April 22nd, 2018 - by admin

Excerpted from The War and Environment Reader, edited by Gar Smith (Just World Books, 2017) – 2018-04-22 00:18:19

Special to Environmentalists Against War

For EarthDay:

Excerpted from The War and Environment Reader, edited by Gar Smith (Just World Books, 2017)

The Global Peace Index — produced annually by the Institute for Economics and Peace — measures the state of peace in 162 countries according to 23 indicators that gauge the absence or the presence of violence.

The 2016 Index ( described a world that was less peaceful in 2015 than it was in 2008 — a world increasingly divided between countries enjoying unprecedented levels of peace and prosperity while others spiraled further into violence and conflict.

Eighty-one countries had become more peaceful, while 79 had experienced conflicts. Europe, the world’s most peaceful region, reached historically high levels of peace with 15 of the 20 most peaceful countries (including Iceland, Denmark, and Austria).

At the same time, increased civil unrest and terrorist activity rendered the Middle East and North Africa the world’s least peaceful. (US armed forces were active in the five least-peaceful countries — Syria, South Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Somalia.) The intensity of internal armed conflict increased dramatically.

The economic impact of violence in 2015 reached $13.6 trillion — 13.3 percent of global GDP, equal to the combined economies of Canada, France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

The Index found that in countries with higher levels of “positive peace” — i.e., with attitudes, structures, and institutions that underpin peaceful societies — internal resistance movements were less likely to become violent and were more likely to successfully achieve concessions from the state.

The following list highlights some of the global initiatives designed to lead the world toward the goal of “positive peace.”

A Green Geneva Convention
Numerous treaties have been created to protect portions of the global environment — the Kyoto Protocol, the International Framework Convention on Climate Change, the United Nations Law of the Sea, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora — but the series of major laws governing war and humanitarianism, the Geneva Conventions, fall short of protecting the natural world from the flames of war.

Dr. Klaus Toepfer (former executive secretary of the United Nations Environment Programme) was among the first to call for a Green Geneva Convention, arguing that environmental security must be a fundamental part of any enduring peace policy and that those who deliberately put the environment at risk in war should face trial and imprisonment.

Green Constitutions
In 2008, Ecuador became the first country to incorporate the “rights of nature” in their constitution. Rather than treating nature as property, Ecuador believes that Pachamama (the Indigenous word for “Mother Earth”) has a legal “right to exist.” When environmental injuries occur, the ecosystem itself can be named as a defendant. Ecuador’s “Green Constitution” contains the following protections:
Article 1. Nature or Pachamama, where life is reproduced and exists, has the right to exist, persist, maintain, and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions, and its processes in evolution. . . . The State will . . . promote respect towards all the elements that form an ecosystem.

Article 2. Nature has the right to an integral restoration.

Article 3. The State will apply precaution and restriction measures in all the activities that can lead to the extinction of species, the destruction of the ecosystems, or the permanent alteration of the natural cycles.

US Department of Peace
On September 14, 2005, then representative Dennis J. Kucinich introduced H.R. 3760, a bill to create a cabinet-level Department of Peace and Nonviolence to promote nonviolent conflict resolution as an organizing principle to help create conditions for a more peaceful world. The Department would advise the president on matters of national security, including the protection of human rights and the prevention and de-escalation of unarmed and armed international conflict.

The Peace Alliance

The Nonviolent Peaceforce
The mission of the Belgium-based Nonviolent Peaceforce (NP) is to promote, develop, and implement unarmed civilian peacekeeping as a tool for reducing violence and protecting civilians in situations of violent conflict. NP peacekeeping teams — currently deployed in the Philippines, South Sudan, Myanmar, and the Middle East — include experienced peacekeepers, veterans of conflict zones, and trained volunteers.

NP’s Vision Statement reads, in part:
Our activities have ranged from entering active conflict zones to remove civilians in the crossfire to providing opposing factions a safe space to negotiate. Other activities include serving as a communication link between warring factions, securing safe temporary housing for civilians displaced by war, providing violence prevention measures during elections and negotiating the return of kidnapped family members.

