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Northeast Asia Peace Initiative

Moscow Forum on the Korean War - Results, Lessons, Further Steps Towards Peace

On June 5, 2013 the round table “Korean War – Results, Lessons, Further Steps Towards Peace on the Korean Peninsula” took place at the Conference Center of the Oriental Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia. This round table was co-organized by Oriental Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, Universal Peace Federation, OneKorea Internet News Portal, Department of History of the Russian Military Academy, “Russkiya Vityazi” NGO.

UPF promotes dialogue and cooperation in hopes that through dialogue and respectful cooperation we can move toward peace. The following presentations by experts represent diverse perspectives, none of which represent any official position of UPF. UPF has convened many consultations on issues related to the Korean Peninsula and peace and security in East Asia over the years in venues such as Washington D.C, London, New York, Tokyo, and Seoul, allowing various experts to offer their insights and perspectives.

Konstantin Krylov, Secretary General of the Universal Peace Federation-Eurasia, made the following statement:

The Universal Peace Federation has a special feeling towards North East Asian peace issues. Its founder, Dr. Sun Myung Moon, was born in North Korea and later resided in the South. Among many actors in the peace process between North and South he played a special role as a mediator between the two. He also played a special role in establishing diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the Republic of Korea, for which he called upon President Gorbachev during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow in April 1990.

I would like to stress a special potential of NGOs in establishing bridges between North and South. What States are unable to do on a high level is often accessible to NGOs. In our experience this is exactly the case. Dr. Moon initiated many exchanges between North and South Korea in the area of culture, business, and family ties. Back in the 1970s he established the Little Angels performing arts group, which visited Moscow in 1990 and was welcomed by the First Lady of the USSR. Later this group gave performances in the nations who participating in the Korean War on the UN side, starting from the United States.

Dr. Moon established a number of businesses in North Korea. We can see that even though his vision was very religious and he was well known as an anti-communist, nevertheless he did not pound on North Korea. He understood that we need to teach and provide necessary assistance and, on the other hand, help DPRK understand the real way to go. The Washington Times newspaper established by Rev. Moon is often critical of North Korea. We could expect that the North Korean government would absolutely deny dealing with such a person. Still, when Rev. Moon passed away, the North Korean government awarded him a posthumous “Unification Medal,” which is extremely rare. I assume this shows that when the approach by the actors of the North East Asian peace process is reasonable, one can successfully work with both North and South. We continuously hold conferences on this topic. The last one was UPF's World Summit on Peace, Security and Development in Seoul in February 2013. We are open for partnerships on both sides.

Participants

Zhebin Alexander, Ph.D., Head of the Center of Korean Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences (FEBRAS); worked for 12 years in the DPRK as a journalist and Russian diplomat

Yuri Vanin, Ph.D., Senior Researcher of the Department of Korea and Mongolia at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), Institute of Oriental studies

Konstantin Zharinov, Editor in Chief of the analytical internet portal "Unified Korea"

Kim Yong-Eun, Ph.D., Leading Researcher of the Center of Korean studies of FEBRAS

Konstantin Asmolov, Ph.D., Leading Research-Expert of the Center of Korean studies of FEBRAS

Viktor Gavrilov, Ph.D., Leading Researcher and Expert at the Research Institute of Military History, Military Academy of the General Staff, Armed Forces of Russia, Colonel

Yuri Knutov, Director of the Museum (branch of the Central Museum of the Russian Federation Armed Forces); presentation of the Museum of Air Defense Forces; veteran of the military air defense troops

Konstantin Krylov, Secretary General of the Eurasian Chapter of the Universal Peace Federation

Vladimir Krinyuk, Ph.D., Senior Researcher of the Center for Japanese Studies FEBRAS; Specialization - Japan's relations with the states of the Korean Peninsula

Clara V. Shin, Vice Chairman of "Pomedren," the Chief Editor of the magazine "Unity" of the Korean Association "Unity"

Helen Kim, Board of Directors of International Projects, "Rossiyskaya newspaper"; application for other countries in their own languages (in this case, for South Korea)

Artem Sandzhiev, "Rossiyskaya Gazeta" department of international information, worked as a correspondent in South Korea for three years

Boris Gurib, military historian, consultant, military-historical analyst

Petr Krymskiy, retired colonel, a member of the military-scientific society in the cultural center of the Ministry of Defense

Dmitry Samko, Secretary General of Russian chapter of the Universal Peace Federation

Maria Nazarova, International Department Director of the Universal Peace Federation, Russia, Moscow

Introduction by Alexander Zhebin, Ph.D.

