Forty years ago, the peace movement and the Bundesverband Bürgerinitiativen Umweltschutz organized the first of the hundreds of thousands of peace demonstrations. This success was made possible by the cooperation of the environmental protection movement and the peace movement. At that time there was widespread concern about the danger of nuclear war and ecological dangers, mainly due to nuclear power plants. The forces committed against the military and the destruction of nature lost their commonality over decades. One of the reasons is that NATO propaganda calls military force and its preparation “security policy” and with this term appeases many political actors.
The current Bundestag election campaign and a large part of the climate movement, not only in the environment of the Greens, does not address the future threat of military environmental damage. Thus, climate protection policy threatens to fail in the beginning. That would be a great Pyrrhic victory for the NATO-affine forces in the Bundestag parties to the right of the Left Party. In view of the ecological situation of mankind, this is not to be blamed, let alone accepted. It challenges the common resistance of all forces interested in the survival of humanity.
With wars and preparations for war, armaments, maneuvers and sanctions, as well as other tensions in the run-up to hot wars such as sanctions, economic wars in the form of additional tariffs and other restrictions on the damage of so-called opposing states, the military sector contributes to the damage to the habitat of humanity like no other area of human activity. The damage to the environment hurts the mental health of many people. From the traumas resulting from the wars, humanity has never recovered. They paralyze the perception and reflection of experiences and contexts; this limits people’s ability to act and this at a time when it is important that humanity directs its full potential to avert the dangers of the future.
Parts of the climate protection movement overlook the connection between climatic development and the effects of military, armaments and war, although disarmament would be the greatest contribution to ecological future security. Military spending by all states is over $ 220 million per hour; the renowned peace research institute SIPRI reports that the sum of all expenditures for the military sector worldwide is approaching two trillion-to better imagine this, the statement that one trillion is 1,000 billion and that one billion is 1,000 million helps. Humanity cannot afford the associated destruction of resources so close to the ecological abyss for a moment.
This sum does not include the costs resulting from the damage to nature and culture caused by wars. What is lost here cannot be seen at all, let alone quantified. The chemical poisons stored in the seas after the Second World War or the radiation of the regions damaged by atmospheric atomic bomb tests and nuclear armaments, the deaths, miscarriages and physical injuries to people as a result of the depleted uranium massively used by NATO in the Balkans, the Gulf and North Africa, which are used as a cover for tanks and- and bunker-busting projectiles as well as similar catastrophic consequences of the defoliation war of the USA around the Mekong River between Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the Indochina War of the 1960s and 70s, which killed several million Vietnamese and the jungle with its foliage.
The after-effects of such war crimes against the ecosphere are unmanageable, also because of their long-term consequences. These crimes are, inter alia, a violation of Article 35 of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 on the Protection of Victims of International Armed [Conflicts – - quote:
“It is forbidden to use methods or means of warfare that are intended or can be expected to cause extensive, long-lasting and severe damage to the natural environment.”
Dramatic examples of war-related ecological damage are the Gulf Wars. Greenpeace published a study on this in 2003, in which they reported:
“Between 300,000 and 700,000 tons of oil were burned every day – this corresponds to a share of 3.5 to 8.1 percent of the world’s oil consumption at that time per day.”
The US Army emits more climate-damaging combustion gases through the execution of acts of war than entire states such as Portugal and Denmark. Two million personnel are at the disposal of the US Army, thousands of aircraft and tens of thousands of vehicles consume so many fossil fuels that the US Army is one of the largest climate sinners in the world.
The fact that the U.S. government has pushed through the climate conferences to exempt the U.S. Army from the obligation to report on its climate damage has contributed to the fact that many climate activists do not perceive the connection between military and ecology.
This increases the importance of peace ecology and its task to strengthen the education about the ecological threats to the future by the military, armaments and the wars thus made possible and to carry it into society. The weeks ahead of us in the Bundestag election campaign must also be used for this.
For the legislative period ahead of us, the military lobby plans to increase high and nuclear armament by billions at the expense of social, environmental, educational and health policy, in line with NATO’s two percent target. The EU Project for Warfare in Europe (FCAS) is related to the upcoming deployment of the newly developed B 61-12 nuclear arsenals by 2024 and the acquisition of 45 F-18 US jets, the primary purpose of which is to attack Russian targets in nuclear war. The other project on the agenda of the military in the course of the next parliamentary term is the drone armament, which the military is planning in connection with the euro drone.
Further military projects flank these ecologically irresponsible projects, which are opposed to any climate and ecology policy. When the election campaign is over, the defensive struggle against this madness goes into the next phase.