History of war not well known
Although the facts of U.S. policy in the Korean War have been known for 30 years, Cumings remarked that most people are unaware of the great violence with which America pursued the war, the details of which were never seriously reported in the U.S. media at the time.
The United States, he said, dropped more ordnance on Korea (including South Korea when the Chinese pushed U.S. forces almost to the end of the peninsula) than in the entire Pacific theater during World War II: 635,000 tons versus 503,000 tons of bombs. It also freely used napalm in its military campaigns there.
American bombing of civilian installations in North Korea — including industrial cities, dams, and reservoirs — completely wiped out numerous cities and devastated the country. Pursuant to the 1949 Geneva Convention, said Cumings, these acts are war crimes. From the North Korean standpoint, he said, the war was the equivalent of the all-out destruction suffered by the Soviet Union in World War II.
U.S. “nuclear diplomacy” included General MacArthur requesting 20 to 30 (later, 38) nuclear bombs to quickly finish the war and create a “belt of radioactive cobalt across the neck of Manchuria” after China entered the war; preparation of several secret scenarios for nuclear attack against North Korea and China by the National Security Council under Eisenhower; conducting atomic tests in Nevada to intimidate the enemy; a U.S. military operation in September–October 1951 in which “dummy” atomic and heavy TNT bombs were dropped; and the visit of the father of the nuclear bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, to South Korea to investigate the feasibility of tactical nuclear weapons.