Head of the Center of Korean Studies at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences (FEBRAS); worked for 12 years in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea as a journalist and the Russian diplomat

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea are preparing to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice. Unfortunately, each side celebrates this date as its own great victory. It would surely be better if this event becomes for both Koreas a memorial of the tragic page in the history of the Korean people and a starting point on the way of reconciliation between the two parts of the peninsula. Meanwhile, each side is trying to make this celebration quite a broad international event. It is known that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea intends to invite foreign guests to attend this celebration. The South Korean side is scheduling international conferences and welcoming veterans from the US and other nations who participated in the UN forces.

It is important and quite timely for us to review the realities of those years, grasp their meaning, and be ready to present our own viewpoint concerning these events.

The 60th anniversary of the Korean War armistice is at hand. The debates about whether it was possible to avoid it, and who were its instigators have not subsided. Inspired by American propaganda, in the world there dominates the conviction that the USSR was probably the main instigator of the conflict, although our country was formally not in it. In the past decade, this version has gained a second wind through publication, primarily in the West, of numerous documents from the Soviet archives, although the same documents prove that no Soviet leaders traveled to Pyongyang with the purpose of persuading the North Koreans to start liberating the South.

Meanwhile, the direct participants of the war who suffered the main burden of ground operations and human losses (US, China, North Korea, and South Korea) are not in a hurry to publicize the materials concerning this period. Moreover, the official circles are obviously not going to acknowledge their responsibility and repent. Meanwhile, referring to publicly available information, e.g., by American historians Stein, Horowitz, Cummings, and others, in their basic research they gave no clear black-and-white picture of what happened and the causes of the still-smoldering conflict.

The general conclusion is that both sides were preparing for war. It actually started in 1949 with a powerful artillery duel along the separation line between the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (ROK, South Korea). Another significant factor leading up to the war, for obvious reasons not mentioned by both parts of Korea, was the inability of the ruling elites in the North and the South to share power and agree about the future shape of the state. By the way, until now, this obscure fact remains the main internal cause of the Korean problem (aside from international interference), the continuing division of Korea, and the military tension in the Peninsula.

The past 60 years, unfortunately, confirmed that the dominant interests of the current ruling elites include sustaining political stability in both parts of Korea, relying on military-political alliances with third countries. For the foreseeable future, it seems that this will remain a priority over any declarations of unity of the Koreans.

The armed conflict in the Korean Peninsula in the middle of the past century underlined the stage of transition from cooperation in the framework of the anti-Hitler coalition to almost four decades of the military-political confrontation of great powers known as the Cold War.

Each of the opposing blocs then sought to secure the most favorable geopolitical position in the unfolding conflict. However, perhaps only in modern Russia, with its inclination to self-flagellation, are we ready to keep blaming our country for its previously-declared desire to globalize the triumph of communism. And at the same time adhering to political correctness as "civilized" nations and with a persistence worthy of better application, they prefer to withhold the fact that the highest goal of American foreign policy since 1945, including the period of the war in Korea, has been the US's achievement of world domination.

Followers of the Henry Luce doctrine of the establishment of the “American century” that was proclaimed immediately after the Second World War saw the collapse of the USSR as an unprecedented opportunity to implement precisely this idea of unlimited American hegemony, which was included in the US national security strategy of 2002. This strategy envisages as the first item, which has not been altered despite the change of several presidents, to prevent any state or group of states (first of all Russia, China, and some other nations) from becoming so powerful that they could challenge US dominance in the world. As for medium and small countries whose policy does not please Washington, the idea of resolving differences with them by a compromise is discounted. There is only one recipe - a change of regime one way or another.

The deployment in Korea of a new generation of high-precision weapons, under the umbrella of regional missile defense, is aimed at building the capacity to carry out a first attack against the neighboring countries - primarily China, the only power which, thanks to its unique civilization, has the option to remain an independent power and, if necessary, eventually Russia.

The US effort to prevent the progress of inter-Korean dialogue is obviously because normalization of the situation on the Peninsula and reconciliation of the two Koreas would inevitably call into question the appropriateness of the American military presence in the south of the Peninsula and their establishing the anti-ballistic missile defense base in the area.