Environmental Armies
Nicaragua has an Autonomy Law that recognizes Indigenous sovereignty and an Ecological Battalion in its army that serves to protect the Bosawas Rainforest, a UN-designated World Nature Preserve. The forest was under siege by colonizers, farmers, cattle-ranchers, loggers, and miners until the deployment of 580 “eco-soldiers” in 2012.

The mission, Operation Green Gold, is Central America’s first initiative to use soldiers to combat climate change by protecting Indigenous lands, wilderness, and native habitat. The armed eco-force has successfully reduced deforestation and illegal logging. Today 14 percent of Nicaragua’s undeveloped land is under armed protection.

Military Accountability and Restoration
The Worldwatch Institute has called for the Pentagon to provide “all documentation pertaining to the environmental conditions of U.S. bases” at home and abroad and commit to long-term, post-closure cleanup agreements. This would include comprehensive environmental assessments, conducted in collaboration with democratically appointed representatives from host nations.

Worldwatch also calls for contaminated nuclear sites and test ranges to be permanently sealed off as enduring reminders of the folly of nuclear proliferation.

Plowshares Initiatives
Plowshares policies would call for the diversion of tax dollars from weapons production to environmental restoration. If such policies were adopted, weapons labs would be required to cease military production and concentrate on mitigating the environmental damage caused by military activities.

California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a major designer of nuclear weapons, devotes just 2 percent of its budget to environmental restoration. In 1983, nearby residents formed Tri-Valley CAREs, a citizen’s watchdog group. Tri-Valley CAREs monitors radioactive pollution released by the LLNL while campaigning to transform the site from a weapons plant to a research center that addresses real- world solutions to energy, food, and health problems.

Peacebuilding Programs
In 2012, in response to growing pressure from peace and human rights activists, the US State Department established an Atrocities Prevention Board. In 2015, the State Department declared: “Preventing mass atrocities is a core national security interest and moral responsibility of the US.”

The State Department now oversees a Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, a Complex Crisis Fund, and other “non-militarized strategies” that can be used in lieu of the armed escalations that still dominate U.S. foreign policy. As the Friends Committee on National Legislation notes, “Investing early to prevent war is far more cost-effective than military intervention after a crisis erupts.” Proactive peacebuilding efforts have proven successful in Kenya, Burundi, Sri Lanka, and Guinea, but continued funding for these programs remains uncertain.

The Peace Dividend
With the bulk of the US budget supporting costly military programs (while cuts are made in food stamps, social security, housing, and education), it’s time to consider a question posed by UNESCO: “What does the world want and how can we pay for it using military expenditures?”

In 1978, UNESCO calculated that redirecting 30 percent of the world’s military expenditures ($780 billion) could solve most of the planet’s persistent problems, including: eliminating starvation; providing health care; offering shelter to the homeless; guaranteeing clean safe water; eliminating illiteracy; providing clean, safe, renewable energy; retiring all developing nation debts; stabilizing population growth; stopping erosion; halting deforestation; preventing ozone loss and acid rain; addressing climate change; removing land mines; providing refugee relief; eliminating nuclear weapons; and building democracy.;

National Budgets for People, Not Plunder
In 2015, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reported the Pentagon’s $581 billion budget accounted for more than one-third of all military spending on Earth.

For every $1 billion spent on the military, twice as many jobs could be created in the civilian sector. Investing in infrastructure — roads and bridges, schools, hospitals, clean water, and renewable energy — is wiser than pouring the money into single-use items like bullets and bombs.

One billion federal dollars invested in the military creates 11,200 jobs: the same investment in clean energy could yield 16,800 jobs. The Borgen Project estimates that ending world hunger would cost $30 billion per year — the same amount the Pentagon burns through in eight days.

