NAPSNet Daily Report 15 May, 2000

Recommended Citation

"NAPSNet Daily Report 15 May, 2000", NAPSNet Daily Report, May 15, 2000, https://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-daily-report/napsnet-daily-report-15-may-2000/

 
CONTENTS

I. United States

1. New Findings About No Gun Ri
2. ROK-DPRK Summit
3. US Visit to DPRK Nuclear Site
4. PRC-Taiwan Balance of Power
5. US Intervention in Cross-Strait Relations
6. US-PRC Military Visit
7. Japan’s Former Prime Minister Dies

I. United States

1. New Findings About No Gun Ri

U.S. News and World Report (Joseph L. Galloway, “DOUBTS ABOUT A KOREAN ‘MASSACRE’,” 5/22/00) reported that there are substantial doubts about the accuracy of the Pulitzer Prize winning Associated Press (AP) story regarding the alleged massacre at No Gun Ri by US soldiers and officers. The AP report, published September 30, 1999, quoted several former US soldiers and ROK survivors who alleged that members of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, fired on and killed several hundred ROK civilians over a three-day period near No Gun Ri. The AP account cited a dozen US veterans, nine of whom were quoted. However, US military records and sources provide new evidence that three of the men quoted may not have been at No Gun Ri at the time of the alleged massacre. Five others, re-interviewed by US News, do not support the thesis of the AP story. Of those five, three said the statements they gave AP were misconstrued or taken out of context. A fourth veteran said there was some brief firing, possibly by a machine gun, and that there was not a large number of people in the culvert where the massacre was reported to have taken place. The fifth veteran said he fired his machine gun into the tunnel full of refugees but that no one ordered him to do so. In re-examining the events surrounding the actions of the 7th Cavalry at No Gun Ri, US News reviewed previously unavailable US Department of Defense records and personnel dossiers, gained independent access to testimony and other evidence provided to the US Army’s inspector general, and interviewed more than 23 veterans who were at No Gun Ri at the time of the alleged massacre. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

The Stars and Stripes (Ed Offley, “NEW EVIDENCE CHALLENGES NO GUN RI MASSACRE CHARGES,” Washington, 5/10/00) reported that an investigation by The Stars and Stripes uncovered new information that calls into question the No Gun Ri massacre allegations and impeaches the credibility of several individuals identified by the Associated Press (AP) as key eyewitnesses to the incident. According to declassified US Army war diaries and other documents obtained by The Stars and Stripes from the National Archives and the National Personnel Records Center, two eyewitnesses identified by the AP — Ed Daily and Delos K. Flint — were not with the battalion at the time the alleged shootings took place. Army records showed that Daily was not a member of the battalion in question in July 1950, but rather was serving with a division maintenance unit located miles away. US Army records also showed that Flint had actually been medically evacuated after becoming wounded in action the day before the alleged massacre began. Operational records from the 7th Cavalry Regiment during late July 1950 also indicate that the unit implicated in the mass killings was in the vicinity of No Gun Ri for only about 16-20 hours rather than the three-day period charged by South Korean claimants and the former US soldiers. According to the report, a review of the Army war diaries and interviews with former 2nd Battalion members indicates that civilians were undoubtedly killed in the vicinity of No Gun Ri, but the cause was probably a combination of an earlier US air raid in which civilians were accidentally strafed, heavy US artillery fire in the valley, and an ongoing practice by the North Korean invaders of driving mobs of civilian refugees ahead of their advancing units to confuse the US and South Korean defenders.

The New York Times (Elizabeth Becker and Felicity Barringer, “REPORT DISCLOSING MASSACRE BY G.I.’S IS UNDER QUESTION,” 5/13/00) and The Washington Post (Michael Dobbs and Thomas E. Ricks, “ACCOUNT OF GIS’ KOREAN WAR MASSACRE CHALLENGED,” 5/13/00) reported that new evidence has been published that appears to undermine the testimony of two witnesses who said that US soldiers were ordered to kill civilians during the Korean War. Despite the new questions, senior US Defense Department officials said on May 12 that a US Army investigation has confirmed the central element of the report, that US troops fired on refugees, resulting in what the US Defense Department calls the “tragic death of hundreds of civilians.” The US Army refused to comment on the new evidence uncovered by the news organizations this week. Charles L. Cragin, acting under secretary of defense for personnel, said in a statement, “in order to maintain the integrity of the No Gun Ri review, we will not address the accuracy of any press reports. It is premature to discuss our findings until the review is complete.” According to a senior US Army official, the army has concluded that as many as several hundred civilians were killed at No Gun Ri and is focusing on the orders given to the US soldiers at the bridge. The official said, “it’s not just the taking of innocent life. What was unique in this situation was this notion that it was intentional.” A senior US Department of Defense official said the US Army had interviewed hundreds of witnesses, US and South Korean, and was examining thousands of pages of documents to discover whether soldiers killed civilians accidentally in the heat of battle, whether they were ordered to do so, or whether they thought they were under orders to do so. [Ed. note: The New York Times article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

