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Commentary :: Miscellaneous
War as a System Current rating: 0
12 May 2003
This piece looks at War in context, as a System and how it affects each and every one of us on this planet and in this Universe.
"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe."
-John Muir


On Thursday, 20 February 2003, I gave a presentation on the "Realities of War" to a small group at the University of Tennessee (Knoxville campus) University Center. In it I discussed War as a system, as a cycle. Thus, War cannot be understood by only looking at one part of it – such as the physical aspects (torture, ecological damage, rape, bombings, death, bloodshed, "cannon fodder," physical affects to the people directly involved, and so on) – so it can only be understood by looking at ALL of the interconnected and interrelated realities that make up War.

Let’s start by looking at the effects of War on our bodies. A War has been declared (through legal or illegal means/channels) and the people in that society are angry at the so-called "enemies" and at the same time patriotic about their own nation/country. How does that anger affect them? Does it lead to ulcers, skin rashes/irritations, pimples, headaches, fatigue, energy loss, stress, and/or any other symptoms if this anger is occurring over short and/or longer periods of time? Does the anger make the person more susceptible to illness? Does the person feel spiritually bankrupt or empty because of this negative emotion? Does the person lose concentration and act without thinking? Does the anger lead to hatred and acts of violence against those that resemble the "enemy" or could be the "enemy"? Does the anger from being in the physical War and the various effects from that cause the people behind the uniform (troops) to commit criminal acts such as rape, sexual enslavement, torture, and so on against the people in that "enemy" country? Why? Does that same anger cause the person behind the uniform to abuse his or her spouse, significant other, friend, and/or so on, on the military base or at home when he or she returns from combat? What other illegal or legal actions does this anger possibly cause? Though we may not be in a physical War, we can see that it affects our bodies.

Now, let’s look at the use of depleted uranium (DU)/nuclear weapons. For starters, nuclear weapons are ILLEGAL. [1] What legal implications exist for the researchers, scientists, engineers, technicians, miners, transporters, professors, graduate students, and others that profit/benefit in terms of material gain from this illegal industry of nuclear weapons? Does the country/nation that allows or supports the proliferation, research & design, implementation, and/or use of nuclear weapons through subsidies and other means have any legal responsibility to the international community? If so, what? Do governments that pursue MAD policies [2] not think that these weapons are harmful to everyone on this planet, including those that make the decision to use such weapons or those that actually will launch or otherwise deploy such weapons? As well, do these government leaders not realize that they are and were breaking international law? Did they just not care about the law or about the consequences of using such weapons? To see what systemic effects that nuclear weapons have before they are even used, let’s take a closer look.

In order to have nuclear weapons, there must be a source. Where is the uranium mined? Or plutonium? What ecological problems result from the mining – on that environment and the people there and as well to the whole Earth? [3] How long does the uranium and/or plutonium stay radioactive in the places where it is mined? What do we do with ALL of the radioactive wastes (rad wastes) from this country and others? Where are those wastes/byproducts stored – from nuclear power plants and/or DU/nuclear weapons? What problems are associated with that? How do we make sure that this waste does not cause any more damage and harm to anyone again?

What effects does the mining and/or storage of waste have on the people involved if the mining is done on or near a place of spiritual sacredness or if the waste storage site is in that area? Would you want an area that was sacred to you to be desecrated by radioactive
dust, acid mine drainage, and/or other contaminants?

Are the people mining the uranium and plutonium and having the waste stored on their lands mostly people that are materially impoverished and/or people of color? Can that be considered to be environmental ethnocentrism/racism and just a continuation of the hundreds of years of colonialism, exploitation, and imperialism (capitalism)?

Who are the people responsible for transporting the rad waste, toxic ash, or toxic metals? Who are the people responsible for transporting the uranium and/or plutonium to the places where it is refined so that it can be used? Thus, who are the people transporting this waste in trucks, boats, and/or other vehicles? Does the load that they are carrying have any affects on them, their families, or the areas in which they pass through? If so, what affects?

If the uranium or plutonium is weaponized in a facility, then what problems result from that? If the building uses electricity, where does the electrify come from? Coal, nuclear, or hydro-powered power plants? If so, what effects does coal mining have? What are the effects of dams? What metals are used in the equipment or in the weapons systems themselves? Therefore, what metals are mined? What are the effects of those metals being mined?

