions.
In The Demography of Genocide in Southeast Asia Ben Kiernan, director of the Genocide Studies Program at Yale University, estimated that about 25% of the population of East Timor was destroyed by Suharto’s US-equipped forces in 1975-80. According to Kiernan this is comparable to Cambodia under the Pol Pot regime. http://www.yale.edu/gsp/publications/KiernanRevised1.pdf
It is generally estimated that about 25 million Soviet citizens died in the holocaust that resulted from the anti-Communist crusade launched by the Hitler regime on behalf of the leaders of the capitalist world. Assuming that the population of the USSR in 1941 was about 165 million, this represents a death rate of approximately 15%, or about 40% less than in East Timor.
Continuity of the holocausts
The above holocausts were launched, implemented and justified in the name of eradicating Communism. This presupposes the eradication of Communists of both genders and all ages, including infants, as well as the hazily defined population of “sympathizers”.
These holocausts are thus fully in line with the holocaust known as World War 2 and the judeocide that it contained. Like the Fascists prior to 1945, the directors of the post-war holocausts informed the troops and those who kept the home-fires burning that the crusade against Communism was actually a defensive campaign for saving Civilization As We Know It from the evil-doers who were committed to destroying it.
But there was a new device on the post-war battle-flag – The Free World, where democracy reigns and people are free to choose their own destinies. In contrast, the subjects of Communist dictatorships live in bondage and can only yearn for the freedom that they have been deprived of by their atheist overlords.
In reality, Harry Truman and the other leaders of The Free World were not interested in promoting freedom and democracy. Like the Fascists, they were interested in maximizing profits for the capitalists whom they served.
This explains why the leaders of The Free World decided that the people of Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia could not be allowed to establish their own forms of government without outside interference.
As we have seen, democratic electoral processes in these countries were perceived as threats by Western capitalists, for good reason. They knew that in Korea and Vietnam such processes if unchecked would result in the election of Communists or Communist sympathizers. The effect on profits for Westerners would be negative, as in Russia after 1917, because the interests of the people represented by Communist movements are not compatible with the interests of capitalists.
Although the Sukarno government in Indonesia was not Communist, it made the mistake of cooperating with the PKI, a genuine popular movement devoted to defending the interests of the poor, i.e. the workers and peasants, which is normal behavior for Communists. The members of the PKI therefore had to be destroyed in order to maintain the safety of The Free World.
The fear of losing profitable business opportunities is reflected in the report on Indonesia which was submitted to President Johnson (see above), which warned that “It is probable that private ownership will disappear…”
The major bloodbaths 1914-1965 show an obvious continuity. World War 1, the War of Intervention in Russia, World War 2 and the holocausts in Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia all arose from the inexorable imperative of imperialism – profits for the owners of the system must be maximized at any cost, as long as the cost is borne by someone else. The greatest obstacle to profit maximization was the existence of Communist governments.
The same applies to the bloodbaths initiated by Western capitalists after 1965, and to the long series of political, economic and military interventions in the internal affairs of countries which like the three discussed in this chapter have attempted to free themselves from the orbit of Western imperialism.
In other words, the bloodbaths were not random, isolated events with no connection to the system in which they occurred, as the so-called “philosopher” Karl Popper would have people believe. Nor were they concocted by the diseased minds of atheist Communist fanatics. They were and are symptomatic of the capitalist system. They were conceived in the boardrooms of Western corporations and the paneled halls of government.
Obscuring the nature, origins and immediate causes of these recurrent symptoms is the major task of the legions of academics and journalists who place themselves at the disposal of the owners of the system e.g. in government agencies such as the Swedish Forum for Living History, in the media, and in publishing companies, including those that print and distribute school textbooks.
It is not difficult to understand why a comparison of symptoms and systems is consistently avoided in the mainstream version of history.
For example, the holocausts in Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia were launched between 1946 and 1965. As far as I know, neither the USSR nor the People’s Republic of China launched wars of aggression during this period. There are no credible reports of villages, towns and cities being bombed and/or napalmed by Soviet or Chinese air forces, of massacres by ground troops from China, the USSR or other Communist states, or of assassination and torture programs launched by Communist governments in their own or other countries. For a discussion of reports of a government-engineered famine in China 1959-1961, see Chapter 16, Part 3.
This fact could be interpreted as a symptom indicating that the policies of Communist governments do not include wars of aggression, despite repeated claims to the contrary in the West.
On the other hand, the holocausts in Korea Vietnam and Indonesia can be interpreted as symptoms that reflect the nature of capitalism, in line with the crimes against humanity discussed in Chapter 8. It could of course be argued that they were aberrations, but they are nevertheless highly symptomatic of the destructive effects of the capitalist system, which has been waging an undeclared war on humanity in the interest of the tiny minority that controls the global systems for production and distribution of goods and services.
The general outlines of the capitalist holocaust are discussed in the next chapter.