The upper photo, taken by Joe Rosenthal won a Pulitzer prize in 1945. The lower photo, taken by Stanley J. Forman won a Pulitzer in 1977.
In 1945, when the upper photo was taken, the USA was fighting a war forced upon it by a nation that was then cruel and aggressive.
The lower photo shows the US flag being used by a group of racists as a weapon to attack a lone black man.
In 1945, while the USA was not above using its power to achieve its political ends, there seemed to be a degree of ethics behind most of its actions. By 1977 the USA was willing to use its overwhelming military and economic strength to do anything, no matter how unethical, to achieve whatever its administration saw as being to its short-term advantage.
This only got worse with the Reagan and Bush Junior Presidencies.
The USA under George W. Bush seemed bent on making the rest of the world fear it. I fear the USA. Fear can easily turn to hatred; Americans must consider whether this is how they want to be seen by the rest of the world.
The following was extracted from an article by Charles Sullivan in The Dissident Voice, 2007/01/14: "Sometimes you look around and wonder how things could have gone so wrong so quickly. America has become the antithesis of everything she purports to be. We are the greatest purveyors of violence the world has ever known; the largest weapons dealers on earth; and death and misery are our principal exports. Everything is for sale here..."
There are many good people in the USA. I urge those people to shrug off their apathy and work toward changing their country. In a democracy such as the US the rights come with responsibilities; we who live in democracies cannot claim that we are good people if our governments are rotten.
Under GWB the USA acted unilaterally. It behaved as if it could do as it liked and the rest of the world didn't matter. Global warming is one global problem that will only be fixed by global cooperation. In the long run, terrorism, war, world poverty, trade, and many environmental matters can only be tackled by international cooperation. The USA must join the global community; it cannot go its own way. It has the military muscle to do what it wants, but its people will find (or have found?) that their nation being the world's school bully is not in their best interests. The Russian invasion of Georgia (August 2008) would have been much easier for the West to condemn had the 'Coalition of the Willing' not invaded Iraq with even less justification. "If you live in a glass-house, don't throw stones".
There are two tests that can be applied to any action to help decide whether or not that action is ethical. The first is the Golden Rule, the second is to consider what would result if everybody behaved that way. If these two tests are applied to the actions of the USA that are recorded on this page it will become plain that various US administrations have been very unethical; if individuals or other governments behaved as the USA behaved the world would be anarchic, chaotic and a pretty terrible place.
The USA has many good points. At the time of the Declaration of Independence it was a world leader in democracy; to some extent it inspired the French Revolution, but unlike France the US became democratic with a minimum of avoidable bloodshed. Since then it has been democratic for several centuries and it has been in the forefront of freedom of speech and religion. The US people have a strong tradition of personal philanthropy, and the country has been a haven for many refugees from famine and persecution. The USA did great work in building democracy in Japan after World War 2 and with the Marshal Plan in the rebuilding of Europe.
The same country has done many shameful things, and continues to do so; their government doesn't tell us about those, but they are there to be found. Some US citizens, to their great credit, are fighting for a more moral country, I can only hope that their numbers increase and they eventually succeed. (For example see the books of Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore, and the on-line newsletter Sunil Dissident Voice, Edited and Published by Sunil K. Sharma.) This page aims at providing a catalogue of ethical failings of the US government and, perhaps, society.
While researching this page I was struck by the impression that most of the shocking crimes committed by the USA were kept secret from the American people at the time they were committed. The facts came to light later; much to the credit of investigative journalists.
Do I hate the USA? In the first place I believe that hatred is a very counterproductive emotion; it harms both parties and rarely achieves anything. No, I don't hate the USA, but I do find many of the things that the US government has done in the last few decades highly repugnant.
A quote from William Blum"Between 1945 and 2005 the United States has attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, and to crush more than 30 populist-nationalist movements struggling against intolerable regimes. In the process, the U.S. caused the end of life for several million people, and condemned many millions more to a life of agony and despair."
William Blum, from the third edition of his book Rogue State.
Betrayal of the US peopleThe cost of the Iraq War has now (April 2006) exceeded one trillion $US. What has the war achieved for the US people? Consider how much good might have been done with this money if it was spent on reducing US reliance on oil (rather than replacing an unfriendly regime with a friendly one and arranging that multinational companies get the financial control of the oil), reducing greenhouse gas production, or improving health services or education. How much more would have been achieved in the "War against terror" had the money been spent on overseas aid and making friends rather than on making more people hate the USA.
The US government has betrayed the US people and it has betrayed the rest of the world. The rest of the world can't do much about it, we can only hope that eventually the good people in the USA will clean up their government.
Covid-19 pandemicAt the time of writing the Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has infected far more people in the USA (1,322,163) than any other country (second was Spain with 260,117 cases). The USA had far more deaths from the pandemic (78,616) than any other country (UK, 31,241). (These data were taken from Worldometer, 2020/05/09.)
The deaths per million of population in the USA was 238. In my own country, Australia, the corresponding figure was 4.
The percentage of deaths among the closed cases in the USA was also very high. Cases were considered to be closed when the outcome was either 'recovered/discharged' or the victim had died. The percentage of closed cases that were deaths in the USA was 26%, the corresponding figure in Australia was 2%. The percentages of deaths in the reported world-wide outcomes was 17%.
The Australian response to the pandemic was not what it might have been, the federal government were slow to act and significant mistakes were made (see Ruby Princess). But plainly the pandemic in the USA is a far greater disaster than it is in Australia and many other countries.
All this suggests that the response to the pandemic in the USA was highly incompetent and ineffectual. The Trump administration would have to be held largely responsible for these terrible figures.
Had the pandemic been handled in the USA as well as it was handled in Australia there would have been (to the date of writing) 77,000 less deaths.
President Trump, the Covid pandemic and climate changeIt also should be noted here that serious as the Covid pandemic is, it is a much smaller disaster than is climate change, and Trump's failure in protecting the US people from the pandemic is a far smaller crime against humanity (and the biosphere) than is his failure to support action to slow climate change. Donald Trump, with his refusal to take action on climate change is one of the greatest criminals of all the world's leaders through history.
President Donald TrumpI could write at great length about this despicable man. I will (at least for the present) limit myself to one example of his total lack of ethical standards.
Iran's cultural sites are invaluable records of the development of western civilisation. To purposely target them would be a criminal and disgusting act, the cultural sites have no military value. They don't just belong to Iran, they belong to the world.
This sort of act has only been done in recent times by mentally twisted religious fanatics; the reader will probably remember the Buddhas of Bamyan that were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. This act was condemned by civilised people around the world.
There are many horrible people in the world; Trump is one such. There is nothing surprising in that. The inexplicable point about Trump is that he was elected by the US people to lead them and still, years after his election, and after he has demonstrated how despicable he is over and over again, he still has the support of many. Many others are too apathetic to bother voting at all.
Donald Trump's presidency of the USA is surely a significant step along the way toward the suicide of humanity.
See also the section above on the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is a black period in the history of the USA.
The arms businessWhile the USA tries to stop nuclear weapons proliferation (one suspects that their motive is selfish rather than any high ideal; they have the bomb, they don't want others to get it) they are, I believe, the largest weapons exporting nation in the world; making enormous profits from other people's wars.
(Some readers have interpreted the above as an accusation that the US is the world's biggest supplier of illegal weapons. Rather, I am saying the US supplies weapons legally, but immorally, to many nations – so encouraging wars, and making them more bloody. The Iran/Contra deal showed also that the US is not above illegal arms deals and supporting terrorists.)
If world wide peace was to break out tomorrow, the nation that would suffer most would be the USA. Its economy would be hard hit by the loss of trade in weapons.
Brazil has relaunched the "Lula Fund": a proposal to tax arms sales and fight poverty, (Common Dreams). What a huge step toward world peace if all wealthy nations agreed to do the same!
Perpetuation of warThe USA, being the only superpower in the world, is ideally placed to abolish war, if it wanted to.
Wars between nations are no longer unavoidable. Consider the fact that almost all the wars between nations since the Second World War, except for a few that the USA started because it perceived that they would be to its advantage, have been between poor nations. The wealthy nations have realised that to become involved in a war that you might loose is stupid and have avoided them.
A World Government would be one way to abolish war, but there are others. An international agreement between nations – only the more powerful nations would really have to agree – to abolish war by strict limits on the arms trade would be a good start.
The USA is, of course, not interested in abolishing war, there is way
too much money in the
Also see Acknowledgements for further reading.There are a great many pages on the Internet that will give an almost infinite number of reasons why people should mistrust or hate the USA. Many are emotional, poorly written, and poorly informed. I have tried to concentrate here on a few that are objective, well written, and well informed.
Much more information can be found on the Internet. Search using key words such as; USA, ethics, lies, government, international, affairs, fact, truth, meddling; and the names of countries such as Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Columbia and Nicaragua. I think you will find that the great majority of Net pages are critical of the US government's position.
Political assassinationsWhen the USA cannot get political leaders to allow US big business to dominate their countries either through naivete, by intimidation, or corruption then they might 'send in the jackals'.
There is good reason to believe that President Jaime Roldós of Ecuador was assassinated, directly or indirectly, by the CIA on May 24th 1981. He died in a helicopter crash. Roldós had committed the crime (in US eyes) of trying to retain control of Ecuadorian oil resources for Ecuadorians. This is discussed in detail, and a bibliography is given, in John Perkins book, 'Confessions of and Economic Hit Man'; see the Acknowledgements.
Similarly, the CIA is implicated in the death of President Omar Torrijos of
Panama, who died in a plane crash on July 31st 1981.
Torrijos had got control of the Panama Canal zone back from the USA and
President Reagan of the USA found that he could not intimidate Torrijos into
renegotiating the Canal Treaty to suit the US.
Also Torrijos was providing an
example of what could be achieved by those who had the determination and
strength to stand up to the USA. He had to go. Again,
this is discussed in detail, and a bibliography is given, in John Perkins
book, 'Confessions of and Economic Hit Man'; see the
BombingsWhy do so many people hate the USA? Dropping bombs on people really pisses them off!
The USA has bombed the following nations since the end of WW2. (Original from Australian Options Quarterly No. 31, Summer 2002.)
New Zealand got out of the old ANZUS alliance (Australia, New Zealand, US security alliance) before Howard came to power; no disasters have befallen NZ, it has not been invaded. Quite the reverse; New Zealanders are not the targets of terrorist attacks, why should they be? People do not fear or hate NZ because it has no links with US aggression.
In 2006 Rupert Murdoch expressed the hope that Australians would not become so strongly anti-American as the Europeans. Why should they not? How could anyone read half of this page with an open mind and not become, at least to some extent, anti-American?
So long as Australia supports the USA, Australians will share the
guilt of that country and probably
continue to be
a terrorist target.