Where are the DU/nuclear weapons proving/testing grounds? How long does the DU/nuclear particles stay radioactive both on the physical battlefields and on the proving/testing grounds? What problems are associated with that? Does the Department of Energy/Department of Defense (Pentagon) alliance have to clean up those proving/testing grounds, either in this country or abroad? If not, why not? If so, do they actually clean up the areas completely? If not, why not? Has the Pentagon tried to exempt itself from environmental laws in this country? Why? Doesn’t the Pentagon care about the health of the people in this country and/or around the world? Or for that matter about the existence of Life on this planet? Do the environmental laws hamper the ability of the Pentagon to make more deadly weapons? If so, isn’t that a good thing? We already have enough weapons to maim and kill every person on this planet, do we really need more?

Now, let’s look at the actual use of the DU/nuclear weapons in the physical aspects of War. When DU/nuclear weapons are used in a populated area, how many people die immediately? How many people die later on due to water contamination, air pollution, land pollution, pollution of their physical bodies, and/or contamination of the physical Earth?

For those that see the aftermath/consequences of using such destructive and deadly weapons like nuclear weapons, how is their conscience affected? Especially those that made the decision(s) to use such weapons, those that deployed the weapons into action, and/or those that felt the need to "nuke those ragheads/sand niggers until they glowed". What are the effects upon those that If the people of the world were to see the catastrophic results of the mining, production, and use of nuclear weapons, would we still allow their use, though they are already illegal? Would we still believe in the benefits over costs ratio of nuclear power? Would we want to find other ways of solving conflicts, especially those that are peaceful and respectful/understanding of other peoples? In the process, would we work to dismantle weapons systems/disarm all nations and peoples of the world and find the most ecologically sound way to dispose of the various weapons of mass/limited destruction and their related technologies? Would we want to find other ways of energy/electricity production? Would we want to limit our consumption -- stop overconsuming?

Just by looking at the effects of anger in Wartime and the use of depleted uranium/nuclear weapons, we can see that War as a system affects each and every one of us on this planet, not just those that we see as directly affected – those near the explosion of the DU/nuclear weapons on the battlefield and others involved in the physical combat. You may ask, how is that? We live on one planet, Mother Earth. Particles disperse around the world via the wind, water, equipment, physical bodies, and so on. As well, you may live close to or on the land where various nuclear weapons including, but not limited to DU, or other weapons have been tested and there is still the possibility that the land is still contaminated after all of these years.

When War is looked at as a system, it is a lot easier to see that it is a lose-lose situation for all of us on this planet, the only winners are those that profit from Wars financially and thus materially - financial industry(ies) [accountants, insurance companies, bankers (international and national)], weapons contractors/producers/munitions, petrochemical/pharmaceutical/energy industry(ies) [oil, gas, mineral mining, plastics, etc.], the metals industry, technological industry, food industry, clothing industry, universities (professors, graduate students, and/or other researchers/designers), politicians, the citizens of the "global West/North" nations, and so on. Though I would also like to point out that even those that benefit financially/materially, are also losers in the same sense that ALL of us LOSE in War – as we are all affected malignantly indirectly and directly. So that means that we must work for peace by first finding peace within ourselves, with our families and friends, with the society we live in, with our Mother Earth, and ultimately with the Universe(s). This means that we must create a new world – Another World is Possible! (¡Un Otro Mundo Es Posible!) no longer built on profits over Life, hatred, fear, ignorance, sexism, racism/ethnocentrism, militarism, ecological destruction, and so on. But, this world should be built on Life over profits, sustainable economies and relationships, love, courage/bravery, imagination, knowledge and understanding, peace, ecological wisdom/literacy, and so on. It is up to ALL of us to make that choice and work towards a better world for all of us.

Mr. Irucka Embry can be reached at iembry (at) utk.edu and I hope that each us of think about War as a system to see that it affects each and everyone one of us, as all Wars are ultimately civil wars.

[1]
Read the Declaration of St. Petersburg of 1868 and the Hague Convention of 1907 as well as the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons of 1996. For more information, check out "Nuclear Crimes: Corporate Profit off an Illegal and Immoral Technology" by Dan Parrott at http://www.nga.sk.ca/nukepower.html and Legality of Nuclear Weapons at http://www.nuclearfiles.org/etinternationallaw/legality.htm.

[2]
http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutually_assured_destruction
"Mutual assured destruction"

http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/apj97/win97/parrin.
"Mutually Assured Destruction Revisited: Strategic Doctrine in Question"

[3]
Ecological problems would include pollution of all types, such as water (ground and surface pollution from radioactive sludge and acid mine drainage due to sulfur), air (radioactive nuclides particles and radon gas), land, and bodily pollution of the bodies of plants, animals, and so on.
See also:
http://members.tripod.com/Irucka/realitieswar.html
http://members.tripod.com/Irucka/continuum.html

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