Apartheid vs. Apartheid in the time of ‘wokeness’

Apartheid vs. Apartheid in the time of ‘wokeness’

June 02, 2021

By Remote Writer for the Saker Blog

Whose Apartheid is/was the worst? This analysis will focus on the severity of South Africa’s Apartheid and will touch on other forms of Apartheid too.  This article is motivated by The Saker’s call for action in seeking out the Truth, in his recent article: “Woke insanity: why is there so little pushback?!”

Before we proceed to South Africa, the following question is posed: What is/was the level of “Apartheid” (if any) in the following states/countries? Israel and Palestine (current/ongoing conflict); Ireland (Catholic and Protestant divisions in Northern Ireland); India (caste system); China (problems with ethnic minorities); Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador (Quality of life and education for indigenous peoples versus that for Europeans), Middle East (Sunni and Shia divisions); the formation and breakup of Yugoslavia; “Safe Spaces” for Woke?

Bearing that in mind, we now turn our attention to the Apartheid of South Africa (then and now).

The claim is often made that South Africa’s Apartheid was uniquely evil under the Afrikaners/Boers and that nobody could hold a candle to them (except perhaps Israel). First, we need to look at the definition of Apartheid. There are two definitions for it. When people refer to Apartheid, the first definition [below] is the one they usually refer to:

1. The term “Apartheid” was officially named a crime against humanity in 1966 by the United Nations General Assembly. The U.N. defined Apartheid as “inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over persons of another racial group and systematically oppressing them.” The National Security Council adopted a stance against Apartheid in 1984 as a criminal act (Resource 1).

2. The Afrikaner government who were the originators of the term “Apartheid”, defined it differently. For them it was based on the parallel (separate) development of the different nations within South Africa:

“My point is this that, if mixed development is to be the policy of the future of South Africa, it will lead to the most terrific clash of interests imaginable. The endeavors and desires of the Bantu and the endeavors and objectives of all Europeans will be antagonistic. Such a clash can only bring unhappiness and misery to both. Both Bantu and European must, therefore, consider in good time how this misery can be averted from themselves and from their descendants.

They must find a plan to provide the two population groups with opportunities for the full development of their respective powers and ambitions without coming into conflict. The only possible way out is the second alternative, namely, that both adopt a development divorced from each other. That is all that the word apartheid means.”

– Speech of the Minister of Native Affairs, 5 December 1950, South Africa

It is often stated that Afrikaner leaders were the architects of Apartheid, but about 80% of the segregation laws for the Apartheid policy were already in place (in some form or another) before Apartheid was created (Resource 2). Those foundational segregation laws were promulgated by the Dutch and British colonial powers prior to the Afrikaners coming into power in 1948 (Resource 14).

The Apartheid policy (its reasons and objectives), as it developed, was openly and transparently communicated to local and international audiences by way of press releases, newsreels (Resource 3), and documents made available by South African foreign missions abroad. Here is an excerpt from one such document, a booklet titled, ‘Progress Through Separate Development – South Africa in Peaceful Transition’:

Cannot you understand us fighting to death for our existence? And yet we do not only seek and fight for a solution which will mean our survival but seek one which will grant survival and full development, politically and economically to each of the other racial groups as well, and we are even prepared to pay a high price out of our earnings for their future.” “We prefer each of our population groups to be controlled and governed by themselves, as nations are. Then they can cooperate as in a commonwealth or in an economic association of nations where necessary. Where is the evil in this?” (Resource 4)

Two sentences in the above statement stand out, namely (1) “… us fighting to death for our existence” and (2) “…we are even prepared to pay a high price out of our earnings for their future.” For context both of these need to be interrogated:

1. “Cannot you understand us fighting to death for our existence?”

