Is America hypocritical about chemical weapons?

Posted: September 3, 2013 in Christian Living, politics, World Events
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“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2)

There are so many issues facing the world today that it is sometimes hard for many to understand why they occur and what they affect. Today it is apparent that many people take the environment of the earth for granted. Pollution, energy, and natural resources are all seen as an environmental element that can threaten our future and destroy the environment.

But there is another threat to the environment that is certainly overlooked by today’s society and was overlooked by many in the past. This element is the act of war. There is one specific facet of war that could be considered the most detrimental–chemical warfare.

Chemical warfare is a critical issue of today’s society and needs to be dealt with because of its severe impact on our environment and the people of the world.The concept of environmental stewardship originates with the account of creation, in which God gives humans dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the animals of the land. (Gen 1:1–2:4) Traditionally, Christians have distorted the mandate to “exercise dominion” to mean that creation was made for human beings and that we have a right to dominate and exploit creation for our own wants and needs. This has led to incalculable abuses of nature.

What we now know is that the Hebrew word for dominion does not mean “to dominate” or “to exploit.” Rather, it means “to take responsibility for,” as a ruler would be responsible to assure the well-being of those in his realm. In the creation account, human beings were created last, not as a “crown of creation,” but in order to exercise responsibility for the well-being of the Earth. According to Genesis 1, exercising responsibility as part of God’s creation is the main reason humans were created. Therefore, being stewards of creation is foundational to what it means to be human. Caring for creation is not an add-on or a sideline to part of our calling. It represents our proper human relationship to Earth. This portrayal puts human beings in a caretaker position in regard to environmental stewardship.

In our modern culture, we have been ruthless and unjust stewards of Earth. We too often place profits above people and act as if the world is there for our use alone. Much of our contemporary global economy is based upon the most efficient ways to strip resources from the land and to pay the lowest wages without regard to the health and well-being of workers.

The US says the Syrian government carried out chemical weapons attacks on 21 August in which 1,429 people died. President Obama said the US was prepared to strike whenever it chose. “Our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive.” He added: “We cannot and will not turn a blind eye to what happened in Damascus.” In harsh, uncompromising language, Secretary of State John Kerry began laying out the U.S. case for possible military action against Syria, “The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity,” Mr. Kerry said in Washington. “President Obama believes there must be accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people,” Mr. Kerry said.

But is America being hypocritical when it comes to the use of chemical weapons?
According to PBS’ Frontline, medical examiners that performed the autopsies at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas claimed that CS gas did not directly kill any of the more than 80 Branch Davidians, including 22 children, on April 19, 1993. But other experts have reported that CS gas may have totally incapacitated the children and others so that when the fire occurred, it would have rendered them incapable of escape. All the adults had gas masks with filters, which the FBI believed would last up to 48 hours. That is why the FBI’s initial plan called for incremental gassing over a 48 hour period. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/waco/

The U.S. has a dark history of using chemical weapons in experiments on its own people:
1932- The Tuskegee Syphilis Study begins. 200 black men diagnosed with syphilis are never told of their illness, are denied treatment, and instead are used as human guinea pigs in order to follow the progression and symptoms of the disease. They all subsequently die from syphilis and their families are never told that they could have been treated.

1942- Chemical Warfare Services begins mustard gas experiments on approximately 4,000 servicemen. The experiments continue until 1945 and made use of Seventh Day Adventists who chose to become human guinea pigs rather than serve on active duty.

1950- Department of Defense begins plans to detonate nuclear weapons in desert areas and monitor downwind residents for medical problems and mortality rates. In an experiment to determine how susceptible an American city would be to biological attack, the U.S. Navy sprays a cloud of bacteria from ships over San Francisco. Monitoring devices are situated throughout the city in order to test the extent of infection. Many residents become ill with pneumonia-like symptoms.

1965- Prisoners at the Holmesburg State Prison in Philadelphia are subjected to dioxin, the highly toxic chemical component of Agent Orange used in Viet Nam. The men are later studied for development of cancer, which indicates that Agent Orange had been a suspected carcinogen all along.

1994- Senator John D. Rockefeller issues a report revealing that for at least 50 years the Department of Defense has used hundreds of thousands of military personnel in human experiments and for intentional exposure to dangerous substances. Materials included mustard and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and drugs used during the Gulf War.

1995- Dr. Garth Nicolson, uncovers evidence that the biological agents used during the Gulf War had been manufactured in Houston, TX and Boca Raton, Fl. and tested on prisoners in the Texas Department of Corrections.

1996- Department of Defense admits that Desert Storm soldiers were exposed to chemical agents. (Read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States)

The Jewish Midrash is commonly defined as the process of interpretation by which the rabbis filled in “gaps” found in the Torah. The Midrash teaches, “Rabbi Chanina said, ‘if he [the human being] merits it then [G-d says] have dominion, while if he does not merit, then [G-d says] he will be taken down.’ This teaching links human dominion of creation to humanity’s righteousness: if humanity merits through its righteousness, then it shall rule over nature. But if it does not merit because it does not act in an upright fashion, then humanity itself will descend and not be granted rulership over nature.

Another Midrash makes clear that part of human righteousness involves being stewards of the earth. The Midrash says that G-d showed Adam around the Garden of Eden and said, “Look at my works! See how beautiful they are — how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it.” Acting righteously thus involves treating the world with utmost respect; for this the human will merit dominion of creation.

We would do well as a people if we would live by Talmud, Sanhedrin 37a which states: “Whoever destroys a soul, it is considered as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.”

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