Conservative Arraigns the U.S. War Drive (1951)

Arash Norouzi
The Mossadegh Project | August 16, 2021                      

“Liberating” a country is bad news for the “liberated.”

Christian advertising executive and former Republican Congressman Bruce Barton (1886-1967) was a consistent anti-interventionist, and he often expressed these views in his nationally syndicated newspaper column. One frequent object of his disdain was the Korean War.

According to Rep. Roy W. Wier, the Korea survey Barton cited was taken by Lynn Thompson, a 30 year veteran of the Minnesota School Board. In March 1952 he praised Thompson on the House floor, explaining that he had traveled to 18 states asking 1,500 people from over 400 vocations: “What is the war in Korea about?”

Although major combat ceased in 1953, the conflict never completely ended. American adventurism never waned, either. The U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, after all, (‘where empires go to die’) dragged on for nearly 20 years — yet another losing battle for the history books.

Korean War media archive
Harry Truman editorial archive

November 27, 1951
Lessons of Korea

Bruce Fairchild Barton (1886-1967)

Last January, when Mr. Truman’s “police action” had been under way about six months, one of my inquisitive readers, with time on his hands, set forth to ask his neighbors, “What is the war in Korea about?” He kept on until he had 1,001 answers. More than nine out of ten expressed ignorance or indifference. Here are examples:

Policeman: “Something about a parallel” . . . Milk wagon driver: “Ask me something easy” . . . Housewife: “To kill off our boys” . . . Architect: “A series of blunders” . . . Plumber: “Like the last two World Wars, will find out when it’s over” . . . Pressman: “Something about U.S. rule in Korea” . . . Auto parts dealer: “A war to keep the politicians in” . . . Helper: “I think we are war crazy” . . . Colored worker: ‘Sin is the cause’ . . . Instructor: “Used by War Department to cover up its blunders” . . . Bank official : “For no good reason. Truman wants to be popular” . . . Lawyer: “All a diplomatic mistake” . . . Student: “I hope they know before I go.”

A hundred thousand of our boys are dead, wounded, or missing. The home folks should know by now what the war is about. And they should have learned these four bitter lessons:

(1) This first “United Nations” crusade against aggression has been 90 per cent U.S. money and 90 per cent U.S. blood. Fighting aggression “all over the world” appeals only mildly to our “Allies.”

(2) There are a billion and a half dark-skinned people in Asia. To them Korea means white-skinned men shooting a million and a half dark-skinned men. It has not made us friends; we need friends.

(3) “Liberating” a country is bad news for the “liberated.” The South Koreans are home-less, hungry, and hopeless. They may well be saying of us Americans, in the words of Tacitus: “When they make a wilderness, they call it peace.”

(4) In our other wars the boys went forth singing, and the folks at home kept the blood-banks full. This war has no Yankee Doodle, no John Brown’s Body, no Keep the Home Fires Burning. And the blood-banks are chronically low. Are the boys to blame? Or the folks at home? They are the same breed of boys and home folks who sang and sacrificed cheerfully in the wars their Congress voted for.

The Administration has released the “inside story” of those hurried night meetings at Blair House when Truman made his momentous decision to send our boys into battle seven thousand miles away. All that the “true story” proves is that he and Acheson had absolutely no idea of the size of the forces the boys would be up against. They thought it would be just a little, short, easy, popular war. [Sec. of State Dean Acheson]

There must be no more of these secret president-made wars. If Democracy means anything, it means that the mothers and fathers of America have the right to debate and decide where, and when, and for what their boys must fight and die.

Is War “Christian”? — Bruce Barton on God & War (1951)
THE WRATH OF GOD | Bruce Barton's prayerful anti-war sermon (1951)

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Related links:

History Repeats Itself | Hamilton Butler on Korea and Iran, July 1, 1951

Alibis From the Generalissimo | New York Daily News, June 26, 1951

Truman’s Korea Policy Is Most ‘Insane Thing’ (May 1951 letter)

MOSSADEGH t-shirts — “If I sit silently, I have sinned”

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