From: Beijing Review, March 17-23, 1997, pages 12-19
A LOOK AT THE US HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD
by Ren Yanshi
1. CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION BELOW INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
2. MONEYBAG DEMOCRACY
3. A LAND OF TERROR
4. POVERTY, HUNGER AND THE HOMELESS
5. DEEP-ROOTED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
6. THE DEPLORABLE STATE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
7. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST OTHER NATIONS
The United States Department released its COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN
RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 1996 on January 30, 1997, once again
distorting and attacking at length the state of human rights in
China and more than 190 other countries and regions.
The US government, posing as "the human rights judge of the world",
turned a blind eye yet again to the serious human rights problems
in its own country and did not utter a single word about them in
In fact, it is the United States itself, the self-declared "human
rights authority", that has a very poor human rights record in the
1. CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTION BELOW INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
The United States is a country whose constitution does not provide
adequate protection for human rights and basic freedom. Firstly,
the US Constitution does not have a general stipulation on the
right to equality. As everyone knows, equality is the core of human
rights and a major theme in the human rights documents and
practices of the United Nations.
While the right to equality is generally stipulated as a basic
content and principle of human rights in the constitutions of
various countries, the US Constitution adopted in 1787 and its
amendment, the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1789, do not contain
provisions concerning the right to equality. The word "equality" is
not even found.
On the contrary, the US Constitution of that time contains articles
explicitly referring to maintaining the system of slavery and
racial discrimination, excluding blacks, indians, women and the
poor from the protection of human rights.
After abolishing slavery, the United States adopted a
Constitutional Amendment in 1868, Article 14 of which stipulates
that "no State shall...deny to any person within its jurisdiction
the equal protection of the laws." But the second section of the
Amendment specified the "person" as "male citizens 21 years of
age", "excluding Indians not taxed". Racial and sexual
discrimination is explicit.
In addition, the Amendment requires only the "State", not the
"federal government", to provide equal protection under the law. In
1870 and 1920, the United States adopted Amendment XV and Amendment
XIX respectively to abandon racial and sexual discrimination in
respect of the franchise, but it did not go on to establish the
right to equality among ethnic groups and between men and women.
A constitutional amendment was made in 1923 to ensure equality
between men and women only to become a dead bill in 1982 after
almost 60 years because it failed to be ratified by the required
number of state legislatures. To this date, the US Constitution
does not contain any principled stipulations on equality between
ethnic groups, between men and women, and equal civil rights.
Secondly, the US Constitution does not recognize people's economic,
social and cultural rights as part of human rights. Human rights as
defined by the US Constitution's Bill of Rights and other related
provisions do not go beyond the scope of civil and political
Apart from a few rights, including the right to join trade unions
or choose jobs, most of the economic, social and cultural rights
confirmed by the World Human Rights Declaration and the
International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
are not recognized as human rights and therefore not protected by
the US Constitution.
Under the US Constitution, the right to food, clothing, shelter and
education, the right to work, rest, reasonable payment, appropriate
working conditions, labor protection and social security, and the
right to sound physical and mental health and the protection of the
family, mothers and children do not fall into the category of
"human rights". The US Constitution provides no guarantee for the
American people to be free from starvation and want.
Thirdly, the US Constitution not only contains incomplete
stipulations on human rights, but human rights protection listed in
it is also very limited. The International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights provides that every country has the responsibility
to adopt "legislative or other measures as may be necessary to give
effect to the rights recognized by the present Covenant".
The US Constitution, however, merely lists a few individual rights
and stipulates that they not be encroached upon by the government.
But it does not ask or authorize Congress or the federal government
to take positive measures to promote and protect those rights or
adopt remedial measures when violations occur.
The United States always portrays itself as the incarnation of the
"international human rights model". However the level of
constitutional rights granted to its citizens is far below
internationally accepted standards. Even Louis Henkin, an American
constitutional scholar, has noted that US commitments to protecting
human rights, especially the right to equality and social and
economic rights fall short of the international standards of today.
