The disclosure of information regarding human experiments in 1946 funded by the US government in Guatemala, where mental patients were infected with STDs, offered an opportunity, overlooked however, to really dwell and analyze the disquieting frame of mind that justifies the dehumanization of particular groups of people be it by reason of ethnicity, sexual orientation, political leanings, religion, etc. Every nation with an imperialistic past or present has used this device, in a more or less overt manner, to justify military or xenophobic agendas.
Surely, because of the very public apology from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered to the Guatemalan government, on behalf of a seemingly surprised and concerned administration, most people probably think this incident was an isolated one, part of a "misguided" interventionist foreign policy in Latin America that, nevertheless, happened 60 years ago and is now well buried in the past. But the reasoning behind deeming people from underdeveloped countries as expendable is still as relevant today as ever.
Although the US is hardly the only country guilty of these practices, the general lack of cultural awareness and persistent ethnocentric attitudes among the average American makes them, as a collective, singularly pliable and vulnerable to any racist or paranoid ideas promulgated by either political or religious groups. We are definitely more politically correct than we were 60, even 20 years ago, but political correctness does not and will never equal empathy. This lack of empathy takes us to a subtler form of dehumanization: Indifference.
In a poll conducted in September by The New York Times and CBS about which issues concerned the nation more, the war in Afghanistan got a dismal 3% of the votes. Somehow, even though we know the body count of innocent civilians alone far exceeds that of 9/11, the reason we invaded the country in the first place, we are just not engaged. This indifference is far from innocuous as lack of strong antiwar activism has in part allowed the escalation of military and political actions from our government in Iraq and Afghanistan, that we would otherwise find unacceptable in our own country. Would we allow another country to invade us and basically dismantle our country to "protect" us from ourselves and to implement their own brand of government because they believe they know better than us?
The US could certainly use some "saving" right now from the openly racist rhetoric of GOP and Tea Party members to win over the bigoted white vote, and the great number of Americans that are eagerly embracing it. The country's alarming and apparently inevitable descent into yet another radical right government would be reason enough to argue that Americans are a politically self destructive people that, while adept at war, are not able to govern themselves and as such should be taken over; self righteousness can work both ways.
Now that the real number of civilian casualties in Iraq has been leaked to the general public through Wikileaks (To see the actual numbers click on this link: click here) it would be interesting to see if this will actually sway people into action and give a much needed boost to the anemic antiwar movement in the US. It will also challenge the US government's ability to continue using the welfare of Iraqi and Afghan people as an excuse to prolong the conflicts.
In the current spirit of heartfelt apologies by the government, I believe there is a very long list of them that are still in order, 109, 032 and counting, and that's just in Iraq. An apology is due to each young soldier and civilian that has died so we can keep our way of life and for our obscenely rich to become more so.