For anyone concerned with militarism, news of the terrorist attacks in Brussels brought a familiar sense of dread. We ache as we hear the stories of more innocent lives lost, and we feel foreboding from the knowledge that the bombings will predictably fuel new cycles of violence and horror in targeted communities at home or abroad. It creates the binary world that neocons and terrorists seek: an era of permanent war in which all our attention and resources are absorbed – and the real crises of poverty, inequality, unemployment, social alienation and climate crisis ignored.
By Cristóbal Orellana González (from the Red Antimilitarista y Noviolenta de Andalucía)
In 2013, Ecologistas en Acción de Cádiz wrote an open letter to the central government titled “Environmental, health and safety risk to the civil population bordering the Naval Station Rota in Cádiz”. The letter outlined 19 different environmental concerns the group had about the base, which is a Spanish naval base fully funded by the USA on the south coast of Spain. The base houses US Navy and Marine Corps military personnel.
“There is no doubt that impoverishment and human insecurity may arise as a result of climate change, if preventive measures are not undertaken. However, there is missing evidence that global warming directly increases conflict.”
Dr. Vesselin Popovski, Senior Academic Programme Officer and head of the United Nations UniversityInstitute of Sustainability and Peace and Security Section.
Evidence for climate destruction caused by militarism-wars
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.
Pope Francis recently presented actor and environmentalist Leonardo DiCaprio with a leather-bound version of his encyclical on environmental concerns, Laudato Si’. If the irony escaped the Pope, it is because his 40,600-word document makes no mention of the meat industry as a contributor to climate change. Although animal agriculture is the leading cause of climate change, it remains taboo, in public debate and even in environmentalist circles, to say so. Perhaps it will take the peace movement, with its commitment to nonviolence, to break the silence.
I remember standing a few years ago, tears in my eyes, feeling yet not feeling my body, trying to shout but choked up, tears silently streaming down my face, knowing that I don't have the power to stop it. I remember I didn't shout, I felt paralysed, I held myself in my strong arms and felt lost. I remember slowly losing sensation, though pain and horror ran through every cell of my body. No one wanted to see or hear me, most of all not that one who was gripping me. He needed to and I was there, an empty vessel for his urges and needs.
In October 2015, the UK Conservative Party (known as the 'Tories') proposed rule changes to public sector pension funds and procurement policies that would prevent local government from being able to divest and boycott. The Tories had singled out the anti-arms and BDS campaigns, claiming that these undermined the UK government’s foreign policy.
One thing that the climate and disarmament movements can learn from each other about, and co-operate with each other on, is in the area of solutions. If both movements are successful, that means we are moving towards demilitarised, decarbonised economies. We are going to transform the energy and industrial sectors of our economies, a bigger issue in countries like Britain, France and the US which have high emissions and high military spending.
"This land does not belong to us. We belong to this land". This quote is from an interview with Hadassah Froman, in relation to her late husband – Rabbi Menachem Froman of the settlement1 of Tekoa next to Bethlehem in the West Bank.
Samantha Hargreaves from WoMin - an African gender and extractives alliance - speaks to Andrew Dey from WRI about the links between gender, extractive industries and militarism in Africa, and what this new network is doing to counter it.
Tell us about your work – what is Womin, when did you form, and who makes up your network? What are the critical issues you are working on?
Samantha: WoMin was launched in October 2013. We work with about 50 allied organisations in fourteen countries across Southern, East and West Africa. Most partners are working on issues of land, natural resources, extractive industries, environmental and climate justice and women’s rights. Our work with women rights organisations has generally been challenged by their focus to more 'traditional' gender issues like violence against women, women and girl child education and health, with a small number working on the terrain of environment, land and other economic justice questions.
WoMin Southern African women and coal exchange. Photo: Heidi Augestad
Activist magazines can be 'heavy', analysing war and other systemic violences. We want to make the next edition of The Broken Rifle more personal. We want to hear about the incredible people within our movements taking action for social change, and what has led them to become part of our struggle against militarism. Their stories are likely to be inspirational, sometimes emotional, and definitely thought-provoking. They will all be different.