‘Green’ defence policy: reflections (1)

What would a ‘green’ defence policy look like? Indeed is such a programme realistic at all; or is it just a rebooting of existing and old concepts with a modern twist? As someone said: ‘green’ defence is just Trident with more miles per gallon’.

During the British election just finished the Green Party outlined their defence programme which putting aside their words of aspiration and good intent, did look markedly different from the Conservative party winners in one big respect, that being the scrapping of the Trident nuclear defence programme.

In one of the opening passages of its statement the Green Party says: ‘The United Kingdom has not been under significant threat of armed invasion since 1941 and such an event is unlikely to occur in the foreseeable future’: while acknowledging the need for Britain to have armed forces, the emphasis was firmly put on defence and not offence.

The Green party also says that the emphasis must be on forms of peaceful assistance to local and international organisations working to resolve conflict, to protect local culture and sustainable practices, to engage in genuine mediation and the building of strong democratic institutions, and to build links between the people within conflicting communities.

This thinking is echoed by Germany’s Green Party, listing on its website under ‘Peace and Security’: ‘global threats such as climate change, resource scarcity, poverty and the build-up of weaponry cannot be solved at national level or by military means. In order to safeguard the prospects of finding peaceful solutions, the causes of crises and violence must be identified and addressed at an early stage. International politics should not be determined by the principle that “might is right”, or by national economic self-interest’. These are what the party calls the ‘four guiding principles’.

Meanwhile in The United States the Pentagon has been making its own commitment to a ‘green’ strategy. Last October it released a report in which former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stated: “A changing climate will have real impacts on our military and the way it executes its missions. We are considering the impacts of climate change in our war games and defence planning scenarios’. War games scenarios would now factor in floods or storms instead of assuming optimal conditions, it added; meanwhile an audit of how to cut down the Pentagon’s fuel consumption, including using new technology, has been underway for a while. This Pentagon ‘green’ thinking, it should be noted, constitutes merely a limited strategy and is not an overall policy.

All the above of course is very Western-centric and non-applicable to many countries in the developing world. For instance in some countries would a ‘green’ policy mean proper control of its natural resources, including wildlife products like ivory and rhino horn ? Do ‘water’ policies constitute part of a ‘green’ defence policy? If so, is it deliberate or arrived at by default. Jasper Humphreys

– British Green Party- ‘Peace and Defence’: http://policy.greenparty.org.uk/pd.html

– German Green Party- ‘Peace and Security:

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