“Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war;”
– Julius Caesar (III.i)
It would be easy to take this quote at face value. But, Will Shakespeare had much more in mind. He tells us so in Henry V. We find in the prologue, Henry, the drunken “waster” who becomes king, that “at his heels, leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire crouch for employment” and “busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels.”
While crying “havoc,” the Bush administration has “let slip” much on our distracted citizenry. The PATRIOT Act is one dangerous example.
But there is more. The following is being foisted on our environment and people.
* In the fall, the Bush administration announced proposals that would radically effect our 155 national forests. These would allow forest managers to adopt plans without environmental impact statements, limit information to the public and decrease citizen involvement.
* Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, who once argued that the Endangered Species Act was unconstitutional, is now attempting to remove Yellow Stone and central Idaho wolves from its protection. This would allow the hunting of hundreds of wolves, including those animals recently released under the wolf recovery program.
* In February, the Tongass and Chugach National Forests came under attack. Addendums were added to the Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Bill that would allow road building and logging in these forests.
* The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska is once again under siege by the oil twins in the White House. Soaring gasoline prices and war are the cover for this latest attempt to despoil this pristine arctic ecosystem. The Bush administration lost this vote in the Senate on March 19. But the House gave its approval recently.
* The Department of Defense is the country’s largest user of the carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE) and ozone depleting chlorofluorocarbon (CFC). The latter has been connected to soaring rates of skin cancer throughout the world.
* Data from the Environmental Protection Agency shows a nearly 50 percent drop in enforcement actions against polluters. Much of this has to do with air quality and is having deleterious effects on populations that can least afford it – the poor, the elderly and those with respiratory problems.
* Willing accomplices on the state level are following this lead. In Connecticut, Governor Rowland, along with his vicious attacks on state workers, has proposed eliminating funding for open space. This is particularly daunting, as utility companies are unloading watershed property and much environmental degradation could follow without strong open space protection. There are also now “user” fees when entering state parks; a clear example of double taxation on those least able to pay.
Rowland has used campaign ads that showed him in a canoe on a placid Connecticut lake. Hypocrisy is too weak a word!
It is incumbent on the environmental movement not only to raise the alarm about these attacks, but to also bring these issues into the massive peace movement sweeping our country. It is equally important that peace activists work to have environmental organizations become full and active partners in anti-war coalitions.
The crass, pro-war policies of imperialism must be matched by greater voices and actions of those who defend our work places and those who defend our forests, water and the very air we breath.
All movements connect to peace.
Nick Bart is an environmental activist in Connecticut and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org