by Stephen M. Walt
The United States deliberately attacked thousands of civilians during World
War Ⅱ (including dropping two atomic bombs on Japan), and it did so with the explicit aim of sowing terror among the civilian population. Japan had started the war, of course, but the victims of these attacks were no more responsible for their government's policies than the victims in the World trad Center were responsible for the conduct of U.S. policy in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Yet , like most counties, the United States rarely acknowledges any moral similarity between its own "regrettable but necessary" actions and the "brutal and unwarranted " acts of its foes.
My purpose is not to shine a spotlight on America's past sins; it is simply to recognize that the United States often adopts one standard for its own behavior while demanding a different standard from others. As one would expect, the gap between what the United States prescribes for others and what it demands for itself has not gone unnoticed.
A hypocritical foreign policy creates several problems for the United States.....(page 100).........
But the problem is even broader than the ways in which U.S. leaders justify specific applications of military force. As in most countries, U.S. textbooks and public rhetoric tend to glorify our past achievements, give the United States too much credit for positive international developments, and omit or minimize the nation's worst foreign policy transgression. As a result, U.S. leaders----and the general public---are simply unaware of what the United States has actually done to others.
The consequence of this sort of historical amnesia can be severe,....(page106)
June 26, 2009
Britain considered chemical attack on Tokyo in 1944