The United States has been a leader the globalized world for over a century. The amount of money and military established, places the US in a position of political and economic superiority and allows for the US to go to war with potentially any country. Media has placed everyone else as the other, and American’s truly believe their country is the best. That rings true, until college history classes open the eyes of many American’s to see an ugly, bloody truth: America is also the terrorist. Throughout the past sixty years, the USA has used an incredible amount of hard power (physical political force). For example, the use of the two nuclear bombs in Japan changed the way war was conducted. War became a scattered arrangement of faceless bombs and political garb. After the nuclear bombing, the United States began increasing its power through excessive bombing, resulting in the deaths of an unknown number of innocent civilians. Terrorism is officially within the US’s code as, "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents" (Cornell). The United States is not a subnational group but, the meaning of clandestine agent is to do in secret because of illegal or immoral reasons. Through globalized conquest, the United States of America has caused the mutilation and death of at least a million in the past sixty years alone. The United States usage of bombs to further their own political agenda in Japan, Laos, and Syria which, through this paper I will show it fits the USA’s own criterion for terrorism. Additionally, I will analyze what has caused excessive death and refugee situations in those nations, and how that connects to the perpetuation of the terroristic ideology that America utilizes to fulfil political goals.
To call the most powerful and influential country a terrorist is atypical. There are some justifications for some aspects of the bombings. In the nuclear bombing of Japan, America’s justification was to end WWII by making Japan completely surrender. They were the first to use the atomic bomb as a weapon and possibly one could image that the Unites States Government did not know how horrible the consequences were going to be. Additionally, Japan bombed Hawaii, which made the United States enraged. Laos was a preemptive strike against the Vietnamese rebels and could be thinking ahead, a possible good war strategy. The Syrian war, to many, is needed to exterminate any type of terrorist to protect foreign assets, the homeland, and the US citizens. Our President even promotes this type of hard-power type warfare and tweeted on April 15, 2018, “The Syrian raid was so perfectly carried out, with such precision, that the only way the Fake News Media could demean was by my use of the term “Mission Accomplished…” (Trump). The United States military believes the way in which change is made is through hard power, meaning in their minds, the use of hard power has been justified.
World War II was an atrocity. Europe was destroyed from Hitler’s rule and Japan took advantage of the power shifts to make moves for their own benefit. With Europe distracted, Japan could conquer territory and expand their trade rule. The US did not want Japan to expand and began to interfere with the Pacific conquests. In the retaliation attack in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the use of an atomic bomb was hardly contemplated. Additionally, the Soviet Union had involved itself within WWII the very next day, causing some controversy. Many historians believe that the bombing was completely unnecessary and thought that Japan would have surrendered regardless. Regardless, the US bombed Japan with a political agenda, to stop their expansion and reduce their global power. The United States was secretive about the attack, and the public was not informed that nuclear bombing was a strategy at that time. The use of nuclear bombs caused a ripple in the Japanese lineage. For generations, mutations and death have been reported that can be directly linked to the use of nukes. The Japanese civilians that were targeted, were the ones hiding from battle and most unaware of WWII’s atrocities. Within months of the nuclear strikes, almost 200,000 Japanese people died (mostly civilians) from painful, unimaginable deaths. In addition to death, refugees were hardly let into the United States, further turning them away from safety.
The strong sense of being victimized has been widely shared not only by citizens of the two cities but by the Japanese public in general. Many Japanese regard Hiroshima/Nagasaki as another Holocaust: civilian victims died horribly, and survivors are still haunted by their encounter with hell on earth. (Sodei)
With historians proving Japan was likely to surrender anyway, and the little research done on the mutagenic effects on nuclear power, the bombing seemingly caused hundreds of thousands to die for very little of a cause. Further segregation of people who looked Asian proved that the US had no intent on preserving life. The Asian-bigotry continued into the Vietnamese war. Many were forced into internment camps, including once WWII refugees.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s, Indochina seemed to be the area of attack for the US. To keep the Vietnamese War and communism contained, the United States bombed Laos; a small country next to Vietnam. From 1964 to 1973, the United States carpet bombed the country of Laos. This is referred to as the Dark Age in Laos, a time of murder and inhumane treatment. The US dropped over two million tons of bombs, every eight minutes every day for nine years (Pholsena). To make matters worse, not all the bombs exploded, so many have continued to detonate killing more innocent civilian’s years after the war. Vatthana Pholsena is a journalist that went into Laos to speak to survivors about the Dark Age. The stories revealed a complete loss of humanity-no one knew who would survive the night. The bombings caused complete mutilations of bodies- burials were not possible. Life felt meaningless. This is collusion, the United States destroyed a country in secret, and tried to cover up the fact that the government acted in this way. In fact, the exact death toll is unknown because such little reporting and coverage was done in Laos. Laos still is reminded of this Dark Age by the giant craters left behind, and the continuing explosions from rouge bombs.
On the flip side, Syria has received a lot of media attention. Most recently Syria has been the target for the US. For the past ten years, the United States have been acting against Islamic Extremism within Syria. They have used countless bombs to prove a serious political point- USA has the power. The Syrian refugee crisis is out of hand and deaths are severely underreported. According to I Am Syria, a nonprofit organization dedicating to bringing Syrian injustice to light, reported that over 500,000 Syrians have died due to conflict. Furthermore, there are more than 5 million refugees and 6 million internally displaced persons. The US has taken in roughly 5 thousand refugees. There are over 11 million innocent civilians without a secure future. (I Am Syria) Those statistics are not intended to drop in the future. The United States has used some of the largest and most efficient bombs they had on Syria. In addition, the new President is very willing to bomb them and supports his claims on Twitter. Most recently, the US bombed Syria where they thought chemical warfare was being utilized and at least forty died from that attack. America’s duty to help the innocent Syrians is completely ignored. The US stands firm with racial bias against Muslims. The US is placing ridiculous stereotypes of Syrian refugees and continuing to bomb the country to ‘fix’ their problem. This is terrorism.
The lives lost in these wars due to the US can never be replaced and surely are not memorialized. The fear refugees and survivors feel from the United States is terror. The United States had political intentions in each of those bombing situations and all were done with the intent to harm and intimidate. Although the perspective of many is that the ‘other’ is the terrorist, the United States seemingly has defined terrorism as itself. In Japan, Laos, and Syria, the US has destroyed humanity for innocent civilians. Each country has been mutilated and demoralized at the hands of the US. From the perspective of the ‘other’, the United States is the monster trying to impose westernized values and tradition. From the ‘other’, every day was lived in fear, wondering when the US will drop the next bomb. From the ‘other’, America is the terrorist.
Cornell University. law.cornell.edu: "U.S. Code › Title 22 › Chapter 38 › § 2656f - Annual country reports on terrorism" https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/22/2656f#
I Am Syria. Inside Syria: Death Tolls. (2015) http://www.iamsyria.org/death-tolls.html
Pholsena V. “Life under Bombing in Southeastern Laos (1964—1973) Through the Accounts of Survivors in Sepon”. European Journal of East Asian Studies, Vol. 9, No. 2 (2010), pp. 267-290.
Sodei, Rinjiro. “Hiroshima/Nagasaki as History and Politics.” The Journal of American History, vol. 82, no. 3 (1995) pp. 1118–1123. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2945118.
Trump, D. Twitter. April 15, 2018. (2018) https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/985492862958698497