2. MONEYBAG DEMOCRACY
The United States, which brags about being the model of democracy,
has been peddling its democratic system throughout the world with
wishful thinking, although everyone with a common sense knows that
this 200-year-old American democracy remains a democracy for the
For a long period after the founding of the United States, suffrage
remained, both in practice and in law, the privilege of a small
number of rich white males. It took 94 years for the blacks, 144
years for women and 172 years for the Indians to win their right to
It was not until 1971, nearly 200 years after the founding of the
republic, that the United States legally realized universal
suffrage. But, in fact, universal suffrage in its true sense has
never been realized. Voter turnout has always been low and the
turnout in every election for the US House of Representatives since
the beginning of this century has hovered somewhere between 30 and
In the presidential election, which is cited as a major political
event in the country, the highest voter turnout was only 65
percent. Since a presidential candidate needs only a simple
majority of votes to win the election, US presidents are actually
elected by a very small proportion, often below 35 percent, of
According to statistics, voter turnout in the 1996 presidential
election was only 49 percent, the lowest since 1924. That means the
president had the support of only some 25 percent of eligible
voters. It is obvious that the results of the so-called general
election reflects neither the will of the people as a whole nor the
Political democracy in the United States has always been a game of
the rich. Since the early days of the republic, the overwhelming
majority of high public office holders, including presidents, vice-
presidents, members of the cabinet and the Supreme Court, have come
from families in the richest 5 percent of the national population.
Even the US Congress, which always boasts about its so-called link
to ordinary people, is in fact a congress of the rich, by the rich
and for the rich. According to reports in the 'Washington Post' in
April 1994, at least 28 senators, more than a quarter of the
Senate, were millionaires. Millionaires also accounted for 11.5
percent of the members of the House of Representatives, more than
50 congressmen. The ratio of millionaires in the US Congress was at
least 30 times that in US society as a whole where the ratio is
less than 0.5 percent. At least a quarter of the Republican
senators elected in 1994 were millionaires.
American democracy is, in the final analysis, a "moneybag
democracy". In the United States, running for public office
requires large sums of money. Without money, it is virtually
impossible to run for offices like the presidency and Congress.
Statistics show that the average spending per candidate who won a
Senate race was US$4.5 million in 1994, or more than six times that
in 1976. A candidate had to raise an average of US$15,000 a week
over six years to get that amount of money.
The cost of a presidential race is even more breathtaking.
According to a non-profit election watch group, the total cost of
the presidential race and the Congressional elections hit a record
high of US$1.762 billion in 1996. The presidential race alone cost
a record US$1.145 billion more than double the US$550 million of
the 1992 presidential election.
Results of past presidential elections show that the candidate who
spends most tends to win. It is a rare exception for the candidate
with less money to win the election. Even the 'Independent', a
British newspaper, noted in a story on January 28, 1996, that money
is the key to the White House.
American politics has increasingly become the politics of buying
power through money. Political campaign expenses in the United
States are funded mainly through donations from a few large
financial groups or wealthy people. According to statistics, 70
percent of campaign donations come from big corporate donors. In
the 1996 elections, both the Democrats and the Republicans raised
huge amounts of money by auctioning opportunities to win the
president or congressmen.
At a fund-raising party of the Democratic National Committee, those
who donated US$100,000 got dinner with the president and the vice-
president. Fund-raising parties of the Republican National
Committee were just the same: those who donated US$250,000 could
personally present their views before some Senate or House
committees and attend a luncheon with House Speaker Newt Gingrich
and Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.
The Public Ethics Center published a report entitled 'The Buying of
the President' in 1996 after examining the relationship between
presidential races and money. The report described the election as
a package deal and a grand auction. The election not only selects
political figures, but also sponsors and priorities.
An official of the US Natural Law Party noted on December 5, 1996,
that although the United States calls itself a democratic country,
there is no democracy in the nation's political life and the
allowing of private donations in elections has actually legalized
3. A LAND OF TERROR
Terrifying bomb explosions in the United States in recent years
have stunned the world. In February 1993, a 1,500 pound car bomb
damaged the underground garage of the 110-story World Trade Center
in the financial district of Manhattan, New York, killing six
people and injuring more than 1,000 others, and forcing 50,000
employees and tourists to flee the building.
In April 1995, a powerful 1,200 pound car bomb destroyed a federal
office building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, killing 168 people and
injuring 850 others. Among the dead were 19 children in a day-care
center in the building. In July 1996, a bomb explosion in the
Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killed two people and
injured more than 110 others during the Olympic Games, a sports
event that attracted worldwide attention.
