Support radically independent journalism.
My son left a 2015 Guinness Book of World Records lying around. It’s largely a mix of athletic feats, extravagant spending, freakish body conditions and diseases, and people who do dumb stuff in order to get into the book. It also features two sections focused on mass-murder. One celebrates the technology used to kill people. In that section, the United States is featured almost exclusively. The other section looks more at the wars, killing, and dying. In that section, the United States could not be avoided, but every effort was made.
Starting with the celebration of the tools of death, Guinness chooses to include these awards for the United States of America:
Most sea craft.
Most total firepower.
Most expensive super carrier.
Longest range stealth mini-sub.
Most expensive drone.
Most expensive military aircraft program.
Largest air force.
Most common fighter aircraft.
Longest “serving” bomber.
Largest anti-mine naval exercise.
Largest aerial assault using poisoned mice.
First successful combat submarine.
First air-to-air refueling.
First pilotless aircraft to cross the Pacific.
First drone launched from a submerged submarine.
Highest number of firearms per person.
First 3-D printed pistol.
Wow! Cool! Exciting! Go, Science!
Now, flip to the pages with wars, and the U.S. role seems to shrink a bit. Lots of other nations emerge from the shadows. The United States is listed as spending the most money on militarism and launching the most drone strikes. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice that the “least peaceful” nations (Afghanistan, Somalia, and Syria) are all nations that the United States is bombing, and that the nation from which the most refugees have fled (Afghanistan) has seen that happen during a U.S. “liberation” or occupation. But every effort is made to depict war as emerging from somewhere other than the Pentagon.
The deadliest conflict for children is supposedly in Syria, with no mention of Iraq. The list of wars with the highest death tolls since 1955 includes the war on Vietnam, but no mention of Iraq at all. The highest number of civilian deaths in an undeclared war is supposedly Syria, perhaps because somebody is thinking that somebody else “declared” “War!” before destroying Iraq. The “least secure” nukes are supposedly in North Korea. Etc.
A serious look at world records would be a little different. It might look something like this:
Nation fighting greatest number of simultaneous wars: United States.
Nation with greatest number of troops stationed abroad: United States.
Nation with greatest number of foreign bases: United States.
Nation with troops in greatest number of nations: United States.
Nation with greatest number of troops at sea: United States.
Nation with greatest military use of outerspace: United States.
Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to the world: United States.
Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to the Middle East: United States.
Nation selling the greatest quantity of weaponry to poor nations: United States.
Nation giving the greatest quantity of weaponry to other nations: United States.
Nation giving the greatest quantity of weaponry to proxy fighters abroad: United States.
Nation whose weaponry is used on both sides of the greatest number of wars: United States.
Nation whose military most often trains two sets of troops to fight against each other: United States.
Nation holding out on ratifying the greatest number of treaties restricting weaponry and war-making: United States.
Only nation that has dropped nuclear bombs on cities: United States.
Nation using and selling the most cluster bombs, depleted uranium weapons, white phosphorus, and napalm: United States.
Nation whose military consumes the most petroleum: United States.
Nation that has overthrown the most other governments: United States.
Nation that has participated in the most wars since World War II: United States.
Nation that has dropped the most bombs since World War II: United States.
Nation that has killed the most people since World War II: United States.
Only nation in which a presidential candidate has been asked in a televised debate if he will be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of his basic duties if elected: United States.