Best interestsPresident George W. Bush has often made statements to the effect that he has always acted "in the best interests of the USA". In the first place I contend that while he may have acted in what he believed to be the short-term best interests of the USA, he has not acted in the best long-term interests of his nation. More importantly I would like to suggest that the US President, being the leader of the most economically powerful nation in the world, has a responsibility to look beyond the USA.
US administrations since the Second World War have involved themselves in the affairs of many countries (that is perhaps the main thesis of this page). This being so, doesn't the US President then have an ethical obligation to think, not only of the best interests of USA, but also the best interests of the nations with which he is interfering, as well as the best interests of the world as a whole?
For a government to meddle in the affairs of other nations and only
look after the best interests of his own nation, while ignoring the greater
good of all, is plainly unethical.
BhutanWhat has the USA ever done to harm this small, inoffensive, landlocked country in the Himalayas?
Bhutan is at risk because of what climate change is doing to the glaciers of the Himalayas. As temperatures rise and glaciers melt, lakes are formed. The terminal moraines that dam these lakes tend to be stable so long as they are held together by permafrost, but of course, the permafrost is also melting. The permafrost melts, the natural dams eventually burst, and everyone downstream is in grave danger from the potentially catastrophic floods.
The poor people of Bhutan therefore are suffering because of the selfishly greedy people of the USA who, per capita, produce far more greenhouse gasses than any other country on Earth and refuse to do anything significant to curb their emissions.
Of course Bhutan is far from the only country that will suffer from global
Biological weaponsA quote from 'Dissident Voice...
In violation of the U.S. Code and international law, the Bush administration is spending more money (in inflation-adjusted dollars) to develop illegal, offensive germ warfare than the $2 billion spent in World War II on the Manhattan Project to make the atomic bomb.
Read the article that this quote was taken from at
Bush and OsamaThe following is quoted from the book 'Advance Australia Where' by Hugh Mackay:
In his 2007 Manning Clark Lecture, 'Restoring the Primacy of Reason', Barry Jones [one-time Science minister in the Australian Parliament, long-time member of Parliament, and well known media personality] noted several similarities between the religious motivations of US President George W. Bush and the leader of al-Qaeda, Osama bin Laden: 'Both are on a divine mission, fundamentalists, punitive, monocultural, prefer faith over evidence, believe in pre-emptive strikes and that necessity overrides the rule of law, manipulate fear, confuse revenge with justice...'Both men are a danger to world peace, and for very similar reasons. Bush is a far greater danger to peace than is Osama because Bush has the weapons that Osama would love to have.
CambodiaThe USA illegally bombed Cambodia during the Vietnam war causing terrible destruction and destabilisation. The disorganisation brought about by this bombing helped Pol Pot gain control of the country.
By the time Vietnam invaded and put an end to the Cambodian 'Killing Fields' in December 1978 Pol Pot's murderous regime was responsible for the deaths of around 2 million Cambodians. At the time of the invasion Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge was carrying out attacks against Vietnam in border areas; Vietnam justified its invasion on the ground of self defence. Whether or not the Vietnamese invasion was justifiable on self defence grounds is questionable, but surely it was justified by its result: the removal of the murderous Kmer Rouge regime.
The US reaction to the Vietnamese invasion was condemnation and the imposition of harsh sanctions. (I remember being puzzled at the time; I still had some idea that the USA, while having been wrong in its bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia, was basically motivated by good intentions.)
It is interesting that the US claimed that its invasion of Iraq in 2003 was justified while Vietnam's 1978 invasion of Cambodia was not. I invite readers to give the motivations, justifications and results of both some consideration.
Child rightsThe USA and Somalia are the only countries in the world that have not signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Why has the USA refused when the rest of the world signed?
ChileThe US, through the CIA, was instrumental in ousting the elected socialist Allende Government and replacing it with the barbaric Pinochet Government that went on to torture and murder thousands of the Chilean people.
General Rene Schneider was Commander-in-chief of the Chilean Army under Allende. He was assassinated in 1970 by a group of officers with whom the CIA had been collaborating. Later the US assisted in protecting the assassins. This was the first political assassination in Chile since 1837. (Material for this paragraph came from the New Internationalist No Nonsense Guide to Terrorism.)
Gerald Ford, who was President of the USA at the time of Pinochet's coup,
is recorded as saying of the US involvement in that coup that it was
"in the best interest of the people in Chile and certainly in our own
(New York Times, September 17, 1974, p.22.)
Cluster bombsOn 29th of May 2008 an agreement was reached between 94 nations to not use cluster bombs because of their terrible record for causing injuries among non-combatants. As of July 15th 2009, 98 nations have signed, of which 14 have ratified. See Wikipedia.
Cluster bombs are dropped from aircraft in canisters that open while falling, releasing up to hundreds of bomblets. It is said that the aim is for the bomblets to explode when they hit the ground, but in fact up to 40% do not (one wonders if this is really intentional – to deny the enemy the safe use of the land involved). The bomblets are brightly coloured and attract the attention of children. Of course if the children play with the bombs, they are likely to explode, causing horrible injuries.
No prizes for guessing that the USA was not among the countries that banned these obscene weapons.
Israel and Lebanon.
CubaThe USA has forced a trade embargo on Cuba since (I believe) the time of the Bay of Pigs fiasco in John Kennedy's Presidency.
The US assault against Cuba has been condemned by: the UN, the European Union, the Organization of American States, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The US action against Cuba is blatant bullying of a poor, small nation by a rich, big nation.
It should also be said that the Cuban regime is repressive of its own people.
Guantanamo Bay is in Cuba.
ContrasIn Nicaragua the USA supported the Contra rebels who fought a ruthless war against the legitimate socialist government.
The International Court of Justice ruled that the US had acted illegally in helping to mine Nicaraguan harbours and financing the Contras, and ordered the USA to pay billions of dollars in reparations to Nicaragua. The response from the USA was that they didn't recognize the Court's jurisdiction.
The USA seems to be one of the first nations to insist that others
(Iraq, Libya) should abide by international law, but is not willing
to do so itself.
DuplicityDuplicity is used frequently by the USA; perhaps it could be the most fundamental characteristic of US diplomacy and rhetoric.
While the US tries, often feebly and half-heartedly, to twist the interpretation of UN articles and resolutions to suit its purposes, it frequently breaks international law. Yet it attempts to trick its citizens, and anyone else who will listen, into believing that it is the guardian of everything good, honest, true, free, and wonderful.
The US (in early 2007) is highly critical of Iran whom it accuses of arming some of those involved in the carnage in Iraq. What nation is responsible for the whole Iraq fiasco? Plainly the USA.
Other examples of US duplicity are given on this page under East Timor, Iran (Contra affair), The School of the Americas, Who sold Saddam his weapons?, and US supporting terrorism in Iran .
Weasel wordingAn American President may not legally conduct a war without a declaration of Congress. So, various Presidents have conducted "police actions", "armed incursions", "protective reaction strikes," "pacification," "safeguarding American interests," and a wide variety of "operations".
Democracy or capitalismThe USA likes to present itself as a champion of democracy; in fact it is much more a champion of capitalism. It is quite possible for a government to be socialist and democratic at the same time; however, under the present global dominance by the USA socialist democracies can expect to have the US working at undermining them.
The US administrations of the last few decades have primarily looked after the interests of big corporations at the cost of democracy and the less well off of the world and of the USA itself. The USA is at present a global plutocratic empire.
There is a myth in the USA that anyone can become President. The truth is that one must first be able to raise several tens of millions of dollars to have any chance of becoming President. What percentage of the US population could ever hope to raise that amount of money for a political campaign?
East TimorIt has recently been revealed (Dec. 2001) that President Suharto asked for, and received, American approval for the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975 (see The National Security Archive). This was a completely unprovoked invasion of one nation by another, it resulted in more than 200 000 deaths and a quarter of a century of brutal treatment of the East Timorese by the Indonesian army and police.
It seems that the de facto Fretalin government that had emerged in East Timor following the collapse of Portuguese colonialism was rather too socialist for American approval.
The Australian government was equally as culpable as the American, however the former did have the honesty to recognize Indonesian control over East Timor; the Americans were two-faced enough to withhold recognition.
The duplicity of the USA went further: in December of 1975 the UN Security Council unanimously ordered Indonesia to withdraw its forces from East Timor. The US followed by secretly increasing shipments of arms to Indonesia. In his memoirs, UN Ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan stated:
"The United States wished things to turn out as they did, and worked to bring this about. The Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook. This task was given to me, and I carried it forward with no inconsiderable success."It should be noted that the US sponsored atrocities in East Timor were far greater than anything perpetrated in Kuwait by Iraq; Amnesty International estimates that 210 000 people died as a result of the Indonesian occupation.
Some of the Indonesian atrocities were witnessed by a sixty-three-year-old Portuguese priest, Father Leoneto Vieira do Rego. The Boston Globe published the quote from Father Rego below:
"Problems started [in the interior] in early 1977. A full-scale bombardment of the whole island began. From that point there emerged death, illness, despair. The second phase of the bombing was late 1977 to early 1979, with modern aircraft. This was the firebombing phase of the bombing. Even up to this time, people could still live. The genocide and starvation was the result of the full-scale incendiary bombing. ... We saw the end coming. People could not plant. I personally witnessed – while running to protected areas, going from tribe to tribe – the great massacre from bombardment and people dying from starvation. In 1979 people began surrendering because there was no other option. When people began dying, then others began to give up."
Much more can be read about the US involvement in the Indonesian genocide in East Timor in "The Essential Chomsky" edited by Anthony Arnove.
EcuadorFrom 1964 to 1992, Texaco drilled for oil in the northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the "Oriente". The company left 627 open toxic waste pits and other facilities which continue to leak highly toxic waste, affecting more than 30,000 local people.
The above quotation is from
ChevronToxico. A number of other sites also discuss the terrible
environmental damage done to the Ecuadorian environment by this giant
Evidence obtained by torture to be admissible for use against Guantanamo Bay detaineesOn 2004/12/04 it was reported on Australian Broadcasting Commission radio that evidence obtained by the use of torture would be admissible for use against detainees at Guantanamo Bay.
Information gained by torture has not been admitted in US courts for 70 years.
The Australian newspaper
The Age reported that evidence obtained
by torture could be used against (Australian) alleged terrorist
David Hicks in his (then) coming trial.
Presumably this 'evidence' was used to find Hicks guilty of 'providing
substantive support to terrorists'.
Feed people or SUVs?The USA is using a fast-growing proportion of its corn crop to produce ethanol for powering cars. This diversion of what used to be sold as food for people into motor fuel is causing world food prices to rise; often to the point where people can no longer afford to buy the food they need to live. Lester R. Brown, in his book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, said that "The grain required to fill an SUV's 25-gallon tank with ethanol just once will feed one person for a whole year".