New York Times (Felicity Barringer, “REPORTERS AND EDITORS DEFEND A.P. STORY ON KOREA MASSACRE,” 5/14/00) reported that the credibility of the Associated Press’s Pulitzer-Prize winning report documenting the massacre in 1950 of hundreds of South Korean civilians by US troops at No Gun Ri has been under attack. Asked if the No Gun Ri account will stand up under scrutiny, Jon Wolman, the executive editor of AP, said, “it’s been a complicated and important project, and we’ve always felt it deserves full scrutiny. We’re confident that the reporting is sound and that the central information will be borne out by the investigations by governments in both the United States and Korea. We needed to satisfy our standards for accuracy, context, fairness and thoroughness, and we wanted to provide a multimedia account as well as a newspaper story. It can be a bumpy process, and it was, but the story will stand up.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

2. ROK-DPRK Summit

The International Herald Tribune (Don Kirk, “SEOUL FACES DILEMMA ON MISSILE ISSUE IN NORTH-SOUTH TALKS,” Seoul, 5/15/00) reported that US and ROK officials are at odds on how hard ROK President Kim Dae Jung should press the issue of the DPRK’s missiles and nuclear research when he meets the DPRK Leader Kim Jong Il at June’s inter-Korea summit. ROK officials said the US State Department’s top officials on the DPRK raised the topic of the missiles in talks last week with the ROK leader. However, the ROK officials did not confirm widespread reports of disagreement. One senior official at the ROK ministry of foreign affairs said Kim Dae Jung emphasized the delicacy of the topic and the need to avoid a confrontation with Kim Jong Il that might derail a process that the ROK hopes will lead to a broad, extended inter-Korean dialogue. The official said that while open disagreement did not emerge in the talks with the ROK president, US officials were believed to have made clear their view that he should adopt a firm position during the inter-Korean summit talks. Joongang Ilbo, a major newspaper in Seoul, said that the issue also came up in talks in Japan on May 12 between officials from the US, ROK, and Japan. The paper said that the Japanese and the US urged the ROK side to use the talks to call for a “moratorium” on “weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons and missiles.” Diplomatic sources said the ROK responded by saying that it “could be discussed in relation to establishing a peace regime.” Hong Kwan Hee, a director at the Korean Institute of National Unification, an adjunct of the ROK ministry of unification, said, “The U.S. government is strongly demanding we deal with this issue at the summit”, adding that this is “kind of a dilemma for the South Korean government.” Wendy Sherman, the US State Department counselor coordinating US policy on the DPRK, said she wanted not only “to hear from President Kim about the summit” but also to “make sure that this close coordination and this effort to work together continues.” US and ROK officials denied that the summit talks could result in acceding to the DPRK’s demand that the US withdraw its 37,000 troops from the ROK. US officials said the ROK would maintain its position that the US troop presence is a matter for the ROK and the US to consider in the context of their defense alliance. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

Agence France Presse (“US, SKOREAN OFFICIALS HOLD HIGH HOPES FOR SEOUL-PYONGYANG SUMMIT,” Washington, 5/15/00) reported that US and ROK diplomats said Monday they had high hopes for the June inter-Korean meeting. John Merrill, a Korea analyst at the US State Department, said, “the US hope is that the summit will be the start of continual high-level inter-Korean contact.” Merill, who stressed that he was not speaking for the department or the US government, told the Seventh annual Washington North Korea Forum that the inter-Korean summit was a clear validation of the ROK’s so-called “sunshine policy” of engagement with the DPRK as well as expanded efforts by the ROK, the US, and Japan to pull the hermetic state from decades of isolation. Merrill said, “we are very encouraged … I think it’s a breakthrough achievement and people here in town are gratified it’s happening.” Shim Yoon-joe, counselor at the ROK embassy in Washigton, said there were clear signs that the DPRK was beginning to realize its isolationist policy was failing. He said he believed the most probable tangible result from the summit would be an agreement on setting up a family reunification project aimed at allowing families separated by the war to regain contact with each other. Speaking at a different forum, ROK ambassador Lee Hong-Koo cautioned against overly high expectations of what the landmark summit would bring. Lee told a conference on Globalization, “excessive expectations of concrete results should be guarded. What is important is to create an atmosphere for further cooperation. What we are trying to achieve through the summit is (to communicate) that South Korea, the United States and the international community are prepared to help North Korea make that adjustment, with emphasis on economic cooperation.”