This sentence stands out because South Africa was not at war at that time, so it must have meant something else:

The Afrikaners/Boers were drastically seeking a solution that would guarantee and secure their survival as a nation at the foot of the African continent – for several reasons:

  • During the Anglo-Boer War (1899 – 1902) just 46 years prior to them getting into power in 1948, the Boers had lost virtually everything through a scorched earth policy enacted by the British. Their farms (30,000 were burned down), and their independence was lost, and very many of their women and children (26,000) died in concentration camps (22,000 were children under the age of 16). (Resource 5).
  • The Boers had lost their internationally recognized Boer Republics as a result of the Anglo-Boer War, so they couldn’t draw borders around themselves for protection. Post-war they were incorporated into a union of nations (the Union of South Africa) by the Imperial British government in 1910. In 1948 the Afrikaners came into power and inherited this Union of South Africa, along with responsibility for all the nations within the Union.
  • Demographic growth: The Afrikaners/Boers’ numbers and birthrates would have been much higher had they not lost so many females during the Anglo-Boer War. Moreover, their birthrates have always been much lower than African groups within South Africa (Resource 6).
  • The European colonies in other African countries were systematically being disbanded through a process of decolonization which was fully supported (and initiated in some case) by European countries. At the same time Western and Eastern nations were vying with each other, and among themselves, for favor (access to resources) among newly decolonized and decolonizing African leaderships by supporting Pan-Africanism against the local whites in Africa (Resource 7).
  • Afrikaners/Boers had no right of return to Europe, whereas whites in the other African nations did have that right (mainly British, French, Dutch, Belgian, Portuguese and German passport holders). Afrikaners held only South African passports. As a side-note, there were no Boer Republic passports, because the Boer Republics didn’t exist anymore after the Anglo-Boer War.

A common misconception is that Afrikaners/Boers are Dutch and can/should “go back to Europe”. Afrikaners are genetically, according to 2020 research, 34% to 37% Dutch, 27% to 34% German, 13% to 26% French and 6% to 12% non-European (mainly Asian and Khoisan). (Resource 8).

  • The Afrikaners have no right of return to the Netherlands because in 1814 the Netherlands sold its temporary Dutch colony at the Cape (including all the Afrikaners/Boers) to the British for 3 million pounds sterling, with no right for them to return to the Netherlands. In other words, the Afrikaners were “sold lock stock and barrel”. To this day the Dutch do not recognize Afrikaners as Dutch, or that they have a right of return (Resource 9).
  • The Afrikaners have no right of return to Germany, because the Germans who went to South Africa were single men, tradesmen, and artisans who migrated to South Africa for work and assimilated into the Afrikaner nation.
  • The Afrikaners have no right of return to France because the French immigrants that went to South Africa were Protestant refugees escaping religious persecution in France after Protestantism was outlawed in the 1680’s. No right of return to France exists for Huguenots to this day.

The ‘no right of return’ concept is not something that is so out-of-the-ordinary. The same would apply for many/most Chileans, Argentinians and Uruguayans because they are descendants from several European nations with a blended heritage, for example from Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Poland.

Where would/could the Afrikaners go/have gone to? In their minds, they were/are already home (they consider/ed themselves to be White Africans), but after they gained power in 1948 they were also between a rock and hard place (no more Boer Republics). They decided to continue on with the segregation policies already put in place. At that time forms of segregation were also still in place in several other nations, such as USA, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

The new objective with segregation (now called Apartheid) was for the devolution of the already existing traditional ethnic tribal Homelands into autonomous self-ruling ‘state-lets’ within greater South Africa. This devolution and self-rule would then pave the way for complete independence for each of the Homelands. In the interim, and even after independence, economic support would be available from the Apartheid state (Resource 4),

What was the reasoning behind that approach? The lack of industrialization in the Homelands caused an influx of migrant workers out of the Homelands to cities and towns in wider South Africa. This created the formation of townships (‘shantytowns’) on the outskirts of cities and towns by migrant workers (with resulting social issues). It has often been claimed that the Apartheid state “created” such townships, but they formed naturally because of that economic migration from the underdeveloped Homelands.

The populations of the tribal Homelands were becoming increasingly dependent on jobs far away, while not much modern development was happening naturally inside of them. The Apartheid state’s solution was to finance Homeland development (with state finances, i.e. white tax payers money, because black South Africans were exempted from taxes), so that there would be sufficient job creation and infrastructure development within the Homelands and their border areas, to reduce the economic migration. It was hoped such an aproach would result in reducing the informal settlement/squatter camp (and related) issues and would be the impetus for the long-term natural development of the Homelands.

2. “…we are even prepared to pay a high price out of our earnings for their future.”

