WAR WATCH WEDNESDAYS, #86, AUGUST 10, 2022
Barry Sanders. The Green Zone. War v. Planet.
Dick wrote the following as a KPSQ weekly editorial, #18, Sat. Feb. 24, 2018. He presented them in 5 to 7 minutes from April 2017 to September 29, 2018 on the weekly program “Folkus,” directed by Jim Lukens. My topic was the convergence of US twentieth-and twenty-first centuries capitalism, wars, climate catastrophe, and population and consumption increase. (Convergence with the corona virus pandemic, which has killed over a million of US populace, didn’t begin until in 2019.)
War v. Environment. Barry Sanders, The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism (2009). (This little book published over a decade ago remains one of the best accounts of the climate/militarism relationship.)
Title of my talk: The Military Bridge from Holocene to Anthropocene
The Holocene epoch of stable climate, that allowed our civilization, has ended. Punctuated by the extraordinary human buildup of population, consumption in affluent countries, capitalism/economic growth, wars, CO2/greenhouse gases, warming/weather intensification, deforestation, acidification of the rising oceans, and mass extinction of animals and plants, the Anthropocene epoch has begun. Humans have forced evolution itself into a new, rapidly developing trajectory.
Perhaps the single greatest institutional contributor to warming, the largest single source of pollution in the world, is US militarism; in particular, the military in its most ferocious mode-- the US military at war, now ceaseless. The military produces enough greenhouse gases to place the entire globe in danger. But ironically, war, that most destructive of human behaviors, is commonly disregarded.
The private Information Clearing House, as of January 2009, counted Iraq War civilian deaths at 1,297,997 since the invasion in 2003. But I have found no record anywhere of the cows and chicken, dogs and cats, birds and snakes, crickets or butterflies killed during those or any other years or wars, nor of the destruction of soils or rivers or forests.
If humans who were seeking to avoid death were so slaughtered, how enormous must have been the decimation of other species and the sources of life from the shooting, firing, dropping, exploding, and incinerating. The “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq began at 10:15 the evening of March 19, 2003, when some 1,700 bombers and fighter planes flew some 1,400 sorties and fired 504 cruise missiles directly into Baghdad. In the first two days 800 cruise missiles were fired, one every four minutes, day and night. Each missile weighed about 3,000 pounds, adding up to a total of 1,200 tons, or 2,400,000 pounds of explosives.
When the US goes to war against a foreign nation it is a war not only against people, but against the Earth, the soil and animals and plants, in the most far-reaching, annihilating ways. The earth can no longer absorb the punishment of war of the ferocity that the greatest superpower in history is capable of inflicting.
Yet the US will not only not let go its will to dominate the world; rather it is tightening its grip. In its latest National Defense Strategy, the Pentagon declared a new Cold War with both China and Russia and promised to wage the war around the globe. That is, it is not a defense strategy, but an aggressive attempt to justify a massively expensive military buildup for global control, the effects of which on the environment and climate are beyond imagination.
What the Pentagon offers us is the old, ruinous, ostensible threat of Cold War adversaries. As Pentagon Secretary Jim Mattis expressed it, “Great Power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of U.S. national security.” To the Pentagon, primarily China and Russia threaten the world, not warming and all its costs (of which the Pentagon is aware).
You and I can make two effective responses right now. We can henceforth delete the word “Defense” from the Pentagon. It’s the War Department, just as it was before President Truman and the Pentagon cunningly changed its name. And we can actively support anti-war, anti-imperial organizations; such as Veterans for Peace, Peace Action, AFSC/FCNL, ICAN, NAPF, and OMNI.
Then we can assist the nascent international effort to connect war and warming by urging the United Nations to report the full costs to species and earth of US wars, and the Pentagon to keep full records of its slaughters.
And then we can laugh out loud at all the greenwashing distracting us from these war and warming connections and costs, many as absurd as Baghdad’s inner fortress named the “green zone.” (#18 , 624 words)