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Rich Countries' Problem
Too Much Military – Too Little Humanity
By James Rothenberg

09/16/05 "ICH"
-- -- The United States of America launched its invasion against Iraq on March 20, 2003. On March 21, the American Physical Society emailed Dr. Daniel Amit, an eminent Israeli physicist, seeking his review of a scientific paper. That same day came his two sentence reply: “I will not at this point correspond with any American institution. Some of us have lived through 1939.” 

On April 8, the Editor-in-Chief acknowledged Dr. Amit's refusal while holding out hope that in the not too distant future he reconsider his position because, “We regard science as an international enterprise and we do our best to put aside political disagreements…”

The following day came Dr. Amit's eloquent reply: “Thank you for you letter of April 8. I would have liked to be able to share the honorable sentiments you express in your letter as well as your optimism in the future role of science and the scientific community. To be frank, and with much sadness and pain, after 40 years of activity and collaboration, I find very little reason for such optimism. What we are watching today, I believe, is a culmination of 10-15 years of mounting barbarism of the American culture the world over, crowned by the achievements of science and technology as a major weapon of mass destruction. 

“We are witnessing man hunt and wanton killing of the type and scale not seen since the raids on American Indian populations, by a superior technological power of inferior culture and values. We see no corrective force to restrain the insanity, the self-righteousness and the lack of respect for human life (civilian and military) of another race. 

“Science cannot stay neutral, especially after it has been so cynically used in the hands of the inspectors to disarm a country and prepare it for decimation by laser guided cluster bombs. No, science of the American variety has no recourse. I, personally, cannot see myself anymore sharing a common human community with American science. Unfortunately, I also belong to a culture of a similar spiritual deviation (Israel), and which seems to be equally incorrigible. 

“In desperation I cannot but turn my attention to other tragic periods in which major societies, some with claims to fundamental contributions to culture and science, have deviated so far as to be relegated to ostracism and quarantine. At this point I think American society should be considered in this category. I have no illusions of power, as to the scope and prospect of my attitude. But, the minor role of my act and statement is a simple way of affirming that in the face of a growing enormity which I consider intolerable, I will exercise my own tiny act of disobedience to be able to look straight into the eyes of my grandchildren and my students and say that I did know.”

On September 7, 2005, the United Nations Human Development Report 2005 was released. Echoing Dr. Amit's characterization of the US as “a superior technological power of inferior culture and values”, it accuses the rich countries (that would be us) of having “an overdeveloped military strategy and an under-developed strategy for human security.” 

Among the report's striking findings is that when it comes to inequality, poverty, and mortality rates, the US doesn't have to take a back seat to anyone. Our child poverty rate exceeds 20%, like Mexico. Our child (under age 5) mortality rate has been rising since year 2000. Our infant mortality rate is the same as Malaysia. 

How is this possible given our country's enormous resources and great wealth? Lighter- skinned Americans benefit from these resources disproportionately from darker-skinned Americans that weigh down the averages. In the absence of a universal health insurance system (the US being alone among the wealthy nations in that regard), the poorer have to fend for themselves. 

The report notes: “Unequal access to healthcare has a powerful effect on health inequalities linked to race, which are only partly explained by insurance and income inequalities. One study finds that eliminating the gap in healthcare between African Americans and white Americans would save nearly 85,000 lives a year. To put this figure in context, technological improvements in medicine save about 20,000 lives a year. 

“The comparison highlights a paradox at the heart of the US health system. High levels of personal healthcare spending reflect the country's cutting-edge medical technology and treatment. Yet social inequalities, interacting with inequalities in health financing, limit the reach of medical advance.” 

Another paradox can be noted, this time in the document, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002. “Today, the United States enjoys a position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence. In keeping with our heritage and principles, we do not use our strength to press for unilateral advantage. We seek instead to create a balance of power that favors human freedom: conditions in which all nations and all societies can choose for themselves the rewards and challenges of political and economic liberty.”

Contrast those words with these that come later on: “It is time to reaffirm the essential role of American military strength. We must build and maintain our defenses beyond challenge….Innovation within the armed forces will rest on experimentation with new approaches to warfare, strengthening joint operations, exploiting U.S. intelligence advantages, and taking full advantage of science and technology….Our forces will be strong enough to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States.” 

You see, we don't press for advantage – never have. We seek a balance of power by making certain, by use of force, that nobody even thinks of depriving us of our advantage, which we do not seek. Get it?

Copyright: James Rothenberg



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                                  © 2005 Planetization