  • Between 1964 and 1973 the Homeland of Transkei alone had already received $152-million (USD) from the Apartheid government (Resource 10).
  • By 1966 the equivalent of more or less (at the exhange rate at the time) $420-million (USD) had been invested in the development of border area industries neat to the Homelands and by that time 100,000 jobs had been created. (Resource 11).
  • Between 1962 and 1972 the UN paid out $298 Million USD to underdeveloped countries. In that same period it is estimated that South Africa (the Apartheid government) spent $558 Million USD on the development of the traditional tribal homelands for Self Rule (Resource 12).

The above figures are rather significant, even by today’s standards. Should the be adjusted for inflation to the equivalent in today’s terms these sums become even more impressive. Could it be that the white Apartheid government invested more in the development of indigenous peoples’ regions, within a short period of time than any other Western nation in history? This would have to be verified through research, but that seems to be a distinct possibility.

It has frequently been stated by activists that the Apartheid government created the Bantustans (Homelands) and dumped black South Africans in them against their will and that these areas were the least habitable and least desirable parts of the country – that they are desolate places resembling the Gaza strip … But, what are the facts?

  • The Homeland areas were originally inhabited by the Bantu African tribes during their migration into Southern Africa from the Great Lakes/Central and West Africa region (Resource 13). Clearly, Bantustans/Homelands were not created by the Apartheid government. Moreover, the outlines of the Homelands had already been confirmed by colonial administrations prior to Afrikaners coming into power in 1948 (Resource 14).
  • The Eastern part of South Africa, where the Homelands are situated, is actually the most fertile part of the country with the best agricultural potential, not the worst, and this can easily be observed and verified by looking at maps and also by looking at rainfall figures and soil quality (Resource 15).

Were human rights abuses committed in the process of implementing Separate Development, which was one of the components of Apartheid? Was this policy implemented explicitly “… for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over persons of another racial group and systematically oppressing them”?

Separate development for Self Rule, which was the original South African meaning of Apartheid, does not seem to fit very well into the U.N.’s definition of Apartheid. That said, Apartheid had other components to it. In the rest of South Africa, outside of the Homelands, there were various segregation laws already in place that were inherited by the Afrikaners when they came into power. Those laws resembled the Jim Crow laws of the United States.

After 1948, the state increased the levels of segregation through Apartheid policies and in some cases removed some rights that had already been in place, like the voting rights for Brown people in the Cape Provence for example. Worse than that, it mandated that in some cases families had to be separated from each other when their members were of mixed ethnicity. Those were clearly human rights abuses and some of the most shameful excesses of the Apartheid regime.

If the worst excesses of South African Apartheid are considered as a benchmark for some of the worst human rights abuses of the nineteenth century, as has been claimed (Resource 16), then where would, for example, the caste system in India fall within the spectrum of worst human rights abuses? Or, for example, the forceful removal of aboriginal children from their families in Australia (the Stolen Generations) for assimilation into white families:

“Official government estimates are that in certain regions between one in ten and one in three Indigenous Australian children were forcibly taken from their families and communities between 1910 and 1970” (Resource 17)

Further on this subject, how were indigenous peoples treated in South America and Central America during the Spanish conquest and Portuguese colonialism, and how would that compare to the policy of separate development and/or Apartheid in general, in South Africa? The same questions could be posed about North American countries’ treatment of the indigenous peoples.

The point of the examples above is not to “embarrass anyone”, it is to make the point that the severity of South African Apartheid should be evaluated alongside all past and present segregation policies around the world where similar circumstances applied. Only through side-by-side analysis can an objective analysis be made. That’s the scientific method. Such a study has to date never been done. That’s perhaps for obvious reasons because the vast majority of people in the anti-Apartheid movements were/are from nations that would not escape scrutiny, should such an analysis ever be done honestly.

Why is such an analysis important? Because of the level of disinformation about what really happened during Apartheid. For example, in the document titled ‘Comparing South African Apartheid to Israeli Apartheid’ (Resource 1) the following claims are made about South African Apartheid:

  • Claim: The Apartheid regime created the Bantustans. (Incorrect: They already existed in some form).
  • Claim: Black citizens were made involuntary citizens of those Homelands. (Incorrect: Homelands were settled by Bantu tribes when they migrated into South Africa, although it’s true that not all people originally from Homelands wanted to return there against their will. There was strong support for Self-Rule among the leaders of the Homelands (sources available).
  • Claim: The objective of the “creation” of the Homelands was for the demographic majority of whites in South Africa to be preserved. (Incorrect: The objective of industrializing and developing the Homelands and border areas was to draw Homeland inhabitants back to the Homelands in order to reduce the problems associated with migrant labor, such as informal settlements. In addition, much higher birth rates among African demographic groups presented numerous future challenges related to infrastructure development (carrying capacity) and water resources as well as the future of social and cultural cohesion. The separate development project of the Apartheid government was meant to deal with some of those problems in advance, while – as stated before – the policy would also preserve the survival of Afrikaners/Whites in South Africa. That objective was honestly stated in communiques by the Apartheid government.
  • Claim: Apartheid was about keeping the best parts of the country for the whites and sending the black population to the least habitable, least desirable parts of the country. (Incorrect: The Homelands were and are the most fertile regions of the country).
  • Claim: Blacks were forcibly removed and relocated to black homelands and much of their land seized during Apartheid. (Facts: It is true that many blacks were forcibly removed and relocated to Homelands, but in the majority of cases compensation was involved (Resource 18). White people were also forcefully removed – the Apartheid government forced whites out of the Homelands back into greater South Africa).

A common claim that is made about Apartheid (and/or Afrikaners/Boers) is that tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of black people were killed during Apartheid. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report spearheaded by Rev Desmond Tutu (among other prominent black human rights activists), concluded that around 700 such deaths occurred in 46 years:

“Then there are people who argue that apartheid was a policy in terms of which huge numbers of black people were killed by the apartheid government. It is indeed true that black people were killed by the apartheid government, but the correct figures will come as a surprise to many people. The Human Rights Committee and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission found that roughly 21 000 people died in political violence between 1948 and 1994. Of those 21 000 people, roughly 100 were killed by white rightists and roughly 600 by members of the security forces. Roughly 19 000 people died following the ANC’s launch of the people’s war against competing black [black against black] institutions and organizations.” (Resource 19)

Finally, it would only be fair to evaluate what’s happening in South Africa today, as opposed to South Africa under Apartheid. How do South Africa’s racial policies in 2021 compare to the original Apartheid policies?

  • By the year 2017, there had been no less than 1700 farm murders (many seem to be politically motivated) and 12 245 farm attacks according to the statistics of the South African police. Only a small number of farmers murdered are black farmers (Resource 20)
  • Today there are more race-based laws in South Africa that discriminate against white people after 27 years of democracy than there were under 48 years of Apartheid and 38 years of British colonialism combined:

“The real problem, inadvertently highlighted by the controversy, is that such a large part of the media, civil society, and the DA do not see the ANC’s race laws as a problem. In fact, they are barely conscious that they exist at all. And yet it is simply impossible to understand South Africa’s predicament without reference to the ANC’s racial project, the plunder that this enabled, and the institutional and economic destruction that resulted.” (Resource 21).

For a few precious years in the early to mid-1990s South Africa was, for the first and last time, a country without operative racial laws. Over the past 26 years the ANC has put in place a web of binding racial requirements through constitutional provisions, legislation, white papers, regulations, charters, and party resolutions; as it has sought to advance through the different stages of the revolution, towards the goal of pure racial proportionality, everywhere. This article has documented some eighty of these, but this is not a complete list. It lists only a handful of regulations. By one count the ANC has incorporated racial requirements into ninety acts of parliament, excluding the Constitution, though many of these relate to the application of the “representivity” principle to the boards of statutory bodies. In addition, there are a number of judgments issued by the Constitutional Court, bending the interpretation of the Constitution in favor of the national revolution. ” (Resource 21).

Somehow the BDS movement has not picked up on these developments, but the question must be posed: “Does South Africa in 2021 (with its multitude of race laws, more than under the old Apartheid) qualify as “an Apartheid state” according to the U.N.’s definition of Apartheid?

The U.N. defined Apartheid as “inhumane acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group over persons of another racial group and systematically oppressing them”.

When they came into power in 1948 the Afrikaner government wanted to secure a future for the Afrikaners/Boers within South Africa, because they had lost their Homelands (the Boer Republics), which were their cultural heartlands. They, therefore, assumed that the policy of separate development (self-determination through self-rule for everyone) would be welcomed.

They also believed that the only way to secure a future for themselves would be to at the same time also secure a future for all the other nations within the artificially created country known as South Africa. They believed that if they did not do that, their future within South Africa would not be guaranteed. In other words, they acted from a position of self-preservation, which is the most basic human instinct.

