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A Call to Put Down Arms

It is past time for the paradigm shift. We have one planet and we must see ourselves as one and we must take a stand.

View as the Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS John S McCain as it is launched at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, September 26, 1992. (Photo: Wemitt/US Navy/Interim Archives/Getty Images)

It’s become so absolutely apparent that even the most dedicated and resolute militarist has to concede the fact we have enormous climate crisis-related changes on the near horizon and America’s persistent and insistent militarism is the major culprit. 

It is not hyperbole to argue as does Barry Sanders, author of The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of Militarism, that the U.S. military, "as the largest consumer of fossil fuels and greatest producer of greenhouse gases, places the entire globe with all its inhabitants in the most imminent danger of extinction.”

Irony abounds.  The greatest single assault on the environment, on all of us around the globe, comes from the one agency ostensibly in business to protect us (and our “allies”) from our enemies—the U.S. Armed Forces.  And, it is painfully ironic that the Defense Department acknowledges that global warming may make the world politically unstable due to rising seas, powerful storms, famine and consequent migration which “validates” the need for a stronger, bigger, more costly military—the single entity most responsible for climate crisis in the first place.

The truth of militarism as the major contributor to the climate crisis facing humanity has spawned the “Climate Crisis Demands Conversion” campaign where I live in Maine, organized by climate activists and organizations throughout the state.  We are calling on Bath Iron Works to shift its industrial power from the production of warships to sustainable energy systems that might stem climate disruption rather than contribute to it.  Supporters will gather at a news conference for the Conversion Campaign at 11am, Friday June 21st, at the public library in downtown Portland.

Though Maine’s Congressional delegation has been invited, not surprisingly, not one has even responded.  As undeniable as is the connection between the war machine and the climate crisis, so is the sacrosanct status of the military as a whole.  Depressingly, the slightest nod of concurrence with the merits of the arguments/facts submitted here might well spell political suicide.  We’re led to conclude that the seduction of power is so compelling as to preclude real acts of conscience and courage by our political leaders.  

If the politicians lack the will it is left to us, we the people.  Energy-saving light bulbs, solar panels, all of our electric automobiles are not alone sufficient.  It may seem naïve, ludicrous, absurdly preposterous—but, on the other hand—absolutely irrefutable. War-making must be renounced.  It is past time for the paradigm shift. We have one planet and we must see ourselves as one and we must take a stand.

I spent the summer of 1962 on board the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Independence.  I’ve since learned that this vessel consumed 100,000 gallons of fuel/day.  Every four days it took on 1 million gallons of fuel, ½ of which was consumed by its aircraft.  Steaming to the Persian Gulf from its homeport in Norfolk it consumed more than 2 million gallons of fuel.  One ship.  Fifty years ago!  What now may the daily assault look like?

On Saturday, June 22nd, Bath Iron Works will be Christening the U.S.S. Daniel Inouye, an Arleigh Burke Destroyer.  The addition of yet another unnecessary warship (the U.S. fleet is already larger than the next 13 largest fleets combined) represents an absolute disregard for the well-being of our planet.

We should feel a measure of shame for these launchings.  In his book, Sanders writes, “We pollute as we purportedly advance democracy using the most powerful machinery of death in the world.”  If we are not war tax resisters we are paying taxes to support the degradation of our planet. 

We can and ought to be in the streets.  Please join us in calling for conversion at Bath Iron Works at 8:00 am on June 22nd at the corner Washington Street.  We must believe that in numbers we can make a difference.

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Dud Hendrick

Dud Hendrick is a member of Veterans for Peace.  He has traveled widely to meet with and to speak about the victims of U.S. foreign policy.  He resides on Deer Isle, Maine and can be emailed at dudhe [at] myfairpoint.net

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