Ecocide, Militarist Violence, Syria and Iraq

Are not the black columns of smoke, from oil wells set ablaze, the entirety of this fucking dreadful situation summed up in a single action?

Regarding Syria, it is extremely easy to trace this situation back to the drought brought on through man-made global warming. And I’m not even going to bother going into the Western democracy brigade here, or its involvement in the creation of ISIS – something we’re all abundantly aware of, in what philosopher Zizek describes as a “unknown knowns”.

It is not just ISIS committing acts of ecocide. The United States has confirmed that it has fired depleted uranium in Syria. The same weapons used in Fallujah and Basrah, that contaminated the environment with “extremely toxic heavy metals such as lead and mercury “. The weapons with extreme health consequences for those who live there, including (but not limited to) birth defects, miscarriages, cancer and sterility.


We all know and are disgusted by the fact that the US uses these weapons on citizens. It is difficult to find the right words here. I’m not even going to try.

In 2000 these weapons were justified as the “anti-tank weapon of choice”, amidst criticism regarding radioactive contamination regarding the Kuwait war of 1991.

191 air strikes were conducted by the air coalition on November 1st using over 1,3052 weapons for the operation. Those of us in the anti-militarism wing of the anti-war camp – who are supporters of resistance fighters such as the YPG and YPJ – often (rightly) comment on the human impact of war. But we often neglect to comment on the environmental effects, which inevitably lead to worsening situations for the human population.

A UNEP study found the as of 2009 40% of the interstate conflicts from the previous 60 years had been linked to “natural resources”. This seems to fit with ISIS burning oil wells over the last few days.

So what does our future hold, with oil peaking (or peaked) and the “natural resources” (a term I cringe at using) massively depleted? What militarist conflicts are we gonna see with hyper-exploited soil and oceans bereft of life; with tropical forests, drylands and grasslands all in decline due to the effects of this culture; with approximately 200 species being lost every day? These conflicts will undoubtedly lead to further acts of ecocide, in the way we’ve seen militarism consistently. The picture of the future looks increasingly bleak.

Liberal leftists take hope in pleas to Socialist politics, being back by everyone from Russell Brand to Bill Gates. I can’t help but think of the environmental situation in China and Mao’s war on nature.

Returning to the focus of this post: Peshmerga forces are continuing to resist and fight ISIS. Like many anarchists and environmentalists in the west, I have been inspired by the anarchist and environmentalist revolution underway in Kurdistan – a revolution Turkey has consistently tried to squash and exterminate (NATO’s second largest military force). Like these fighters, if we desire a long term future with as thriving biosphere as physically possible, we need to do all we can to resist militarism and ecocide, with any and all means available to us. We need to not get distracted by the phoney elections of the politics of distraction. We need to value ourselves, as selves intimately attached to our world, and fight for what we value. We need to fight for what we love – the world we’re immersed in.


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