Were they just being paranoid?

The following policies among others are currently in development in South Africa, or are already being implemented:

  • A land confiscation policy known as “Expropriation without compensation” is on the cards in South Africa. If this is passed it would be much worse than the Apartheid government’s forced removals to the Homelands and its resettlement policy in general because there will be no compensation. In other words, Afrikaners/Boers stand to lose everything, notwithstanding their historical developmental, economic, or financial contributions to the country or to black people in particular. (Resource 22).
  • The Afrikaans language, the language of the Afrikaners and also the first language of many Brown people in the Western Cape, has been deemed “non-indigenous” to South Africa in a new language policy by the current South African government. Universities in South Africa are already implementing this new policy and the Afrikaans language has been removed as a main form of instruction. English has been installed in its place. (Resource 23).
  • Affirmative action policies are in place that are formulated according to racial demographics. Higher birth rates for African groups mean higher growth numbers for them, meaning that whites are increasingly squeezed out of the economy for access to jobs, access to education, and access to government services. To an extent also applies to the private sector. (Resource 21).
  • Covid relief funds in some sectors have been made available only to Black Empowerment beneficiaries, while white people did not qualify for financial relief. (Resource 24).
  • Radical politicians in South Africa regularly call on their members to commit acts of violence with regards to farmers, with devastating consequences. Such actions (or worse) hardly ever make it into mainstream media coverage. (Resource 25).

The roots of all the current “wokeness” in the world are to be found in the selective blindness of the anti-Apartheid movements. Wokeness equals selective outrage and double standards with the objective to scapegoat. Most people have supported anti-Apartheid movements, but few are prepared to publicly denounce glaringly obvious discriminatory race policies against white people in South Africa in the present day.

Closing comments:

Some “experts in metaphysics” have claimed that Afrikaners/Boers “deserve” their current circumstances, because of “bad karma”. Apparently, according to them, it’s “just desserts” for their implementation of Apartheid policies in the past. If that is how Karma works (As ye sow, so ye shall reap), it would be interesting to see what the future holds for groups/individuals that have done or are doing, much worse things than were done by/under apartheid. How Karma really works is more likely based upon not bringing bad Karma upon oneself by wishing bad Karma upon others. Today we can see that a lot of South Africa’s problems regarding race issues have arrived in Western Nations too, while “the woke” are demanding their own apartheid: “safe spaces”.

…………

Resource 1:

Article/Report: Comparing South African Apartheid to Israeli Apartheid. itisapartheid.org. http://www.itisapartheid.org/Documents_pdf_etc/outlineapartheidproofedbyc8.15.12-old.pdf

Rescource 2:

Book: South Africa’s Greatest Prime Minister by Stephen Mitford Goodson (2016).P22. ISBN: 978-0-620-68123-0

Resource 3:

News Reel: Creation of the first Bantu state (1962). Pathé.

https://archive.org/details/creation-of-first-bantu-state-transkei-1962

Resource 4:

Booklet: Progress Through Separate Development – South Africa in Peaceful Transition (1963 – First Edition), P4.

https://archive.org/details/ProgressThroughSeparateDevelopmentSouthAfricaInPeacefulTransition

Resource 5:

Book: Apartheid, Britain’s B-Child by Hélène Opperman Lewis (2016).ISBN: 978-0-620-70223-2.

Resource 6:

South Africa population – 1910 to 2016:

(1) https://www.reddit.com/r/southafrica/comments/84g1vt/south_africa_population_1910_to_2016/

(2) https://maroelamedia.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/SA-bevolking.jpg

Resource 7:

Book: Segregeer of Sterf (‘Segregate or Die)’ ) by HJJM van der Merwe (1961).

Resource 8:

Book: Huguenots at the Cape by Philippa van Aardt & Elaine Ridge (2020), P247. ISBN 978-0-620-85911-0.

Resource 9:

Book: AmaBhulu – The Birth and Death of the Second America by Harry Booyens (2014).P99. ISBN 978-0-9921590-1-6.

Resource 10:

Book: Progress Through Separate Development – South Africa in Peaceful Transition (1963 – Fourth Edition), P68.

Resource 11:

Book: Apartheid en Partnership by N.J. Rhoodie (1968/1971). P337.

