Environmentalists Against War
Home | Say NO! To War | Action! | Information | Media Center | Who We Are
Read the 10 Reasons
View Signers
Statements Against the War

Let’s Vote ‘Thumbs Down’ on Bush’s Gulf War II

by Gar Smith, Earth Island Institute

Twelve years ago, many of the organizations represented in this room today issued an International Call to Action warning of the environmental damage that war could bring to the Gulf region.

Twelve years ago, my magazine, Earth Island Journal, warned in advance of the probable devastation a Gulf war could bring. At the time, we feared that we would be accused of sensationalism. When the Gulf War broke out, we realized that we had underestimated the calamity.

Today, the sense of déjà vu is eerie.

That 1991 document declared: “We oppose innocent lives unjustly being sacrificed to establish the beachhead for a ‘New World Order’ base on military intervention to control access to oil and other natural resources.”

We wrote then: “We are deeply concerned by the immediate and long-term environmental and human health implications of the use of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons [and] the potential social and environmental catastrophe that would result from the bombing of chemical weapons facilities, oil drilling platforms and refineries.”

We wrote then: “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.”

We wrote then: “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.”

We wrote then: “The only intelligent response to the world’s oil addiction is to reduce the demand, not to got to war to guarantee the supply.”

Unfortunately, we also wrote then — in 1991 — “the [George H. W] Bush administration has no plans to change its energy policies which… have virtually destroyed efforts to promote energy efficiency and appropriate alternatives to oil.”

New Units of Terror: “Murras” and “9-11”

Baghdad is a city of 5 million that represents the birthplace – the cradle – of western civilization. Half of Baghdad’s population is under the age of 15. It is a city of children.

The Pentagon plans to hit Iraq with as many as 3,000 cruise missiles in the first 48-hours of an attack. To put this in terms a US citizen can appreciate, when you think of a cruise missile exploding, think of the Murra Federal Office Building collapsing. The devastation from just the cruise missile attacks would equal 3,000 Murras.

In New York City, 3,000 people died in the September 11 attacks. The potential number of civilian deaths resulting from a US attack could reach 500,000. That would be the equivalent of 166 “9-11s.”
Watching a US airstrike on television we see a sanitized violence — the grainy image of a targeted building disappearing in a silent, blinding flash of light.

When a bomb explodes, it creates a windblast that hits 7,000 mph. The explosion destroys everything – and everyone – within range, sterilizing the ground with temperatures of 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even the smallest of war’s impacts can be environmentally long lasting. In the 1940s, Gen. George S. Patton practiced tank maneuvers in the California desserts. The marks from those tank treads are still visible.

Gulf War II: A Sequel the World Doesn’t Want to See

George W. Bush recently said that the hunt for hidden weapons in Iraq was like “the re-run of a bad movie and I’m not sure I want to want to watch it again.”

Many of us in the environmental community had the same reaction. But, for us, the re-run that we all fear is the REAL “bad movie” – a replay of spilled oil, flaming wells, darkened skies, poisoned winds, decimated wildlife and dying civilians.

In nature, there is no such thing as “Going it alone.” Long-term survival requires cooperation and adaptability. Pre-emptive attacks are not a good strategy for long-term survival.

In nature, as in life, everything is connected to everything else. As that wise environmentalist Dwight David Eisenhower once observed: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

This premeditated march to war is a sequel the world can ill afford.

Gulf War II, like all bad sequels, features the same cast of characters (Cheney, Powell, Wolfowitz) rehashing the same simplistic plot. As with most bad sequels, the only thing that promises to set Gulf War II apart from the original is a host of new, improved special effects.

At the conclusion of our remarks, I am inviting other members of the environmental community to join me in reviewing George Bush’s script for Gulf War II. I personally plan to give this Oval Office production a “thumbs down.”

Gar Smith, along with Peter Drekmeier and China Brotsy, is a co-founder of Environmentalists Against War.

If you would like a “Thumbs Down on War” poster for your home or office, send $1 to The-Edge, c/o Gar Smith, PO Box 27, Berkeley, CA 94701.


Home | Say NO! To War | Action! | Information | Media Center | Who We Are