It is not accidental that terrorist bomb attacks continuosly occur
in the United States, an excessively violent country where seeds of
terrorism are deeply rooted in society.
The United States has the highest rate of violent crime in the
world. An average of 2 million violent crimes occur annually with
6 million victims, of whom 24,000 are murdered.
According to a report released by the US Federal Bureau of
Investigation and the Justice Department in August 1995, a crime
occurs every two minutes and a violent crime every seven minutes in
the United States. In Florida, which is known as a "state full of
crime", an average of 1.1 million crimes and 1,263 murders are
reported every year.
In the US capital, Washington DC, the annual murder rate is 80.6
out of every 100,000 people. In New York, 2,000 people are
murdered, 3,000 raped and 93,000 robbed every year. According to a
1996 report released by the Inter-American Development Bank,
between eight and 11 out of every 100,000 people are killed in the
United States every year, 10 times higher than in China.
The United States also has the highest rate of rape in the world,
with half a million cases reported annually, almost one case every
minute. A report released by the US Justice Department in 1996
showed the nation's economic losses caused by crime amount to
US$500 billion a year, twice the country's defense spending in
The United States is the world's number one gun-owning country.
There are 220 million firearms in private hands, which translates
into nearly one gun per person. Armed criminals are on the rampage,
shootings are non-stop, a large number of innocent people have
fallen prey to violence.
Statistics show that 1 million crimes involving firearms occur
every year and more than 20,000 people are shot dead. In addition,
more than 10,000 people a year commit suicide by shooting
themselves and 200 people are killed by accidental gunfire.
Data from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention show
that 39,720 people were killed and about 110,000 others injured by
firearms in 1994. In seven states, shooting incidents were the
major cause of death and injury.
Official reports released at the end of 1996 show the number of
violent crimes has receded since 1992, with the rate of homicides
falling to 8.2 percent per 100,000 people.
But a report issued by a crime committee in the same year noted
that the nation's crime rate was actually much higher, with
homicides, rapes, assaults and robberies 5.6 times as high as
official figures. The report shows that contrary to official
reports, crime figures remain at their highest level in history and
that violent crime is a ticking bomb in the United States.
The United States has one of the world's largest police forces
relative to its population and the largest prison population. A
report released by the US Justice Department on June 30, 1996 said
the number of people serving a sentence in the country was 5.36
million, three in every 100 adults.
By June 30, 1996, there were 1.63 million prison inmates in the
United States, up 120 percent from the 740,000 prisoners 10 years
ago and three times the figure 20 years ago, according to a Justice
Department report released on January 20, 1997.
The report says the incarceration rate in the United States was 615
inmates per 100,000 residents, or one out of every 162 Americans in
jail, the highest in the world, and it was as high as 1,440 inmates
per 100,000 residents in Washington, DC. A spokesman for the
American Civil Liberties Union's prison program noted that the
United States is the only country in the world that has been
putting more and more people behind bars.
There are more than 4,000 prisons in the United States, but the
number and capacity is still too small to cope with the growing
number of criminals and many are overcrowded. A report from the US
Justice Department in August 1996 said that in 1995 federal prisons
were overcrowded by 26 percent and state prisons by 14 or 25
percent, with some prisons having three times the number of inmates
they were built for.
Crowded and lacking necessary sanitary facilities, prisons are
permeated with hostility and have become places that breed
violence, rape and disease. Some civil right organisations in the
United States reported that certain prisons, filthy and run-down,
are no different from the medieval lairs of small animals.
Prison guards mounted on horseback keep watch on inmates, as though
they are herding animals. Inmates are sometimes forced to fight
among themselves and are whipped. Many are locked up in separate
cells all year round without being let out into the sunshine while
others, handcuffed and fettered for violating prison rules, have to
crawl on the floor to eat, and lick their plates like dogs.
US prisons are schools for crime, as more than 40 percent of those
who have served their sentences recommit crimes. About 75 percent
of juvenile offenders freed from Washington, DC juvenile correction
centers re-offend. At present, 45 percent of the prisoners are in
jail for the third time at least.
