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“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”

—John Muir in My First Summer in the Sierra (1911); Source: Wikiquote page on John Muir; License: Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0)

On Thursday, 20 February 2003, I gave a presentation on the “Realities of War” to a small group in the 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.

For example, let’s look at the use of depleted uranium (DU)/nuclear weapons. Where is the uranium mined? What ecological problems result from the mining — on that environment and the people there and as well to the whole Earth? How long does the uranium stay radioactive in the places where it is mined? Where are the radioactive wastes (rad wastes)/byproducts stored — from nuclear power plants and/or DU/nuclear weapons? What problems are associated with that?

What affects 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 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?

Where are the DU weapons proving/testing grounds? How long does the DU 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?

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

Just by looking at 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 on the battlefield. 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 — bankers (international and national), weapons contractors, petrochemical/pharmaceutical/gas industry, the mining industry, the metals industry, politicians, and so on. 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, 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, 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.

If you would like more information on War as a system, check out: realitieswar.html.

Mr. Irucka Embry can be reached at info {at) questionuniverse [dot} com 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 civil wars.

5th/6th year student studying civil and environmental engineering and Spanish

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