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Biological Warfare in Korea: A Review of the Literature

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Six-legged soldiers

For the entomology of doom, let's turn to Jeffrey A. Lockwood's 2009 book, Six-legged Soldiers, Using Insects as Weapons of War. 8888 Jeffrey A. Lockwood, Six-Legged Soldiers: Using Insects as Weapons of War, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2009. View all notes Lockwood is a biology professor at the University of Wyoming. He tracks the US Army's early interest in EW from the Civil War to Theodore Rosebury at Ft. Detrick. Lockwood cites funding records at Ft. Detrick from 1951 for entomological studies including $160,000 for "arthropod dissemination" and a grant to John Hopkins University for $390,000 for investigating "mosquito vectors of encephalomyelitis viruses."8989 Ibid., p. 162. View all notes Ft. Detrick's budget swelled from $5.3 million to $345 million over the next three years. 9090 Ibid., p. 162. Lockwood's source are Endicott and Hagerman, and Dorothy Miller. View all notes The US, UK and Canada were simultaneously engaged in BW research, and early results were shared between the three countries. 9191 Research and Development of BW weapons in the UK and Canada preceded US efforts. Both countries were further advanced when the US was invited to observe the Gruinard Island anthrax tests in 1941. The three countries collaborated and shared research during WWII. Lockwood, op. cit., pp. 145146. View all notes The Defense Research Laboratory at Queen's University, Ontario produced an irresistible germ-laden fly bait to attract local insects and turn them into disease carrying vectors. 9292 Ibid., pp. 162163. View all notes

Lockwood discloses another, previously hidden, offshore US BW research facility set up in 1946 at the Agsugi Air Base in Yokohama. It was called the 406 Medical General Laboratory (Unit 406), and was commanded by army bacteriologist Lieutenant Colonel W.D. Tiggert, an expert on Japanese B encephalitis. While originally tasked to provide medical services for US soldiers, Unit 406's mission quickly morphed into a full service BW research and development lab with 309 personnel divided into four departments bacteriology, entomology, epidemiology, and virology. 9393 Ibid., p. 160. View all notes When Colonel Richard P. Mason took command of Unit 406 in 1951, both BW and EW production were greatly ramped up. Satellite production facilities with vector breeding and packaging were established in Kyoto and Tokyo which employed Japanese nationals. Some employees were secretly members of the Japanese Communist Party, which exposed these hidden germ-breeding factories in party newspapers and pamphlets. 9494 Ibid., pp. 160161. View all notes The existence of Unit 406 and its satellite facilities in Kyoto and Tokyo implicates the post-war Japanese government of collaboration with the US military in the 1952 BW and EW attacks on Korea and China. The Japanese Communist Party revelations never made it into American public awareness.

Lockwood brings his scientific curiosity to the 1952 ISC Report. The report lists 18 distinct species of insects identified by Chinese scientists, 11 of which were discovered to be disease carriers of anthrax, cholera, rickettsia, bubonic plague, typhoid, and crop diseases. 9595 Ibid., pp. 172174. View all notes Lockwood also lends credence to eye-witness reports from North Korean farmers who testified before the ISC. "Whether such eye-witness statements constitute rigorous evidence is debatable, but testimonials were persuasive"""" This discussion of testimony raises the question of whose voice will be heard? Are victims of germ and insect attacks allowed to testify in international BW allegations? Will their testimony be respected and given evidentiary weight?

Witness testimony raises the further critical question of what constitutes the standards of proof of BW allegations. Is it to be "the preponderance of evidence" as in civil torts? Or should it be "beyond reasonable doubt" of criminal complaints? Should it be the scientific standard of the unbroken evidence chain? Or the equally scientific standard of statistical probability? Or, is there a hidden and variable standard exercised within hegemonic power?

