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Anyone who cares about our natural environment should be marking with great sadness the centenary of World War I. Beyond the incredible destruction in European battlefields, the intense harvesting of forests, and the new focus on the fossil fuels of the Middle East, the Great War was the Chemists’ War. Poison gas became a weapon — one that would be used against many forms of life.
Insecticides were developed alongside nerve gases and from byproducts of explosives. World War II — the sequel made almost inevitable by the manner of ending the first one — produced, among other things, nuclear bombs, DDT, and a common language for discussing both — not to mention airplanes for delivering both.
War propagandists made killing easier by depicting foreign people as bugs. Insecticide marketers made buying their poisons patriotic by using war language to describe the “annihilation” of “invading” insects (never mind who was actually here first). DDT was made available for public purchase five days before the U.S. dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. On the first anniversary of the bomb, a full-page photograph of a mushroom cloud appeared in an advertisement for DDT.
War and environmental destruction don’t just overlap in how they’re thought and talked about. They don’t just promote each other through mutually reinforcing notions of machismo and domination. The connection is much deeper and more direct. War and preparations for war, including weapons testing, are themselves among the greatest destroyers of our environment. The U.S. military is a leading consumer of fossil fuels. From March 2003 to December 2007 the war on Iraq alone released more CO2 than 60% of all nations.
Rarely do we appreciate the extent to which wars are fought for control over resources the consumption of which will destroy us. Even more rarely do we appreciate the extent to which that consumption is driven by wars. The Confederate Army marched up toward Gettysburg in search of food to fuel itself. (Sherman burned the South, as he killed the Buffalo, to cause starvation — while the North exploited its land to fuel the war.) The British Navy sought control of oil first as a fuel for the ships of the British Navy, not for some other purpose. The Nazis went east, among several other reasons, for forests with which to fuel their war. The deforestation of the tropics that took off during World War II only accelerated during the permanent state of war that followed.
Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth. The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.
The United States fights its wars and even tests its weapons far from its shores, but remains pockmarked by environmental disaster areas and superfund sites created by its military. The environmental crisis has taken on enormous proportions, dramatically overshadowing the manufactured dangers that lie in Hillary Clinton’s contention that Vladimir Putin is a new Hitler or the common pretense in Washington, D.C., that Iran is building nukes or that killing people with drones is making us safer rather than more hated. And yet, each year, the EPA spends $622 million trying to figure out how to produce power without oil, while the military spends hundreds of billions of dollars burning oil in wars fought to control the oil supplies. The million dollars spent to keep each soldier in a foreign occupation for a year could create 20 green energy jobs at $50,000 each. The $1 trillion spent by the United States on militarism each year, and the $1 trillion spent by the rest of the world combined, could fund a conversion to sustainable living beyond most of our wildest dreams. Even 10% of it could.
When World War I ended, not only did a huge peace movement develop, but it was allied with a wildlife conservation movement. These days, those two movements appear divided and conquered. Once in a blue moon their paths cross, as environmental groups are persuaded to oppose a particular seizure of land or military base construction, as has happened in recent months with the movements to prevent the U.S. and South Korea from building a huge naval base on Jeju Island, and to prevent the U.S. Marine Corps from turning Pagan Island in the Northern Marianas into a bombing range. But try asking a well-funded environmental group to push for a transfer of public resources from militarism to clean energy or conservation and you might as well be trying to tackle a cloud of poison gas.
I’m pleased to be part of a movement just begun at WorldBeyondWar.org, already with people taking part in 57 nations, that seeks to replace our massive investment in war with a massive investment in actual defense of the earth. I have a suspicion that big environmental organizations would find great support for this plan were they to survey their members.
February 18th, 2014
Recent statements attributed to Secretary of State John Kerry show him again positioning the US to attack Syria. In a leaked report to the Washington Post, Kerry was quoted as saying that Obama’s Syria policy is failing and that it is time to change the strategy.
These are remarks that deserve further scrutiny. As it turns out, Kerry is dismayed that Syria has not destroyed its estimated 1300 tons of chemical weapons in a scant six months.
Syria has responded by stating that the actions of the rebels in that war torn country have disrupted the conveyance of the weapons to the appointed place.
It should be noted that when the United States joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997, it pledged to destroy all its chemical weapons within ten years.
The deadline came and went and the US did not comply. The US received another deadline, for 2012. And once again, failed to achieve this deadline.
And now, the US, which reportedly still has about 3000 tons of chemical weapons in its stockpiles, has stated it will not be able to comply with the treaty mandate until 2023.
What’s wrong with this picture? The US can’t but Syria must?
Obama initially responded dramatically to the report of the alleged gas attack near Damascus, an attack which was said to have taken place on August 21, 2013. He announced that he would make a targeted military strike on Syria, a decision which was subsequently derailed by Russian President Putin, who suggested that Syria join the CWC and move to destroy its chemical weapons cache.
