Corporal Henry D. Connell was just a boy of 17 when he died for the freedom and prosperity of a place he probably knew nothing about before his country sent him there. The world has forgotten the hill where he died in a Chinese attack on the night of November 2, 1950, along with the imprisoned country in which the hill can still be found. What was left of Henry Connell’s body remained there until 1994, when his bones, and those of several others, were disinterred and moved to an Army forensic laboratory, which needed a decade just to identify them.
No newspaper in the free and prosperous nation he died defending will carry the story that yesterday, Henry Connell’s remains were laid to rest beside the grave of his mother, in Springfield Massachusetts, the day before Mother’s day. Instead, the newspapers will be filled with violence and contempt heaped upon Americans who serve in Connell’s place to this day.
Ignoring a government appeal for restraint, about 2,000 militant students, shouting “Yankee go home,” clashed with riot police in a remote farming village on Sunday, opposing plans to expand a U.S. military base there. . . . In two days of fierce protests at the farm village, Daechuri, about a week ago, 200 activists and police were injured. Police detained over 500 protesters, of whom 16 were put under formal arrest. . . .
“Withdraw U.S. military forces. Pyeongtaek is our land,” protesters shouted as they kicked and punched riot police who formed human barriers to block their march.
Other protests at Seoul were larger:
Meanwhile, Saturday saw rallies of altogether 45,000 members of the coalition in Seoul. They gathered in places like Yongsan near the Defense Ministry and converged on downtown Gwanghwamun around 7 p.m., blocking roads leading to Jongno, before 2,000 of them moved on to Hongik University late at night.
I’m not unmindful of the fact that the groups organizing these protests are North Korean puppets who seek to provoke a reaction in America, as well as mobilize anti-American sentiment in Korea. Clausewitz once said that war was was merely an extension of politics. As long as a society remains democratic, the military and the political are inextricably intertwined. No military position is tenable for long without political support. The U.S. presence in Korea has clearly outlived its geopolitical purpose, at least as far as the United States is concerned. Neither the United States nor Korea has demonstrated either the will or the ability to make a political case for it.
It’s time to get our troops out of Korea — now, before U.S. taxpayers build new barracks, a PX, a hospital, and lodging at Camp Humphreys to replace the ones we’re abandoning now (also for political reasons). Let Korean soldiers protect Korea militarily, and let the announcement of a U.S. withdrawal shift the question from the U.S. presence to the cost of living without it.