The assertions of the Americans about the North Korean threat look weak. In light of the current balance of forces in the Peninsula and in the world, for Pyongyang to initiate some major conflict would be tantamount to suicide. It is also clear that North Korea is not able to wage any large-scale military actions without outside support. In contrast to the Korean War, such support is currently not available from anywhere. Even if the North Koreans have weapons of mass destruction, serious specialists will hardly assert that the weapons would be used for attacking the United States and its allies. Still, the likelihood of possessing such weapons by North Korea may prevent a repetition of the Yugoslav, Iraqi, or Libyan script in the Korean Peninsula.

In fact, three main factors still keep the US from new ventures in Korea:

1. Washington cannot calculate the consequences for the United States of a likely direct collision with China with its almost one and a half billion population, within whose sphere of influence Korea has been for a thousand years. Strife with the two world civilizations – Islamic and Confucian – would perhaps be too much even for the US.

2. Americans are scared by even a remote possibility of a revival in one form or another (as a consequence of US military action) of the alliance between Russia and China (even in the form of some pale reflection of the Sino-Soviet Alliance of the 1950s).

3. None of the US allies in the region are eager to risk their hard-earned prosperity and relative safety to satisfy the geopolitical ambitions of the United States.

If the first Korean War finally buried the anti-Hitler coalition, a second large-scale conflict in Korea, towards which some people are overtly and covertly pushing the world, could give to Asia and the whole world a new edition of the Cold War.

Western, including British, experts emphasize the fact that the war in Korea resulted in Japan stopping the processes of punishing the war criminals responsible for the war started by Japan and the process of demilitarization of the nation. Americans needed an ally, and thus many Japanese criminals were not brought to justice. The tribunals that took place in Germany did not have a parallel in Japan. A lot of what we see now in the Japanese policy in the form of territorial claims is largely the result of the fact that both individual Japanese and the Japanese system in general were not properly punished for their participation in the Second World War. This responsibility also falls on the United States, which for the purposes of carrying out their geopolitical plans in the Far East, namely in the Korean War, spared a significant part of the Japanese war criminals from responsibility for what Japan did in the years of the Second World War.

Yuri Vanin, Ph.D.

Senior Researcher of the Department of Korea and Mongolia at the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Oriental studies. Author of the report: "The Causes, Nature, and Consequences of the Korean War 1950-1953"

The Korean War was a unique phenomenon after the Second World War; no other war in the post-war period lasted so long, was fought so desperately, or most importantly, involved such a large number of participants. Including those nations who sent only medical teams, 21 nations participated in the war; to this list could be added the" half-participants” - the USSR and Japan. This war was never on the brink of escalating into a third world war or a nuclear war. During this war, the use of nuclear weapons was quite possible, although fortunately this was avoided. Still, weapons of mass destruction were used: the first country in which napalm was widely applied was Korea; in Vietnam it was used on a larger scale. So this war actually played a very important role in world history, and it continues to be the object of much attention.

The historical responsibility of internal political forces cannot be ignored; I spoke about this many times, in the DPRK in particular. It is often strongly emphasized that the rivalry between the US and the USSR entailed the split of Korea into two parts, followed by the outbreak of the war and resulting in a situation that remains complicated. Kim Il Sung, Syngman Rhee, and their environment also contributed much, and in some circumstances had an even more significant share in the outbreak of war, its origin, and its consequences, so we should not divest them from their historical responsibility.

The causes of the Korean War are quite obvious. We must converge in the opinion that this war started as an internal conflict, as a civil war. In UN documents, this wording is used in connection with China, but it could be also applied to Korea – one state with two rival governments because even though we call both the Republic of Korea and the DPRK “states,” at that time they were only starting to develop as states, and the 38th parallel was not the fixed border into which it evolved over time.

The international intervention played a huge role from the very beginning to the present day. During the Korean War, Korea was twice on the brink of unification. First in July-August 1950, when only 10 percent of the South was unoccupied territory; the interference of the US stopped this process. The second time was after the retreat of the Korean People's Army from the UN offensive led by the US, which almost reached Korea's border with China, both in the northwest and the northeast; but then China entered the war. Thus Korea has remained divided.