The Global Campaign on Military Spending is calling for the transfer of military money to fund five broad areas critical to a global transformation toward a culture of peace: disarmament and conflict prevention; sustainable development and anti-poverty programs; climate stabilization and biodiversity loss; public services/social justice, human rights, gender equality, and green job–creation; and humanitarian programs for the disadvantaged.


Nuclear Disarmament
Since 1999, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) has repeatedly introduced a Nuclear Disarmament and Economic Conversion Act (NDECA) requiring the United States to “dismantle its nuclear weapons” and redirect the savings “to address human and infrastructure needs such as housing, health care, education, agriculture and the environment.”

The NDECA would require the United States to “undertake vigorous, good-faith efforts to eliminate war, armed conflict, and all military operations.” Norton’s campaign has won the support of Physicians for Social Responsibility and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (winner of the 1998 Noble Peace Prize).;

The Abolition of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Despite many calls for nuclear disarmament, the United States has done little to reduce or rein in the nuclear threat. There are treaties banning biological and chemical weapons, but there are no treaties banning nuclear weapons.

Nuclear arms control agreements have reduced the world’s atomic arsenal from 56,000 to 16,300 but the White House (under both Obama and Trump) has called for spending $1 trillion on a new generation of atomic weapons and delivery systems.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is working toward multilateral negotiations for a treaty banning nuclear weapons by engaging with humanitarian, environmental, human rights, peace, and development organizations in more than 90 countries.

The Humanitarian Pledge
The Humanitarian Pledge was issued on December 9, 2014, at the conclusion of the Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, attended by 158 nations. This important document provides governments with the opportunity to move beyond fact-based discussions on the effects of nuclear weapons and into the start of treaty negotiations. As of February 2017, 127 nations had endorsed the Pledge.

Nuclear-Free Nations and Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zones
In 1987, thanks to the influence of Dr. Helen Caldicott, the first president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, New Zealand’s Labour government passed a Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control Act — thereby making New Zealand the world’s first nuclear-free nation.

On February 28, 2000, Mongolia became the world’s second self-declared nuclear- weapon-free nation. There are five treaties establishing nuclear-weapons- free zones (NWFZ): the Treaty of Tlatelolco (Latin America and the Caribbean); the Treaty of Rarotonga (South Pacific): the Treaty of Bangkok (Southeast Asia); the Treaty of Pelindaba (Africa); and the Treaty on a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone in Central Asia.

These NFWZs now cover 57 million square miles — 56 percent of the planet’s land area. There also is a Treaty on the Prohibition of the Emplacement of Nuclear Weapons and Other Weapons of Mass Destruction on the Sea-Bed and the Ocean Floor.

Establish Zones of Peace
The concept of recognizing special conflict-free sanctuaries goes back to the ancient Egyptians, Polynesians, and Hebrews and remains prevalent today. In 1987, the United Nations designated a vast stretch of the South Atlantic — reaching from the coast of Africa to the shores of South America — a “Zone of Peace.”

In January 2014, 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations met in Cuba to renounce the use of war and proclaim a regional Zone of Peace. In December 2014, India called for designating the Indian Ocean a Zone of Peace. And there is an ongoing campaign to declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone.

Abolish the Arms Trade
The $70 billion-per-year trade in weapons contributes to the escalation of violence and terrorism. The global arms trade aids dictatorships, creates international instability, and perpetuates the belief that peace can be achieved by arms. The world’s main arms exporters are the United States, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.

Arms manufacturers enjoy federal subsidies and lucrative government contracts, and they are free to sell weapons on the open market — sometimes arming both sides of a conflict or even “enemy” forces (as when the US-armed Mujahedeen evolved into al-Qaeda and US arms for Iraq ended up in the hands of ISIS). As part of the UN mandate to protect “international peace and security,” the Campaign Against Arms Trade and other peace groups are calling on UN Security Council to add the arms trade to the International Criminal Court’s list of “crimes against humanity.”;

Enforce an International Arms Code of Conduct
In 1999, a commission of Nobel Peace Prize winners led by former Costa Rican president Óscar Arias drafted legislation to control global arms sales. The Arms Code of Conduct requires that countries wishing to buy arms must first meet certain criteria — including a respect for democracy and human rights.