Citing a partially declassified 1981 US Army evaluation paper, Lockwood also lends credibility to Cuba's claims of many US BW & EW attacks on that island over many years. 9696 Lockwood's source is: William H. Rose, An Evaluation of Entomological Warfare as a Potential Danger to the United States and European NATO Nations, (U.S. Army Dugway Proving Ground: U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command, 1981), p. 5, available at the Smoking Gun Archive, (accessed January 23, 2008). View all notes This is a separate, but interconnected subject, which deserves its own investigation.

Another interesting voice on Korean War entomology is Ruth Rogaski. Rogaski, a history professor at Princeton University, is skeptical of the 1952 North Korean and Chinese BW allegations when she discovers China's Patriotic Hygiene Campaign (Aiguo weisheng yundong), the civilian BW defense strategy set in motion by Zhou Enlai:

The goal of the campaign was nothing less than the annihilation (xiaomie) of all the flies, mosquitoes, rats, and fleas in the entire country. Villagers scoured and chemically disinfected barns, latrines, ponds, wells, storerooms, and grain mills. They burned all their bedding, and set fires to the surfaces of their floors and kangs. When this had been accomplished, government personnel doused every man, woman, and child with a 5 per cent liquid solution of DDT. Finally, the thousands of cats and dogs kept by families in Gannan county were sacrificed and incinerated"""9797 Ruth Rogaski, "Nature, Annihilation, and Modernity, China's Korean War Germ-War-Experience Reconsidered", Journal of Asian Studies, Vol 61, No. 2, May 2002, p. 382. View all notes

The combat strategy adopted by the communist leadership of China to defend against the US germ attack created both a military and civil response which favored all-out vector extermination. As the US BW attack continued into spring and summer of 1952, PVA operational response was to track bombing sorties with visual spotting and radar. Quick containment of drop zones was established; next hygiene cadres were sent out to destroy insects and decontaminate with fire and DDT. In cities and villages across China, millions of flyswatters were passed out to schoolchildren, while DDT pump sprayers became common in public markets. 9898 My mother, Sylvia Campbell Powell, who lived in Shanghai from 1945 to 1953, described to me the schoolchildren's flyswatter brigades combing the streets and market stalls of Shanghai in 1952. After flies were swatted, they were collected and incinerated. She also described large 3-panel billboards in graphic cartoon style depicting flies on a bowl of rice, a man eating the rice, the same man squatting with his pants around his knees suffering projectile diarrhea and vomit. View all notes A great patriotic fervor of mass killing of insects and rats occurred all across China and North Korea simultaneous with the war effort. Pesticides, immunization shots, new public sanitation works, cesspool drainage, new sewage lines, strict quarantines when needed, mass mobilizations, improved public health, hygiene education the people didn't panic, the leadership was inspired, and it was a grand experiment in social engineering. Rural China in 1952 remained mired in Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhist beliefs. The US BW attack provided Mao and Zhou Enlai the opportunity to mobilize a nationwide public health and sanitation drive to transform China into a modern, twentieth century, scientific state.

Rogaski doesn't see this as commendable in 2002, but perhaps she has changed her mind. The successful insect annihilation strategy was simplistic and lucky in combat, and it was achieved through the urgency and universality of the threat which energized mass propaganda and mass mobilization. It worked in setting public health goals of disease containment and mass inoculations, and it worked as the political vehicle of modern nation-building. It was a tremendous accomplishment, certainly Mao's greatest achievement after winning the revolution and defeating the US Army in Korea. However, the success of the BW/sanitation campaign, and the successful outcome of the war emboldened Mao in his future grandiose failures. Judith Shapiro's Mao's War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China,9999 Judith Shapiro, Mao's War Against Nature: Politics and the Environment in Revolutionary China, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001. View all notes is a fascinating account of the string of great environmental disasters which accompanied the Great Leap Forward in 1958 and all Mao's subsequent great revolutionary schemes. Rogaski's and Shapiro's research greatly expands our knowledge of the Chinese defensive tactics against the US BW attack and the later repercussions of its success, but neither work refutes the BW allegations; to the contrary, they affirm it.

