Glen Barry / Earth Meanders – 2005-08-25 00:02:41
Peace and Ecological Sustainability in Our Time:
Stop the Lies, End the War, Save Our Climate
Glen Barry / Earth Meanders
(August 21, 2005) — I have just returned from nearly a week of protesting the Iraqi war with Cindy Sheehan and company at Camp Casey, Texas. This grieving yet articulate mother has captured the imagination of the American people.
She speaks truth to power by strongly stating that George Bush has lied about the Iraqi War, causing soldiers and civilians daily to die for nothing. It is known from the Downing street memo and elsewhere that President Bush knew Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction or any ties to Al Qaeda. Yet he preemptively attacked Iraq, shifting attention from far more danger threats of terrorism and climate change.
This essay will focus upon Bush’s lies across the spectrum of war, climate, oil and terrorism –focusing upon the imperative of ending this war and saving our climate – which together threaten the very foundation of civilized life.
The nexus that unites these seemingly unrelated issues is oil. The real oil crisis is not its price but its changing of climate, and terror and war resulting from our dependence. America’s insatiable thirst for oil and other resources, combined with the unjust Iraqi war’s breeding of massive amounts of new terrorists, together threaten to bring a state of permanent war (perma-war) and ecological collapse upon the Earth.
In my environmental blogging, I have long highlighted that President Bush not only lies about the unjust Iraqi war – he also constantly lies about climate change, and other issues such as forest conservation (witness the Orwellian “Healthy Forests” policies). In April of 2004 my first Earth Meanders, entitled “Today in America – Conservative Fascism and Environmental Decline” made the point that Americans are more than willing to use military means to access resources including oil. And in August of 2004, in “Conservative Fascism is Un-American”, I go well beyond calling Mr. Bush a liar.
This essay suggests the Iraqi War, repugnant in its own right, also distracts from more immediate threats to our civilization – namely climate change and stopping religious based terrorism. It will be forcefully argued that the Iraqi war must end now – demanding immediate phased withdrawal and adoption of better strategies to fuel our society and stop murderous fanatics of all types.
War and Terror
America is engaged in an unjust, unwarranted and unwinnable war that was deceitfully launched. The rhetoric behind launching the war has changed repeatedly – ranging from illusory weapons, to promoting democracy, to now just wanting to fix a mess of America’s own making. By attacking a whole country’s people on the barest of links to 911, the war in Iraq has made us less safe, as many more terrorists have been created.
What emerges is a world of chaotic violence where terrorist victims themselves terrorize making new victims. Is this vision of a damaged humanity the best we can do? This gets to the crux of why I spent a week traveling to and protesting in Crawford.
It is worth considering how we have gotten to this point. Following the dastardly 911 attacks upon America, President Bush reacted incautiously and made things worse, frittering away an opportunity to galvanize the World. The tremendous good will that existed in America and the world post-911 was squandered by falsely linking Iraq and Al Qaeda. Rather than isolating the culprits, he had made them stronger, as Iraq has become a quagmire.
I think President Bush – of average intelligence, and obviously insecure and incurious – wanted to demonstrate how tough he was after failing to protect America from attack. Rather than seeking to prudently and cautiously exercise his power, he lashed out at the nearest target – a tinpot dictator. I think the noble cause to which Bush is attributing our soldier’s deaths is his own ego and inability to admit and fix a mistake of his own making. It is up to all Americans that love their country, freedom and liberty to remedy these grave errors of judgment.
Suggestions that we can not afford to withdraw are overblown and disingenuous. Recent assertions that the situation is so bad we can not leave is not enough justification for continued war. When a country makes a mistake, it must owe up to it and try to fix it. We must begin a phased withdraw immediately and focus upon building permanent international coalitions and institutions to fight global terrorism. The United States cannot and should not police the world. Real and lasting responses to war, terrorism and even climate change require a fair set of global rules for all, with a real focus upon equity and justice.
America must once again lead in creating international law and a global system of coalitions and institutions to address terrorism. After leading after the World Wars in the creation of the United Nations, NATO and the body of international law that provide rules that could make the whole World a safer, better place; America has now retreated into belligerent unilateral militarism. This will not prove adequate against non-state threats such as terrorism and climate change.