Give this a bit of thought.
Most people who use SUVs in the USA do not need them; they could use much smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles; they could often ride bicycles or walk, and be more healthy for it. Yet they divert grain from feeding humans into the fuel tanks of their big gas-guzzlers because that's what they want to drive – it apparently is a status symbol. (Some people in the USA own big SUVs because they need them, in some cases because they have big families. I remain to be convinced that this is the case with most USians. I hold that they are like the people of my own country, Australia; who drive SUVs for one reason or another, but don't need to drive them. Some drive big SUVs because they – rightly – believe that if they collide with a smaller car they will come out of the accident better; what kind of selfish attitude is this? If we all followed this logic we would all be driving around in tanks and no-one would be better off.)
This is an inditement on the US people, not just on the US administration.
'Free' tradeThe USA is quick to demand that other countries remove trade barriers, yet it has recently (March 2002) imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and promised huge subsidies to its inefficient farmers. Not long ago a 30% tariff was applied to imported lamb. The US market is one of the largest in the world and this gives it the power to bully smaller nations. It has been particularly hard on Australia, but the Australian government continues kowtowing to the USA. One wonders why?
Heavily subsidized agricultural products exported from the US to developing countries wreak devastation by undercutting local producers (Oxfam). In effect, the US is using its economic muscle to advantage its own farmers, who are wealthy by Third World standards, and disadvantage Third World farmers. See Oxfam's Make Trade Fair Web site.
US Federal Government subsidies have increased from nothing in 1930 to $15 billion in 2002. There was a jump of more than 70% following the Farm Security and rural Investment Act of 2002 alone. Total farm subsidies are now about $40B. This is US$21 000 per farm! How can the remainder of the world's farmers compete?
Full spectrum dominance
"Full-spectrum dominance means the ability of U.S. forces, operating alone or with allies, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the range of military operations."The quote above is from the US Department of Defence Web site, but is no longer at the same URL. This is the avowed aim of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and is recorded in the Joint Vision 2020 document.
They do not hide the fact that the US is aiming at having the ability to
dominate the world by force.
GrenadaGrenada is a small Caribean nation of about a hundred thousand people, most of whom are the descendents of African slaves.
The USA took a direct interest in Grenada following a period of anti-imperialism, non-alignment and political instability. To quote from the New Internationalist:
The US took steps towards military intervention, a move which had been decided upon and planned for over a year; troop-landing had been rehearsed in maneuvers. Early in the morning of October 25 1983, 5000 marines and Green Berets landed on the island. They were followed several hours later by a symbolic contingent of 300 police from six Caribbean countries: Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St Lucia and St Vincent, who joined the farce of a 'multinational intervention for humanitarian reasons'.Noam Chomsky, in Necessary Illusions: Thought Control in Democratic Societies, 1989, wrote that "6000 [US] elite troops succeeded in overcoming the resistance of several dozen Cubans and some Grenadan Militiamen, winning 8000 medals of honor for their prowess."
The intervention was not condoned by the United Nations, it was effectively a US unilateral action, and entirely against the agreed UN rules that state that one nation may only invade another when either it is under immanent threat or it is given approval by the UN Security Council for such an invasion. Obviously a nation of one hundred thousand people could pose no threat to the USA.
GuatemalaJacobo Arbenz Guzman was elected President in 1951. He intended to institute land reforms; the country's economy was agriculturally based and many farmers were trying to make a living from very small farms while 95% of the land was owned by only 5% of the population or foreigners.
The United Fruit Company, for example, owned 220 000ha although only 15% of this was in production. Apparently there was a land tax based on the declared value of the land; so United Fruit had declared that their non-production land had an extremley low value.
Now, President Arbenz intended to buy land at the declared value and pass it over to poor farmers. This placed the United Fruit Company and others in a predicament: they could either have some of their land compulsorily acquired at the very low values they had declared for it, or they could declare more realistic and much higher values, and pay much higher levels of taxation.
Gulf WarAfter driving the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait the USA encouraged the Sheas of Southern Iraq and the Kurds of Northern Iraq to revolt against Hussein. These peoples subsequently did revolt, but their revolutions were brutally suppressed by Hussein. The USA provided no support for the revolutions that they had encouraged.
GreenhouseThe USA is by far the biggest greenhouse gas producer in the world. China is also a big greenhouse gas producer, but then it has four times the population of the USA. The US per-capita production is either the largest in the world or very close to it (the same can be said of my country, Australia.) The USA is becoming a pariah state because it refuses to ratify the Kyoto protocol and to significantly reduce its greenhouse gas production. (Also see Climate change denial.) President George W. Bush said that "ratification is not in America's best interest"; plainly he feels that the damage that climate change will cause the whole world in the future is less important than money in his supporter's pockets now.
(It should be mentioned here that President Obama seems much more responsible in relation to the climate change problem. However, the vehicle fuel efficiency targets announced in 2009 by Obama are well short of those announced for Europe and China.)
A quote from America the Unbeautiful...
"The answer is corporate payback. This has been the defining trait of President Bush's administration. His election was a straightforward capitalist venture for the energy corporations. Oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies are the power behind Bush; together, they donated more than $50 million dollars to put him in the White House."It seems that the Republican party has not changed since President Ronald Reagan was elected and immediately removed the solar water heater from the White House roof; symbolising his active opposition to sustainable energy.
Bush and climate change
A quote from George Monbiot...
"Last month, the New York Times revealed that Philip Cooney, a lawyer with no scientific training, had been imported into the White House from the American Petroleum Institute, to control the presentation of climate science. He edited scientific reports, striking out evidence that glaciers were retreating and inserting phrases suggesting that there was serious scientific doubt about climate change. Working with the Exxon-sponsored PR man Myron Ebell, he lobbied successfully for the sacking of the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, who had refused to accept the official line."Read the full article at Faced with this crisis, George Monbiot.
I must thank George Monbiot for bringing the piece below to my notice too...
Monbiot said "Scientists whose research demonstrates that climate change is taking place have been repeatedly threatened and silenced and their findings edited or suppressed."
World Carbon Emissions from Fossil Fuels
The table below shows that the USA is by far the world's worst producer of carbon dioxide emissions. That the USA could greatly reduce its carbon emissions is shown by a comparison with the UK, Germany, Italy and France, countries with similar standards of living and very similar climates, but much lower per capita levels of emission.
Also see Greenhouse and Environment.
The fallacy of the politics of warThe US President, Mr Bush, excuses his mistreatment of his Taliban prisoners of war with the statement that these people are the worst of the worst. They have never been tried, but it seems Bush knows that they are guilty.
In the Afghan war he killed several thousand more Afghan civilians than the number of civilians killed in the Trade Center with the excuse that it was the only way that he could root-out the perpetrators of the September 11th outrage. Two wrongs never made a right.
Mr Bush cannot seem to see that al-Qaeda does its work because it is motivated by hate; and to try to fight hate with bombing, killing, and abuse of human rights is only going to generate more hate. The more bombs he drops the more hate for the US is created.
It may be that the USA will protect itself from terrorism by destruction, murder, and abuse of power, but if so it will be a peace of the sort that was achieved in Stalin's Russia or Suharto's Indonesia. A peace where the people's hatred of their overlord is exceeded only by their fear of him. Is this a desirable state of affairs?
If the USA was to correct its own behaviour: cut back on the arms industry, stop covertly interfering in the politics of other nations, work toward limiting its voracious appetite for non-renewable resources, shoulder its responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas production, provide more aid for developing nations; in short to behave ethically, then it might reduce the hatred that exists in the Muslim world for the US. Wouldn't this produce a better world and a safer USA?
A cure for terrorism for a view on an alternative to
the politics of hate.
Hiroshima and NagasakiI do not condemn the USA for dropping the nuclear bombs that ended the Second World War, but to what degree it was justified is a hugely important ethical question.
Something around 60 000 people were killed in each of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There can be no doubt that had the bombs not been used, there would have been very high numbers of Allied casualties before the war ended. It is quite possible that had the bombs not been used Japanese casualties might have been even higher, because of the fire-bombing that was being used against Japanese cities and the Japanese determination to never surrender.
The question that remains, though, is, could it have been done differently, with the same end effect of finishing the war, but with much less loss of life? For example, what if the first nuclear bomb were dropped a few kilometres off the coast at Yokohama as a warning, followed with demands for surrender? If no surrender followed, then the second bomb could be dropped on a city; followed by further demands for surrender.
It may be that the USA only had the two bombs and building a third could have taken months (at that time the supply of fissile material must have been very limited). The very considerable possibility that one or other of the bombs might not have exploded, or might have a much lower 'yield' than expected, had to be taken into account. Perhaps it was believed that they had to get the absolute maximum strategic impact from each bomb in order to be relatively sure of ending the war?
HIV/AIDSPresident Ronald Reagan, and then George W. Bush, must both bear the blame for thousands, if not millions, of unnecessary deaths in Africa from HIV/AIDS. Both have refused to provide, and have even discouraged the use of, condoms in Africa as a means of limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Further, both have denied any US aid to any family planning clinics that even mention the word 'abortion', forcing their morality onto millions of other people.
Condom use is proven to be very effective in limiting the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS.
To his credit, President Obama has reversed the US refusal to support family
planning clinics that provide information about abortion.
Hogging resourcesThe USA consumes a larger share of the world's non-renewable resources than any other nation. The USA, especially under G.W. Bush, is making very little effort to reduce its consumption; the average US car is bigger than those of other countries and consumes more fuel per kilometre; of course greater fuel consumption results in greater global air pollution so it affects everyone on the planet.
Space tourismAn indication of American thinking on sharing the atmosphere is given by the recent (Nov. 2004) awarding of a $13.22M prize to the builders of SpaceShipOne. The prize was "designed to encourage technology to open the heavens to tourists". These tourists will be the disgustingly wealthy few, and every 'trip' into space will add more pollution to the atmosphere in a few minutes than 100 citizens of the Third World add in a year.
Incendiary weaponsThe US used white phosphorus in its siege of Fallugia. Its use on civilian targets is banned by UN conventions, but the US claimed that they were allowed to use it against military targets.
The use of white phosphorus is banned by the UN protocol on incendiary weapons, but then the US did not sign that protocol.
However, white phosphorus is a chemical as well as an incendiary weapon. George Monbiot, 2005/11/22, stated that:
The US army knows that its use as a weapon is illegal. In the Battle Book published by US Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, my correspondent David Traynier found the following sentence. "It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets."The US Department of Defence had earlier claimed that Saddam Hussein had used white phosphorus as a chemical weapon against Kurds in Iraq. It seems that it is OK for the US to use it, but not for anyone else.
I strongly recommend the above article by George Monbiot, he is a far better writer than I am, and far better informed.
