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The freedom to be ungrateful

October 21, 2005|Peter Brookes | PETER BROOKES, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, served as a deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific affairs from 2001-'02.

THERE IS NOTHING worse than an ingrate. This week's international prize for ingratitude goes -- hands down -- to South Korea's anti-American crowd.

For the last six months, Uncle Sam-bashers have been protesting at the statue of Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Inchon, site of the courageous landing that changed the course of the bloody Korean War.

On Sept. 11, a date chosen to insult Americans, 4,000 demonstrators attacked the statue, calling MacArthur a "war criminal" and decrying the statue as a symbol of U.S. military occupation. Pro-American Koreans have staged counter-rallies. Now the statue is being guarded by South Korean riot police.

How quickly they forget the facts of the Korean War.

Without Inchon, the U.S.-South Korean forces, trapped at Pusan, would've been thrown into the sea, handing over the Korean peninsula to the communist invaders.

Absent MacArthur's leadership and the service of 2 million U.S. troops, 37,000 of whom died, South Korea -- now a vibrant democracy and free-market economy -- wouldn't exist today.

Instead of enjoying unprecedented peace and prosperity, 48 million South Koreans might instead be enslaved by North Korea's police state, where famine is common and more than 200,000 prisoners languish in gulags.

Wouldn't it be nice if the ingrates would remember that?

The next attempt to topple MacArthur's statue may succeed. So now is a good time to bring the "Old Soldier" home to a place he'll be fully appreciated: the Korean War Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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