In the United States, violence and imprisonment are two sides of
the same coin. The high crime rate leads to a high imprisonment
rate which in turn breeds a higher crime rate, creating a vicious
circle which is almost impossible to break.
4. POVERTY, HUNGER AND THE HOMELESS
The United States is the richest country in the world, but because
of the serious polarization between the rich and poor, the issues
of poverty, hunger and the homeless have always been an inherent
malady in its society.
The gap between the haves and have-nots in the United States is one
of the widest in the Western world. According to statistics, the
richest 1 percent of families today own 40 percent of the nation's
Figures from the US Census Bureau show that in 1994 the average
income of the richest 20 percent of families was 14.7 times that of
the poorest 20 percent of families. The 'Washington Post' reported
last year that the pay for chief executives of major companies in
1974 was generally 35 times that of the ordinary workers, a figure
which shot up to 120 times in 1995. New York City is home to 36,000
millionaires, and at the same time home to 36,000 poor people who
survive by scavenging for food in trash cans.
As a result of this polarization, the number of poor people is
increasing. The 'Christian Science Monitor' wrote in 1995 that
since 1973, the real income of 80 percent of American families had
declined or remained unchanged, and the real living standards of
ordinary people had fallen significantly. They had suffered a
significant loss in their economic security.
At constant prices, the average hourly pay for American employees
fell at an annual rate of 0.73 percent between 1974 and 1993. In
1978, 24.5 million Americans lived below the poverty line, and by
1993 the figure had risen to 39.3 million. In its January issue
1995, the Hong Kong monthly 'Wide Angle' said the number of
Americans below the poverty line had climbed to some 50 million,
about one-fifth of the nation's population.
Poverty results in hunger. A Reuter story on January 16, 1996, said
26 million Americans, or one in 10 of the population, lived on
hand-outs from charity institutions. Statistics from the US
Congressional Hunger Center show that there are 30 million
Americans, including 4.9 million elderly, who cannot afford
adequate food and have to go hungry. In 1995, one-sixth of
California's residents, or some 5 million people, did not have
enough to eat.
The homeless issue epitomizes the social illness afflicting the
United States. According to US official data, there were 7 million
homeless people in the late 1980s, accounting for 2.8 percent of
the population. In May 1994, in a 'strategic plan' on the homeless,
the US government estimated there were 9.52 million homeless people
in the country, of whom 43 percent were drug users, 26 percent had
mental disorders, 8 percent were AIDS patients or HIV carriers, and
40 percent were alcoholics. Every winter, more than 1,000 homeless
people die in the streets from the cold. Statistics show that in
the winter of 1991, some 1,750 homeless people died in 19 large and
medium-sized cities excluding New York, half of whom were found
dead on the streets. In January 1996, a US homeless organization
reported that in the eight years to 1995, more than 100 homeless
people died each year in San Francisco. In 1995 alone, the homeless
death toll in the city exceeded 140. US President Bill Clinton has
to admit that the issue of the homeless has become a serious
headache and one of the most embarrassing issues in American
5. DEEP-ROOTED RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
The whole world is aware of racial discrimination in the United
States. The racial genocide of native Americans and the bloody
enslavement of black people based on the slave trade are two
indelible blemishes on American history. Recent years have
witnessed one scandal of racial discrimination after another in the
United States. The large-scale racial conflicts triggered by the
1992 beating of black driver Rodney King by white policemen, the
popularity of the 1994 book 'The Bell Curve' that openly advocates
black inferiority, the racial response to the so-called "trial of
the century" in 1995 in which O.J. Simpson was charged with murder,
the Million Man March and the growing number of incidents against
immigrants have all clearly demonstrated that discrimination
against ethnic minorities remains the darkest abyss in American
In the United States, blacks and other ethnic minorities have
always been second-class citizens. Black people, who account for 12
percent of the American population, occupy only 5 percent of
elected positions at various levels and 1 percent of the seats in
A 1995 US government survey indicated that although women and
ethnic minorities accounted for two-thirds of the total population
and 57 percent of the total workforce, 97 percent of the senior
executives in big businesses were white males. In contrast, the
unemployed rate among black people was twice as high as that among
In 1994, while the national unemployment rate was 5.6 percent, 15.9
percent of black adults, 40 percent of black youth and 46 percent
of native Americans were out of work. The poverty rate among
blacks, Hispanics and Indians was more than 30 percent, three times
that for whites, and the chances of black children living in
poverty were five times that for white children. Among the
homeless, 48 percent were blacks.