The code, which bans sales to dictatorships and oppressive regimes, poses a dilemma for America’s “military-industrial complex.” According to Demilitarization for Democracy [], the Clinton Administration exported $8.3 billion in arms to 52 “non- democratic regimes” — including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Thailand, and Pakistan — while providing military training to 47 dictatorships.

The Obama Administration provided billions of dollars of weapons to oppressive regimes in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Members of the European Parliament have challenged the United States to abide by an Arms Trade Code of Conduct adopted by the European Union.

Replace War Zones with Peace Parks
The planet’s first peace park, the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, was established in 1932 to mark the friendship between the United States and Canada.

There are now 143 peace parks in 42 countries. The United Nations and the International Union on the Conservation of Nature require that peace parks promote nonviolence and biodiversity in areas that have experienced “significant conflict.”

After a 1995 border war between Peru and Ecuador in the Cordillera del Condor (a mountainous region rich in biodiversity), environmentalists and indigenous groups brokered a peace treaty that created parks on both sides of the disputed border and set the stage for a shared binational park that has served to ensure a lasting peace. Today, 18 peace parks straddle countries with shared borders. Large transboundary peace parks link Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique.

Other parks share the borders of Albania/Kosovo/Montenegro, China/Pakistan, Costa Rica/Panama, and Mexico/United States. West Africa’s “W” International Peace Park has helped to reduce wildlife poaching and deforestation in the Niger River Basin. The Selous-Niassa Elephant Corridor protects critical wildlife areas between Tanzania and Mozambique.

Create a Global Security System:
An Alternative to War

Over the last 150 years, revolutionary new methods of nonviolent conflict management have been developed to end warfare. The Alternative Global Security System would replace the failed weapons-based national security approach with a concept of “common security” based on three broad strategies: (1) demilitarizing security, (2) managing conflicts without violence, and (3) creating a culture of peace.

World Beyond War’s book, A Global Security System: An Alternative to War, describes the “hardware” of creating a peace system and the “software” (values and concepts) needed to operate and expand the system globally. The program includes detailed strategies to demilitarize countries, manage conflicts peacefully, reduce poverty, and promote environmental stewardship.

Establish Institutions of Nonviolence
In Why Civil Resistance Works (2011), Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan demonstrated that over a span from 1900 to 2006, nonviolent resistance was twice as successful as armed resistance in creating stable democracies, with less chance those states revert to violence.

History offers numerous examples of unpopular governments removed through nonviolent struggle — from Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign against the British to the overthrow of the Marcos regime in the Philippines and the rise of the Arab Spring. In 2015, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, a coalition made up of a labor union, a trade confederation, a human rights league, and a lawyers group that used nonviolence to establish a “peaceful political process at a time when the country was on the brink of civil war.”

Demilitarize National Security
The Pentagon’s global footprint of foreign bases, naval fleets, missile installations, and military interventions feeds hostility abroad. “Defense spending” primarily directed at “projecting U.S. military power worldwide” is not defensive. A first step toward demilitarizing national security would be to establish a “non-provocative defense” limited to defending national borders.

A defensive military posture would eliminate long-range bombers, nuclear submarines, carrier fleets, and intercontinental missiles. Twenty- two countries have disbanded their militaries. Costa Rican president Jose Figueres Ferrer abolished the military in 1948 and investing heavily in cultural preservation, environmental protection, and public education. Costa Rica now boasts one of the highest literacy rates in the Americas.;

Close Foreign Bases
The United States has between 700 and 1,180 bases in more than 60 countries around the world. Eliminating foreign military bases — a goal of the Alternative Global Security System — goes hand in hand with non- provocative defense. More than 70 years after World War II, the United States continues to maintain 21 military bases in Germany and 23 bases in Japan — bases that are a frequent source of resentment among local residents.

