[LETTERS to the editor]Hope for the best, prepare for the worstKim Tae-woo, a researcher at the government’s Korea Institute for Defense Analysis, believes that the Republic of Korea should reduce its dependence on the United States by developing nuclear weapons of its own. Yet an important part of the doomsday scenario implicit in Mr. Kim’s analysis is being neglected; to be specific, in a peninsular nuclear exhange, who could step in to aid the victims after the missiles have “finished their business,” so to speak?
A cyclone in Chittagong, Bangladesh struck the deltas of the Ganges and Brahmaputra River on April 29 and 30, 1991, leaving 183,000 dead, and millions without proper sanitation or water to drink. The effects of the disaster were mitigated by U.S. Army Soldiers and Marines who gave humanitarian aid during Operation Sea Angel. Among other things, the U.S. military personnel distributed dehydration packets, while digging new wells and cisterns (making sure they were kept well apart). A student at the East-West Center of Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan Rumi, formed a group that within a fortnight raised $20,000 for relief of the victims.
The December 26th, 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean drew sympathy and contributions worldwide. About 40,000 military personnel from a baker’s dozen of nations were involved in the relief effort. The officers and crews of the USS Abraham Lincoln, with scores of helicopters, rushed to assist the victims. Three out of 10 Americans contributed to one relief agency or the other. And this time, volunteers from the East West Center raised more than $300,000 by the end of January 2005 for relief of the victims.
Seoul was taken once before by the potential enemy. It was flattened. It was retaken by United Nations forces. It was flattened again.
How bad is war? Edward Seidensticker wrote in “Tokyo Rising” [Tuttle: 1990] about the American bombing of the Japanese capital:
“Starting from the eastern part of Setagaya Ward and Suginami Ward and proceeding past Shinjuku and Kanda... one could in the summer of 1945 have walked all the way to the Arakawa Channel upon nothing but cinders. Between seventy and eighty thousand people are believed to have died that night [March 9-10]...
“Some two-fifths of the city went up in flames: It was a night of horror. Four of the thirty-five wards suffered more than ten thousand fatalities. All were in the Low City, and among them they accounted for more than 80 percent of the total.
“Foresight [on the part of the Japanese authorities] was, moreover, lamentably bad, and measures to prevent the disaster scarcely existed.
“Through the first months of 1945 people were actually discouraged from leaving the city. Their patriotic duty was to stay at their posts. The contrast between the March raid and the August one on Hachioji, out in the county part of the prefecture, is telling. Warned by handbills and quite prepared to believe them, the people of Hachioji fled. There were only two hundred twenty-five deaths.”
Richard Thompson, Qingdao, China