An excuse to bomb or invade Iran?When George W. Bush claimed (January 2008) that Iranian speedboats swarmed around US warships in the Strait of Hormuz and threatened to blow them up I shuddered. Is he looking for an excuse to invade or bomb Iran? The Iranians claim that "The pictures that the Pentagon broadcast of the naval incident are file pictures and the voices have all been fabricated". I'm inclined to believe the Iranians more than the Americans.
The USA fabricated an attack on two US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin Incident in 1964 to justify the beginning of their monstrous campaign of bombing North Vietnam. Similarly it made up the story about an Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction threat to world peace to justify its invasion of Iraq in 2003. (The USA has more WoMDs than any other nation in the world and if Iraq ever did have WoMDs they were at least partly supplied by the USA.)
If the USA is the guardian of the world's peace, freedom and democracy,
Flying Spaghetti Monster help us all!
US supporting terrorism in IranAccording to an article by William Lowther (Washington DC) and Colin Freeman published in the London Sunday Telegraph on 2007/02/25, "America is secretly funding militant ethnic separatist groups in Iran in an attempt to pile pressure on the Islamic regime to give up its nuclear programme." The article went on to say "The operations are controversial because they involve dealing with movements that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime." Fred Burton, a former US state department counter-terrorism agent, was quoted as saying: "The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran's ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime." This is, of course, exactly what the US has complained that Iran is doing in Iraq.
Another example of US duplicity. The USA soundly criticises those who support terrorists when those terrorists are working against the interests of the US establishment, but it is quite happy to support terrorists who it sees as useful to its own causes.
Also see US support for terrorism elsewhere on this page.
Deposing the democratically elected Mossadegh governmentIn a 1953 coup backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency and master-minded by Kermit Roosevelt (Theodore's grandson), Prime Minister Mossadegh of Iran was deposed. The US wanted Mossadegh out of the way because he intended to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. Prime Minister Mossadegh's government was replaced by the near absolute dictatorship of the Shah, who enforced his rule with his hated 'secret police', the Savak. (See Kryss Tal's Why USA.)
The hated government of the Shah was overthrown in a popular revolution in 1979 and replaced with an Islamic government. Had the US not meddled in Iran's internal affairs that country could well have an open and democratic government rather than the theocracy-dominated one it has. So much for the USA as the champion of democracy.
In late 2004 there is evidence that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Is this at all surprising, or even wrong, when the possession of nuclear weapons is probably the only way that Iran can be sure that it will not be invaded by the USA and its allies? The USA government sees nothing immoral in possessing more nuclear weapons than any other country on Earth. The aggressive international relation style of the USA is pushing nations that fear it toward developing nuclear weapons as the only way of self defence.
The Iran Contra AffairIn a remarkable example of duplicity, President Reagan sold arms to Iran in 1985 and 86. He used the income from the arms sales to help finance the Contras; all this being kept secret from the American people.
Consider this in relation to 'Who sold Saddam his weapons' and 'War with Iraq'.
A nuclear IranNuclear capacity in any nation run by religious bigots must be of great concern. Probably very few people outside Iran, other than Islamic extremists or fundamentalists, would like to see Iran develop nuclear weapons, or to be in a position to do so. But what rational justification can be given to stop Iran having nuclear power – whether for peaceful or war-like purposes – while so many other nations have nuclear power and nuclear weapons? Why should the USA have more nuclear weapons than any other nation, and Iran – which must feel threatened by the aggressive stance of the USA – be denied any nuclear weapons? If nations run by religious bigots should not have nuclear weapons then the USA should give up its weapons.
It is interesting to observe that in the period when Shah Reza Mohammad Pahlavi was in control, largely as a puppet of the USA, it seemed that the USA was happy for Iran to build nuclear power stations (which would later be useful for producing materials potentially useful for weapons). This is mentioned in the book 'Daughter of Persia'; see below.
More information on the USA and IranI can recommend the book 'Daughter of Persia' by Sattareh Farman Farmaian, with Dona Munker. It is an autobiography of a woman who tried to improve the lot of the common Iranian. She writes of the interference by the USA in Iranian affairs, which was critical, and generally disadvantageous to the Iranian people and the development of democracy in Iran in a number of periods.
The lies used to justify the Iraq WarThe Center for Public Integrity ("Investigative Journalism in the Public Interest"), placed this in its Internet site...
"Following 9/11, President Bush and seven top officials of his administration waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq.The piece was written by Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith.
The whole article can be read at The
Center for Public
The Iraq War continuesStarted by the USA (with assistance from several other countries, notably the UK and Australia) without any legitimacy from the UN in March 2003, the war was an act of invasion of a sovereign nation. The moral justification was flimsy. For more detail see The Iraq War.
Nearly 3000 civilians were killed in the September 11th attacks on the USA. The results of an extensive study into the number of civilians killed in the 2003 Iraq War and its aftermath was published in the prestigious journal The Lancet October 2004; it estimated that 100 000 Iraqis have died as a result of the coalition invasion. In October 2006 the same journal published an estimate of 650 000 Iraqi civilian deaths, based on a larger survey.
In 2006 the killing continued. In January 2007 the UN released figures indicating that more than 34 000 civilians were killed and more than 36 000 were wounded in 2006.
In November 2005, over two years after the invasion, more are dieing every day because the invaders have not managed to restore order.
Osama bin Laden was responsible for 9/11, Gorge W. Bush (with Tony Blair and John Howard) was responsible for the 2003 Iraq War. Who can claim to be 'good' in this? Who can say that right is on their side?
The Iraqis are bombing and shooting their 'liberators'. This can be hard for Westerners to understand, I suspect especially hard for Americans. They may see themselves as the white knights who saved the Iraqi people from Saddam's barbaric rule.
It would be a good exercise for Americans to try to see the situation from the point of view of the Iraqis. Imagine if, after George W. Bush was first elected, China invaded the USA to install the rightful President, Al Gore; after all, George W. Bush had very flimsy grounds for his claim on the Presidency. (OK, I know the Chinese could not successfully invade the US, the US has more weapons than anyone, but just suppose that they have for the sake of the exercise.) How would Americans feel? Would they welcome the Chinese as liberators? I think not; I think they would use terrorist tactics (in this case they would call it 'freedom fighter' tactics) to try to get the Chinese out of the country.
A fine and period of confinement to barracks for torturing a man to deathAbed Hamed Mowhoush was a major general in the Iraqi Air Force. He was tortured to death by US Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshoffer Junior in November 2003. The punishment for Mr Welshoffer for this inhuman act was a reprimand, forfeiture of Aust$10 000 salary, and confinement to barracks for 60 days. The matter is covered by Wikipedia.
US troops torture and humiliate Iraqi prisonersI quote from the CBS Net site (2004/04/30):
"According to the U.S. Army, one Iraqi prisoner was told to stand on a box with his head covered, wires attached to his hands. He was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted. There are shots of the prisoners stacked in a pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English.
It might be that only a small minority of US troops would be capable of this behaviour, but the fact is that war often brings out the worst in people. Also see the My Lai Massacre (on this page).
Torture in Iraq prisonsBuffalo News and others on 2005/12/13 reported "at least 12 cases of what an Iraq official called "severe torture" at a prison run by the Interior Ministry's special police commandos."
"Prisoners' bones were broken and their fingernails pulled out, were subject to electric shocks, and burning cigarettes were crushed into their necks and backs"
"The cases appeared more severe than those of beaten, emaciated prisoners found in the basement of another Baghdad Interior Ministry facility last month."
It seems that the main difference between the Iraqi prisons before and after the invasion is that now it is Shiites who are torturing Sunnis, before the invasion it was Sunnis who were torturing Shiites. What has been achieved?
Iraq War death tollIn October 2010 Wikileaks released "The Iraq War Logs". In the summary of the Wikileaks front page:
"The reports detail 109 032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66 081 'civilians'; 23 984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15 196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3 771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66 000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period."Add to this more than two million Iraqi refugees and the present (November 2010) genocide against Iraqi Christians and you can get some feel for the result of the Bush/Blair/Howard invasion of Iraq.
Israel/Lebanon1st Sept. 2006. I will confine my comments on Israel's invasion of Lebanon on one small aspect.
The Secretary General of the United Nations has recently announced that in the last three days before the cease fire Israel war planes dropped many cluster bombs. It was estimated that something like 100 000 unexploded bomblets remain on the ground in Lebanon. Cluster bombs can explode when they are disturbed, they are notorious in causing injuries and deaths to civilians, especially children. Of course they do not discriminate between 'terrorists' and civilians. This was a war crime.
The USA, who supplied most of the cluster bombs to Israel, will continue to
support Israel in its military dominance of the Middle East.
Israel/PalestineThe USA has generally supported Israel in its subjugation of the Palestinians and the theft of their land (the West Bank in particular). It provides billions of dollars of aid to Israel each year.
This is another example of the difficulty of trying to rule by hate and killing. The more the Israelis bomb and murder, the more hate and revenge engendered in the Palestinians.
In September 1982, Israeli troops surrounded the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila in southern Lebanon and stood by while Christian militiamen, over a three-day period, massacred at least 800 people, including women, children and the elderly. Foreign journalists, including Americans, who entered the camps as soon as the killing was finished, were sickened by what they saw.
My own opinion is that the nation of Israel should continue to exist and
that Israelis have a right to peace.
My complaint with the USA – and the government of Australia, my own
country – is that they
always blame the Palestinians and rarely place any blame on the Israelis
for aggression, land theft, or unjustified killing of civilians.
I believe that the Israelis have killed far more Palestinian civilians
than the Palestinians have killed Israeli civilians; yet we always hear
from our governments that the Israelis are protecting themselves while
the Palestinians are the aggressors.
This is a very one-sided and dishonest view.
In October 2003 Doctor Mahathir, President of Malaysia, at a meeting of representatives of Islamic states said that Jews ruled "the world by proxy" and that Islamic countries should arm against them. He said that they get others to fight and die for them. He was referring to the community of Jews in powerful positions in the US Government.
While Mahathir's suggestion was foolish and provocative, he was right in his concern. My impression is that the right-wing Christians and the Jews who appear to be running America's foreign policy in relation to the Middle East are misguided. They seem to believe that Israel can be made safe, and the threat of terrorism in the USA can be controlled, by use of force and weaponry. The long-term result of this policy is likely to be a bloody reaction to Jewry and the West.
(If you think that this statement makes me anti-Semitic I suggest you try to develop a more balanced outlook.)
Killing whalesThe USA navy wants to deploy sonar that has been shown to kill whales. On several occasions whales that have beached themselves near US naval exercises have been examined and it has been shown that the whales had seriously damaged ears and, in some cases, brains. The Navy have admitted that their sonar has caused some of this damage. Yet they insist that they have the right to deploy this sonar in some 80% of the world's oceans.