Withdrawing from the military occupation of foreign countries would save billions and reduce the War System’s ability to inflame global insecurity. foreign-military-bases-and-the-global-campaign-to-close-them;

Halt the Use of Militarized Drones
U.S. drones are regularly used for targeted killings in Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The justification for these attacks (which have killed hundreds of innocent civilians) is the questionable doctrine of “anticipatory defense.” The White House claims the authority to order the death of anyone deemed a terrorist threat — even if the United States has not declared war on the countries attacked; even if the targets are US citizens.

Targeted killings violate the Constitution’s guarantee of due process. Ultimately, drones are counterproductive. As Gen. Stanley McChrystal (former commander of US and NATO Forces in Afghanistan) has observed: “For every innocent person you kill, you create ten new enemies.”;

End Invasions and Occupations
The occupation of one country by another is a fundamental threat to security and peace that can provoke resentment and local resistance, ranging from street protests to armed resistance and “terrorist” assaults. The resulting conflicts often kill more civilians than insurgents while creating floods of refugees.

The UN Charter outlaws invasion (unless they are in retaliation for a prior invasion — an inadequate provision). The presence of troops of one country inside another — with or without an invitation — destabilizes global security and makes armed conflicts more likely. Invasions and occupations would be prohibited under an Alternative Global Security System.

Dismantle Military Alliances
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a Cold War relic. The Warsaw Pact was disbanded following the collapse of the Soviet Union, but NATO (in violation of Western promises) has continued to expand and now encroaches on Russia’s borders. NATO has undertaken military exercises well beyond Europe’s borders — in Eastern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

An Alternative Global Security System would replace NATO with new international institutions designed to manage conflict without violence.

Promote Fair and Sustainable Global Economies
Social injustice, high youth unemployment, and economic desperation can create a seedbed for extremists. The imbalance between the affluence of the Global North and the poverty of the Global South could be righted by democratizing international economic institutions and taking care to conserve the ecosystems upon which all economies rest.

Competition for limited resources stokes tensions between nations and within nations. Using natural resources more efficiently and developing non-polluting technologies can reduce ecological stress. As the former UN under secretary general for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala has said: “Wars claimed more than 5 million lives in the 1990s, and nearly 3 billion people, almost half the world’s population, live on a daily income of less than $2 a day.

Poverty and conflict are not unrelated; they often reinforce each other. . . . Even where there is no active conflict, military spending absorbs resources that could be used to attack poverty.”

Promote a Global, Green Marshall Plan
A Global Marshall Plan (GMP) designed to achieve economic and environmental justice worldwide could democratize international economic institutions. The goal would be similar to the UN Millennium Development Goals: to end poverty and hunger, develop local food security, provide education and health care, and achieve stable, efficient, sustainable economic development.

To prevent the GMP from becoming a policy tool of rich nations, the work could be administered by an independent, international nongovernmental organization. The GMP would require strict accounting and transparency from recipient governments.

Replace the United Nations with an Earth Federation
The United Nations’ failures to solve the planetary threats facing humankind are due to its very nature. The United Nations has no legislative powers — it cannot enact binding laws. It has failed to solve the problems of social and economic development, and global poverty remains acute.

It has not stopped deforestation, climate change, fossil fuel use, global soil erosion, or ocean pollution. Instead of promoting disarmament, the United Nations requires members to maintain armed forces that can be called upon for “peacekeeping” missions. The World Court has no power to bring disputes before it.

The General Assembly can only “study and recommend” and lacks the power to change anything. The United Nations must either evolve or be replaced, perhaps by a nonmilitary Earth Federation composed of a democratically elected World Parliament with power to pass binding legislation.;

Create Cultures of Peace
In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly approved a Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace. Article I called for: “Respect for life, ending of violence and promotion and practice of non-violence through education, dialogue and cooperation; . . . [c]ommitment to peaceful settlement of conflicts.”