I agree that there is no way to castigate ourselves for the USSR being almost the main culprit of the Korean War. Of course, the bloc confrontation, which began shortly after the end of the Second World War, was the opposition of the two largest powers of the time, and each did its utmost to support its political interests. But on the other hand, we cannot completely discount the policy of the Soviet Union on the eve of the Korean War and during the Korean War as a failure. I consider the biggest mistake to be the Soviet Union's boycott of the UN Security Council during the important stage from January 13 until August 1, 1950. Of course, if Yakov A. Malik had been present at the Security Council and used his veto power [when the issue was voted on], the Americans could still have arranged a collective campaign against the DPRK, but they would have been denied the right to do so under the banner of the United Nations, acting as representatives of the UN and representatives of the world community, in the struggle that they termed the “aggression of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea” and thereafter against the entry of China into the war.

The same can be said about the end of the Korean War. If you review the course of truce negotiations that started on July 10, 1951, it should be recognized that the main issues of the truce were discussed and agreed upon in the autumn of that year. The terms of truce were almost complete, except for one issue about prisoners of war, and negotiations continued for two more years. The Soviet Union, in the person of Stalin, and the People's Republic of China, represented by Mao Zedong, acted as a united front, and the Americans did the same, because both sides acted in support of their interests.

I would like to stress again that the Korean War started as a civil war. Also today we can state for certain that a military solution to the existing situation on the Korean Peninsula is impossible.

Recently information was leaked that the DPRK is not opposed to raising the issue of signing a peace treaty with South Korea. My long-standing conviction is that replacing the armistice with a peace treaty should have happened in the first place between the two Koreas. In the Korean War, whatever decisive roles were played by the US and the People's Republic of China, still the main figures of the Korean War were the North and the South: they started the war, all the rest came to help. All the rest played, legally speaking, a minor role. And here, I think, we as neighbors of the two Koreas could encourage them to address the agreement on a ceasefire.

In 1991, North and South Korea signed the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-aggression and Exchanges and Cooperation Between the South and the North. One of the first items of the agreement declared that the North and the South would jointly move from armistice to peace. It seems to me that we should use this declaration as a basis for our policy in regard to the processes that are developing now in the Korean Peninsula.

Kim Yong-Eun, Ph.D.

Leading Researcher of the Center of Korean Studies of FEBRAS. Author of the report: "Political and Legal Aspects of the End of the Korean War"

I support the claim that the Korean War started as a civil war between the two Korean States. It does not matter who first started it, because in a civil war the winner is always right. And if nobody wins, then both sides are to blame.

There is also a legal side of the Korean War assessment: the Constitutions of 1948 in both South and North Korea contain provisions indicating that the Korean War, which started two years after their adoption, was a civil war. Article 3 of the Constitution of South Korea, which is still in force, declares: “The territory of the Republic of Korea includes the Korean Peninsula and the adjacent islands.” Thus, the entire Korean Peninsula is the territory of the Republic of Korea; therefore, all the military conflicts that occur inside the Korean Peninsula are the internal affairs of Korea, meaning civil war.

In the Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of 1948, there was nothing about the entire Korean Peninsula, but it stated that the capital of Korea (DPRK) is Seoul; thus, North Korea legally represents the entire Korean Peninsula and the DPRK is a legal entity embracing the territory of the entire Korean Peninsula.

Then, in 1972, North Korea adopted a new socialist Constitution stating that the capital is Pyongyang, indicating that it had abandoned its claims to Seoul and thus its claims to the entire territory of the Korean Peninsula. However, Article 1 states that "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is an independent socialist state representing the interests of all Korean people," and the "entire Korean population" lives mainly on the Korean Peninsula. Therefore, this Republic reflects the interests of all Korean people and, accordingly, what happens within the entire Korean population (and the war started as an internal conflict) is to be regarded as a civil war.

It is very important for the subsequent evaluation of the actions of the US and the UN to note that the UN Security Council flagrantly violated its own Charter, because the United Nations has no right to interfere in the internal conflicts of a nation. The UN can regulate interstate conflicts, but not civil conflicts within a single state. Neither of the Korean states at that time was a member of the United Nations. They were not sufficiently recognized by the world community; accordingly, because the Constitution of each declared that it represented the entire Korean Peninsula, the United Nations had no right to interfere in the conflict.

This war had a unique character in that two days after its beginning it developed into an international conflict with the engagement of American troops on the territory of Korea; then it became a large-scale matter when the United States' actions forced the People's Republic of China to enter the war.

One of the motives for the US to enter this war, and why it became an international conflict, was that Washington did not believe China would enter the war and fight on the side of DPRK. The People's Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949, when the civil war in China had not yet ended. There were still serious battles, e.g., with Sun Chuan in the North, and the situations in Tibet and other places were complicated. Since the country had only just been formed, the US believed that China would not be able to engage in war, given its internal affairs.