Where once Americans lead, now they act as if they are the only country ever to have been hurt by an attack, and thus are above the rule of international law, and may lash out at will on the flimsiest rationales. By setting the precedent for unprovoked unilateral attack, Mr. Bush has done great evil, setting back peace and prosperity for decades to come. How long before China or another country exercises this right? America benefits from strong international laws.
Oil and Climate Change
While war for oil may be an oversimplification, it certainly has played a central role. Bush lies are all symptomatic of America’s profound addiction to imported oil and other resources. Access to cheap resources is a requirement for maintaining America’s profoundly ecologically unsustainable levels of material consumption. Fat ass Americans have always taken resources at the point of the gun. The Iraqi war is only the most recent instance of American refusal to live equitably, justly and sustainably.
There are few things more repulsive than a SUV driving, McMansion living American whining about oil prices. Peace and ecological sustainability in America are going to require sacrifice – particularly less energy use. The recent increases in gasoline prices are a welcome incentive. These prices, which should be much higher still, more accurately reflect the scarcity and costs to the environment of burning oil. America’s standard of living is at stake not because of the expense of oil, but because in our myopic drive to keep it cheap we are doing great harm.
There exists a massive oil bubble economy in the United States. Virtually every item required to live – from necessities such as food to luxuries such as big cars – are utterly dependent upon oil. Oil is a finite resource and shows signs of peaking in quantity. How will the world and America in particular feed, house, clothe and employ our huge population when oil is gone or so expensive as to make it virtually inaccessible? The day is coming, and the longer America puts off serious energy conservation and renewable energy, the lower future American’s standard of living will be.
President Bush lies when he says the science of climate change is unsettled. The basic science beyond the fact that carbon dioxide traps heat has been known for over a century. And he lies when he says meeting the minimal goals of the Kyoto Treaty would hurt the economy. Climate change is real, happening now, and is happening so fast that not only ecosystems and societies, but also economies, will certainly be seriously impacted and may collapse. Clearly we are already witnessing massive impacts from global warming – including melting permafrost and glaciers, rising seas, increased storm severity, and extremes in weather such as droughts.
Climate skeptics, many funded by the oil industry, are increasingly moving from doubting the science to arguing nothing can be done but adapt. The oil industry with its vast power and wealth seeks to obstruct energy conservation and renewable energy – the only path away from climate change, perma-war, and energy scarcity. In a finite world, America’s ever rising expectations of greater material wealth for all is delusional. Either we are going to decelerate our energy and resource use as we approach hard ecological limits such as the ability of the atmosphere to absorb our wastes, or we are fucked.
Peace and Green Energy
None of us have all the answers – not George, Cindy or I – and certainly not the babbling incoherent right wing wacko conservative commentators. As oil prices rise to reflect their value, America terrorizes the Middle East, a small lunatic fringe brings murder to the West, and climate and other ecosystems approach deadly collapse – there is a dreadful dearth of new thinking.
Yet there are a few things that are known with certainty. The Iraqi war can not be won in any meaningful sense, and its continuation will lead to intensified protest. Terrorism can not be stopped through military invasion and occupation. And America’s unsustainable manner of living and overuse of foreign oil causes not only war, but global climate to change dangerously.
If you believe is a peaceful, just, equitable and ecologically sustainable future for all, it is way past time to take to the streets and otherwise participate in peaceful protest. I encourage you once again to get down to Crawford during the month of August, and otherwise participate in anti-war and climate change protests. We need more part time activists – particularly from the middle class who have the most to lose as the World descends into perma-war and climate chaos.
So as you sit ensconced in a false oil fueled veil of security, consider that true security for you and your children means ending the war, creating international mechanisms to address terrorism, and shifting to renewable energy and energy conservation. There is no other road to peace and ecological sustainability in our time.
Dr. Glen Barry is the President of Ecological Internet, Inc. (PO Box 433, Denmark, WI 54208-0433) and author of the Internet blog, “Earth Meanders.” He can be contacted at: GlenBarry@EcologicalInternet.org +1 (920) 776-1075
Ecological Internet Projects include:
• Forests.org – http://forests.org/
• ClimateArk – http://www.climateark.org/
• Eco-Portal – http://www.environmentalsustainability.info/
• WaterConserve – http://www.waterconserve.info/
• OceanConserve – http://www.oceanconserve.info/