The armistice holds up; an open letter to Kim Jong Un

At the Yalta conference in 1945 it was decided that Russia would accept the Japanese surrender north of the 38 parallel in Korea and the U.S. would accept it to the south. The 38 parallel was an admin-istrative convenience sug-gested by Colonel Dan Rusk. Stalin thought the country would emerge whole from the trustee-ship within five years.
On November 18, 1952 President-elect Eisenhow-er met with President Tru-man and his advisors re-garding Ike’s forthcoming trip to Korea. Secretary of State, Dean Acheson found Eisenhower “wary and withdrawn and, taciturn to the point of surliness.” Truman worried what would happen if Ike didn’t come back.
Eisenhower spent three days bundled up in the cold talking to troops and field commanders and observing an artillery du-el. He never allowed Gen-eral Mark Clark, Com-mander of the U.N. forces, to present his plan for an offensive across the 38th parallel. The North Kore-ans were forced back to the armistice negotiations by Eisenhower’s stated opinion of the atomic bomb and his bringing of A-bombs to Guam, though not to the loading pits on Okinawa. The North Kore-ans never forgot it.
Eisenhower said nucle-ar war would “destroy civilization,” but used the threat effectively to bring about the Korean armi-stice. Russia and China were by that time recep-tive to a cease-fire. The biggest opponent of peace was Syngman Rhee, the brutal president of South Korea, who pressed for the use of atomic bombs against the Communists. Truman and Eisenhower both showed great strength of character as Commanders-in-Chief by rejecting the use of atomic weaponry against North Korea, China and Russia. Truman actually author-ized the transfer of nine nuclear capsules to the Ninth Bomb Group on Guam, at MacArthur’s re-quest. Senators Robert Taft and Paul Douglas, Rep. Al Gore, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, Admiral Radford, Air Force General Hoyt Van-denberg, Generals MacAr-thur, Ridgway, Mark Clark and many others pres-sured the administrations to resort to atomic bombs, but never had the support of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The Constitution worked. We are all here today be-cause civil authority showed the best judgment and the strength to back it up.
The Missoulian report-ed on November 20, 2017 that the current head of Strategic Command, Gen-eral John Hyten said that he would refuse a launch order from a president if he believed that order to be illegal; thereby intro-ducing discretion and common sense into the chain of command. This discretion has saved us before, famously by “the man who saved the world,” Vasili Arkhipov who refused to concur in firing the 10-15 kiloton nuclear torpedo when being depth-charged by American destroyers dur-ing the Cuban missile cri-sis.
One good thing about the impasse we are facing with North Korea is that the armistice has held up since July 27, 1953, when it was signed without a word in the Peace Pavilion in Panmunjom, built in five days by North Kore-ans, then torn down. De-spite several violations over the years, the war has not reignited. That means our negotiations are not burdened with a sixty-four year history of revenge, retaliation and reprisal.
Ron Carter, Libby