The United States continued violating the UN Charter and the agreements signed thereafter. For example, a Ceasefire Agreement signed on July 27, 1953, which provided for a cease-fire and cessation of hostilities of an international conflict, was signed on the part of the Korean People's Army and the Chinese People's Volunteers by the North Korean General Nam-Il and on the side of the UN by Lt. Gen. of the US Army William Harrison. Only then it was backed and signed by Kim Il Sung, as Supreme commander; Peng Dehuai, future Marshal of the People's Republic of China; and General Clark.

Thus, this Ceasefire Agreement provided for a truce in the international conflict. The South Korean delegation participated in the negotiations but refused to sign this Agreement. This suggests that because the agreement provided only for ending an international conflict, it did not envisage measures for settling relations between the two Koreas. That is, it did not put an end to the civil war; it did not legally envisage aspects connected with the settlement of the civil war. This raises a problem, about which I'll discuss later.

This Agreement stipulated that within three months after entry into force of this Agreement, the US, China, and Korea as well as international observers should help to summon a meeting of top representatives of the North and the South for convening an international conference to discuss the withdrawal of all foreign troops from the territory of the Korean Peninsula. But the United States of America, without waiting for the three-month limit, on October 1, 1953 signed a permanent agreement with South Korea on mutual defense. This year marks 60 years since then; and the current South Korean Minister of National Defense, Kim Kwan-jin, a former General (the present Minister of National Defense is a civilian), insisted that this Agreement should be valid for another 60 years. Such a limitless Agreement is probably unique in the world. According to that Treaty, Americans obtained the right to allocate their land and air forces within the territory of Korea without prior coordination with the government of South Korea.

In addition, Article 60 of this Treaty also provides that the weapons that come into disrepair in Korea or are replaced must be replaced with equivalent armaments. That is, you cannot import more than the existing number of tanks, and you cannot import more advanced tanks or airplanes than the existing ones. This point, of course, was violated by all parties, but the first who did so was the United States, by importing nuclear weapons into South Korea in the late 1950s.

Generally a peace treaty should be signed by those who signed the armistice agreement. Also there should be someone to confirm that this ceasefire agreement is observed. Four neutral countries were supposed to form a commission to monitor the implementation of the agreement: two on the side of the United States or the United Nations (Sweden and Switzerland) and two on the side of North Korea and China (Poland and Czechoslovakia). After 1991, this Commission effectively ceased to function, but legally it is next to impossible to restore because Poland is now a member of NATO and therefore not neutral, and Czechoslovakia has ceased to exist. Accordingly, now there is no one to report on behalf of the Commission about the observance of the armistice agreement.

If the US is to sign a Peace Treaty, as a state that signed the armistice agreement on behalf of the UN (it is indicated in the agreement that Gen. Harrison was a senior delegate of the US forces), then in which capacity should the US would sign this agreement?

In the current situation, should the UN form a specific group or authorize some other state to sign a peace treaty with Korea? How would it look from the point of view of the UN Charter? The UN would be signing a peace treaty with its own member, which is not provided for by the Charter of the United Nations.

The second issue: would the UN authorize the United States as its member-nation to sign a peace treaty with North Korea? I think that the power balance is such that many and even the majority of nations would be against it.

Regarding whether South Korea must sign such a peace treaty, it was already mentioned that it would be good if both Koreas signed a peace treaty. However, the ceasefire agreement envisaged the end of the international conflict, not the civil war. Then on what basis should the nations sign a peace treaty? In the South Korean Constitution it is stated that the entire Korean Peninsula is the territory of South Korea, whereas the Constitution of North Korea declares that it represents the entire Korean people. On what basis would they sign a peace treaty between themselves?

If they sign a peace treaty, then they must legally and diplomatically recognize North Korea as an independent state. But that would mean that South and North Korea should change their Constitutions, namely Article 3 of the South Korean Constitution and Article 1 of the North Korean Constitution. Moreover, in case of negotiations on settlement of the border, there will surely be a question about the northern line of demarcation and the islands, around which there is now a lot of noise. The Agreement of 1953 left these islands under the US control not only because it was the desire of the US but also because at that time they already were under US control. When we look at the map, we forget that the border was drawn along the 38th parallel, and the southern part of Hwanghae province was under control of the US and South Korean troops. Now, if South Korea recognizes this state border and the maritime border with the North Korea, it would again violate its own Constitution, because there can be no state borders within one nation. Besides, neither the North nor the South is inclined to change its Constitution.

