“British Day” to commemorate the Magna Carta? Not surprising to find the Telegraph is the paper most prominently reporting a History Today finding that June 15 is the preferred date for a new national day. How prescient of the barons to pick mid-summer.
More seriously, a letter has been uncovered that appears to prove that in 1950 the US approved the killing of Korean refugees from the North, for fear that they might be a vehicle for communist agents to enter the South.
The letter, dated the day of the army’s mass killing of South Korean refugees at No Gun Ri in 1950, is the strongest indication yet that such a policy existed for all US forces in Korea, and the first evidence that that policy was known to upper ranks of the US government.
“If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will be shot,” wrote the ambassador, John J Muccio, in his message to the Assistant Secretary of State, Dean Rusk.
The letter reported on decisions made at a high-level meeting in South Korea on 25 July 1950, the night before the 7th US Cavalry Regiment shot the refugees at No Gun Ri.
Estimates vary on the number of dead at No Gun Ri. American soldiers’ estimates ranged from under 100 to “hundreds” dead; Korean survivors say about 400, mostly women and children, were killed at the village 100 miles (160km) south-east of Seoul, the South Korean capital. Hundreds more refugees were killed in later, similar episodes, survivors say.
The report provokes the question as to why it is that, among the broadly “democratic” nations, the US military’s seems to be the worst on human rights. (Of course it is still nothing like as bad as non-democratic state – no argument there.) Is it some problem with the US system that reduces civilian oversight and control, or is it something about lack of education and knowledge of the rest of the world that produces, as in this case, a panicky, hysterical, reaction to the challenge of “the Other”?
In the “you couldn’t make it up” class, a perfectly cast “mild-mannered American accountant” is the first man outside Asia to trace his ancestry directly to Genghis Khan. In a neat piece of proof that race has absolutely no biological meaning at all (as opposed to cultural meaning, of which it has all too much), the accountant can trace his ancestry by documents to the Windermere area of northern Britain – so of course he’s “white”, in so far as that means anything at all…
A Turkish museum director has been arrested after it was found that some of the “Lydian” artefacts on display in his museum were fakes. The report says they “belonged to Creosus” … hmmm. But still, you have to wonder how often this goes on. Suspect this can’t be the only case ever.