3. US Visit to DPRK Nuclear Site

Agence France Presse (“US INSPECTORS TO VISIT SUSPECTED NKOREA NUCLEAR SITE,” Washington, 5/15/00) reported that the US announced Monday that a team of its inspectors on May 23 will visit the vast DPRK underground facility at Kum Chang Ni, originally suspected of being a nuclear site. US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, “the purpose is to follow up and confirm the findings of the first visit.”

4. PRC-Taiwan Balance of Power

The Washington Times (Richard Halloran, “ANALYSTS DOWNPLAY THREAT BEIJING POSES TO TAIWAN,” Honolulu, 5/15/00) reported that military and civilian analysts agree that the PRC does not yet have the power to enforce its repeated war threats against Taiwan, but no one is sure it will not miscalculate. James Nolt, an Asia specialist at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, said, “China’s awkward military blustering is a product of frustrated weakness, not strength.” The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) estimated that the PRC could muster 15,000 soldiers to move in 300 landing craft, covered by 60 warships and 3,300 mostly obsolete warplanes flying far from home. They would face a defending force of 220,000 troops supported by 40 warships and 490 modern fighter planes flying in nearby air space. Admiral Dennis Blair, commander of US forces in the Pacific, told US Congress this year, “the PLA still lacks the capability to invade and control Taiwan. It maintains a quantitative edge in all branches of service, but does not have an adequate power-projection capability to quickly overcome Taiwan’s more modern air force and inherent geographical advantages.” The assessment does not include military action by the US to help defend Taiwan. Some PRC military writers have suggested that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would strike so quickly that the war would be over before the US could react. Analysts said that, unless US political leaders were paralyzed, that appears to be a serious misjudgment. According to officials with access to intelligence reports, the US would have strategic warning time of 15 to 30 days. [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

5. US Intervention in Cross-Strait Relations

Washington Post (John Pomfret, “CHINA, TAIWAN ASK U.S. TO INTERVENE,” Beijing, 5/13/00) reported that Tsai Ing-wen, the top Taiwanese official handling PRC policy, asked for the first time on May 13 that the US intervene in diplomatic attempts to settle their long-standing dispute over the island’s status. Tsai said the new government hoped the US will play a more active role in helping the PRC and Taiwan improve relations. According to a Western source, officials in the PRC have also asked the US to “play a helpful role” in seeking improved relations. A Chinese source confirmed that the PRC is seeking the assistance. Western sources stressed that the PRC and Taiwan have both been vague about what they want in their new attitudes and have not asked for US mediation along the lines of the Middle East peace process. Tsai said, “we need somebody to help build the bridge. It would require some creativity.” She declined to specify what kind of help the US could provide. A PRC source with close ties to the security services said, “right now we have all these people coming over here saying they represent Chen’s views and we don’t know who to believe. We need to have direct contact with Chen. But we need it to be done diplomatically. We think the U.S. can play a role as a facilitator.” The Western source said the risks of US diplomatic intervention between the PRC and Taiwan are great. The source said, “you’re walking a fine line. You can fall off either way easily. No one in the United States is going to oppose reducing tensions in the Taiwan Strait. The danger is if you succumb to the temptation to come up with a solution to problems that are unresolvable for at least a decade. Nothing right now is going to be acceptable to either side.” Ray Burghardt, the head of the American Institute in Taiwan, the semiofficial US representative office in Taiwan, is known to have met with Chen numerous times since the election and is believed to be exerting an influence in the writing of his inauguration speech.

Reuters (“U.S. SEEKS TO AVOID ROLE AS CHINA-TAIWAN MEDIATOR,” 5/14/00) reported that US officials said on May 13 that the US does not want a direct mediation role in the dispute between the PRC and Taiwan. P. J. Crowley, spokesman for the National Security Council said, “we are not playing a role as a mediator, and we have not and do not seek to play that role.” Crowley added, “we have a one China policy and the heart of that policy is [that] there needs to be a cross-strait dialogue so that Taiwan and the PRC can resolve their differences peacefully, and we have encouraged all along both sides to resume a cross-strait dialogue.” US officials said each side has been seeking information about the other side through contacts with US diplomats since the Taiwan election. An anonymous senior US official said, “in light of the Taiwan election, both sides are trying to assess the implications of this and are asking questions, including asking questions of us, but that doesn’t constitute an invitation for us to play a mediation role. Ultimately there is no substitute for having the two of them sit down together. If we play a messenger for one side or the other, that doesn’t constitute a cross-strait dialogue.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