Resource 12:

“… it is estimated that South Africa (the Apartheid government) spent $558 Million USD on the development of the traditional tribal homelands for Self Rule”.

https://web.archive.org/web/20150513032714/https://the-truth-about-south-africa.org/south-africa/leaked-homeland-financials-year-ending-31-march-1977/

Resource 13:

Video: How the Bantus Permanently Changed the Face of Africa 2,000 Years Ago (History of the Bantu Peoples)

Resource 14

Booklet: Progress Through Separate Development – South Africa in Peaceful Transition (1963 – First Edition), Pages 59,61,63,64,65.

https://archive.org/details/ProgressThroughSeparateDevelopmentSouthAfricaInPeacefulTransition

Resource 15:

Video: South Africa – The Truth About Land:

Resource 16:

“If the worst excesses of South African Apartheid are considered as a benchmark for some of the worst human rights abuses of the nineteenth century – as has been claimed on occasion”:

https://www.countercurrents.org/chengu200415.htm

Resource 17:

Australia’s Stolen Generations:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolen_Generations

Resource 18:

Video: Disrupted Land Documentary:

https://www.disruptedland.co.za/en/

Resource 19:

Article: Apartheid Deaths:

https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/what-afriforum-did-and-did-not-say-about-apartheid

Resource 20:

Statistics: Farm Murders Racial Breakdown 1991 – 2018:

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4428330-Farm-Murders-Racial-Breakdown-1990-2018.html

Resource 21:

Article: The many many race laws of the ANC:

https://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/the-many-many-race-laws-of-the-anc

Resource 22:

Campaign: Enormous Ramifications of Expropriation without Compensation:

https://irr.org.za/campaigns/kill-the-bill-stop-ewc

Resource 23:

Article [translated]: Politics is behind ANC, SU’s definition of Afrikaans as ‘foreign’:

https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=af&u=https://maroelamedia.co.za/debat/meningsvormers/politiek-sit-agter-anc-us-se-definisie-van-afrikaans-as-uitheems/&prev=search&pto=aue

Resource 24:

Article: ANC abuses COVID-19 to push racist agenda against SMME’s:

https://www.politicsweb.co.za/documents/anc-abuses-covid19-to-push-racist-agenda-against-s

Resource 25:

Video: Arson targeting farmers all over South Africa (Oct 2020)


Warm wishes from early-winter South Africa,
Remote Writer

The U.S. Military Is the World’s Biggest Climate Destroyer. No to War and Occupation! No to Environmental Degradation

Emerging Dynamics of Antiwar and Climate Justice Movements

By Alison Bodine

Global Research, July 03, 2020

Talk by Alison Bodine at the United National Antiwar Coalition National Conference held from February 21–23, 2020, at the People’s Forum in New York City.

*** 

To begin, I hope everyone has been able to see actions across Canada in solidarity with the people of Wet’suwet’en media and social media lately, footage and their hereditary chiefs who are standing against a fracked gas, or what they call a “natural” gas pipeline, up in northern British Columbia. This struggle is part of my talk today, however, the focus of what I wanted to say is about the importance of bringing the anti-war movement and the climate justice movement together or anti-war organizers and the climate justice movement together.

The Devastating Human and Environmental Impact of War & Occupation 

I want to start with just three short examples of the impact of war on the environment that I think are very important to remember. 

On January 24th, over a million people protested in Iraq. The streets were full in Baghdad of people demanding the U.S. Out of Iraq Now! It was incredibly inspiring.

Iraq is a country that has been devastated for 17 years by U.S. led war and occupation. Over a million people have been killed, not to mention the millions who were killed before the war began in 2003 when the U.S. and the United Nations Security Council imposed severe sanctions between 1991 and 2003. Iraq is a devastated country where the U.S. has set up 500 big and small military bases throughout 17 years of occupation, and deployed countless bullets, bombs, chemical weapons, depleted uranium and burn pits filled with toxic plastics, heavy military machinery and shells of weaponry.

No wonder people in Iraq were demanding U.S. Out of Iraq Now! Because of the devastation that has been brought upon them. But I wanted to further centre our discussion on climate justice by talking about one example of what climate devastation and climate justice means to people in Iraq.