Both the mortality rate for black infants and the number of black
women who died of heart disease were twice as high as that of their
white counterparts. A report from a US national AIDS committee
notes that black and Hispanic Americans, who make up 21 percent of
the total population, account for 46 percent of the AIDS patients
registered so far in the country.
Racial discrimination in the US judicial system is also serious.
Although blacks, Hispanics and other ethnic-minority people account
for less than a quarter of the American population, they account
for two-thirds of criminals serving a sentence and 70 percent of
all those jailed. Blacks, who make up 12 percent of the population,
account for 54.2 percent of the prison population and more than 40
percent of those sentenced to death. A study report presented by
Maurice Glele-Anhanhanzo, a special rapporteur of the United
Nations Commission of Human Rights, who toured the United States in
October 1994, said that sentences meted out to blacks and other
colored people were usually two or three times more severe than
those given to whites for committing the same crime. The number of
blacks sentenced to death for killing whites were four times the
number of whites condemned for killing blacks. The 'New Tork Times'
reported in 1995 that although the number of murder victims in the
country since 1977 was divided almost equally between blacks and
whites, 85 percent of those who received capital sentences were
blacks for killing whites. Only 11 percent of those sentenced to
death were whites for killing blacks.
Statistics in 1991 showed that the United States had the largest
number of juveniles sentenced to death and that all juveniles
condemned to death were blacks. A US national drug addiction
research group reported that although 80 percent of drug users in
the country were whites, only 7 percent of those arrested for
taking drugs were whites, while 28 percent were blacks. Blacks
accounted for 98 percent of those receiving life sentences for
Racial discrimination is so pervasive in the United States that
three of the country's five largest sites for hazardous commercial
waste are in black or Hispanic ghettos, and 60 percent of these
minorities live in areas with hazardous waste sites. In 25 states
and 50 major cities, two-thirds of black and Hispanic residents
live close to toxic waste sites. Indian reserves are also targets
pursued by waste disposal companies. Blacks and other colored
people in very poor housing conditions have little access to the
housing allowances or home loans provided by the government.
Washington, DC boasts of hundred of branches of 15 major banks in
addition to dozens of small and medium-sized banks. Yet the volume
of loans offered to white communities (areas with more than 75
percent white residents) during the 1985-91 period were twice as
high as those offered to black communities (areas with 75 percent
black residents). In fact, some black communities have never had
access to home mortgages from the banks.
Racism in the United States has been growing in recent years, and
racial violence erupts frequently. In 1991 alone, 4,558 such cases
were reported. Since early 1995, more than 30 black churches in
southern US states have been burnt down by white racists. Within a
short 10 days in June 1996, five such incidents occurred. A study
released on August 5, 1996, by the National Asia-Pacific American
Legal Consortium reported that in 1995 a total of 458 cases of
anti-Asian violence were filed, 37 percent up over 1993. A Mexican
official report said that 1995 saw 72,864 human rights violations
against Mexican immigrants in the United States. Some 100 Mexicans
have been killed by American police and border patrols since 1990,
but most culprits are still at large.
It is thus clear that discrimination against blacks and other
colored people is an inherent evil in the United States, and this
tragic problem continues to plague American society.
6. THE DEPLORABLE STATE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN
Sex discrimination is a long-standing problem which still dogs
American society today. A survey conducted in September 1995 by a
US company reported that 84 percent of the female respondents said
they still faced restrictions and discrimination of one form or
another. Not until 1920 did American women legally win the same
voting rights as men. Today, women have only about 10 percent of
the seats in Congress and less that 12 percent of senior federal
posts. The 'USA Today' reported on January 27. 1997, that 12.2
million women stayed at home as housewives in 1995, more than
double the 5.5 million figure reported in 1970. Statistics indicate
that on average American women have 32 percent fewer job
opportunities than men do, while their unemployment rate is twice
as high as men's. The majority of American women work in the low-
paid service sector. A 1995 survey by 'Fortune' reported that women
accounted for only 5 percent of top-level executives in US
companies. Moreover, men and women do not receive equal pay for
equal work. Waitresses in restaurants are paid the equivalent of
only 75 percent of the wages paid to their male counterparts, and
the incomes of male scientists are generally 24-35 percent higher
than their female counterparts. In 1993, some 14.9 percent of
American women lived in poverty, 1.5 times the rate for men. A 1996
report by the Older Women's League of the United States said that
73 percent of American women over 55, who accounted for 60 percent
of the female workforce, lived below the poverty line and received
only 66 percent of the pay received by men of the same age group.
