Steven Freeland (in this article) -
“[Throughout human history there have been] many deliberate acts to destroy or exploit the natural environment to achieve military goals. In the 5th century BC the retreating Scythians poisoned the water wells in an effort to slow the advancing Persian army. Roman troops razed the city of Carthage in 146 BC and poisoned the surrounding soil with salt to prevent its future cultivation. The American Civil War saw the widespread implementation of ‘scorched earth’ policies.
In August 1945 the United States detonated atomic bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, resulting in massive loss of life and environmental destruction. During the Vietnam War, the US implemented Operation Ranch Hand, to devastating effect, to destroy vegetation used by its enemy for cover and sustenance, using chemicals such as Agent Orange.
More recently still, who can forget the haunting images of more than 700 burning Kuwaiti oil well-heads which had been deliberately ignited by retreating Iraqi forces during the Gulf War in 1991 a scene that was likened to Dante’s Inferno. Over the following 10 years the Saddam regime built barriers and levees to drain the al-Hawizeh and al-Hammar marshes in southern Iraq.” “This effectively destroyed the livelihood of the 500,000 Marsh Arabs who had inhabited this unique ecosystem.
Acts of significant and deliberate environmental destruction, exploitation and contamination during armed conflict have continued in more recent times, including the use of cluster bombs and weapons containing depleted uranium by US and British forces in Iraq.
At this moment the world is witnessing a continuing humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in the western region of Darfur in Sudan, which has seen the poisoning of water wells and drinking water installations as part of a deliberate government-supported strategy by the Janjaweed militia to eliminate or displace the ethnic black Africans living in that region.
Actions such as these demonstrate how the deliberate despoliation of the environment can have catastrophic effects, not only on human populations, but also in ecological terms. For example, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, as well as having the potential to kill many thousands of people in a single attack, have effects that may persist in the environment, in some cases indefinitely. The devastating effects of environmental warfare can continue long after the conflict is resolved, jeopardising or destroying the lives and livelihoods of those reliant on the natural environment and increasing numbers of refugees.”
“However, environmental damage and exploitation is still largely regarded, as rape once was, as an ‘unfortunate but inevitable’ consequence of war. It is, of course, true that war and armed conflict are inherently destructive of the environment, but that is no reason to allow leaders to deliberately or recklessly target the environment in order to achieve their military goals.”
Here is one important example of ecologically devastating militarism in recent decades -
Marjorie Cohn in CounterPunch (in June) -
“Agent Orange Continues to Poison Vietnam”
Bryan Farrell (in this article) -
“By the Pentagon’s own figures, the U.S. military uses more fossil fuels than any other single entity. But the Pentagon’s figures only take into consideration vehicle transport and facility maintenance. They don’t account for the energy needed to build something like the massive imperial embassy or mega-bases in Iraq or reconstruct the rest of the country. They also don’t factor in the energy used by related branches, like NASA, the nuclear industry, or the thousands of contractors that make or do things for the military.”
“Yet the U.S. military isn’t listed as one of the World Wildlife Fund’s ‘footprint issues.’ Nor is it mentioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council or Sierra Club as the largest consumer of the ‘dirty fuels’ both lobby against.”
“Wendell Berry, who … spent most of his life linking issues of the environment to the many maladies of our society, once said that just as military violence is ignored by most conservationists, violence against the earth is a matter ignored by most pacifists.”
(There is a lot of detail about the U.S. military’s ecological footprint in the rest of that article.)
This Onion video is a satirical — or at least goofy —
take on issues like these -
“How Can We Make The War In Iraq More Eco-Friendly”
[via The Unsuitablog]
The Ecowar blog focuses on how conflicts are interconnected with anti-ecological conditions.