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Proposals to Unite for Peace and the Environment
[April 1, 2016]
Corporate capitalism and its politicians’ “war on terror” is killing, maiming and torturing millions of people, especially in oil rich Middle East and land rich Africa. The wars are forcing tens of millions to flee inside and outside their countries, creating more refugees than since World War 11. These wars are simultaneously choking Mother Earth, polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that spawns our food, eradicating species, and negatively changing the climate.
Warring invaders create resistance. Some resisters resort to terror
tactics to counter imperialisms terror. IS, Al-Qaeda and others murder
wantonly without regard to human lives or the environment.
People living in the targeted wars-for-profit countries want no part of it. Most people in the West, however, are not upset enough to protest, although many wish for peace. A tiny minority in the warring countries does speak out and some act against what has become a permanent state of war.
A large majority is aware that the main cause of climate change and destruction of nature is human motivated. Many are acting against this, but most environmental organizations and activists ignore the wars that kill people while they pollute the world.
We need to unite the movements against war and against environmental destruction. They are naturally joined given that the main cause of these devastations is the same: profit and power greed; and the consequences are the same: murder and destruction to whatever is in the way.
A group of Tid til Fred peace activists before the sculptur of Frederikke, woman of peace. Sculptor Thomas Dambo
Evidence for climate destruction caused by militarism-wars
“There is no worse aggression against Mother Earth and her children than war. War destroys life. Nothing and nobody can escape war... Thus, the environment will never be the same after a war. Wars are the greatest waste of life and natural resources,” states Bolivian President Evo Morales in his “10 Commandments to Save the Planet, Humankind and Life”:
The CIA reported in its 2006 Factbook that only 35 countries consume more oil per day than does the Pentagon. The US has 6,000 military facilities inside the country, and 800 bases in 150 countries with a total of 1.4 million military personnel, plus tens of thousands of highly paid civilian mercenaries. The US, however, does not report military emissions abroad in the national greenhouse gas inventories that all industrialized nations should report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The US got that accepted at the 1999 Kyoto climate agreement, albeit it never signed on.
The Pentagon’s major consultant, LMI Government Consulting, reported in April 2007 that the Pentagon consumed as much as 20 billion liters of oil yearly, the number one consumer of petroleum. It is also a great user of cement, which is another major cause of CO2 emissions. The use of depleted uranium, “spreads tens of thousands of pounds of micro-particles of radioactive and highly toxic waste throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and the Balkans”, wrote Sara Flounders, co-director of International Action Center.http://www.globalresearch.ca/pentagon-s-role-in-global-catastrophe-add-climate-havoc-to-war-crimes/16609
“The U.S. sells land mines and cluster bombs that are a major cause of delayed explosives, maiming and disabling especially peasant farmers and rural peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Israel dropped more than 1 million U.S.-provided cluster bombs on Lebanon during its 2006 invasion”.
Environmentalists Against War activist Gar Smith wrote (www.envirosagainstwar.org ) that the U.S. dropped 25 million bombs and 72 million liters of chemical weapons on Vietnam between 1960 and 1975. Millions of liters of chemicals and bombs were also dropped on Cambodia and Laos. Fourteen percent of Vietnam’s forests were ruined forever; 15,000 square kilometers of land destroyed (www.rainbowwarrior2005.wordpress.com/2008/10/09 ).
In the first U.S. war against Iraq, the 1991 Gulf War, 80,000 tons of climate-warming gases were dropped by the Pentagon in just a few weeks. 700 oil wells exploded in flames lasting months. In 2003, the U.S. hit Iraq in the first few weeks with 28,000 rockets, bombs and missiles, many using depleted uranium. The Pentagon wars include the use of lead, nitrates, nitrites, hydrocarbons, phosphorus, radio-active debris, corrosive and toxic heavy metals.
With 9/11 came the Bush regime’s “war on terror”
against Afghanistan and Iraq, which Obama extended to Pakistan, Yemen,
Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. Besides the murder
of millions, the destruction to the environment by exploding bombs and
toxins is incalculable. One excellent UK activist website tries to keep
up with these disasters: www.toxicremnantsofwar.info .
President Morales points to a way out in his first commandment: “To end with capitalism”. “We know that in order to cure Mother Earth it is necessary to be conscientious that this disease has a name… It is the logic of the capitalist system that is destroying the planet…the endless logic of consumption, of using war as an instrument to obtain markets and appropriate markets and natural resources…there are no objects sacred or worthy of respect.”
The war profiteers and their politicians lie that there is not enough money for decent social network systems. Yet there is plenty of money for their wars, and plenty of profits. Under Obama corporate profits after taxes has grown 171%, more than since World War 11. Profits are twice as high as during the supra neo-liberal Reagan regime. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-17/corporate-profits-soar-as-executives-attack-obama-policy.html
The military-industrial complex garners extraordinary rates of profit. According to a study by financial advisory firm Morgan Stanley, shares in the major US arms manufacturers have risen 27,699% over the past fifty years versus 6,777% for the broader market. In recent years, arms corporation Lockheed Martin has returned 149% to their investors, Raytheon 124% and Grumman 114%. http://www.morganstanley.com/
Besides the filth the US military spreads around the world, it is also
indifferent to destroying its home base. The Defense Department ignores
the U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency orders to
clean up its contamination. The Pentagon uses perchlorate and trichloroethylene,
the greatest water contaminants. Testing nuclear weapons also contaminates
millions of hectares of land and water. More than 1,000 uranium mines
have been abandoned on Navajo reservations in Arizona and New Mexico.
(See the activist online website of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
military base in Wisconsin: http://cswab.org ).