In 1993, the average annual income of retired women over 65 was
only 57 percent of that received by men of the same age.
In the United States, the number of violent crimes against women is
appallingly high. Each year, more than 6 million women were beaten
and 4,000 were murdered, according to a 'Los Angeles Times' report
on December 27, 1995. One case of family violence occurred every 18
seconds, and one in three women was victim of such offenses.
Between 2,000 and 4,000 women were beaten to death every year. The
United states also has the largest number of sexual assaults of any
country in the world. In 1993, an average of 118 in every 100,000
women between the ages of five and 59 were raped. Sexual harassment
of women has reached epidemic proportions in the US society. A 1995
survey reported that 76 percent of women polled said that sexual
harassment happened at their places of work, and 62 percent of them
complained that they had encountered such misconduct. Sexual
harassment is also rampant on American campuses. The American
Association of University Women reported in a 1993 study that 80
percent of female students had been the victims of sexual
The state of American children is worsening. The United States has
the highest rate of violence against children in the industrialized
world and the highest child fatality rate in the world arising from
shooting, homicide and suicide. Federal health officials reported
in February this year that among the 26 industrialized countries
surveyed, America's child homicide rate was five times the combined
rate of the other 25 nations. Its child suicide rate doubled their
aggregate rate, and the number of children shot dead was almost 12
times that of the other 25 countries combined.
Homicide has become the fourth biggest killer of American children
between the ages of one and four. 'USA Today' reported in 1995 that
the number of US children who died because of violence that year
was five times as high as 10 years before. Every day, 15 children
were killed by gunfire. In 1994, one in every 14 school children
across the country was threatened or hurt by gunfire.
Poverty is the number one cause of child death in the United
States. According to a study issued on June 3, 1996, by a Maryland
foundation, 15 million American children lived in poverty,
accounting for 26 percent of all children and 40 percent of the
impoverished population overall.
In 1994, 12 million children in the United States, or 20 percent of
the country's child population, were underfed, accounting for 40
percent of all people across the country without enough food. In
1995, 301 in every 1,000 American children under 12 were starving.
Information published by the Children's Defense Fund indicated that
in United States 2,660 children were born into poverty each day, of
whom 27 died of poverty. It is estimated that 10,000 children die
directly of poverty each year, and 100,000 homeless children are
forced to sleep in the streets. Poverty and despair have turned
many juveniles into criminals. The US Justice Department said in a
March 7, 1996 report that more than 150,000 young people were
arrested in 1994 for violent crimes such as murder, rape and
robbery. The figure was a record high in the US history. Compared
with a decade ago, the number of juvenile murderers showed a two-
fold increase, and the number of juveniles arrested for violence
jumped 50 percent.
Child abuse is serious in the United States. Investigations
indicate that 3 million children were abused or neglected. A
national center for missing children estimates that 1.5 million
children disappear each year, of whom 1 million escape from home or
are thrown out by their parents. The Associated Press reported on
August 19, 1996, that the United States had more than 200,000 child
victims of sexual abuse.
The Children's Defense Fund said in 1996 that every day, 8,493
American children were abused or neglected, and three died as
result of abuse. Nationwide, more than 1,800 children under four
died of abuse or neglect each year. The figure increased to more
than 2,000 if children between four and 17 who died of the same
causes were added.
7. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST OTHER NATIONS
The US human rights record outside its territorial boundaries is
not that glorious either. Since its founding over 200 years ago,
the United States has launched more than 70 wars and invasions
against other countries, killing countless foreign civilians with
its troops and weapons. The United States is the only country in
the world which has actually used nuclear weapons. It has conducted
more nuclear tests than any other countries and possesses the
largest nuclear arsenal. A 1995 report said that the United States
had 25,000 nuclear weapons. Since the explosion of its first atomic
bomb in 1945, the United States has conducted 1,030 nuclear tests,
accounting for more than half of the world's total of 2,037 tests.
