In 1949, in special consideration of how war is a time where the fundamental human rights of civilians and combatants is especially vulnerable, most nations of the world signed and ratified the Geneva Conventions. However, the conflicts that have played out after this signing indicate that many nations still do not heed this edict.
One example of this comes from declassified American military documents that record that "US commanders repeatedly, and without ambiguity, ordered forces under their control to target and kill Korean refugees caught on the battlefield."
It comes on the heels of other declassified documents that implied American knowledge, and complicity with South Korean massacres of suspected leftists-including women and children. The death toll has been rumored to be up to 100,000, although it is likely we will never know the whole truth due to the political sensitivity of these killings.
If America, self-avowed leader in the rights and dignity of mankind, can simply look on as her allies slaughtered thousands of their own citizens, and actively participated in this slaughter---well, it certainly dispels the notion that evil and good are black and white, Soviet and American, freedom fighter and terrorist-----doesn't it?
It's a scary thought, since I really think America is one of the better nations in this regard. I am sure that other regimes have committed much worse (Stalin and Mao's crimes against their own people come to mind). In fact, the only reason why I would bother posting American war crimes is because the American people have the freedom to acknowledge and rectify these grievous errors, a privilege that is denied to most of the world.
It's a sad thought to think that even a country like America is prone to these bouts of savagery.
This idea also gets to the notion of the "true cost of war". I have always found that governments seem to make a game of tricking their own citizens by classifying sensitive documents that describe the whole picture of what's truly going on in their name (and of course, financed by their money). We only know about the Korean war atrocities because fifty years later, the American government has decided her people have more or less forgotten about Korea (which they were quite right on). It makes me wonder what they're trying to hide in the top secret documents they have out there now. We already know that some American soldiers murder Afghan civilians for sport. Perhaps if we knew the true cost of wars, we'd understand why there seem to be so many suicide bombers (can we really blame lunacy and the fact they hate our freedoms for this long?). Perhaps if we knew the true cost of war, we'd understand the terrible implications of it, and grasp that it truly is a tool of last resort. Perhaps if we knew the true cost of war, there would be less war.
but here I am, dreaming again
and hoping someday you'll join me too