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The Marshallese and Nuclear Weapon Testing Essay

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Updated: Jul 5th, 2019

Military progress is the aim of at least every country in the world. Many nations have invested a lot of money in research and development of various weapons that will enhance the security of the country as a whole. In the effort to come up with the perfect weapons, it becomes necessary for any country to test whether their weapons are of the right quality.

Nevertheless, weapons have various effects when tested and they have to be tested where they would cause minimum effects to human beings. In the period between 1946 and1958, the United States of America used the Marshall Islands to test for its nuclear weapons. However, this caused a lot of negative effects to the natives who had to change their ways of life besides looking for other ways of coping with the situation.

It is important to point out that the United States of America did not reveal to Marshallese the exact effects that nuclear weapons would have on their lives. Nonetheless, the gravity of the testing soon downed on the people of Marshall Islands. To begin with, the blasts completely destroyed some islands which were hitherto residential areas for the Marshallese.

Instead, huge craters were formed especially in the lagoons. This meant that the people would no longer have their land though they had been promised that their land was to be given back to them (Barker 20). Moreover, several coral Islands were completely broken up as a result of the nuclear testing that was carried out. Similarly, radioactive fallout resulted after the crushed corals and water mixed with the radioactive particles that were released.

The other effects that the Marshallese people suffered as a result of nuclear weapon testing had to do with the high levels of radiations that were released. Firstly, the radiations were freely released into the atmosphere. Consequently, people inhaled these radiations into their bodies (Barker 24). Secondly, the radiations stuck on various plants including the coconut plants where the Marshallese got the oil they applied on their skin and hair.

Additionally, radiations were ingested by young children who thought it was snow. Furthermore, the food and water that people were using also got contaminated with the radiations. These radiations have been associated with several health problems that have affected the Marshallese people including cancer, typhoid and reproductive health problems (Barker 28). It is worth noting that these effects have gone beyond the first generation.

Additionally, before any testing was commenced, people were relocated to other areas. These compelled the people to change not only their economic activities given that they were taken to areas where agriculture was not possible, but also their way of life. Moreover, these people had to depend on subsidy food from the U.S. government thus compelling them to change their diet (Barker 25).

Besides, the food issued by the U.S. government contained a lot of fats and sodium which exposed the Marshallese people to various health hazards. Similarly, the displaced people were forced to change their cultural and political activities. As a matter of fact, the Marshallese people had to change their cultural songs, their traditional diet as well as other rituals after they were displaced (Barker 27).

Despite the effects that the Marshallese people suffered due to the nuclear weapon testing, they have found ways of dealing with the situation. Firstly, the Marshall Islands tried to petition the United Nations in the year 1954 and 1957 in a move that was aimed at seeking address to the effects that the natives were suffering.

On the same note, the Marshallese people have learnt on how to lobby the congress and work with the executive branch so as to influence the U.S. government policy on radiological issues in the Marshall Islands. This is aimed at getting the U.S. government to support the people who were affected. On the same note, the Republic of Marshall Island and the U.S. government agreed in the 177 Agreement that the United States will compensate the people who got affected by the nuclear testing.

In addition, the U.S. government agreed to run medical programs in aid of the victims though there are some restrictions imposed (Barker 28). Due to the unproductive nature of the land after the testing, the Marshallese people have learnt to change their diet. They depend on subsidized food that is provided by the government of America.

Moreover, some areas have had soil and plants stripped off prompting the return of the Marshallese. However, they have had to start their lives from scratch and use intensive agricultural methods to try and restore the soil and plants (Barker 27). The formation of the nuclear claims tribunal was also an important strategy to lobby for compensation.

The nuclear testing is a clear case of intercultural conflicts where the United States wanted to enhance its weapons while the Marshallese simply wanted to maintain their peaceful livelihood. Using its influence, the United States got its way and tested the weapons knowing pretty well that the same had dire consequences on the natives. Notably, U.S. took advantage of the fact that Marshallese people were not well educated and thus did not reveal the exact effects of their intended exercise.

However, we should ask ourselves whether it is okay for a cultural group to advance its egocentric objectives at the expense of others. Culture is very essential for the lives of people in the world. Various cultures define various things differently and place differing weights on everything. Consequently, there is bound to be intercultural conflict whenever people from different cultural backgrounds interact.

People will always have different perspectives regarding given ideas. Moreover, each cultural group will always have diverse priorities. Nevertheless, it is important to know that there is no superior culture. All cultures are equal and people should be free to practice their culture. People should learn to appreciate the diversity in culture and respect other people’s believes.

In advancing their interests, people and by extension countries should take care so as not to interfere with other people’s ways of life. While we should be ready to defend our culture, we should not do it in an ethnocentric way that jeopardizes other people’s way of doing things. The United States of America was not ready to displace its own citizens to create testing fields.

However, they took advantage of the remoteness of Marshall Islands to test their nuclear weapons displacing people in the process and disregarding the imminent negative effects (Barker 27). When we learn that all people are equal human beings regardless of their cultural background, then we will be able to throw intercultural conflicts in the dustbin of oblivion.

Work Cited

Barker, Holly M. Bravo for the Marshallese: regaining Control in a Post-Nuclear, Post-Colonial World. Stanford: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.

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