Bill Totten's Weblog

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Enormous Hiatus between US Words and Deeds

by Bill Totten

Nihonkai Shimbun and Osaka Nichinichi Shimbun (July 28 2005)

(I've written a weekly column for two Japanese newspapers for the past three years. Patrick Heaton prepared this English version from the Japanese original.)

Recently, when working at my computer, I was drawn to the juxtaposition of a list of Reuters news article headlines. Various incoming news items are displayed on my computer screen automatically and over time the older items are moved to the archives. The headlines are not necessarily related to each other, but sometimes the order in which they're displayed tells a story in itself.

One of the first articles in the list was entitled "US Plans New Move against Weapons Proliferation". The article discussed an attempt by the US to freeze assets of companies doing business with North Korea and Iran.

The title of the second article on the list was "US to Resume Plutonium 238 Production - Report". The article had appeared in the New York Times and discussed plans by the US to resume production of plutonium 238, which it had suspended when the Cold War ended in the 1980s.

The article fails to mention how the newly produced plutonium will be used. The only matter explained regarding usage is that it is for the security of the US and is not intended for use in nuclear or space-based weapons. The type of plutonium used in atomic bombs is plutonium 239; the type used in nuclear batteries, plutonium 238, is hundreds of times more radioactive than plutonium 239, and causes far more hazardous radioactive waste.

America's Double Standard

From these articles, we can see that it is the intention of the US government not to allow other countries to do what it does itself. The US claims the production of dangerous weapons as its exclusive right, and forbids other nations from doing likewise.

Of course this is the type of hypocrisy for which the US has become renowned: preventing other nations from developing so-called 'weapons of mass destruction', while the US expands without impunity development of its own massively more destructive weapons, such as those using plutonium, which it obviously intends for military purposes.

The excuse the US gives that it won't use the plutonium it produces for developing more nuclear weapons is hardly comforting when one realizes that the plutonium 238 it will produce causes radioactive waste that is detrimental to both humans and the environment.

Shifting Arguments

It is now known that the US justified initiating the war against Iraq by applying a similar double standard. The US started the war by claiming that Saddam Hussein was dangerous and threatened the US. Later, after Saddam was deposed, when Bush gave a speech at the point of 'transferring power' to the puppet regime the US had installed, he didn't even mention the principle reason and justification he gave at the time of attack: that he had evidence that Saddam possessed "weapons of mass destruction". Bush simply shifted discussion to stressing that since he believed Iraq had become a haven for terrorists who could attack America, the US needed to have troops in Iraq to guarantee American security. That war is now in its third year. Of the thirty or so countries that initially participated as "the coalition of the willing" in occupying Iraq, at least twelve have already withdrawn or have announced that they plan to withdraw.

A secondary reason given for starting the war against Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein, whom the US described as a dictator. Yet in previous years the US offered financial help and supported the same Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Moreover, the US has for several decades subsidized and supported many other "dictators", including Marcos in the Philippines, Duvalier of Haiti, Ceausescu of Rumania, Mobutu of the Congo, the Shah of Iran, Pinochet of Chile, and Suharto of Indonesia, among many.

America's dealings against North Korea also illustrate application of its double standard. The US says its policies vis-a-vis North Korea are to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Yet when North Korea proposed simply concluding a mutual non-aggression pact with the US, including removal of nuclear weapons, the US rejected the proposal. The US position seems to be that as a great power, it is below the United States to have to negotiate directly with a country like North Korea, which the US considers insignificant on the world stage.

North Korea's neighbors all have nuclear weapons: China and Russia have their own; South Korea and Japan host US nukes. The one-sided, lopsided US position is that North Korea alone cannot have nuclear weapons, even though all the countries surrounding it possess them.

The US also is attempting to prevent Iran from conducting any activity related to enrichment of uranium, because the US claims Iran may use it to produce nuclear weapons. Yet the US doesn't never mentions the fact that Iran's Middle Eastern neighbor and US military ally, Israel, already possesses nuclear weapons. This is just one more instance of the US employing a double standard in its dealings with other nations.

Numerous Historical Examples

There are many other historical examples of the US applying double standards in policy.

In 1941 the US and Britain imposed an economic blockade against Japan, freezing all Japanese assets in their countries and generally preventing trade and financial dealings with Japan. At the time, eighty percent of Japan's essential commodities were imported. The economic blockade against Japan literally choked off its means of sustenance. In response, the Japanese attacked US-occupied Pearl Harbor on December 8 1941.

If Japan had followed the same policies that the US used then, and continues to employ today, one could say that Japan's attacks on US military bases on December 8 1941 were to protect Japan from America's economic war on itself. The US reaction of declaring and conducting war against Japan indicated it did not agree; the US believes only it has the right to define what other country is a threat to itself. Japan lost the struggle and could do nothing against the atomic bombings and subsequent US occupation.

(After having a million of its unarmed civilians slaughtered by six months of US bombings deliberately targeting them, culminating with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, then being smeared successfully throughout the world by US propaganda as instigators of a war actually provoked by the United States, it is easy to understand why Japan's leaders have meekly bowed to US dictates since 1945. How can they see any hope in coping with either US weapons of mass destruction or US weapons of mass deception?)


It is about time that we in Japan learn to differentiate what the United States says from what the United States does, what the United States demands of (or preaches to) others from what the United States practices itself. US hypocrisy about weapons of mass destruction and nuclear proliferation are just the tip of an enormous iceberg, just the most conspicuous recent examples of the consonant US double standard: one for itself and its cronies, another for everyone else.

Bill Totten


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