Alliance Building and Militarism

A popular slogan from the peace movement of the 1960s, "War is not healthy for children and other living things" sets a foundation for alliance and movement building.

In her essay, "The Color of Violence" in The Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
(South End Press, 2006), Haunani-Kay Trask makes the connections between racism, colonialism, and militarism and the effect these intersecting oppressions have on the health of Native Hawaiians. She writes:

Allow me to shock you with a profile of our health statistics. Below one year of age, the Hawaiian death rate is more than double the overall US average. Between one and four years of age, it is triple the US figure, and so on through early adulthood. And in every age category up to age thirty, the Hawaiian death rate is never less than double, and is often triple, the non-Hawaiian mortality rate in our islands. With just under 20% of the state's population, Hawaiians account for nearly 75% of the state's deaths for people less than eighteen years of age. And while the mortality rate for non-Hawaiians decreased significantly between 1980 and 1990, for both full and part-Hawaiians, it actually increased.

Trask puts these harrowing health statistics in the context of the colonization and militarization of her country. She points out that:

"On O'ahu, the capital of our state and the most densely populated island, the military controls 25% of the land area. Statewide, the combined American armed forces have 21 instillations, 26 housing complexes, 8 training areas, and 19 miscellaneous bases and operation sites. Beyond O'ahu, Hawai'i is the linchpin of the American military strategy in the Asia-Pacific region. It is the largest portage of nuclear-fueled ships and submarines in the world. ...

Regionally, in the military terminology, Hawai'i is "the forward basing point" for the American military in the Pacific. The Seventh Fleet, which patrols the world from the Pacific to the African coast, is stationed at Pearl Harbor or other military instillations in Hawai'i.

This kind of "peaceful violence" results in land confiscation, contamination of our plants and animals and our peoples, and the transformation of our archipelago into a poisonous war zone. Additionally, many of the lands taken by the military are legally reserved lands for Hawaiians.

I've quoted Trask at length because one of those US military instillations is Schofield Barracks, located on the island of O'ahu. It is home to the 25th Infantry Division. It was recently revealed that the Division's 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team had planned, and executed, a medical trauma exercise that involved shooting live pigs. The training was in preparation for deployment in Iraq.

Unfortunately, the recent opposition by some animal activists to the shooting of live pigs at Schofield Barracks is an example of opportunity for alliance and movement building squandered. While denouncing the shooting of pigs, the nonprofit corporation PETA sides with racism, militarism, and colonialism.

Today, Kathy Guillermo, a manager for PETA's Laboratory Investigations Department, was quoted by The Associated Press as saying the shooting of live pigs is bad for the war effort. Guillermo wrote, "This outmoded practice is not only cruel, but is a disservice to the men and women who risk their lives in defense of our country and who deserve the most effective trauma training methods available."

In an editorial yesterday, Erin Martinez, a research associate for PETA, concluded:

Shortsightedness has far-reaching implications. The alternatives to animal-based trauma training are available, and the science is strong. We don't have to choose between the pig and the soldier or between competence and compassion. The choice is clear if we are all willing to open our eyes: Modernize trauma training for soldiers and medics with animal-free instruction.

What's shortsighted is PETA's support for racism, colonialism, and militarism, with no regard for the far-reaching implications it has on the Earth and all life that inhabits it. This shortsighted strategy would force us to choose pigs over Hawaiians and Iraqis. This is not compassion.

A farsighted approach would oppose militarism. By opposing militarism alliances can be built that support the liberation of Hawaiians and Iraqis as well as pigs and other animals. This is real compassion. It's also the vegan choice that honors the efforts of all who are striving for the emancipation animals, human and nonhuman alike.

It's worth noting that PETA jumped on the pro-war and US empire building bandwagon as soon as George W. Bush declared the "war on terror" and started bombing the people and nonhuman animals in Afghanistan.

PeTA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) praises the American armed forces in the Winter 2001 edition of their newsletter the Animal Times stating: "Three cheers for the red, white, and ... green? Yes, green." The PeTA article tilted "Stars, Stripes and Veggies!" while highlighting the recent introduction of vegetarian MRE's (Meals Ready-to-Eat or Military Ration for Emergencies) failed to note the ecological devastation that months of US bombing have done to the ecosystems of Afghanistan. "Three cheers for the red, white, and ... green?" Not even close, green is never a term fitting of armed forces that rely so heavily on scorched earth tactics.

PETA opted for insider status

PETA opted for insider status long ago. Despite the perception that they are a radical group, they more typically couch their activism in mainstream rhetoric and ideology, as they have done with all their welfare campaigns. We cannot expect such a massive insider to play the role of an outsider, criticizing its own culture even as it strives to win mainstream acceptance.

Re: Alliance Building and Militarism

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend Oberlin’s 14th Biennial Asian/Pacific American Midwest Student Conference in 2006. There I saw two speakers on Hawaiian independence, and here are their resources:

Anne Keala Kelly's visual representation of the military occupation of Hawai'i as part of the documentary project, Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawai'i.

David Keanu Sai's work on the Hawaiian sovereignty movement (check out the PowerPoint presentation). Sai makes the distinction between colonization and occupation noting that Hawai'i, like Iraq, was a sovereign country that has been illegally invaded and occupied.

For animal advocates who are interested in helping animals on Hawai'i, there is KAHEA – The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance and they have a blog. (But of course, as Trask also points out, non-Native people tend to behave poorly when trying to work with Native groups, so something to be aware of and not engage in.)

It's also worth noting that the occupation of Hawai'i is central to the projection of US/military power throughout the Pacific as US Pacific Command is based there. Hawaiian independence and the demilitarization of Hawai'i should therefore be a top priority for anyone in the world who is concerned about peace.

But animal rights people can't see this because we get upset about Native people catching fishes and turn them into the enemy rather than seeing the bigger picture.