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Why were there no war crimes trials for the Korean War?

Wilson, S.ORCID: 0000-0002-8341-3120 (2021) Why were there no war crimes trials for the Korean War? Journal of Global History, 16 (2). pp. 185-206.

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In the Korean War of 1950-53, U.S. authorities were determined to pursue atrocities perpetrated by North Korean and Communist Chinese forces through legal channels, in keeping with the standards they believed they had set after the Second World War. Yet, their plans foundered in Korea, despite extensive groundwork for prosecutions. Four factors were responsible. First, it was difficult to find reliable evidence and to identify and apprehend suspects. Second, U.S. officials rapidly lost confidence in the idea of prosecuting national leaders. Third, the lack of clear-cut victory in the conflict necessitated a diplomatic solution, which was incompatible with war crimes trials. Fourth, the moral standing of the West, and hence its authority to run trials, was undermined by the large number of atrocities committed by the United Nations side. Thus, the U.S. plan for war crimes trials was dropped without fanfare, to be replaced by an anti-Communist propaganda campaign.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Social Sciences and Arts
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Copyright: © 2021 The Authors.
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