We must unite peace and environment activism
My internet search was limited to the Spanish, Danish and English languages, and I found little regarding what peace and environmental groups are doing to unite actions. One exception occurred during the worldwide demonstrations on September 21, 2014, which sought to convince the UN summit on climate change (COP21) to take serious actions. Some 200 hundred organizations signed a declaration concerning causes of climate change. Here are extracts:
“Climate change is the result of an unjust economic system…It is crucial for us to unify and strengthen our economic, social and environmental struggles…We need to replace capitalism with a new system that seeks harmony between humans and nature and not an endless growth model…to make more and more profit. We need a system that links climate change and human rights and provides for the protection of most vulnerable communities like migrants, and recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples.”
Among the proposals: Dismantle the war industry and military infrastructure
in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by warfare, and
divert war budgets to promote genuine peace.
A few online groups in Spanish take up these issues verbally. They
In Denmark, where I live, we have only one small anti-war group that tries to unite the issues, but after 18 months of struggle no environmental group joins with us. Tid Til Fred – aktiv mod krig (Time for Peace – active against war) seeks to: Raise consciousness and understanding about militarism/wars as the major cause of mass murder, the forced flight of people and environmental damage; unite actions against wars, for refugees and for the environment; we strive to force the government to react to our actions and stop their wars. (www.tidtilfred.nu )
In addition to US online groupings already mentioned earlier, a few offer petitions (www.warisacrime.org , www.rootsaction.org ), but actions linking the issues are scarce. Some US peace groups started meeting in March to revive the stagnated peace movement.
Promoting Enduring Peace (www.pepeace.org ) wrote in its January 2016
call: “War is a major contributor to the decline in climate and
other living conditions for humans and other species…Warfare is
increasing worldwide while the peace movement is fragmented and mass
marches and actions are few and far between. We want to revive the movement.
We want to gather… peace/environment/social justice movements
and important writers…to discuss new structures, new ways of working…to
build a powerful movement... The peace movement must stick to its principles
and not take the pressure off politicians and parties just because they
make anti-war promises. Our primary tool is direct action: protest,
civil disobedience, boycotts.”
Proposals for how/where/why the peace and environmental movements could work together. Both movements could join hands at the same places. They could agree to conduct civil disobedience actions separately or together, or there could be a combination of action forms.
1. The upcoming Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) would be a natural. The April 5-18 protests opposing the $1.75 trillion spent on the weapons industry could embrace milieu groups protesting fracking, coal, oil and gas energy, the rape of the Amazon and the Artic. Money diverted from the weapons industry plus its wars could finance renewable energy to replace fossil fuels 100%, as well as finance project to reconcile conflicts throughout the world. GDAMS sponsors--International Peace Bureau and United for Peace and Justice in the US--could propose to environmental groups. Friends of the Earth Belgium and Earth Action International are part of IPB. They could encourage such actions.
The IPB world congress will take place in Berlin September 30-October 3, under the banner, “Disarm! For a climate of peace – creating an action agenda”. This could be a perfect venue for all peace and environmental organizations to participate: “war creates climate catastrophes”!
2. Breakfree 2016.org is organizing resistance May 4-15 to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground. Many large environmental groups as well as indigenous peoples are involved in the US, UK, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa. It would be even greater to incorporate proposals and actions to stop wars since the weapons industry and its wars damage the planet, and the fossil fuel industry benefits from wars. We should all demand that the West get out of Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa; stop bombing people in order to steal their resources and force “regime change”; tell Western allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia to stop aiding the Islamic State, which the West’s wars helped create as they did Taleban and Alqaeda.
3. In August there could be actions in memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
in which peace and environmental groups could join hands. Greenpeace
started in 1971 by protecting the planet and thereby advocating for
disarmament. Its peace work has dallied but it still stands for: “end
all nuclear threats; promote peace, global disarmament and non-violence.”
Peace groups should approach Greenpeace and other similar organizations for joint actions.
4. COP 22 in November-December should be considered a major venue for
environmental, peace, and social organizations to join hands against
war and climate change. Massive civil disobedience actions should be
prepared to curb the machine. And on December 10, International Human
Rights Day, could also be a unity day for human rights for all, support
for refugees, stop wars and stop using fossil fuels.
Why these two important movements need to unite, at least in some actions, should be clear: the planet can not be saved as long as there are massively destructive wars. Furthermore most of the major wars are fought over fossil fuel resources. Climate change is also consequence of and major reason for wars. A 2014-5 study by the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America concluded:
“There is evidence that the 2007-2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centers. Century-long observed trends in precipitation, temperature, and sea-level pressure, supported by climate model results, strongly suggest that anthropogenic forcing has increased the probability of severe and persistent droughts in this region, and made the occurrence of a 3-year drought as severe as that of 2007-2010 2 to 3 times more likely than by natural variability alone. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.” http://www.pnas.org/content/112/11/3241
Nearly all organizations seek to build an identity and do not wish to dissolve or merge into other groups. But action coalitions should not be a threat to organizations politically. I believe that this process once set in motion could and should lead to deeper unity between the two great movements looking toward a people’s front for “real change”, that is, an economic and political system not based on endless profit that requires war and environmental destruction.
A key challenge to such unity is that many environmental groups are financed by private donors and foundations, some of whom and are not anti-war. Some groups are NGOs, which receive money from governments, which make war. Another key challenge is that many people see no other choice but to let the West and Russia war against IS whose terror is limitless. Furthermore, many environmentalists are not leftists while most peace activists tend to be left oriented. Nevertheless, peoples’ fronts have been formed in which political differences has not played the decisive role. This occurred during most of the struggle against fascism/Nazism.
We have wandered the deserts and the seas. We have been hungry and thirsty. We have been tortured and murdered. We are of the working class, of the castes; we are many colors and nationalities. We share a common vision: peace, freedom, equality, shelter, bread and water for all. To live in peace and harmony with ourselves and nature we must struggle together.
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