There are many links on the Internet, including
Natural Resources Defence Council.
KuwaitThe liberation of Kuwait from Iraq was not the heroic deed that the USA would have the world believe; it was motivated by pure self-interest.
If the USA was really the bastion of democracy that it claims to be it seems surprising that it didn't make sure that a democratic government was set up in Kuwait after the Gulf War. The Head of State in Kuwait is an emir who is chosen by and from among the royal family. The emir appoints the prime minister and council of ministers; he dissolved the elected National Assembly in 1986 and promulgated legislation by decree. (Iraqi forces invaded in Aug. 1990 and were expelled from Kuwait in Feb. 1991.) A new parliament was elected in 1992, but only one in seven of Kuwait's citizens (no females) were eligible to vote. (SBS World Guide, 10th edition, 2002)
The only reason the USA liberated Kuwait is that it wanted surety of oil supply.
Land minesWhile many countries have banned the production and laying of anti-personnel land mines, the USA has not (too profitable a business?). These devices have caused, and continue to cause, huge numbers of terrible injuries. I have read that the UN estimates there are 100 million land mines world wide from past and present wars and that 20 to 25 people are maimed each day.
Only a few days before I wrote this section an Australian SAS trooper was seriously injured by a land mine in Afghanistan. I wonder whether the mine had 'made in the USA' printed on it?
The worst aspect of land mines is that they are indiscriminate; they maim or kill civilians just as easily as combatants, and they go on maiming and killing after hostilities have ended.
Very many countries have signed the 1997 Oslo Convention on anti-personnel land mines, but not USA, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, China, and Russia.
Neither is the USA a full signatory to the Geneva Convention of the international rules of war.
The metric systemThis point is a personal gripe, the fault is not at all criminal, in contrast to many of the other points on this page.
The USA is one of the few countries to not have officially embraced the metric system. The French realized the faults of the old systems of measurement after their Civil War of the late eighteenth century and developed the metric system of measurement. It is based on ten (the base of our numbering system) and, to a lesser extent, one thousand. For example 10 millimetres in a centimetre, ten centimetres in a decimetre, ten decimetres in a metre; one thousand millimetres in a metre, one thousand metres in a kilometre. The superiority of this system over one in which there are twelve inches in a foot, three feet in a yard, 22 yards in a chain, 80 chains in a mile is obvious.
Why not let the Americans live with the primitive system while the rest
of the world moves ahead? The trouble is that they tend to keep
forcing the old system on the rest of us. Hence aeroplane altitudes
are measured in feet, gas in cubic feet, oil in barrels, and the
resolution of scanners in dpi (dots per inch).
MexicoMexico is the poor neighbour of the USA and has a huge problem with drug traffickers destabilising its government and society. Two thousand guns a day are illegally crossing the US border into Mexico and the US seems to be doing very little about it. (From SBS television news, Australia, 2009/02/28.)
No doubt it is good for the US
North KoreaNorth Korea is developing nuclear weapons. Is this surprising, possession of nuclear weapons is the only deterrent to invasion by the USA. The USA, by its aggressive style of international relations, is pushing all nations that have reason to fear it to develop nuclear weapons.
The USA sees nothing immoral in possessing more nuclear weapons than any other nation (with the possible exception of Russia).
North Korea has a terrible human rights record. Its elite look
after themselves and buy weapons while the poor starve. Perhaps
if they were not so terrified by the USA they might look after
their own people a bit better? Who knows?
Nuclear weapon accident near-missI read on the Internet that there was a near miss accidental detonation of a one-megaton nuclear weapon at the Pantex plant near Amorillo, Texas in March of 2005. A decades old W-56 warhead (see http://nuclearweaponarchive.org/Usa/Weapons/Allbombs.html for a description) was being dismantled at the time. The facility's operator was fined $110 000 for the incident.
What would have happened had the weapon exploded? Being about a hundred times the power of the Hiroshima bomb, it would have levelled an area several kilometres in diameter, and presumably obliterated all evidence of the cause of the blast. I suspect that the US administration might have jumped to the conclusion that terrorists had set off the blast. Might Bush have used it as an excuse to initiate an invasion, or at least a series of bombing raids, on Iran in the hope of bolstering his badly flagging popularity?
We'll never know.
A Joel Dyess, apparently a US citizen, who read the above, emailed me claiming that it would not happen because:
"the source of radioactive material can be determined literally to the location, time and date of its rendering. So within hours after an explosion it can be determined who manufactured any given nuclear source."Joel seemed to be implying that the authorities would recognise that the explosion was of a US weapon and therefore must have been an accident.
I believe that he is right in as much as, if a sample of enriched uranium can be tested, it's source can be identified. Whether such testing could be successfully done following a huge nuclear explosion is much more doubtful; and it must be remembered that this would probably not be the only weapon at this plant, so there would be other nuclear material mixed in with the debris. Then there is the question of whether testing would be done, and if it was done successfully, would the results be made public?
Even if testing was done and showed that the explosion came from US nuclear material, it could still be supposed that terrorists had stolen a bomb, or had somehow infiltrated the Pantex plant and detonated the bomb.
A Mike Williamson, also apparently a US citizen said that "unless properly fuzed, which they are not unless in the process of being used, a nuclear weapon will at most suffer a subcritical fizzle." This may well be true, I don't know, but we were also told that nuclear accidents like Three Mile Island were impossible, until it happened. Nuclear weapons are built to produce huge explodions, of course the makers do everything they can think of to stop accidental explosions, but can we be sure they are impossible?
Nuclear terrorismThe prestigious journal Scientific American published an article in its February 2006 issue about the danger posed by the 50 tonnes of highly enriched uranium (HEU) around the world in private hands. Unlike the HEU in military hands, this is often held in situations where security is poor, sometimes very poor.
Only 60kg of HEU is needed to make a simple atomic bomb, and little skill is required. A well set up engineering firm could make a bomb like that used on Hiroshima.
Ordinary uranium, as it comes out of the ground, cannot be used to make a bomb. Low enriched uranium (LEU), like that used in most modern nuclear power stations, cannot be used to make a bomb. Even plutonium is much more difficult to turn into a bomb than is HEU.
Yet in their 'war against terror' Bush, Blaire and Howard seem to have almost
entirely neglected the threat posed by terrorists getting hold of HEU. The
Scientific American article concludes by stating that 'civilian HEU could be
eliminated from the world in five to eight years'. Why is the USA
concentrating on Iraq and Iran rather than removing the threat posed by HEU?
Could it all be more about oil supply than terrorist threat?
Fight wars over a diminishing supply of oil, or go solar?The Scientific American journal, in its January 2008 issue, contained an article explaining how the USA could get 69% of its electricity and 35% of its total energy needs from solar power by 2050. This would cost, the authors estimate, US$420 billion in subsidies. (I believe that to the present – April 2008 – something over a trillion dollars has been spent on the Iraq War.)
The authors went on to write that "if wind, biomass and geothermal sources were also developed, renewable energy could provide 100% of the nation's electricity and 90% of its energy by 2100."
So, should the USA go on spending trillions of dollars on fighting oil wars over an ever diminishing supply of oil, or should it spend hundreds of billions on developing sustainable energy supplies?
Philippines infant healthThe Philippines has one of the lowest percentage of breast-fed babies in the world, with resultant disastrous health effects. (70% of Philippinos have inadequate access to clean water, so often contaminated water is used to make up the baby formula; there are of course many other adverse health effects of using formula rather than breast milk to feed babies.) The government is doing all in its power to educate mothers about the health benefits of breast feeding, but the (predominantly US) baby formula companies, with the collusion of the US government, are doing their best to foil the best efforts of the Philippines government and keep the dollars flowing into the USA.
George Monbiot describes the situation in some detail.
Pre-emptive strikesThe USA claims the right to make "pre-emptive" strikes whenever it chooses. This is the 'right' to go in and bomb any part of any nation in the world – where it perceives a threat to itself – without warning and without any permission from the United Nations. How could anyone believe that there is any justice in this?
Imagine how the US government would squeal if China claimed the right to bomb any part of the USA where there were ethnic Chinese who supported independence for Taiwan!
Prisoners of war
In October 2003 a senior Red Cross official, Christophe Girod, took the very unusual step of publicly expressing the concern of his organisation about the indefinite detention of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without charge and without trial. Bright lights are kept on in cells 24 hours a day, many of the cells are small and uncomfortable, and punishments such as removing a prisoner's bedding are used on those that the guards consider uncooperative prisoners. See BBC article.
George W Bush has excused Guantanamo by saying that it is only bad people who are imprisoned their, yet a number of innocent men have been returned to Afghanistan after over a year at Guantanamo.
In October 2004 it was revealed that the USA tortured Guantanamo Bay prisoners with a combination of very loud music, strobe lights and freezing conditions for up to 14 hours at a time. The information came from military guards, intelligence agents "and others", who were speaking on the condition of anonymity (for obvious reasons).
One Australian citizen, David Hicks, was among the prisoners of Guantanamo. He was been abandoned by the Australian Government, guilty because their US puppet-masters said he was guilty. After a show trial – that would have been laughable in its obvious lack of justice, but for the effect on a man's life – he was sent to Australia to "serve the remaining six months of his term" in prison. As I write this, in November 2009, he is now a free man, so far as I know, simply getting on with his life.
The US officials do not call the Guantanamo Bay prisoners 'prisoners of war', because to do so would entitle them to rights under the Geneva Convention. The US calls these unfortunates 'enemy combatants'. The USA, by the way, is among a minority of nations that have not fully agreed to the Geneva convention.
Rear Admiral Harry Harris, commander of Guantanamo Bay (Feb. 2007) said that the USA had no obligation to give the prisoners a trial. As they were 'enemy combatants' the US had every right to detain them indefinitely. He did not explain how the world could know that these people were enemy combatants if they had never had a trial to prove that. We are apparently to take the word of the US military that these people are bad without any trial being necessary. (Who's word in the US military? The commander? Why should the commander's word be more reliable than some dissident officer who has the courage to speak out against Guantanamo?)
In any case, the USA invaded Afghanistan. These 'enemy combatants' resisted. Doesn't a person have the right to resist an invader? A hypothetical question – if China was to invade the USA, would China have the right to lock up indefinitely all those who it captured resisting its invasion?
Bagram airbase, AfghanistanThe US has used torture on prisoners at Bagram. They have forced prisoners to kneel, holding their hands over their heads, for several hours at a time; an un-permitted movement results in an extension of the period of torture. Deprivation of sleep is inflicted using loud noise and bright lights.
Two prisoners have died at Bagram. US investigators have described the causes as homicide, yet nobody has been charged over the deaths.