Of course, if there is a political will, it would be possible to ignore all these legal issues. Nevertheless, the legalities of signing of a peace treaty are highly complex. And again, signing a peace agreement ending an international conflict does not resolve the issue of civil war in the Korean Peninsula. Undoubtedly, signing a peace treaty would create favorable conditions for normalization of inter-Korean relations and establishing good neighborly relations in the future. But here I would like to emphasize that in some situations there is no need to insist on signing a peace treaty. For example, we have no peace treaties with a number of countries that participated in the Second World War on the side of the Hitler coalition, and it does not worsen our relations.

The USSR refused to keep its armed forces in the territory of Norway and Denmark after the Second World War. This was also one indication that the USSR was not going to deploy its troops on the Korean Peninsula. It is therefore wrong to blame the USSR for instigating the Korean War. This was not our war.

Konstantin Asmolov, Ph.D.

Leading Research-Expert of the Center of Korean Studies of FEBRAS; co-author of the report: “The Korean War and Governance in the Time of War”; Ph.D. in historical sciences

First I would like to raise the topic of analysts who instead of dealing with real analytics create in their heads some convenient constructs of the political situation and then start making decisions based on this information. From a certain point of view, the Korean War was a tragedy of errors and a pile of bad decisions. Almost all crucial decisions were made on the basis of personal ambitions, faulty information, or recognition that it was the wrong decision but the lesser evil.”

This applies to the way the "go-ahead” to the beginning of the war was given, because I absolutely agree with my colleagues that it was a civil war and it began somewhere in 1949 if not earlier. We have very little idea about “the zero point” of the Korean War, which, judging by the overall level of military involvement, must have involved up to two battalions on each side with the support of tanks and artillery. This was quite a full-scale border war.

Naturally, both Seoul and Pyongyang understood that both sides were preparing for war, and the question was who could amass military strength more quickly. But, at some stage, not so much Kim Il Sung as numerous representatives of a local faction managed to persuade Moscow that the South was in upheaval, Syngman Rhee's regime was about to fall, and the South Korean army, which was more a large punitive detachment than a full-scale army, could be destroyed and the capital occupied. According to Pak Hon-yong, 200,000 Communists (60,000 of them in Seoul) would immediately rise up from underground and the country would easily be reunified. In fact it was on these conditions that Moscow gave its approval.

It is not clear whether Pak Hon-yong believed this himself or whether he consciously gave misinformation on the basis of his personal political goals. If Moscow had known that the political situation in the South was different, it is very likely that Pak Hon-yong and Kim Il Sung would have received a harsher response than what they received in the autumn of 1949, when Shtykov was lobbying their proposed concept of a "limited war” involving the seizure of certain territories. They received a very tough rebuff, with Shtykov compelled to read the decision of the Politburo as written, without adding anything.

About the American intervention, if you look at the available facts at the time, you could reasonably conclude that the US was not going to intervene because in a well-known speech, US Secretary of State Dean Acheson placed Korea beyond the US defensive perimeter. Based on a series of crises in 1949 and 1950, the general political situation also suggested that it was not clear whether the Americans would intervene in a war. The Americans did not protect Chiang Kai-shek, who was their strategic ally; the attitude in the US was ambivalent toward Syngman Rhee, whom a CIA called "that old scatterbrain." On the basis of the above, it was quite possible to suppose that US would not participate in the war. However, they did.

According to Truman's memoirs, this decision was partly forced on them by the political situation and the Chinese lobby. Acheson and Truman were nicknamed “the red” and “the pink,” and they felt they had to declare that “We will strictly protect certain values.”

Something similar can be said of China's entry into the war. The Politburo was then split into two parts, and Mao had to make a very difficult decision, considering the strong desire of Chiang Kai-shek to take part in the war and also the statements of MacArthur and the South Korean leadership. Mao was not 100 percent sure that, once the Americans reached the DPRK border with China, they would not move further, having a good reason to turn this war into a symbolic victory of the free world against communism.

Moreover, even when it became clear that this war would have no winners, when the negotiations began, the "pragmatists" won over the "hawks" in both the North and the South. However, negotiations stalled over the issue of prisoners; from the American point of view they demonstrated humanitarian principles and possibly saved people who were in danger of suffering hardship. Despite the fact that during the war many more people were being killed than the number of prisoners who were being “saved,” the war dragged on for another year and a half.

