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Ten reasons to oppose militarism & war on Earth Day

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In honor of Earth Day, I present 10 reasons to oppose militarism and war.

  1. The U.S. military is the largest institutional polluter in the world. Since 2001, the U.S. military has emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, equivalent to the annual emissions of 257 million cars on the road. The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil ($17B/year) in the world, and the largest global landholder with 800 foreign military bases in 80 countries.
  2. The U.S. military emits more greenhouse gas emissions than 150 nations.
  3. The majority of “Superfund” sites in the U.S. are current or former military- related installations, sites designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where extreme hazardous waste threatens human health and the environment.
  4. The U.S. military is the third largest polluter of waterways in the country, releasing some 63 million pounds of pollutants from 2010-2014, including carcinogenic and radioactive chemicals, rocket fuel, and toxic sewage.
  5. A Pentagon Report released in 2018 details widespread chemical poisoning of water supplies on military bases and in surrounding communities worldwide. The report identifies the presence of PFOS and PFOA chemicals in drinking water at levels known to be harmful to human health and linked to cancer and birth defects. At least 401 bases are known to have contaminated water. PFOA and PFOS chemicals are used in fire retardants during routine fire-training exercises on U.S. military bases worldwide.
  6. From 1965 to 1971, the U.S. sprayed 3640 km2 of southern Vietnam with dangerous herbicides and defoliants, including the infamous Agent Orange. Cancer, birth defects, and other diseases continue to plague both the Vietnamese people and the families of US Veterans.
  7. At least 33,480 U.S. nuclear weapons workers who have received compensation for health damage are now dead. Nuclear weapons production sites in Washington, Tennessee, Colorado, Georgia, and elsewhere have poisoned the surrounding environment as well as their employees, over 3,000 of whom were awarded compensation in 2000.
  8. U.S. over reliance on militarism and war focuses much of our nation’s resources, creativity, and talents on maintaining worldwide economic and military dominance thereby distracting us from the real existential threats of climate crises, pandemics/health, and conflict escalating to inadvertent or deliberate nuclear war. Current U.S. policy amounts to rearranging deck chairs and having the band strike up another tune while the ship is sinking.
  9. As the environmental crisis worsens, thinking of war as a tool with which to address it threatens us with the ultimate vicious cycle. Declaring that climate change causes war misses the reality that human beings cause war, and that unless we learn to address crises nonviolently we will only make them worse. The only sensible solution is to work to avert the crisis. This can only be done by collaboration between all nations. No nation can solve these global threats alone. We need to change the old paradigm of conflict to one of cooperation.
  10. The $1.25 trillion/year that the U.S. spends on war and militarism is essentially stolen from real human and planetary needs.

John Miksad

World Beyond War

9 comments

Peter Torrano April 22, 2021 at 5:02 pm

So, what are you suggesting, that we disband our military? Aren’t you too busy trying to defund the police to get involved with this? You came up with ten points with no plan to correct what you see as the problem. Are you equally concerned with the Chinese Communist Army? The Russian or North Korean Army? Are you unaware, or are you intentionally avoiding the fact that we have enemies who would love nothing more than to have us demilitarize. Some of those enemies are right here among us. Watch the news and you will see. And pretty sure that none of our enemies, should they be able to overthrow our country would give two hoots about global warming. And they sure as hell wouldn’t care about you.

JustaTaxpayer April 22, 2021 at 7:23 pm

I couldn’t agree more that our military does it’s fair share of damage to the environment and no one wants war — unless of course the almighty dollar or other currencies are involved.

However, question for those out there supporting this effort. If we wind the history tape back to the late 1930’s, what would have been the solution? Without a military there would be zero Jews left in the world and we’d be speaking German or Japanese.

Alexandrea Kemeny April 23, 2021 at 8:43 am

John Miksad, How naive of you? Why are you living in this country if it’s so awful? Why are so many people flocking to this country for a better life? Because it’s so awful? You obviously have lived nowhere else in the world because you don’t know how lucky you are to live here!! And you don’t have the guts to move because you ultimately know it’s the best place to be. It’s time for people to stand up for our country! Stop this negative rhetoric! Be proud to be American or move out!

David McCarthy April 24, 2021 at 5:31 pm

Most of these points are demonstrably incorrect. The ones that are correct are only knowable because the military has made the information available as they act to clean things up. This piece is written from such an ignorant narrow minded perspective, it doesn’t deserve to have seen the light of day.

Irene Corsaro April 25, 2021 at 6:21 pm

This post is not suggesting demilitarization. Dollars spent do not necessarily determine causation and result.Half of our military budget goes to Private Contractors. It enriches THEIR pockets. That’s where our tax dollars are going. Please listen carefully and respectfully to John Miksad’s message.