Agence France Presse (“TAIWAN ASKS US, JAPAN TO SERVE AS PEACEMAKERS OVER CHINA DISPUTES,” Taipei, 5/14/00) reported that Taiwan’s vice president-elect Annette Lu appealed to the US and Japan on May 14 to mediate between Taiwan and the PRC in the escalating dispute over sovereignty issues. Lu said while addressing members of the cabinet, “not only the US but Japan and the other countries in Northeast Asia should help to tackle the issues. The US must not push us to the negotiating table while it stays behind the curtain.” Lu said that she had sought assistance from the US in settling the disputes with the PRC back in March 1999 when she met with Stanley Roth, US deputy assistant secretary of state for the Far East. Lu said, “I asked him that as the world’s leading power, which major world affair has the US stayed out? It would be a lie to say the US has not been involved in the cross-strait disputes … I suggested to him that the United States should just make it clear that it would play a role in the events.”

Asian Wall Street Journal published an editorial (“BRIDGING THE STRAIT,” 5/15/00) which said that both Taiwan and the PRC have now asked the US to play a more active role in their cross-strait relations. However, the editor wrote, that does not necessarily mean that either side wants the US to start lobbying for a particular outcome. The report continued that there may be unforeseen consequences to giving the US a bigger voice because “it has a big interest in avoiding conflict, but being on the other side of the Pacific it has less reason to respect the wishes of the Taiwanese people. That may be why China is now willing to come down off its high horse about Taiwan being an internal matter. Based on their past experience with the Clinton administration, China’s leaders may well believe that they can achieve their goals by ratcheting up the pressure.” The editor noted that a positive contribution would be if the US can restart and then bow out of talks between the PRC and Taiwan. However, the report continued, “the key requirement now is time — time for the PRC to evolve politically, and time for the people living on Taiwan to overcome the legacy of Kuomintang (KMT) authoritarian rule and rediscover their Chinese roots. There’s no reason why the two sides couldn’t eventually form a loose confederation that preserves de facto independence and sovereignty for Taiwan while still keeping the dream of eventual reunification alive. But this outcome can’t be forced by the U.S. It has to evolve.” [Ed. note: This article was included in the US Department of Defense’s Early Bird news service for May 15, 2000.]

6. US-PRC Military Visit

Reuters (“US DEFENSE CHIEF TO VISIT CHINA THIS SUMMER,” Washington, 5/15/00) reported that US Defense Secretary William Cohen said Monday that he will visit the PRC this summer to help revive military ties frozen after the bombing of the PRC embassy in Belgrade last year. Cohen said, “I’ll be going again this summer to reestablish our military-to-military contacts.” Cohen did not announce dates for his visit, but said he would discuss possible cooperation in humanitarian operations and peacekeeping between the two militaries, “basically trying to reduce tensions which could lead to confrontation between our two countries.”

7. Japan’s Former Prime Minister Dies

Agence France Presse (“JAPAN’S COMATOSE FORMER LEADER, KEIZO OBUCHI, DIES,” Tokyo, 5/14/00) reported that Japan’s former prime minister Keizo Obuchi died in hospital on May 14, falling victim to the massive stroke that had placed him in a coma six weeks earlier. He was 62. Doctors confirmed Obuchi’s death at 4:07 p.m. (0707 GMT) with a cardiogram, citing the stroke as the cause. It was unclear how Obuchi’s death might affect Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party in general elections, which the new prime minister is widely expected to call for June 25. Nobuo Tomita, a political science professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, said the LDP would likely seek to use the former prime minister’s death to its advantage. Tomita said, “they will maximise the impact of Obuchi’s death to win a public mandate and they will argue strongly that only the LDP and coalition can carry on Obuchi’s policies.”

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Monash Asia Institute,
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Timothy L. Savage: napsnet@nautilus.org
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Gee Gee Wong: napsnet@nautilus.org
Berkeley, California, United States

Kim Hee-sun: khs688@hotmail.com
Seoul, Republic of Korea

Hiroyasu Akutsu: akutsu@glocomnet.or.jp
Tokyo, Japan

Peter Razvin: icipu@glas.apc.org
Moscow, Russian Federation

Chunsi Wu: cswu@fudan.ac.cn
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

Dingli Shen: dlshen@fudan.ac.cn
Shanghai, People’s Republic of China

John McKay: John.McKay@adm.monash.edu.au
Clayton, Australia

Leanne Payton: lbpat1@smtp.monash.edu.au
Clayton, Australia

 


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