In 2010, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health wrote an article where they reported a 38-fold increase in leukemia, a tenfold increase in breast cancer, and an infant mortality rate eight times higher than in neighboring Kuwait, following what had then been seven years of U.S. war and occupation in Iraq. A big cause of this could be linked to the chemical weapons used, and especially to depleted uranium, which has a half-life of 4.5 billion years. According to a 2007 report by the U.N. Environment Program, between 1000 and 2000 metric tons of depleted uranium were fired into Iraq.

The city of Nagasaki is shown as a teeming urban area, above, then as a flattened, desolate wasteland following the detonation of an atomic bomb, below. Circles indicate the thousands of feet from ground zero.

Now I will bring it back home to the U.S. and Canada. In Canada, an Indigenous Dené nation community in the Northwest Territories became known as the “Village of Widows” because men of the population died of cancers that they developed when mining for uranium. This was the same uranium that was used in the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As well, the radium and the uranium mines in the community released tailings into the lake and landfills. The devastating effects of this are still experienced in the community today.

That brings us to what has been said many times, importantly, in this conference already, which is that the U.S. Department of Defense is the world’s largest polluter. We are talking about 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases emitted annually. That is the equivalent of 257 million cars on the road for a year.

In Canada, the Department of National Defence also makes an enormous contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. A portion of this is through the fueling of the warplanes of Canada and other imperialist countries. The government of Canada is often claiming that they are not participating in U.S.-led wars, but then refueling all the jets that are dropping the bombs. The Canadian military provided 65 million pounds of fuel to refuel aircraft used in the bombing of Iraq and Syria between 2014 and 2019. This is incomparable, of course, to the fuel consumption of the vehicles that any of us here in this room drive.

The Department of Defense in the United States is the largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels. In Canada, the Department of National Defence is the largest consumer of petroleum and Canada’s largest landholder.

This is added to the continued environmental and human impact of chemical and radioactive weapons such as Agent Orange and depleted uranium. Also, the military bases of the United States and its allies around the world persist in poisoning and in polluting.

Another topic to talk about that is important to the discussion about environment and war is military emissions, because specific sources of greenhouse gases are excluded from federal reduction targets due to their important role in “ensuring the national safety and security of all Canadians” — as Canada’s previous environment minister, Catherine McKenna, justified why the declared emissions of the Department of National Defence in Canada has never been counted in Canada’s emission reduction targets.

Military emissions are explicitly stated as excluded in the targets set by the 2015 United National Paris agreements. Under these agreements, countries are “required,” as much as the Paris agreements can “require” anything, to report on their military emissions. Still, countries are not obligated or encouraged to do anything to reduce them. In the international climate agreements that proceeded with the Paris agreement, the Kyoto Accords, military emissions were not even part of the discussion. Military emissions continue to be considered a so-called necessary expense for our planet.

Then, there is the issue of military budgets. For example, the world’s biggest military budget ever has been passed yet again in the United States recently. Instead of being spent on human and environmental destruction, this money could go towards climate justice, meaning health care, education, jobs, public transit, and more.

As Martin Luther King Junior said, and I think this is a good quote for us to use when talking about the environment and war,

“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

So, where is the technology that we need to save our planet earth now? 

The War at Home: Wet’suwet’en & the Struggle for Indigenous Rights 

The wars abroad by imperialist countries such as the U.S. and Canada are also carried out against people at home. And I think every once in a while, there are these escalated times when that reality can shake oppressed people and their very foundations. And that has happened with Indigenous people in Canada over the past few weeks.

There is a war against Indigenous people in Canada. There has been since the colonisation of Indigenous land. The Canadian state has the same roots as the United States of genocide, residential schools, and reservation systems. This history and the current reality of colonization are reflected in the mobilization of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in solidarity with Wet’suwet’en today. 

It is important to understand that one year ago, the RCMP -the Canadian national police- first invaded the territory of the Wet’suwet’en people, and they kept a detachment there for an entire year. Then this January is when things escalated again because the RCMP moved further into the territory and cleared people off of a road to make way for the development of the Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is in violation of the demands of the Wet’suwet’en people. British Columbia is an unceded territory. No treaties, in 92 percent of the land, were ever signed. So hereditary chiefs and their system of governance are law in those unceded territories. 