John Miksad April 25, 2021 at 8:43 pm

Commenters- There are a number of good books on the subject if you are open to learning more on the subject…I recommend, The People’s History of the United States, War is a Racket, War is a Lie, Un-American- A Soldier’s Reckoning Of Our Longest War, Leaving World War 2 Behind (Justataxpayer- I recommend this one for you)…two of them written by veterans.

Regarding recommendations, Peter Torrano- see our book “A Global Security System: An Alternative to War” published by World Beyond War. It’s available for free here…https://worldbeyondwar.org/alternative/

We currently face global issues that threaten all people of all nations and the ONLY way to solve these global threats are globally…working collaboratively with all nations. We have to stop thinking about the way the world was and think about how we are going to preserve life for ourselves, for our children, and for our grandchildren. These global issues threaten to rob future generations of life, of liberty, and of their pursuit of happiness. Our government’s primary job is the safety and security of its citizens. Nothing jeopardizes our safety and security more than these three existential threats. Our government has avoided dealing with the true threats (as have others) and by thinking and acting by way of the old paradigm of zero sum games is exacerbating these threats.

Currently (and I will cover this in more detail in an op-ed for Tax Day) the US is spending $740 billion/year on the Pentagon. This excludes other military related spending like nuclear weapons (DOE) and many others hidden costs. Some say the total military spending is more like $1.25 trillion/year. The US spends more on military than the NEXT 10 COUNTRIES COMBINED; six of whom are allies! Only the US has 800+ military bases blanketing the globe. The US and the Russians together have over 90% of the nuclear weapons in the world. The fact that these governments have been pointing them at each other for the last 70 years should be a cause for alarm to all citizens of the world. It is for the people most familiar with the issue. The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/27/opinions/doomsday-clock-dangerous-situation-brown-rosner/index.html

Alexandrea Kemeny I choose to stay here and work to make this country move toward its espoused values as it evolves to become “a more perfect union”. I believe that’s what we are all called to do. Accepting what our government does (in our name) no matter what is not patriotism, it is blind obedience.

John Miller April 26, 2021 at 4:57 pm

Mr. Miksad: While I admire your desire to live in a world without war as we all would, totalitarian dictators in the 20th Century (Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Chairman Mao, Pol Pot and others) facilitated the geocide of well over 100 million people and the genocide continued under the Soviet Union in the 21st Century and it continues today in the concentration camps in Xinxiang Province China. Had the United States not intervened with its military, the number of dead would have been far greater and those of us who had the courage to put the uniform on during the course of those events and those in uniform now are in fact patriots. To hold otherwise is arrogant, condescending and patently incorrect. BTW: Howard Zinn isn’t a factual historian; he’s a liberal commentator.

John Miksad April 27, 2021 at 7:04 am

John Miller- For most of my life I would have made a similar statement. Something to the effect “I would like peace but there are bad people out there who give us no option but to fight.”
Then I started to look into US international relations more closely. The first data point that struck me was that the US has been in some sort of war for something like 225 of its 245 years as a nation. That did not strike me indicative of a peace loving nation (Sweden hasn’t been at war since early 1800’s). Another way to say this is that this nation was born in war and has been at war ever since. We battled our way to the West coast and northern and southern borders, killing or displacing everyone in our way and when that was accomplished, we then pushed out from our borders, warring in Central and South America, the Philippines, etc. That brought us to World War 1, a useless war which we didn’t need to enter. Then I learned about the lies the government told during the Mexican War (their aggression), the Spanish War (remember the Maine!), the Vietnam war (Gulf of Tonkin/Pentagon Papers) and the Afghanistan war (Afghan Papers) and the lies told to us about Iraq (babies in incubators-Iraq1/WMD’s-Iraq2) and the dismissal of the Taliban offer to have Osama Bin Laden sent to trial in a neutral country or International Criminal Court but Bush chose war (now in it’s 20th year) to name a few. I realized that our government has consistently chose war over diplomacy and peace, that it has made war in a bi-partisan fashion, and that we desperately need to resurrect the peace movement in this country to try to offset the tremendous influence of the military-industrial-congressional-militarist think tank complex. I have come to believe that keeping our soldiers out of harms way is the BEST way to honor them and all those who have died in needless war. Add to that my previously expressed concerns over the things that REALLY threaten us…climate, pandemics, and nuclear annihilation. The pandemics should be obvious to everyone at this point. The climate would be obvious to anyone who seriously looks into the issue. Regarding the concern about nuclear weapons, see the film “The Man Who Saved The World” to get a feel for just one of the near misses we’ve faced or read “”The Button” by William Perry for more. We need more people willing to push our elected officials away from war and towards a just and lasting peace.

Thomas Belmont June 28, 2021 at 10:02 am

God Bless Our Military Force. Give them all they need. Help our Vets. Say the Pledge. Be an American.

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