Prisons in the USA
The USA has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the World.Is this what we would expect of a country that claims to be the exemplar of freedom, human rights and democracy?
"In 2001 Human Rights Watch estimated that at least 140,000 inmates in the US had been raped while incarcerated" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_rape); what a terrible indictment.
People's behaviour is greatly influenced by the behaviour of others.
How many US prisoners broke the law because they followed the example of
If the administration of the USA was more ethical, would it influence
more US citizens to be law abiding?
Just a thought.
ReligionOne of the central tenets of most, if not all, of the great religions, certainly of Christianity and Judaism, is the Golden Rule. It will be worded something like, 'Treat other people as you would like them to treat you'.
Would US people like others to drop bombs on them?
All recent US Presidents have claimed to be Christians. Jesus said 'Love
your neighbour' and 'Turn the other cheek'. How can someone who believes
in what Jesus taught use death and destruction to try to rule the world?
Rich and poor in the USAThe wealth gap in the USA, the socio-economic distance between the wealthiest and poorest citizens, is one of the highest in the First World.
The Scientific American of Dec. 2005 stated that the USA has the steepest socio-economic status gradient of Western nations. Those who are financially poor have correspondingly poor health. It said that "one study showed that the poorest white males in America die about a decade earlier than the richest".
Is this a situation that would be acceptable to an ethical government? How ethical are the wealthy of the USA if they are content to allow this situation to stand?
Paul RobesonPaul Robeson was a great American, but because he was black and had socialist sympathies, he was treated abominably by the US establishment.
The School of the AmericasAn extract from the School of the Americas Watch web site...
"The US Army School of Americas (SOA), based in Fort Benning, Georgia, trains Latin American soldiers in combat, counter-insurgency, and counter-narcotics. Graduates of the SOA are responsible for some of the worst human rights abuses in Latin America. Among the SOA's nearly 60,000 graduates are notorious dictators Manuel Noriega and Omar Torrijos of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, Juan Velasco Alvarado of Peru, Guillermo Rodriguez of Ecuador, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. Lower-level SOA graduates have participated in human rights abuses that include the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the El Mozote Massacre of 900 civilians."Look up their web site: School of the Americas Watch
Another informative site on the SOA: CIP online: SOA
The School of the Americas is to be renamed the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation."
The Baltimore Sun obtained, under the US Freedom of Information Act, two
School of the Americas training manuals that showed that "Torture was
used by CIA". The manuals discussed the use of electric shocks and drugs
for "The Coercive Counterintelligence Interrogation of Resistant Sources".
(1997/01/27, Gary Cohn, Ginger Thompson and Mark Matthews; Baltimore Sun)
Secret CIA prisonsEven more disgusting than Guantanamo Bay are the secret CIA prisons that have been revealed to be scattered around the world (2005-07).
The Washington Post (2005/11/02) printed an article stating that there were secret prisons in at least eight countries scattered around the world, including Thailand, Afghanistan and several Eastern European countries.
Of course that fact that these prisons were secret would mean that there would be no inspections of the conditions under which the prisoners were held. The Washington Post article went on to say that "Virtually nothing is known about who is kept in the facilities, what interrogation methods are employed with them, or how decisions are made about whether they should be detained or for how long."
US ABC News on 2005/12/05 reported
"Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month when they were shut down following Human Rights Watch reports of their existence in Poland and Romania.
Many other references can be found on the Internet.
Self-righteousnessIn spite of all their failings, many Americans seem to believe themselves and their country to be the 'chosen of God'. Consider, for example, the way the attack on the World Trade Center was called "an attack on freedom and democracy". It was not, it was an attack on the USA and all its failings as the world's greatest power. It was probably too, an attack on global capitalism and financial imperialism.
A love of one's own country is understandable and good, within
limits; but there must also be present a recognition of the errors,
the weaknesses, and the wrongs
of which your country has been guilty. Many
Americans seem unable to see themselves as others see them.
Third World development – AidThe USA is the lowest per-capita donor of Third-World development funds among all the developed nations. This is particularly obscene considering the US's record on Greenhouse and the way it hogs the world's resources.
The graph below is from OECD year 2000 figures – the aid is shown as a percentage of Gross National Product (y axis, on the left of the graph);
Some people have said that these figures do not give a true representation of the 'generosity' of the US people because most US aid to the international needy are from individuals rather than from government. In fact, adding donations from individuals would only increase the above figure from 0.1% to 0.14%. Interestingly, surveys have shown that the US public perception is that about 20% of the US budget is spent on aid rather than the true figure of around 1%.
Also see A cure for terrorism which compares US defence spending with foreign aid spending.
September 11Three thousand people died due to the terrorist attack on the USA of September 11. On that same day 24 thousand died from hunger and related causes. In fact, every day 24 thousand die because they are unable to obtain life-sustaining food. (See the United Nations World Food Program.)
In response to the September 11 terrorist attack the US started its "War
against terror". As a part of that war
the United States spent $87 billion (by 2004) on the war in Iraq. The United
Nations has estimated that for less than half that amount, clean water,
adequate diets, sanitation services, and basic education could be provided to
every person on the planet.
(See the United Nations Development Program.)
By around 2009 the total cost to the US for the Iraq War was around one
Sonic cannons to be used on east coastIt has been known for years that whales and dolphins use sound to find prey, to find their way about, and to communicate. It has also long been strongly suspected that loud seismic exploration noises have a very bad effect on these important creatures.
Therefore it is very disappointing that the Obama administration is reopening
the east coast of the USA to under-sea oil exploration using sonic canons,
The Guardian reported that: "The cannons create noise pollution in waters
shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending sound waves many times
louder than a jet engine reverberating through the deep every 10 seconds for
weeks at a time."
With us or with the terroristsFollowing the September 11th terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon George W. Bush said that anyone who was not 'with the US' in its proposed war on the terrorists was 'with the terrorists'.
Plainly this was quite false; the class of argument is the false dichotomy: pretending that there are only two alternatives when there are more. It was quite possible for people and governments to deplore the terrorist attack and yet not support the US in its aggressions.
One can only suppose that Bush was trying to pressure as many nations as possible to join in to his efforts to get revenge.
State sponsored terrorismExamples of state sponsored terrorism can be seen in many of the items listed on this page. The Collins Concise English Dictionary defines terrorism as "The systematic use of violence and intimidation to achieve some goal". The USA frequently uses violence and intimidation to achieve its goals. How then can it not be called a terrorist state?
3000 civilians were killed in the Twin Towers strike. Estimates of the number of civilians killed in the subsequent war on Afghanistan vary from 3000 to 5000. The USA then went on to kill 10 000 or so civilians in Iraq. The prestigious journal the Lancet in October 2006 published an estimate of 650 000 Iraqi civilian deaths from violence since the invasion.
Are the deaths attributable to the USA less to be condemned than
those attributable to Al Qaeda? If USA citizens fear terrorist
attacks, how must Middle Eastern Muslims feel about the USA?
US support for terrorismThe US has supported, financed and trained groups widely regarded as terrorists, such as the Contras in Nicaragua, the Mujahadin in Afghanistan, and UNITA in Angola. There is evidence that the USA has supported terrorists in Iran.
Yet in 2003 the USA used Iraq's supposed support for terrorism as one of the excuses for the invasion.
See also the School of the Americas.
US use of tortureGreatly to his credit President Obama declassified Department of Justice-CIA interrogation memos in April 2009. Time on-line reported that:
"The legal memorandum for the CIA, prepared by Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, reviewed 10 enhanced techniques for interrogating Zubaydah, and determined that none of them constituted torture under U.S. criminal law. The techniques were: attention grasp, walling (hitting a detainee against a flexible wall), facial hold, facial slap, cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, insects placed in a confinement box, and waterboarding."It has been reported that at least one prisoner was water-boarded more than a hundred times and another more than 80 times; in the latter case it was admitted that no useful information was obtained by the use of the torture.
One thing that is not clear to me is how do the interrogators force the victims into cramped confinement and to hold stress positions? There must be forceful means used, or punishments applied, when the victims attempt to move to reduce the stress on them. The victims would not hold the stress positions unless the fear of the alternative was very strong. What were these means or punishments? Strangely no-one seems to be interested.
That President Obama has moved to stop these disgusting practices is a great step toward returning the USA to being, as it once was, a leading nation in human rights and freedoms. We can only hope that the criminals who authorised these barbaric activities are eventually brought before an international court and prosecuted as they deserve.
One of the memorandums denied "that sleep deprivation results in severe physical pain or suffering", yet I remember reading in a book written by a member of the Chinese Falun Gong sect – about Chinese mistreatment of sect members – where the author wrote that sleep depravation was worse than the beatings that were regularly handed out by the gaolers.
Finding the actual memorandums on the Net is not easy, but I eventually found one of the main ones at "http://188.8.131.52/pdfs/safefree/olc_08012002_bybee.pdf". This link was found on The Public Record: torture Net site.
Interestingly, the phrase 'severe physical pain' occurs in the memorandum
I downloaded 28 times, in most cases relating to some sort of denial
that the intention was to inflict 'severe physical pain'.
I leave the implications to the reader's interpretation, but the
Shakespeare quote "The lady doth protest too much" comes to my mind.
(The phrase 'severe physical pain or suffering' occurs 17 times.)
In March 2005 it was revealed that the USA has been outsourcing torture.
While not wanting to be seen as a state that 'officially' uses torture the US government has been sending prisoners on special flights for interrogation overseas to countries that do use torture. There has been an attempt to keep these flights secret from the American public, and the rest of the world, although there is official denial that the purpose is to have the suspects tortured. The official line is that the US seeks and receives assurances from the countries to which the suspects are 'rendered' that torture will not be used. How reliable would such an assurance be, when it comes from a country that is known to torture its own citizens? It sounds very much like a face-saving device used by the USA.
'Rendition' has been the term used for sending suspects from one country to another for trial. 'Extraordinary rendition' is the sending of a suspect for interrogation to some other country where torture is known to be used. It has been used by the USA for a number of years, at least up to Obama's Presidency.
The CIA trained people, who later became terrorists, in torture techniques in The School of the Americas.
Naomi Klein has written an informative article on the history of the use of torture by the USA, see 'Never Before!' Our Amnesiac Torture Debate, the History News Network. It contains several references to books that could be used for further study.
The admissibility of
evidence obtained by torture
in US courts is also discussed on this page.
Torture in US prisonsAccording to the International Red Cross, the USA has used humiliating acts, solitary confinement, temperature extremes, use of forced positions, exposure to loud and continuous noise and beatings against prisoners.
Interrogation methods that amount to torture have been used by the US at Guantanamo Bay (Cuba), Abu Ghraib (Iraq) by the USA forces, and at Bagram Airbase (Afghanistan).
A quote from the Miami Herald...