These “management” lessons are naturally very relevant for us today. We often face policy issues and choose the path of a lesser evil; instead of doing serious analysis we tend to believe in pleasant propaganda. Witness the kind of propaganda generated by the Wiki-leaks documents indicating that South Korea tried to convince the United States that they could cope with the task themselves and the US would only need to negotiate with China so it would stop supporting the North.

Viktor Gavrilov, Ph.D.

Leading Research-Expert of the Research Institute of Military History, Military Academy of the General Staff, Armed Forces of Russia, Colonel. Co-author of the report: “Lessons of the Korean War for the Present Times"

Since 2002, we have had fairly good contacts with the South Korean historians; I once went to Seoul, and they came to Moscow. The problem for discussion was, of course, the Korean War, including the questions “Who is guilty?” and “What should be done?”

There are some nuances which on closer examination provide evidence of who is to blame for what happened. For example, the South Korean historians and I agreed to exchange documents. In particular, they asked for our documents from the Central Military Archive of our Ministry of Defense. We selected documents concerning the actions of the 54th fighting corps. In response, we asked them to provide us with documents concerning the pre-war period. The documents were not given to us, stating that they were lost, deteriorated, in disarray, or had been dispersed. This means that documents from April to June 1950 are missing. There are many documents for the period afterwards about interactions with the Americans.

Regarding the causes of the conflict, there are a number of questions still unanswered. First of all, why did the US withdraw its troops from South Korea and remove Korea from its defense perimeter (according to the famous speech of Acheson)? According to a number of prominent researchers, everything pointed to the collapse of the Syngman Rhee regime, which was opposed not only by the Americans but also by the majority of the population. Therefore, there was the prospect Korea being reunified under the auspices of the Communists. According to some historians, in a narrow circle of top American leadership there was interest in Stalin urging Kim Il Sung to attack; then the US would mobilize public opinion against the aggressor and attack North Korea beginning with air strikes. As a result of such an operation, the Syngman Rhee regime would be strengthened and gain international support and recognition. In reality, that is what happened.

In this light, the January 12, 1950 speech by US Secretary of State Acheson acquires quite a different meaning. On January 12 and 13 Stalin conveyed to Kim Il Sung his willingness to consider the plan for a military reunification of Korea. Thus, one can infer that Acheson's signal was heard. Acheson admitted later that his speech gave the "green light” for attacking South Korea. There is also the issue of Directive #68 of the Central Bureau of Statistics adopted in April but signed by Truman in September 1950 that indicated a stern response from all directions.

Therefore, when the Americans intervened in the war on the side of the South Korean government, it was unexpected by everyone, including us. In his memoirs, the head of Operations of the General Staff, Colonel-General Lomov, writes that the American intervention with such large forces on the side of South Korea was unexpected. It was of course also a surprise for North Korea.

The question also arises of why the Far East Headquarters of the US troops had no plan of action in case of an emergency. American researchers into the MacArthur archives assert that they found no evidence that MacArthur attached great importance to the situation in Korea. Only shortly before the war began did he instruct the chief of intelligence to study and report to him about the situation in the region of the 38th parallel. That is, there was no emergency plan for an evacuation of the US diplomatic corps and civilians from Korea. Since no evacuation in case of a full-scale attack by North Korea was planned, was hostility scheduled?

Next, we have repeatedly met with South Korean experts who unambiguously accused the US of not providing South Korea with the necessary weapons while the USSR massively supplied North Korea with weapons. In August 1949, Syngman Rhee appealed to Truman for military aid, arguing that he had ammunition for just two days. In response, Truman advised him to focus on economics and leave the military issues alone. According to South Korean historians, the relative military weakness of South Korea was actually a provoking factor and the main cause of the Korean War.

Then the question arises whether there was some need to maintain this weakness. Why would the Americans not provide massive military supplies to South Korea in order to maintain the balance of forces?

And finally another issue raised by researchers such as Michael Hickey was why the South Korean army's high state of combat readiness was cancelled on the eve of the war. The day before June 25 almost all border garrisons were disbanded and sent on leave, so the situation itself would have invited an attack.

Western experts discussed this issue at a conference, but they rejected this hypothesis, saying that it just could not be true. The documents that might shed light on this issue are not available, and both parties seem reluctant to shed light on the matter.

