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International: The Dregs of Hope

2 minute read

In Seoul last week, Eighth Army Commander General James A. Van Fleet drank from the cup of pessimism. “To me,” he said, “recent trends indicate less chance of an armistice than ever before.” Van Fleet noted that the Communist army commanders, apparently sharing his view, had “spread out” their front-line forces “to wait out the end of the war.” Van Fleet offered a familiar but often disregarded antidote to the poisonous gloom which has settled over Korea: “The best way to win this war is by bringing pressure on the enemy, inflicting more casualties and damage than he can take.” Van Fleet sent his soldiers in to capture “Old Baldy,” a tactical hill on the west Korean front which has changed hands several times in the past month. But the week’s heaviest blow was delivered by the Air Force.

From bases on Okinawa and Japan, the Far East Bomber Command sent out 63 B-29s to bomb the plant of the Oriental Light Metals Co. (prewar production: 40,000 metric tons of aluminum a year), situated four miles from the Yalu and eight miles from the Communist’s big jet-fighter base at Antung. It was the biggest single-target night air strike of the Korean war.

As for the truce talks, they recessed again for a week.

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