War, Militarism and
People of Color
Gopal Dayaneni, Oil Campaign Coordinator, Project
here today to speak about the resolution that was written and
passed by the Second People of Color Environmental Leadership
Summit in October of this year. Incidentally, the first People
of Color Summit was held in 1991, when there was a President
Bush who insisted on bombing a country called Iraq – for
At that time, when the Environmental Justice Principles
were established, there was a clear commitment to citing militarism
and war as grave
environmental abuses and human rights abuses. We now find ourselves
in the eerie parallel world of George Two.
I will tell you why
people from across the country, from all nine environmental justice
networks, representing hundreds of
and thousands of individuals decided to take a position against
this war. It is because they recognized the inextricable relationship
between war and environmental abuse – and not just environmental
abuses in Iraq but the environmental abuses that militarism wreaks
on people of color across this country and around the world.
example, the oil from Iraq will end up in refineries in Louisiana,
Texas and California where they will be processed in communities
of color, spewing dioxins and other chemicals on those communities.
Dioxin bioaccumulates and bioamplicies and is a neurotoxin.
They recognize that the US puts its military toxic waste dumps
indigenous lands in Alaska, California and throughout the United
People of color across this country recognize that
depleted uranium comes from uranium mined on indigenous lands.
waste gets dumped on indigenous lands. People of color recognize
that the war against Iraq and the unending war on terrorism
means increased bombing on the island of Vieques in Puerto
increased military activity in the Philippines, increased
military aid and
troops in Colombia to protect the oil infrastructure there.
In means decreased resources to support our communities across
that suffer disproportionately from the placement of powerplants,
refineries, medical waste incinerators, military toxic waste
dumps, and military facilities.
It is based on this recognition that this
war has broad-reaching and vast implications for people within
Iraq and outside Iraq that
people at the environmental leadership summit wrote this declaration.
I am going to point out a few of the principles on which this
We recognize that the Bush administration’s
war on terrorism and the impending invasion of Iraq and the blanket
of unilateral military action on the part of the United States
and will continue to cause enormous human suffering and environmental
I want to point out that unilateralism on the part of the
US is a cover for dubious intentions. If we were truly honest
for which we seek to invade Iraq, we would be willing to build
a multilateral, multinational coalition over it. But it is because
the intentions cannot be explicitly stated — because the
intentions are about controlling the world’s second largest
oil reserves and because the intention is to militarize oil resources
globally — the
US cannot and will not build an international coalition.
obviously are not to disarm Iraq — or global
disarmament of weapons of mass destruction — given that
the US is fully aware of the fact that there is a nuclear power
the Middle East that has admitted its willingness to bomb other
It is called Israel and it is funded by the United States.
we were concerned about weapons of mass destruction, we would
be concerned about our aid to Israel as well as our weapons
of mass destruction facilities across the United States. Which,
by the way,
are placed in communities of color and on indigenous lands.
example, the Western Shoshone lands in western Nevada are the
site of mining that is used for to drive the military, nujclear
weapons testing facilities, and radioactive waste dumping.
also like to bring attention to something that is rarely
spoken about. It is that war and militarism directly intensifies
violence against and exploitation of women and their labor, particularly
through the sex trade that explodes around US military installations
around the world. This is a huge problem now in Central Asia.
It is a huge problem in the Philippines and it will be a huge problem
anywhere US military installations are placed.
We stand in solidarity
with our sisters in Afghanistan and around the world who have
been resisting the abuse and we hope that this
makes it into the broad discourse about war and militarization.
will finally bring it to the things we decided we decided we
are going to do as communities of color. First of all, we are mobilizing
within our organizations and within communities. We are not just
making statements. We are out there training ourselves, participating
in mass mobilizations, educating our communities and connecting
our local struggles with the struggles of communities with the
US agenda of militarization.
We are also demanding that the US
stop all military training exercises in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
This has been a huge problem
and has been
increased and intensified in the name of the war on terrorism
without any regard to the communities that are impacted by
are also demanding that we begin the process of a full phase-out
with a just transition out of fossil fuels and into renewable
and clean sustainable energy with jobs for ourselves and the environment.
And that struggle has to begin with stopping fighting resource