Questions arose immediately as to the veracity of the report of the alleged gas attack.Hacked emails surfaced which incurred grave questions as to whether or not the alleged gas attack even took place. These emails showed one Army Colonel Anthony J. MacDonald chatting with a DoD employee, Eugene Furst, and others in a manner which raised some questions as to possible military or defense contractor involvement in the alleged gas attack.
Here is a partial thread between MacDonald and Furst. In the MacDonald/Furst exchange, we see Furst congratulating MacDonald on August 22, 2013, referencing the gas attack:
“By the way, saw your latest success, my congratulations. Good job.”
On the same date, MacDonald replied:
“As you see I’m far from this now, but I know our guys did their best.”
Further hacked emails between MacDonald’s wife and a friend raise questions as to whether or not the alleged attack was staged, “for the cameras,” as Jennifer MacDonald wrote to her friend, Mary Shapiro.
When the Army was contacted about its response to these hacked emails, the reply was firm but somewhat evasive. Press Officer Lt Col Donald Peters told this reporter that the matter was under investigation and therefore no further comment could be tendered at that time.
As it turned out, the issues surrounding the hacked emails were not investigated. Peters attempted to persuade this reporter that as MacDonald allegedly retired from the military on August 15, right before the incident, that the Army had no cause to investigate.
However, according to his Linked in page, MacDonald is still with the Army and is now serving as a Supervisory Intelligence Specialist.
When confronted with this, Army Press Officer Peters issued a No Comment.
Various sources, including the Sunshine Project, have stated that the US repeatedly violated the CWC and used these illegal weapons in its war against Iraq.
The Iraqi war was also found to have been launched on bogus intelligence. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq. They were, however, used against the Iraqis by the US government.
The massive destabilization of the region through the US’s repeated and spurious declarations of threat will have a blow back that few can predict. Syria has promised to attack Israel should Obama launch a military action against that country. Is Obama so foolish as to put his purported ally, Israel, at this elevated a risk?
Or was this the plan, all along? In the shadowy world of intelligence and propaganda, little is what it appears to be. The US government and corporate accommodation of the Nazi extermination programs is a matter of historical record. The only question left is whether or not the US’s “special interest” in eugenics is still ongoing.
This scenario is not what we have been led to believe would occur. But history supports this perception. And history, as we know, also has a nasty way of repeating itself.
Delivered by The Daily Sheeple
US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel also urged the Syrian government to intensify removal efforts [AP]
|Russia has backed Syria as acting in good faith to eliminate its chemical weapons, after the US accused the government of Bashar al-Assad of stalling the plan due to end in June.
Mikhail Ulyanov, a Russian diplomat, was quoted by the Interfax news agency on Friday as saying that there was no need for additional pressure on Damascus over the destruction of its stockpiles.
“We see that the Syrians are approaching the fulfilment of their obligations seriously and in good faith,” he said.
The comment came after the US said just four percent of Syria’s declared chemical stock has been eliminated.
Efforts to remove these materials from Syria have “seriously languished and stalled”, said ambassador Robert Mikulak in a statement to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) on Thursday.
“Syria must immediately take the necessary actions to comply with its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Executive Council decisions, and UN Security Council Resolution 2118,” said Mikulak, the US permanent representative to the OPCW.
Timelines adopted last year required that 100 percent of “priority one” chemicals be eliminated by December 31, 2013, while the deadline for removing “priority two” chemicals is Feburary 5. That deadline will also not be met.
The Syrian government has attributed the delays to “security concerns”, saying it needs additional equipment to ensure their safe transportation – a claim Mikulak rejected.
“Syria’s requests for equipment and open-ended delaying of the removal operation could ultimately jeopardise the carefully timed and coordinated multi-state removal and destruction effort,” he said.
During a visit to Poland on Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel also criticised Syrian efforts, saying he has asked his Russian counterpart to put pressure on Damascus to comply with the deal.
“I do not know what the Syrian government’s motives are – if this is incompetence – or why they are behind in delivering these materials,” Hagel told reporters in Warsaw, the capital. “They need to fix this.”
Peace talks continue
Meanwhile, peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition continued on Thursday, with UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi reporting little progress.
In an afternoon update to the media in Geneva, Switzerland, Brahimi said he hoped the two sides would “draw some lessons” from the first round of talks, scheduled to end on Friday, in hopes of becoming better organised for the next round.
Terrorism was among the topics discussed on Thursday, Brahimi said, although there was no agreement on how to deal with it.
“We had tense moments and also rather promising moments,” he said.
Opposition delegation spokesman Louay Safi told reporters that the two sides had spoken about stopping the violence in Syria, noting the opposition presented evidence of government massacres within residential neighbourhoods.
Safi said the government wanted to speak first about issues such as ending the violence and bringing humanitarian aid, instead of dealing with the trickier issue of a political transition. “We believe this is the wrong sequence,” he added.
The opposition views a transitional government as the first step towards a political solution, and has insisted that President Bashar al-Assad step down.
The Geneva 1 communique, a never-implemented roadmap developed during 2012 talks, calls for a transitional government, but the regime denies the document requires Assad to resign.