Fair trialThe right of access to a court (habeas corpus) and to a fair trial has been considered a fundamental right in English speaking countries since the Magna Carta.
In the case of anyone outside of the USA who is suspected of terrorism this right no longer exists, so far as the USA is concerned. It is enough to be suspected of terrorism to be considered guilty, subject to removal to some place selected by US authorities, indefinite deprivation of liberty and possible torture.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11th attack has been held in Guantanamo Bay for years. It was announced in mid November 2009 that he was to be put on trial in New York and that he had admitted his guilt (he was water-boarded many times). Concern was expressed over his treatment during detention; evidence obtained under duress has not normally been admissible in US courts.
What if KSM is found not guilty in the trial? The public was reassured by a spokesman for the US administration: even if the court found him not guilty he would still be kept imprisoned because there were laws that allowed people who were [considered to be] a threat to the USA to be detained as long as considered necessary without trial. This is virtually an admission that the trial will simply be a show trial; so far as the US administration is concerned KSM is guilty without the need for a trial.
USA misleads its own people
The National Missile Shield will not workMore than $80B dollars have been spent on "Starwars II", but it will not work. The prestigious magazine Scientific American in November 2004 said "The U.S. system will not counter even the earliest threats from emerging missile powers".
Why deploy the missiles if they are not going to work?
Who would fire missiles at the USA?
Also, if the USA did not continually threaten and intimidate North Korea and Iran, those nations would have little reason to develop their nuclear weapons. They are probably producing nuclear weapons because they feel that is the only way they can make themselves safe from American invasion, Iraq style.
42% of Americans believe a convenient lieA Newsweek poll of September 2004 indicated that 42% of Americans believe that Sadam Hussein was directly involved in the September 11 attacks on the USA. The truth is that there has never been any sound evidence connecting him to those attacks in any way.
Any government that misleads its own people to this extent must surely be quite morally bankrupt.
The break-up of the USSR and the end of the Cold WarThere have been attempts to somehow credit President Ronald Reagan with ending the Cold War (the arms race, political empire-building, and nuclear standoff between the USA and the USSR and their allies, which started at the end of WW2 and went until the around the time of the break-up of Soviet Union in 1991). Whether this was a conscious decision on the part of the US propaganda machine or simply wishful thinking on the part of US supporters, I don't know.
In fact the end of the Cold War had far more to do with President Gorbachev of the USSR and his perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (publicity, openness) combined with the economic problems the USSR had at the time and the desire of many of the states within the USSR for independence. Economically the USSR was a mess around the end of the 1980s, and when Gorbachev relaxed the tight controls that the state had held over the 'empire', it could no longer be held together; with no more Soviet Union there was no more Cold War.
Ugly AmericanThe emailed letter below came to me apparently from a USian ('American') who had been reading this page. At first I thought it so ignorant, aggressive, rude, and lacking in any moral standards that I would ignore it, but then I realised that it was typical of the feedback that I have been getting from the worst type of American. I will include the more interesting and relevant parts below (on the left) and add a few comments (on the right).
I strongly suspect that the majority of USians are not as ignorant, parochial, and selfish is this man, but it seems that people like this, or sentiments like these, do have a big influence on US foreign policy.
UzbekistanPresident Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan is a despot who routinely uses torture and murder to keep the Uzbek people under his control. The USA has a military base in Uzbekistan, and one of the largest remaining oil regions is in and around Uzbekistan.
So the USA is willing to overlook the gross violations of human rights in order to look after its military and financial interests. Not only that, but the Uzbek people's attempt at uprising is being crushed by US-trained troops and US funds.
President George W. Bush can only suggest that the Uzbek people use peaceful
demonstrations, while many Uzbeks have disappeared simply for criticising their
A crime, not only against humanity, but against the environment as well
I could quote pages from Noam Chomsky's essay 'The Rule of Force in International Affairs' – which has been published in 'The Essential Chomsky' – on US atrocities in Vietnam, I will confine myself to one quotation. The My Lai Massacre is what would come to mind for most Western people when they think of atrocities committed by the USA in Vietnam. Quoting from The Essential Chomsky:
The province of Quang Ngai, in which My Lai is located, had been virtually destroyed. Half the population had been forced into refugee camps, and children were starving and wounded. Colonel Oran Henderson, the highest ranking officer to have faced court-marshal charges for the My Lai massacre, states that "every unit of brigade size has its Mylai hidden some place," though "every unit doesn't have its Ridenhour."Ronald Ridenhour was the helicopter gunner who had the courage to make public the My Lai massacre on his return to the USA. There should be no need for me to say that the obvious implication of Colonel Henderson's statement above is that he believed that My Lai was nothing out of the ordinary, except that it became public knowledge.
Sue Downie in her book Down Highway One states that "between 1965 and 1973 in South Vietnam alone the war killed 1.4 million civilians compared to 58 000 American servicemen, left 300 000 invalids, one million widows, 800 000 orphans and more than three million jobless." She wrote that in the bombing of North Vietnam the US hit "six industrial cities, 28 of the 30 provincial cities, more than 350 hospitals, 1500 infirmaries, 3000 schools and 1000 churches or temples. According to Vietnamese data, five million square metres of houses were destroyed, not including many thousands of thatched huts, 40 000 farm animals were killed, and all road bridges, sea and river ports, and power stations seriously or completely destroyed."
The 2007 Lonely Planet Guide to Vietnam contained the following under "War on the Environment":
"American forces sprayed 72 million litres of herbicides (named Agents Orange, White and Blue after the colour of their canisters) over 16% of South Vietnam to destroy the Viet Cong's natural cover. Another environmentally disastrous method of defoliation employed during the war involved the use of huge bulldozers called 'Rome ploughs' to rip up the jungle floor. Large tracts of forest, agricultural land, villages and even cemeteries were bulldozed, removing the vegetation and topsoil. Flammable melaleuca forests were ignited with napalm. In monunain areas, landslides were deliberately created by bombing and spraying acid on limestone hillsides. Elephants, useful for transport, were attacked from the air with bombs and napalm."
Following the war the US orchestrated a trade embargo on Vietnam, making recovery from the war much slower than it could have been.
I visited Vietnam in October and November of 2006. I was told that ten
people each month are still injured by mines and bombs left over from the war
in Quang Tre, the province containing the old 'Demilitarized Zone' (DMZ).
I could well believe it; I saw at least three men using metal detectors to
find scrap metal. When they find metal mines, bombs or bomb fragments, they
can sell them for scrap, if they are not injured or killed by the discovery.
I was also told that four million were killed during the war (most of them
and 7000 Vietnamese had been killed since the end of the war.
Atrocities were committed on both sides and many lies were used by both sides to try to make their opponents look worse and themselves better; "truth is the first casualty of war". It is probable that the 'water torture' photo above might actually be some field nursing, I'm sure many of the Vietnamese Communists lied when it suited them, on the other hand the US administration under Bush Junior has admitted using water torture, although they claim it is not torture.
The USA used napalm bombs and white phosphorus against civilian targets. They sprayed huge areas with 'agent orange', a herbicide that was contaminated with the terrible poison dioxin. Dioxin continues to cause many health problems to the Vietnamese people. The USA has never provided compensation for the terrible things they did to the Vietnamese people during the war.
For a Vietnamese view of the American-Vietnam war I recommend "Memoirs of
War – The Central Highlands: A North Vietnamese Journal of Life on the Ho
Chi Minh Trail 1965 – 1973" by Le Cao Dai.
Dr Le was a medical doctor who worked in many field hospitals along the
Ho Chi Minh Trail.
In his book he tells of the hardships suffered by those who worked and fought
along the trail, of how it typically took months to walk from north to
central Vietnam, of the lack of food, of being sick with malaria, of the
primitive conditions in the hospitals, of the
many times when the Americans bombed the various hospitals
that he helped to set up and in which he worked. (Of course bombing
hospitals is a war crime under the Geneva Convention. Why did the Americans
bomb hospitals? Did they knowingly bomb hospitals? Did the Vietnamese not
mark their hospitals with large red crosses on the roof? Did they try this
and find the Americans bombed anyway? There are many questions that the
book did not answer.)
Gulf of Tonkin incidentThe US bombings of North Vietnam were started in response to claimed unprovoked attacks on two US destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2nd 1964. The truth was that at least one of the destroyers was engaged in aggressive intelligence-gathering manoeuvres, but this didn't come out fully until some documents were declassified 30 years later. See Fair (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).
But President Johnson lied to the US people and started a war against North Vietnam based on attacks on US ships that were largely or entirely a fabrication. With the 2003 invasion of Iraq being based on lies about Weapons of Mass Destruction it seems that not much has changed in 30 years.
DioxinIn Vietnam the US used a herbicide called agent orange to kill huge areas of forest so that they could better see the Vietnamese they were fighting.
Unfortunately, agent orange contained quite a bit of the highly toxic substance, dioxin. In the USA and Australia we hear about how servicemen who fought in Vietnam have had, and continue to have, their health adversely effected by this contamination. We have not heard so much about the much worse health effects on the Vietnamese. In 2005 this is just starting to become known in the West.
The BBC reported on 2004/06/14 that there are 150 000 people suffering birth defects due to exposure to agent orange. The US has refused to accept any responsibility. (Other estimates of birth defects due to agent orange go up to half a million; and two million cancers.)
American victims of agent orange get up to US$1500 a month, most Vietnamese families receive around US$5 for each disabled child.
The My Lai MassacreOn 16th March 1968 American soldiers killed more than 500 civilians at the village of Song My. To quote from Sue Downie's book:
"The Americans, believing the village was harbouring a Viet Cong battalion and spoiling for a fight, shot or stabbed almost everything that moved, and then set fire to homes." ... "No Viet Cong was seen and not a shot was fired at the Americans" ... "Many women were raped, sodomised, scalped, disembowelled and had their hands cut off."It seems that the only American to spend any time in jail over this abomination was the officer in immediate command, Lt. William Calley. He spent two days in jail.
There are many references on the Internet. They are easily found.
Several suggest that this was not an isolated incident (see the statement
above by Colonel Oran Henderson for example).
There is no doubt
that the US military would have hushed it up if they were able to.
Did they successfully hush-up other incidents?
LaosDuring the Vietnam war the US dropped two million tonnes of bombs on neighbouring Laos (the most bombed country in history) and nothing good was achieved, either from the point of view of 'winning' the war, or any advancement of human rights or move toward democratic government. Laotians continued to be killed in thousands by left-over bomblets for decades after the war, and the USA not only gave no assistance to clean up the unexploded bombs that they had dropped, but refused to even inform those who were trying to help of how the bombs could most safely be rendered harmless.
And yet, as I write (2003/03/15), with the USA and Australia threatening to invade Iraq, what has been learned?
