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21 May 2011

American Ethics and Human Values


Many of us who lived in the United States for some time admired ethics and human values of the American community, which prides itself on democracy, human dignity and rejection of racism. And we still do.
We thought that values of the American people are a reflection of the American citizen's ethics that contribute to shaping US policies and governing its official decisions.
We were not aware and never believed that the US administration is totally different from American ethics, and thus we thought for a period of time that the American citizen's will always reflects positively on the official US position. We were thinking that we can reassure ourselves that we are on the right path when we talk about the values, ethics and merits of US society.
We have gone far in defending American values, and therefore we did not believe that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was carried out by the US in bad faith. We believed that the bombing was an act of self-defence and we further justified America's unforgivable crime under the pretext that the US was retaliating to the aggressive Japanese attack on the American naval base of Pearl Harbour in 1941.
We believed strongly in Washington's right to prevent Japanese expansion into American coast, and excused the US for its humiliation of the Japanese Americans in detention camps after accusing them of aiding the Japanese army. When the US launched a large-scale military operation in Vietnam, it used helicopter gunships and B-52 bombers to drop coloured chemicals and nerve gas bombs on the heads of civilians, we repeated what the US administration said to justify its offensive.
The administration said that time it was supporting the southern Vietnamese to obtain their freedom, dignity and get rid of the threat of communism.
From Japan to Vietnam to Iraq, the US has a record of human rights violations — from the shocking scenes of daily killings in different parts of Iraq, Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal, the Baquba mosque killing and the fierce bombardment of Fallujah, among many others. We were shocked and did not believe that such acts are a reflection of US ethics that we defend. At the same time, we did not believe the American version which echoed that such acts were committed by rogue elements, especially after the same scenario and scenes of killing were repeated.
The pictures and footage of the crime scenes in Iraq provided evidence that the US strategy of war, initiated by the neo-conservatives, was based on terrorising, humiliating and taking revenge against the Iraqi people, just because they were under the rule of Saddam Hussain.
Another evidence of America's violation of its own ethics and values is the unlimited support for Israel's brutal attacks on the Palestinians, the latest of which was the large-scale offensive in Gaza.
For 22 days, Israel spared nothing from its war machine, using US weapons and internationally banned chemicals and nerve gas. The US did nothing to stop this barbaric war and protect the Palestinians from Israel's firepower.
On the contrary, the US asked Israel to continue its crimes until the war achieved its targets, giving the Zionist entity more excuses to carry on with its massive military operation and the bombardment using toxic gases and chemicals on Palestinians in violation of human values.
Obviously, the US administration viewed the war on Gaza as Israel's right to defend itself and that it was not in contradiction with American values. This is why American officials always reiterate that the US cannot be subject to UN laws because they are incompatible with American values.
Some of us still believe and defend American ethics, while others expressed their confidence that America will one day regain its sense of justice and human values. This spirit of optimism prevailed after the election of Barack Obama as president, a man known for his human values since he was a student. They expected Obama would bring about changes in the US administration.
With Obama's first presidential term coming to an end, there has been no change in the US approach. For example, Obama promised to close the detention centre at Guantanamo Bay, but he has yet to fulfil his promise.
The picture depicting Obama, his deputy Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton along with 10 other members of the security team watching live footage of the killing of Al Qaida chief Osama Bin Laden is another example. They were watching the special operations commandos who stormed a compound that was under surveillance for more than nine months and then stormed a room, killing an unarmed old man in a foreign land. They shot him dead although they could have captured him alive and brought him to justice.
Joyful scenes
Obama announced victory amid joyful scenes erupted in the US — the land of human values. Ironically, the Pentagon announced that it would have been difficult to find a country willing to accept his remains, and thus the body was dropped into the waters of the northern Arabian Sea.
Apparently, Bin Laden's body was ‘eased' into the Arabian Sea so that no one can build a shrine on his grave, while the pictures of his body have not been released.
These are snippets from a play featuring recorded footage of the history of American values, from Hiroshima to Pakistan, invasion of Afghanistan and the dubious charge of weapons of mass destruction that led to the invasion of Iraq. This is what we only know, but behind the scenes it could be worse.
By Dr Khalifa Rashid Al Sha'ali is an Emirati writer who specialises in legal affairs. Special to Gulf News.
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