Its military spending is also the largest in the world. In 1994, it
amounted to US$274.3 billion, more than twice as much as the
combined spending of eight other countries including Russia, China
Currently, its average daily spending on nuclear weapons is US$80
million. From 1940 to 1995, its total nuclear weapons spending was
US$4 trillion. Its nuclear weapons spending in 1995 alone was US$27
billion. If this money was used to solve the poverty problem in
third world countries, it would relieve hundreds of millions of
people from poverty.
The United States has long maintained many military bases in
various places outside its territorial boundaries and stationed
hundreds of thousands of troops there. Its overseas troops have
committed numerous human rights violations against local citizens.
The rape of a 12-year-old schoolgirl in Okinawa, Japan, in 1995 by
three American soldiers and the beating to death of a woman in the
Republic of Korea (ROK) in 1996 by a US serviceman are just two of
the latest examples. Statistics indicate that since 1967, a total
of 34,900 cases of rape, beating and murder of local people by ROK-
based American servicemen have been reported, averaging three cases
a day. Since 1972, US troops in Japan have committed 4,716 crimes,
or 205 cases a year, against local people, 106 of which were
targeted against women. According to reports in the February 10,
1997, 'Washington Post', in late 1995 and early 1996 amid
Okinawans' furious protests against American soldiers' rape of the
schoolgirl, American troops there "accidentally" fired 1,520
uranium-tipped bullets on an island under the jurisdiction of
The United States is the world's largest arms dealer. Its overseas
arms sales since 1989, according to a December 12, 1994 'Time'
article, had hit US$82.4 billion, exceeding the combined total
(US$66.8 billion) of all other countries in the world, and now its
share of the world's arms market has reached 70 percent. The German
pictorial 'Der Stern' reported in 1995 that the United States had
captured three quarters of the post-Cold War world weapons market,
with its arms sold to 146 countries. More and more American weapons
have been used to trigger wars and unrest, said the pictorial. 'USA
today' also reported in 1994 that in 39 of the 48 ethnic conflicts
around the world in the previous year, the warring parties obtained
weapons from the United States. No wonder the United States has
been dubbed "the world's largest exporter of death".
The United States is also the world's leading waste exporter. To
evade the responsibility of harnessing pollution within US
territory, the authorities and capitalists have been trying all
means, fair or foul, to export waste overseas, especially to
developing countries. Such toxic garbage is seriously damaging the
environment of these countries and jeopardizing the health of their
people. The United States reportedly produces 275 million tons of
toxic waste a year, with over 10 million tons exported to the third
world. In 1995 alone, a May 4, 1996 article in Thailand's 'New
Chinese Daily News' reported, the United States exported 200
million pounds (90,800 tons) of plastic waste to about 30 countries
and regions including China. US businessman William Ping Chen
smuggled 238 tons of garbage to China in just six months from July
to December 1995.
While the US human rights report rattles on about human rights
violations in other countries, the country itself still refuses to
join the major international conventions on human rights adopted by
the United Nations. They include the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Convention
on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid; the
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination
against Women; and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As
for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the
United States reluctantly ratified it only in 1992, 26 years after
it was adopted by the United Nations. And it restricted the
covenant's implementation strictly within the framework of its
constitution by adding a string of reservations, understandings,
statements and agreements so that the document would apply only to
the federation, not to the states, and could not come into force
automatically. These preconditions make the document not worth the
paper it is written on.
America's hegemonic acts of refusing to accept international norms
and frequently infringing upon other countries' sovereignty and
human rights have earned it the notoriety of being the most
condemned country in the world at the end of this century.
As a popular saying goes, one should first correct oneself before
trying to correct others. It is bizarre indeed that the United
States, with such a poor human rights record of its own, should act
as the world's human rights judge and concoct human rights reports
year after year, mounting "crusades" against other countries. If
the United States insists on having its own way, it will inevitably
provoke more counterattacks from other countries. In the end, it
will only hurt itself with the very stick it has been brandishing
against others. We strongly advise the US government to put its own
house in order before pointing its finger at other countries.
RRojas Research Unit---RRojas Databank/1997