VenezuelaIn 1998 the Venezuelan people democratically elected Hugo Chávez as their president. Chávez denounced the US for its "shameless imperialism" and brought in a hydrocarbons law that was similar to the one that Jaime Roldós enacted in Ecuador shortly before his (probable) assassination. The law doubled the royalties charged to foreign oil companies.
At the time Venezuela was the fourth-largest oil exporter in the world and the third largest supplier to the US. Not surprisingly, this behaviour was not acceptable to the US, so they organised a coup in January 2003. Unfortunately for the US, the Venezuelan military and the state oil company remained loyal to Chávez, and the coup was reversed; democracy in Venezuela made a come-back despite the best efforts of the US. The Los Angeles Times printed...
"Bush administration officials acknowledged Tuesday that they had discussed the removal of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for months with military and civilian leaders form Venezuela... The administration's handling of the abortive coup has come under increasing scrutiny."Hugo Chávez was re-elected in December 2006. No doubt a shot in the eye for emperor Bush.
USS VincennesOn the 3rd July 1988, during the Iran-Iraq War, the USS Vincennes fired two heat seeking missiles at Iran flight IR655, a commercial Airbus airliner on a regular daily flight from Bandar Abbas to Dubai, killing 290 civilians.
Soon after this tragedy the US tried many excuses to justify the action of the American captain. One of the most shameful was that the Airbus was being flown on a collision course with the Vincennes, in spite of the fact that the airliner was at an altitude of 10 000 feet and climbing at the time the missiles were fired.
The Western press published stories biased toward the American point of view. Robert Fisk, in The Great War for Civilisation, Chapter eight, tells how the Murdoch owned London Times gutted a story that he (Fisk) had written on the incident. Fisk had shown that the US Navy was guilty of gross carelessness, while after the Times editors had finished with his story the Americans looked blameless.
(Critics of this page often accuse me of being very negative.
Someone must counter the multitude of lies told in attempts to justify
what the US does.)
Weapons of mass destruction (WoMD)President George W. Bush is strident in his criticism of nations such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea for their development of "weapons of mass destruction".
The USA has the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the world!
The USA used the argument that Iraq might sell WoMD to terrorist groups or other rogue states as justification to invade Iraq. To the present it appears that only a few western nations, including the USA and Germany, have sold WoMD (or their precursors) to rogue states (eg. Iraq).
Even the US Government now (2004) admits that there were no WoMD in Iraq at the time of the coalition invasion. The war was justified on false intelligence.
A cure for terrorism compares US spending on weapons with other groups worldwide. The US spends 26 times as much on weapons as all the 'rogue states' combined.
Whether one thinks of Julian Assange as a hero exposing the dirty secrets of duplicitous governments or an opportunist who saw a chance of fame and fortune and grabbed it you would have to say that Bradley Manning, the US marine who sent huge amounts of data to Wikileaks has not seen any justice from the US government. He has been locked up without trial, and facing conditions that have been called torture, for something like 800 days up to the time I write this (2012/08/23).
One of the more infamous of the war crimes exposed by Wikileaks was when a US helicopter gunship fired on and killed Iraqi and other civilians, including reporters, in July 2007. This incident came to be called Collateral murder.
World CourtThe USA is keen to use international law to get other counties to change their ways, when it suits the USA. However, the USA itself is one of the few countries that does not recognize the World Court. Another case of the 'might is right' principle; if you are a little guy you have to abide by the rules, if you are a gangster who is more powerful than the police force (the UN in this case) you can do what you like.
Freedom of speech
The case of The Pentagon vs. Lt. Watada1st Lt. Ehren Watada of the US armed forces spoke out against the Iraq war and refused to go to Iraq on the grounds that the war was illegal.
Col. Ann Wright, ex of the US Army Reserves, said that "I think the Army should have dropped all four 'conduct unbecoming' charges because all of Ehren Watada's statements were given out of uniform and not on government time. And there is still such a thing as free speech, even in the military." She said that Lt. Watada believed the Iraq War was a war of aggression (what honest person could argue against that?) and that therefore it was a war crime.
Aaron Glantz – an independent journalist and author of the book How America Lost Iraq – has reported extensively from Iraq since the spring of 2003. He said today: "The U.S. military's prosecution of Lt. Watada for speaking out against the war contradicts American values. America's involvement in Iraq is increasingly unpopular among the rank and file of the Armed Forces. ... It is extremely important during this time of war that we hear from our servicemen, because they know more than most about the folly and brutality of the U.S. occupation of Iraq."
Most of the above several paragraphs were drawn from the Net site of IPA, the Institute for Public Accuracy. (http://www.accuracy.org/)
It would seem that the US military is not at all interested in freedom of
Should we be surprised at this, in a nation that claims to be the guardian
A threat to freedom of speechThe University of California at San Diego has ordered a student organization to delete hyperlinks to an alleged terrorist Web site, citing the recently enacted USA Patriot Act. School administrators have told the group, called the Che Cafe Collective, that linking to a site supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) would not be permitted because it violated federal law.
The law involved is the USA Patriot Act, brought in by President George W. Bush in October 2001.
Is the USA going the way of the old communist nations by trying to limit its citizen's exposure to information from bodies of which it does not approve?
I know practically nothing about FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarios de Columbia) other than it opposes the current government of Columbia. Pravda claims that FARC is a legitimate opposition party. Shouldn't US citizens have the right to make up their own minds on where the truth is?
The USA has a large financial interest in the Columbian oil industry.
President George W. Bush looks after his friendScooter Libby was sentenced to, I think it was, 2½ years in prison for releasing the name of an undercover CIA agent. In July 2007 Bush used his right to give Presidential clemency to Libby. Why? He said that he felt the sentence was excessive. Has Bush ever given anyone else Presidential clemency? It seems that Bush looks after his mates; mateship, US style. This is not ethical behaviour!
Can we hope for change?
The camel and the needleThe USA is largely a Christian nation. Jesus is recorded in the New Testament as saying that a wealthy man has little chance of going to Heaven (Matthew 19:24, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.") Interestingly, both Mark (10:25) and Luke (18:25) record the same statement, so it must be considered one of the most verified statements of Jesus.
As I understand it, the sixteenth century French theologian Calvin (Jean Chauvin) theorised that those people who had managed to become wealthy must have had help from God, and if they had God's help then they must have been favoured by God. Wealth, Calvin thought, was an earthly sign of God's grace. The thinking then went the next step: wealth was good; the wealthy were God's chosen to some extent. Of course this opinion, rather than 'the eye of the needle' statement attributed to Jesus, had a lot to recommend it to rich people in the USA.
The question is, should US Christian citizens be living by the words of Calvin or those of Jesus?
The relevance to the subject of this page to the proposition that Wealth=God's Grace is obvious. Almost all of US meddling in the affairs of other countries has been fuelled by greed and it must be supposed that at least some of those people behind the meddling must consider themselves Christians.
The other side of the idea also deserves a little thought. If the wealthy
have the grace of God then the poor must have been cursed by God? To people
like George W. Bush this probably excuses the US government's
neglect of the poor of the USA.
Free pressI must express my thanks to the investigative journalists and authors who have brought many of the points listed on this page out into the light of day.
Reporters have recently worked, at great danger to themselves (ten or so have been killed), to give us the truth about the Iraq War. Consider what we would have been told by the US establishment if they could give us as much or as little information as they liked.
A free press is the greatest thorn in the side of corrupt US (and Australian) governments. Long may it remain so!
However, it must be said that while the laws or the US and Australia give freedom to the press, the mainstream media tend not to print much against the 'corporatocracy'. This is not surprising I suppose, since most of it is owned by the same corporatocracy.
The word corporatocracy was, I believe, coined by John Perkins in his book 'Confessions of and Economic Hit Man' to refer to what is effectively government by corporations. Alternatively, the word plutocracy, government by the wealthy, could be used.
Make the USA betterThere are many citizens of the USA who are trying to make it a better place. It is harder for those of us who are outside of the USA to bring about any changes, but we can try. The aim of this page is not to make people hate the USA – certainly not to make them hate USians, but to try to show people what is wrong with the country and jolt them into doing something about it; to try to bring about an improvement.
An unethical government is a bad government, it is as simple as that. The USA government and the Howard government in Australia seem to think that unethical means can legitimately be used to bring about 'good' results. This is not so.
In a democracy the citizens must ultimately take responsibility for bad government.
In my page on ethics I have written a section on better government. This suggests a list of actions that citizens of democracies can take to try to bring about better government.
Perhaps the greatest single crime of the USA in recent years is its refusal to make a responsible stance on greenhouse/climate change. The USA and Australia (my country) are the worst greenhouse polluters on the planet. Australia in per-capita terms and the USA in both per-capita and absolute terms. The US refusal to do anything about its greenhouse gas production rates is holding back the rest of the world from action. (I should also say that several of the USA's state governments, including that of California, seem to be among the most progressive on greenhouse in the world. Ironical!)
Above all, use peaceful methods in whatever attempts you make to bring
Gandhi confined himself to peaceful methods and did more than anyone else
to bring about a democratic government to India.
India is now by far the most populous democratic nation on earth.
End of empire?At around the end of 2003 the USA had national debts of US$7 trillion, a staggering $24 000 for every man, woman and child in the country. Much of this is owed to Asian countries, Japan and China in particular. One might think that even if these countries called in their debts there would not be a problem, the US could simply print more money, but it is not that simple. Should the US print that many new US dollars the whole currency would be devalued; the world would loose trust in the US dollar as a unit of exchange. This would be disastrous to the US economy. With George W. Bush's tax cuts and the huge cost of the Iraq War there can be little doubt that the US is going steadily deeper into debt. Will US greed for money and empire ultimately backfire?
The USA, despite its wealth, has a sick society.
From Scientific American, Dec. 2005:
Surveys of US citizens ask them if they believe they have anything to be thankful for, are they satisfied and happy? They are not! The wealth of the nation has not brought happiness to the people.
Several Asian economies are growing much more quickly than the US economy. Both India and China appear capable of becoming richer than the US. Where will that lead?
USiansWhat is one to call citizens of the USA? The word American applies to all who live in North, South or Central America. The words Yank and Yanky applies to citizens of the states that were on the Union side in the USA Civil War; to call a Texan a Yank would quite probably result in a punched nose. I will use USians (pronounced 'Yoo-ess-ians').
Acknowledgements and recommended reading
The material for this page have been garnered from many sources including Scientific American, World Book Encyclopaedia, the books listed below, and, of course, the Internet.
Of particular interest on the Internet are the writings of George Monbiot.
I recommend the books below – they are listed in alphabetical order of author...
The New Internationalist publishes a highly informative magazine on "The people, the ideas, the action in the fight for global justice" and many books on the same subject, including a series of 'No Nonsense Guides'.
On this page...