Does this country have the moral authority to lead the world?

Does this country have the moral authority to lead the world?

by Stephen Gowans

It claims to be conducting a war on terrorism against a network 


it helped create to fight proxy wars on its behalf (in Afghanistan and 



It says it must bring anthrax terrorists to justice, but has the 


largest stockpile of smallpox, anthrax, and other biological weapons. 


continues to experiment with new weaponized pathogens. It refuses to 


to measures to strengthen a biological weapons treaty.  And there's

evidence it has used biological weapons (in the Korean War.)

It has called some its past adversaries empires, bent on world 


(the Soviet Union), but it has 200,000 soldiers permanently stationed 


dozens of countries around the globe. Its global military presence 


every year, encircling one of the few countries left to challenge its

hegemony -- Russia.

In one country alone (South Korea), which it has occupied for over five

decades, it has 45,000 soldiers.

The country's wars are always said to be fought for some high moral

purpose: to stop ethnic cleansing, to prevent tyranny, to uphold

international law, to defeat communist expansion, to root out 


but somehow, while this is being done, the country always seems, as 


Flynn once put it, to capture its enemies' markets while blundering 


their oil wells.

It's always strapped for cash when it comes to social spending, health

care and Social Security, but can find billions at the drop of a hat 

for a

new weapons program.

Its colossal military is more than two and half times larger than the

militaries of the next nine largest potential adversaries combined

(Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Cuba.)

Its military spending, combined with that of its allies (NATO, Japan,

South Korea, Australia, Saudi Arabia), is five times greater than that 


the next nine largest potential adversaries together. Yet, it says, 


always under threat.

In the last five decades, it has attacked no less than two dozen

countries. In the last four years, it has bombed four countries

(Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Iraq) one of them in two separate

campaigns (Afghanistan), and one almost daily (Iraq.)

Even though the raison d'tre of the major military alliance it leads

(NATO) has vanished, the alliance is more robust than ever, and is


It refuses to sign a treaty banning land mines.

It refuses to sign the Kyoto Accords, limiting greenhouse gasses.

It uses cluster bombs -- bombs consisting of dozens of tiny land 


bomblets -- which continue to kill, usually children, well after a war 



It has 30,000 tons of chemical weapons.

It has the world's largest stockpile of nuclear weapons. It refuses to

sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

It refuses to renounce the first strike use of nuclear weapons. It 


commit to refraining from using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear 



It is the only country to ever use nuclear weapons.

It says it doesn't target civilians, but, in maintaining the world's

largest arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, is prepared to kill

civilians in countless numbers.

In one  major campaign lasting over ten years (Vietnam War), it carpet

bombed three countries (North Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos), killing at 


three million civilians. A decade earlier, it carpet bombed North Korea 


thoroughly it ran out of targets to bomb.

It issues ultimata to other countries (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan), and 


the ultimata are rejected, it says the other side refused to negotiate.

When the other side begs to negotiate, it's bombed.

It promotes the deception that a country can be bombed around the clock

with only a few civilian casualties. It announces in advance of a 


campaign that some civilian deaths are inevitable, and then, when they

occur, say they were accidental and unintended.

It bombs civilian infrastructure -- water treatment facilities, power

plants, dams, flood control systems, irrigation, water storage, pumping

stations, sewage facilities, bridges, transportation facilities,

petrochemical plants, fertilizer factories, auto-plants, as well as

hospitals, schools, old folks homes, Red Cross buildings, and 


neighborhoods. After reducing its enemies to rubble, it imposes 


to hinder the rebuilding of all that was destroyed (Yugoslavia, Iraq),

until a puppet regime is installed (Yugoslavia.)

It enforces one sanctions regime (Iraq) that is estimated to have

contributed to the deaths of 1.5 million civilians. One of the 


leaders (Madeleine Albright) said the deaths are "worth it."

If it doesn't like another country's economic policies, it tars the

leadership as tyrants and brutes, declares the country a dictatorship, 


raises concern about human rights violations (Yugoslavia, Belarus) and

railroads the leaders into jail (Yugoslavia) or arranges to have them

overthrown in a coup (Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Yugoslavia.) 


countries whose leaders are tyrants and brutes and who routinely 


human rights are called friends and allies if they have the right 


policies (Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Philippines, El Salvador, Haiti.) 


leaders don't go to jail (Pinochet.)

It routinely intervenes in the elections of other countries, funding

political parties, NGO's and media, but prohibits other countries from

intervening in its own elections.

It commits war crimes unrestrainedly, free from censure and 


because it controls the international body that establishes war crimes

tribunals. It refuses to sign a treaty to establish a international

criminal court that could prosecute war crimes free from its 


Its media is described as practicing "suck-up" journalism, afraid to be

too critical of the country's leadership, for fear of being frozen out 


refused access to "news makers." The media regards itself as duty-bound 


patriotism  to assist in the production and dissemination of propaganda 


times of war, a now permanent condition.

The majority of its population consists of  honest, humane, 


people, who are poles apart from the barbarous, sociopaths who run the

country.  They are kept in a fog as to what's being done in their name. 


they knew, they wouldn't stand for it for a moment. This, the 


knows, and so spends liberally on public relations to keep the 


pliable and in the dark.

It has the largest prison population per capita in the world.

In one of its largest states (California), it spends more on prisons 



The infant mortality rate in its capital is higher than that of a third

world country it has blockaded economically for four decades (Cuba), 


whose politics it doesn't like.

Criticism of the country's foreign policy is dealt with by assigning

dismissive labels to the critics (anti-American, communists), threats 


legal sanction (charges of sedition), or threats of deportation (to 


The criticisms themselves are never addressed.

The country forces the poor and wretched of the world to adopt austere

economic policies that it, itself, would never adopt, for fear of 


ruin. The polices have the effect of intensifying the misery of the

world's poor, while increasing the wealth of the country's business 


The country claims to have a free press, but only the wealthiest can 


the press. Not surprisingly, the press reflects the interests of the

wealthy. It's said that anyone can become leader of the country, but 


those who can ingratiate themselves with the wealthiest citizens can 


the funds and backing to occupy the country's highest offices. The

president, the cabinet, and most elected representatives, have either 


bought by, or are  members of, the country's economic elite.

The country's foreign policies have caused illimitable suffering

throughout much of the  world for decades. This has led to it being

reviled over the greater part of the globe. Its leader (George W. Bush)

can only reply, "I don't know why. We're doing such a good job."

Mr. Steve Gowans is a writer and political activist who lives in 

Ottawa, Canada.


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