The Coastal GasLink pipeline is fracked gas. There has been a lot of talk, specifically in the Province of British Columbia about how the Coastal GasLink pipeline is going to “replace coal for the world,” and at the same time, not have a big impact on greenhouse gas emissions. However, the impact of “natural gas” emissions can only be considered minor when you ignore the methane and poisons that are released when it is extracted and considering that when it is burned, Canada does not have to count those emissions targets. 

It is Time to Unite the Antiwar and Climate Justice Movement

That brings me to my final point, which is about bringing together the anti-war movement with the climate justice movement. One way to do this is by making sure “self-determination for oppressed nations, including Indigenous nations!” is always part of our demands. This has always been part of our demands within Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and MAWO has consistently brought this demand to the cross-border movement that we would like to strengthen and build together, including with this conference. 

I think there are four strategies and demands that we need to bring into our antiwar, anti-pollution, and anti-imperialist movement. The first is that we must build a movement that is against imperialist war and occupation. Today, we live in what we in MAWO call “the new era of war and occupation,” which is the never-ending wars that started in 2001, that we are all coming together to organize against. This era is characterized by a campaign to regain hegemony in the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America by capitalist countries that are facing a grave economic crisis and a rapid falling rate of profit. These countries are on the war path to gain new markets and resources, which means more killing of our planet. 

Secondly, self-determination for oppressed nations, as I said, must be part of our work, from Indigenous and Black people, to oppressed countries under attack and occupation. This important demand calls on us to have strategical unity against any occupation, domestic or international. We cannot just be talking about the U.S. occupying other countries but also what it means when there are oppressed nations within the U.S. and Canada borders.

Thirdly, we need to fight for a world without NATO and U.S. military bases, because of the environmental pollution and also because of the way that the United States uses these bases to increase their wars and occupations and consequently further ecological degradation.

Lastly, I think the environmental struggle ties into the movement against sanctions and blockades, which are war. These attacks do not allow countries to develop their economies or to use their resources for the good of their people. Sanctions and blockades enforce the hegemony of the world’s biggest corporations, which are also the world’s biggest polluters.

If we combine these four pillars, which bring together the war at home and abroad, this is how we can build an anti-imperialist movement, how we can move from just being against war to also being against imperialism. I think we cannot build an effective anti-war movement without centralizing and emphasizing the slogan of self-determination for all oppressed nations.

I will say that I think this slogan of self-determination for all oppressed nations is as important as “Workers of the world unite,” from Marx and Engels.

People of oppressed nations face war and occupation and the denial of self-determination, which unites them in the fight against imperialism. The common struggle that unites workers is their exploitation by the capitalist class and the denial of their rights.

Within the antiwar and the climate justice movement, we must also emphasize that we are building an international movement, one that is also internationalist in character. The struggles of people against massive resource extraction projects are similar in Standing Rock in North Dakota or the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The struggle for a sustainable world requires international cooperation between oppressed people. It requires solidarity and, more importantly, unity across borders to become powerful and effective. 

There are many opportunities for antiwar activists to bring the antiwar movement to the climate justice movement. There were massive protests around the world in September 2019; over 9 million people participated in global climate strike actions. And I think we need to continue to take advantage of that mobilization on the streets. We need to strategically bring the antiwar movement and the environmental movement together. Fighting against war is fighting against the degradation of the environment and fighting for climate justice is fighting against war and occupation. We are in an era of history that these two causes have become two struggles for one purpose, to save our lives and the planet.

I think we are now facing the opportunity to build a better and sustainable world. We must not feel inactive or depressed about the climate crisis or endless wars and occupations around us. In the face of this devastation, we have no choice but to take up the call and fight back.

People marching on the streets today against climate change can also be very capable of understanding that it is not just a clean planet we are fighting for. It will not matter if we have a clean planet if the earth is still full of poverty and human suffering and wars and occupations. The antiwar and climate justice movement now more than ever has one cause: Save the planet.

United we will win!

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First printed in Fire This Time Newspaper Volume 14, Issue 3–5: www.firethistime.net

Alison Bodine is a social justice activist, author and researcher in Vancouver, Canada. She is  the Chair of Vancouver’s peace coalition Mobilization Against War and Occupation (MAWO) and a central organizer with the grassroots climate justice coalition Climate Convergence in Vancouver, Canada. Alison is also on the Editorial Board of the Fire This Time newspaper. 

Featured image is from The GrayzoneThe original source of this article is Global ResearchCopyright © Alison Bodine, Global Research, 2020

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