The UN General Assembly has identified eight action areas: fostering a culture of peace through education: promoting sustainable economic and social development; promoting respect for all human rights; ensuring equality between women and men; fostering democratic participation; advancing understanding, tolerance, and solidarity; supporting participatory communication and the free flow of information and knowledge; and promoting international peace and security.

The Global Movement for the Culture of Peace, founded by UNESCO in 1992, is a partnership of civil society groups working to make militarism obsolete.

Encourage Peace Journalism
The prowar bias commonly seen in schoolroom history texts also infects mainstream journalism where many reporters, columnists, and news pundits promote the fable that war is inevitable and that it brings peace. “Peace journalism” (conceived by scholar Johan Galtung) encourages editors and writers to explore nonviolent alternatives to conflict.

In contrast to war journalism’s “good guys versus bad guys” approach, peace journalism focuses on the structural and cultural causes of violence and explores peace initiatives commonly ignored by the mainstream media. Examples include the Center for Global Peace Journalism’s Peace Journalist magazine and the Oregon Peace Institute’s PeaceVoice.;

Practice Nonviolent War-Tax Resistance
Let them march all they want,
as long as they continue to pay their taxes.

— Alexander Haig, US Secretary of State, June 12, 1982

War-tax refusal has a long tradition among religious and secular opponents of war — including Quakers, Mennonites, and Brethren. Conscientious Americans have refused to pay taxes for virtually every U.S. war. (Henry David Thoreau was famously jailed for refusing to finance Washington’s war on Mexico.)

In 1984, the War Resisters League issued an Appeal to Conscience that read, in part:
It is clear that the U.S. government’s ability to threaten, coerce, and, if deemed necessary, make war on other nations is a direct result, not only of our economic might, but also the unprecedented size of our military arsenal, which is now far larger than that of
all our allies and “enemies” combined. It is equally clear that the maintenance of this arsenal depends upon the willingness of the American people — through their federal tax payments — to finance it. . . . Refusal to pay taxes used to finance unjust wars, along with refusal by soldiers to fight in them, is a direct and potentially effective form of citizen noncooperation, and one that governments cannot ignore.

Encourage Planetary Citizenship:
One People, One Planet, One Peace

Homo sapiens constitute a single species, with a marvelous diversity of ethnic, religious, economic, and political systems. With climate-stressed global disasters already under way — including massive deforestation and unprecedented rates of extinction — we face a planetary emergency. We need to place the long-term health of the global commons above the short-term goals of national interest. Protecting the commons is best achieved by voluntary consensus and a recognition of mutual respect that arises out of a sense of responsibility for the planet’s well-being. Conflict does not have to lead to war. We have established nonviolent methods of conflict resolution that can provide for common security — a world free from fear, want, and persecution, and a civilization in balance with a healthy biosphere.

Restoring Unity in Love

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American Friends Service Committee,
Amnesty International,
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Campaign to Close All Military Bases, Campaign Nonviolence,
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Carter Center,
Christian Peacemaker Teams,
Citizens for Global Solutions,
Coalition Against the Arms Trade,
Coalition for Peace Action,
Environmentalists Against War,
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Greenpeace International,
Hague Appeal for Peace,
Human Rights Watch,
Institute for Inclusive Security,
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, International Committee of the Red Cross, International Criminal Court,
International Fellowship of Reconciliation,
International Peace Research Association,
International Peace Bureau,
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,
International Union for the Conservation of Nature,
Jewish Peace Fellowship,
Journal of Peace Education,
Mayors for Peace,
Muslim Peace Coalition USA,
National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth,
National Peace Foundation,
Nobel Women’s Initiative,
Nonviolence International,
Nonviolent Peaceforce,
Oxfam International,
Pace e Bene,
Pax Christi International,
Peace Action,
Peace Brigades International,
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Physicians for Social Responsibility,
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United Nations Environment Programme,
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