Lessons for the present

First, the main lesson: both the South and the North must be cautious and attentive to the currents of American diplomacy, because, as experience shows, Americans place their own interests foremost.

Second, both sides should not undermine each other's foundations of existence, in particular, those of the DPRK.

Furthermore, it is important to create conditions for normalization of relations of the DPRK with all the powers involved in the Korean problem.

Finally, it is necessary to assert that any settlement on the Korean Peninsula should equally involve all six States, although we witness repeated attempts to exclude Russia. Without Russia, this process cannot move forward.

Konstantin Zharinov

Editor in chief of the analytical Internet portal "Unified Korea"

He made an interesting presentation about the publisher “Russian Knights Fund" instead of Mr. Yuri Zheltonogin, the head of the publishing house, who unfortunately couldn’t come.

Yuri Knutov

Director of the Museum (branch of the Central Museum of the RF Armed Forces). Presentation of the Museum of Air Defense Forces; veteran of the military air defense troops

In the past, foreign citizens were not permitted to enter the museum, and Soviet citizens, later citizens of Russia, could visit the museum only by appointment and with special passes. Now this museum has been expanded, updated, and open to the public, both citizens of Russia and foreign countries.

As a representative of the military, Yuri Albertovich Knutov answered some stimulating questions related to the actions of the Russian troops in the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and in other situations.

Conclusions: Alexandr Zhebin, Ph.D.

• The Korean War started as a civil war, and this is an established fact.

• The first foreign state that interfered in the Korean War with its armed forces was the United States of America (not China or the Soviet Union); they did it on the first day of the war by bombardment. Therefore, there is no reason to insist that the USSR played the major instigating role (which some assert); the fact can be proved by evidence of many documents.

• The US acts according to double standards. This year (once again) there was a lot of talk about the DPRK withdrawing from the ceasefire agreement, stating that the armistice is not a one-sided document but based on mutual agreement. There has been a lot of talk, especially by Americans, but in 1957 the US unilaterally removed some of the items of agreement concerning delivery of weapons.

• Regarding archives, it is required that Russia submit all requested documents, but various excuses are made to not provide documents of interest to Russian historians. This applies to military, state, and even cultural issues.

• With the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War approaching, both Koreas will seek Russia's support. Russia has diplomatic relations with both countries: the Treaty on Friendship and Good Neighborliness and Cooperation with the DPRK and similar documents with South Korea. It is important to advise the Koreans to stop celebrating this date as the victory of one country over another; otherwise, their relations will not become closer and reunification will not be achieved. Only when the Koreans celebrate this event as a common tragedy of the Korean people (a historical mistake, or some similar term) will this date be a day of reflection, repentance, and recognition that this must not be allowed to continue. Otherwise, Koreans will not move significantly towards reconciliation, harmony, and cooperation.

In the interest of establishing peace and harmony in our neighbor, Korea, or at least some progress in this direction, Russia would like to advise Koreans to think about how to turn this date into a day of remembrance and repentance for what happened 60 years ago. Some steps in this direction were made by the DPRK. During the visit of the DPRK delegation headed by the Secretary of the Central Committee, Kim Ki Nam, on the occasion of Kim Dae-jung’s funeral, they went for the first time the National Cemetery in South Korea, where the participants of war were buried, and held a special ceremony. So, a small step was made. But such steps are not visible on the part of South Korea.

In anticipation of the memorable dates of this year, when the two Korean states will address Russia, we need to say that all should remember the sacrifices that have been incurred, and each party has protected its interests. However, on the anniversary of the Civil War between the North and the South, do many people in the US focus on someone gaining the victory? Of course, there are some marginal comments, but in general, it is the dates of the American Civil War that are remembered (perhaps because there was no large-scale foreign intervention). In our opinion, this way seems most appropriate in Korea.

The consequences of a possible war for Korea at the moment. The territory of South Korea is about 99,000 sq. km, and there are 24 nuclear power plants. Even without nuclear weapons, the destruction of one third of these power plants with conventional weapons would create eight Chernobyls, and the Korean Peninsula could become unsuitable for human life. Then where would all the Koreans migrate to? China, Russia, Japan? Every realistically thinking and responsible Korean politician should understand this situation. We must clearly understand this situation and remind the Koreans in the North and in the South of the consequences.

The participants of the program decided that such meetings should continue to take place.

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