Here’s a paper i wrote in college for the class Sociology of Nature
Nuclear Militarism & Classified Science
In this essay I will examine how U.S military ideologies in regards to nuclear weapons testing, deploying and storing in the Marshall Islands, Iraq and United States is—and has been, devastating the surrounding population in an array of disturbing ways. The lack of recognition in regards to other (non government funded) scientific and anecdotal findings show just how greedy and fascist our government has become. The hegemonic relationship that is at play and powered by the U.S can be seen in its utter disregard for those it has affected through decades of testing and use. U.S funded scientific research findings carefully manipulate or classify the outcomes of the effects of nuclear war through standardized, sterilized testing that seem to care not so much about what is morally right and wrong but about what is provable and what is not. This outdated loophole in not having to give an ethical explanation for what is actually going on, allows the U.S to continue destroying the land & livelihood of people all over the world. The convenience of the U.S’s science on nuclear weapons and those who are affected by it is in direct relation to those in charge vs. who doesn’t have a voice. Instead of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth, our government suppresses it in order to benefit the privileged.
With the Marshallese, this suppression and denial of the truth by the Atomic Energy Commission created an intentional ignorance among the islanders—as well as the world’s general population who have been given incredibly filtered and ‘cherry picked’ data about long term effects of radiation exposure. This was justified in scientific findings and through lack of information that allowed for the U.S military to continue testing on the severely radiation impacted population for their own profit. The U.S benefiting from the deaths and inhumane suffering of an unwilling population is sickening and the fact that even in 2010 any sort of full redemption is still awaiting the people of the Marshall Islands. If we look at how nuclear weapon testing has impacted the Marshallese we can also examine how the ideologies that created this turmoil are pointing directly at the U.S military involvement. The simple fact that the U.S decided to test on a human population without giving them free, prior and fully informed consent shows the U.S government an ideological superior stance to those who are being tested upon. The continued mismanagement of the after effects of the 67 nuclear weapons tests on the population reinforces the dominant relationship the U.S had with the affected population, and used that power to persuade both the ‘affected’ and ‘control’ groups to numerous tests, surgery, injections without knowing why or for what reason. These ideologies are based on who is more deserving to suffer and who deserves to profit. According to The Rongelap Report, the people of the Marshall island were treated as statistics and numbers when examined by doctors instead of being treated for their well being, and were not given access to their medical reports (Johnston & Barker 2008). In return for the U.S findings on how a population can survive over a long period of time in a fallout area, the people of the Marshall Island have received numerous illnesses, cancers, degenerative diseases and deformities that are intergenerational, and the loss of their sacred land that holds meaning beyond that of what westernized ideologies can explain.
These militarized ideologies in lieu of ethical and moral ones and is shown by how little the doctors and researchers testing the populations actually looked after the well being of the affected population. According to Johnston & Barker, after examining those affected by radiation burns and other immediate pains that resulting from the Bravo detonation, I was shocked to read that none of the people exposed were actually treated for their injuries, no medication was given for the pain and instead were left to suffer (2008). Through the initial pain the Marshallese people persevered, but what they didn’t know, and were not told ways to protect themselves from the invisible dangers that were surrounding them in the air, water, soil and food. This neglect exhibited in these experiments disturbed me greatly, to think of humans as unwilling & unknowing test subjects made reflect on my own health and safety in a world where chemicals have infiltrated all aspects of modern life (President’s Cancer Panel 2009).
One of my sociology professors at UCSC told our class that we were all guinea pigs being administered low dosages of so many different types of chemicals, electromagnetic radiation and byproducts of nuclear activity because of the modernized post-nuclear society we all live in. And that my generation will be the ones to find out the hard way what the irreversible effects of all that are in our future. I am aware that there are other Americans who have created policies to redeem other Americans of radiogenic cancers, as well as loads of money going towards cleaning-up contaminated sites and storing facilities (Johnston & Barker 2008). Also I can get screened for cancer and could receive a wide array of treatments if anything were to be found. These are things many Americans have the comfort of knowing they have, if needed, and according to the Presidents Cancer Panel 40% of the population will be diagnosed with a cancer (2009). Thus far the people of the Marshall Island do not have any of these options even though perpetrated of their problems is the same as ours, yet they have none of the opportunities for remedy or benefit. What disturbs me is the fact that the United States refuses to be held accountable for its mistakes abroad, as well as within it’s own borders, but the injustices served on non-U.S soil is much worse and can be easily followed by retracing where we’ve gone to war.
