If we are not united in peace, we cannot save the planet.
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist
The search for peace, with social, racial, and environmental justice – in a livable future – requires us to make connections. Acknowledging both the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and the 103rd anniversary of the November 11, 1918 Armistice ending World War I, Western Mass. activists associated with the Traprock Center for Peace & Justice and Franklin County Continuing the Political Revolution (FCCPR) peace task force offer the following statement:
The path to a livable future requires ending war.
As world attention turns to COP 26, so-called ‘leading nations’ have not come near to reducing fossil fuel subsidies, production and use as needed to move towards stabilization of the planet’s climate. Nor have they provided promised funding to help affected nations mitigate harms and transition to renewable energy. As US citizens aware of our country’s long history of international resource plunder and related climate pollution, we call for a ‘climate peace dividend,’ shifting resources from weapons of war to finance the global transitions needed now.
Here are some reasons why:
Arming the world: In 2020 the U.S. supplied 37% of major weapons sold that year to 96 countries, thereby feeding war and starving people. Saudi Arabia received one-quarter of our arms, creating the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in waging its war and blockade on Yemen, with our tax dollar weapons.
Climate crisis and pollution: The U.S. military is the largest institutional user of oil in the world, and thus, the largest institutional polluter. The Costs of War project estimates the U.S. military produced around 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions between 2001 and 2017, nearly a third coming from U.S. wars overseas, Iraq and Afghanistan included. By one account, the U.S. military is a larger polluter than 140 other countries combined, including numerous industrialized nations, like Sweden, Denmark and Portugal.
Costs and threats: Since the late 1970s, the United States has spent $8 trillion protecting oil cargoes in the Persian Gulf region with ongoing naval patrols. Keeping oil and gas supply sea lanes in the South China Sea open, in the face of China’s expansion there, is also a factor in the current US pivot to Asia.
War for oil has come home: Militarized North Dakota police attacked non-violent water protectors protesting the Dakota Access oil pipeline with rubber bullets, tear gas, concussion grenades, and water cannons in sub-freezing temperatures. One medic treating injuries described it as a “low grade war.”
A thumbnail sketch of recent US spending confirms the axiom that ‘war culture is a defining feature of US politics.’ In 2016, as in previous years, an estimated $1 trillion was allocated to military defense, militarized national security, veterans, and debt from recent wars. In that same year a few billion dollars — crumbs from the master’s table –were allocated to research and development for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Between 20102015, the federal government invested $56 billion in clean energy internationally, while it recently committed to $1 trillion for modernizing nuclear weapons by 2030.
What’s clear from US spending priorities is that access to oil and military dominance have governed US policy in the world, and the world has suffered for it. It’s time for a real change, away from fossil fuels, corporate-military power, and war.
Sources and for more information, see:
Traprock Communications, November 10, 2021 firstname.lastname@example.org