Environmentalists Against War
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Statements Against the War

In December 1990, with then-president George H. W. Bush threatening to attack Iraq under cover of an expedient United Nations resolution, an international coalition of environmental groups published a statement in opposition to war in the Middle East. The warning proved to be prophetic. Twelve years later, the statement remains frighteningly relevant. Except for a few minor points, it could have been written in 2003.

An International Environmental Call to Action — January 1991.

The loss of human life that has already occurred in the Persian Gulf conflict is unpardonable; the prospect of more bloodshed is ominous and unacceptable. We oppose innocent lives unjustly being sacrificed to establish the beachhead for a “New World Order” based on military intervention to control access to oil and other natural resources in the Third World.

As we condemn international support for governments that violate human rights, we also condemn the use of military force to settle disputes. Therefore, we condemn both the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the massive offensive military buildup in Saudi Arabia by the US and others under the aegis of the United Nations.

Misguided US energy policies have generated the “need” for such intervention by increasing oil addiction. The only intelligent response to the world’s oil addiction is to reduce the demand, not go to war to guarantee the supply. But the Bush administration has no plans to change its energy policies which, over the last ten years, have virtually destroyed efforts to promote energy efficiency and appropriate alternatives to oil. Instead, the administration is holding fast to the very policy that has brought the world to the brink of war. Such intransigence is giving license to big oil and energy companies to exploit the Gulf crisis by promoting poisonous energy “solutions” such as nuclear power and the exploitation of protected wilderness areas. Without a major change in energy policy, we will continue down the path that has brought us to the Persian Gulf and that is precipitating the greenhouse and ozone crises.

Recent experiences in Vietnam, Central America, Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war all clearly point to the grave ecological consequences of military build-up and warfare — consequences that will affect people and the environment that sustains them for generations.

We are deeply concerned by the immediate and long-term environmental and human health implications of the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. We are also concerned by the potential social and environmental catastrophe that would result from the bombing of chemical weapons facilities, oil drilling platforms and refineries and nuclear-powered ships bearing nuclear arms. Furthermore, the targeting of water recourses, whether it be the destruction of dams, dikes, wells, marshland, oases or irrigated agricultural systems would have profound impacts on the Persian Gulf’s ecological stability, most directly affecting the rural populations of the area. The devastation of the land, and the subsequent creation of millions of refugees are inevitable consequences of a full-scale war in the Persian Gulf.

It is in this context that we call on environmental leaders, activists and community organizations everywhere to:

  1. Urge all foreign and occupying military powers to withdraw from the Gulf and to support the creation of a zone of peace in the region.
  2. Call on all oil-consuming governments — especially the United States, which consumes 24 percent of the world’s oil — to pursue non-nuclear alternative energy and energy-efficiency strategies.
  3. Participate in anti-war and peace activities, bringing forward environmental concerns as one of a broad series of reasons for opposing war in the Persian Gulf.
  4. Pressure the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council to consider issues of ecological security, the effects of the massive militarization of the Persian Gulf and the potential ecological implications of war in the region.
  5. Call on the US Congress to incorporate environmental considerations into their headings on US Persian Gulf policy.
  6. Educate other environmentalists, community organizations working on environmental issues, peace activists and the general public about the interrelated social, political and ecological dimensions of the Gulf crisis.

Carl Anthony (Urban Habitat Program*), Peter Bahouth (Greenpeace), Judi Bari (Earth First!), Walden Bello (Institute for Food and Development Policy), Brent Blackwelder (Friends of the Earth/US), Saul Bloom & John Millier (Arms Control Research Center), China Brotsky, Joshua Karliner & Nancy Netherland (Political Ecology Group), David R. Brower (Earth Island Institute), Lorenzo Cardenal (Nicaraguan Environmental Movement), Herb Chao Gunther (Public Media Center), Randall Hayes (Rainforest Action Network), Nicholas Hildyard, Larry Lohnamm, Pam Simmons & Patrick McCully (The Ecologist Magazine/Great Britain), Elizaberh Ising (Student Environmental Action Coalition), Ruth Kaplan (Environmental Action), Jane McAlevey (Environmental Project on Central America), S. M. Modid. Idris (Third World Network/Malaysia), Juliette Major (International Rivers Network), Ross Mirkarimi (IWU/US Greens), Monica Moore (Pesticide Action Network/US), Richard Moore (SouthWest Organizing Project), John O’Connor (National Toxics Campaign), Charles Scheiner (North Atlantic Network). For the complete text and more information, contact: Global Alliance for Peace in the Persian Gulf, 942 Market St., Suite 202, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 397-1452.

* Organizations listed for identification purposes only.

Reprinted from the back cover of the Winter 1991 Earth Island Journal — published in January 1991, just prior to the outbreak of the Persian Gulf War.


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