In Iraq, Busby et al, did an anecdotal report based on questionnaire surveys to examine the cancer rates and birth defects in Fallujah, Iraq. The authors were interested because that town was a battle zone in 2004 where many bombs were deployed. Those bombs are thought to have been coated in depleted uranium to give it more strength, but what has been neglected by the U.S government in regards to the DU usage is just how dangerous that is to be around. The authors wanted to find what the immediate and long term health effects were on the people of Fallujah. The findings showed an increase in cancer rates and birth defects after 2005, which was when they became occupied, this suggests that something then triggered these new serious problems (Busby et al 2010). But unfortunately for the people of Fallujah, they will probably not see redemption anytime soon because of one key word, anecdotal. Which if I ask my thesaurus on my computer to look up, I’m given words such as: unreliable, untrustworthy and sketchy as synonyms. I was actually pretty surprised those words were seen as interchangeable but I guess the definer has its reasons which also involves the reason why nothing will happen to this newly effected population without more ‘legitimate’ sources. Busby et at, report mentions the need for a epidemiological study to validate their questionnaire survey for it to receive any recognition in the political & privileged realm (2010). I find this lack of acknowledging bothersome for a few reasons which are states below.
Completing an epidemiological report, hell, even spelling that word, involves being able to obtain a certain type and level of education that only very few have. Less than 1% of the world is college educated, and an even a smaller portion have to means conduct a full scientific and medical study of causes and transmission of disease in a population which would be needed in order to receive acknowledgement by any government. This was brought to attention during the testimonies of the Marshallese people who, as a population did not have this standardized scientific evidence, but what they did have was their own lived experience which as a community on their islands they had all encounter first hand to some degree. The fact that, in the eyes of science, these personal accounts aren’t weighted with the same seriousness as impersonal statistics and numbers just further reminds me of the distance between westernized ideologies of what is considered provable vs. what is considered morally right. Which brings me to my next problem with this style of scientific findings which is the concept that people will still get tested upon unknowingly and not be able to seek redemption until a standardized report is produced and submitted. This leaves the people responsible able to pull the innocent until proven guilty card all too easily. In societies where this type of science is not prevalent, even despite those affected speaking out, these people won’t get any recognition or redemption until they have a professionalized scientific report stating what happened; this barrier is severely hindering to those who need help the most.
In a larger scope, our society has been built upon historical injustices, mal practices and downright lies; society was built upon the destruction of others to better oneself. These injustices are what gave the people from centuries ago to decades ago power, and now must be reinforce in order to keep those people in power. To recognize these injustices and mistakes made would be to lose authority, power and money which countries have been fighting and killing over for what seems to be ever. It unfortunate that in order for these privileged people to stay in power they must uses coercive techniques and treat others as sub human in order to exploit and reap the benefits off of them. I’d go as far as to call out these figures in charge who are reinforcing these ideologies as racists because of the manner in which they subjugate these minority populations, but if being called a racists is too loaded of a term to throw out there for them, then I guess I will just call them all pricks, because their greed is destroying the world.
All over the world innocent civilians are subjects to tests that only a small percentage of people in the world can decipher the outcome of. What I’ve learned from The Rongelap Report was just how difficult and dangerous it is for people who do not fit the model of a wealthy, westernized version of a human to get any sort of statistical and legal recognition for their enduring hardships, no matter how obvious and tragic the infractions are. What was done to the Marshallese was done to them because they were thought to not have a voice, to not speak out when they realized something was wrong, and that was in large part because of how the United States militant ideologies kept them purposefully in the dark and handpicked results to show the public to keep them at bay as well. It wasn’t until the truth came out, in declassified waves, did realization occur in mass to the people of Marshal Islands, as well as, all over the world. More so then before, their voices are now beginning to be heard louder, more respected and legitimized as it should be. Science, has been and still is used as a tool to abuse and oppress, but what scientist, lawyers, policy makers and others who dictate where power lies need to realize that in this incredibly diverse and multicultural world, a non-literate society doesn’t mean that the people are less than human, they raise their children, farm their land, honor the dead, smile and feel pain just as anyone else, and we must respect that no matter the cost.
-Johnston, Barbara & Barker, Holly. The Rongelap Report: The Consequential Damages of Nuclear War. Walnut Creek, CA. 2008.
-Presidents Cancer Panel 2008-2009
-Johnston, Barbara. “From Hiroshima To Fallujah.” Counterpunch, August 2010.
-Busby et al. “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq (2010)