Deadly cultures/bogus claims

The final volume we will look at is Mark Wheelis, Lajos Rózsa, and Malcolm Dando, eds., Deadly Cultures: Biological Weapons Since 1945. 100100 Mark Wheelis, Lajos Rózsa, and Malcolm Dando, eds., Deadly Cultures: Biological Weapons Since 1945, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 2006. View all notes The editors present a descriptive inventory of BW programs in a dozen countries. It is a complete smorgasbord of death and despair to witness how much human effort and funding has been channeled into depopulation metrics, and just how much toxic disease is warehoused in repositories across the globe ready to be unleashed. The first essay, "The US Biological Weapons Program" is authored by John Ellis van Courtland Moon whose review of the Endicott and Hagerman book was discussed earlier.

Professor Moon's history of the US BW program in the critical decade from 1943-1953 is vague and brief to the extreme. Moon makes little use any of the numerous books, articles, people, news reports and contentious topics mentioned in this essay. His discussion of the Korean War allegations is one sparse paragraph in which he makes the outlandish proposal that, "American officials feared that the Communists powers were charging the US with germ warfare to justify their intended use of BW." Surprisingly, Moon produces no citation to substantiate this claim because later in the article it becomes abundantly clear that Moon's focus is documents, evaluations, reports, policy declarations, treaties, and protocols. He is an historian of paperwork, and never a chronicler of actual deeds. Later in the text, Moon does provide one memorable quote from Dorothy Miller which sheds considerable light on BW weapons development in this early period.

Many authorities were agreed that the efficiency of biological weapons would never be known short of actual use in large-scale military operations and until that time any evaluation could only be an "educated guess."101101 John Ellis van Courtland Moon, "The US Biological Weapons Program," in Mark Wheelis, Lajos Rózsa, and Malcolm Dando, eds., Deadly Cultures, op. cit., p. 30. View all notes

Moon's article focuses on the subsequent 15 years of American BW development from 1954 to 1969 when President Nixon dissolved the US BW program. Foraging through government documents and NSC policy papers, Moon shows us that post-Korean War BW program did not live up to the heightened expectations of its advocates. The real setback, it seems, was not in the research and mass production of deadly bacteria, toxins, herbicides and viruses. That work had been successfully demonstrated at Ft. Detrick during the heydays of WWII and Korea. The critical problem going forward concerned applied BW how to deliver biological destruction in a general war against the huge and technically sophisticated conventional forces of the Soviet Union across its enormous land mass.

In Korea, the US controlled the air and could fly lumbering WWII aircraft at low altitudes at will, dropping modified 500 lb. leaflet bombs loaded with pathogens and insects. This delivery mode was not viable against a modernized defense. BW would need to be delivered by munitions projectiles and ballistic missiles, and this technology proved difficult as high-speed impacts incinerated toxic cargo. With the litany of technical setbacks of the late 1950's and 1960's which Moon's documents describe, it was not a difficult decision for the image conscious Nixon to axe BW.

There are additional problems with document research. Moon explains that policy is not an integrated whole, free from internal contradictions. It falls into four categories: legal, declaratory, agreed, and implemented. Legal policy consists of treaties and laws which presumably place limits upon what a government can do. Declaratory policies are the public statements of governments as to their policies. Agreed policy is the result of internal discussions of a government (often kept secret) as to what is feasible or possible to do. Implemented policy is how a nation actually behaves. 102102 Ibid., pp. 1011. View all notes Given this modality, it is easy to see how governments can frequently do the opposite of what they profess to be their policies.

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Tom is a founding member of the Bioweapon Truth Commission (BWTC). You should access its Global Online Library (GOL) to learn more about how Western empire conducts "business" at home and abroad ( (more...)
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Biological Warfare in Korea: A Review of the Literature

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