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Oh, the inhumanity of it all

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
April 3, 2003


"We can judge the heart of man by his treatment of animals. — Immanuel Kant

Just when I thought the ethical waters couldn't be further corrupted, the war boys have proven nothing is sacred in their headlong rush to world domination. Like most others I learned long ago imperialist desires meant national sovereignty was a thing of the past, including our own. And now, thanks to voracious capitalists, globalization is a prime time blood sport for those seeking to deploy weapons of mass consumption.

Having finally come to terms with the new world order being bombed into existence, pragmatism told me American mercenaries were there by choice, and live or die, they were doing the job they have been paid to do. Gung ho and Semper Fi, these young soldiers were living the video games they were raised on. Content to play the pawn in the ultimate manufactured reality, these gullible men and women knew what they were signing up for, so they get no sympathy from me.

Does this mean I wish them harm? Absolutely not. Does my not wishing them harm mean I support their agenda? Again, absolutely not. And does my not supporting the agenda mean I don't support the troops. Of course I support the troops, it's called taxation. So, to be brutally honest I have no choice but to support the troops and their families. Support has never been in question, as there are no available alternatives.

Unlike the Vietnam blood bath, no Americans were drafted against their will to liberate Iraqi oil. This is a good thing. Although foreign policy has been hijacked by corporate interests and wrapped in the America flag, those fighting have the own reasons to be there. Call it God, Country, or "doing the right thing," these combatants know why they are there, and by their presence endorse the action.

Then there are those who are forced to fight against their will, those caught in the fighting, and those used as shields. Victims all, they bring into question the very concept of "humane behavior."

So, you can only imagine how I reacted to news of marine mammals being drafted into military service. Like a kick to the kidney, a profound sadness washed over me. Dolphins searching out mines and sea lions guarding against enemy divers are a gross perversion of nature. No animal should be used as a weapon of war, for they have no stake in the outcome, and they would in no way benefit from any possible spoils of war. It's not their fight.

Dolphins and other marine mammals are not afforded the same rights as humans. In fact, Iraqi's under Saddam Hussein stand a better chance of living a productive life than most marine mammals do under the tyranny of human appetite. By assisting Uncle Sam in protecting his global interests, are dolphin soldiers making the world safer for dolphins? Hell no. Do dolphins understand what they are being asked to find and why? Have these dolphins witnessed other dolphins being blown to bits?

The dolphins currently in combat are Atlantic bottlenoses stationed at San Diego. Carrying fin-mounted sensors, these trusting creatures enable handlers to pinpoint the location of suspected mines. James Bond fantasies aside, this means members of an Atlantic species have been kept captive in the Pacific until deployment to the war ravaged Persian Gulf. No liberty and justice here. I wonder if there is a cetacean form of gulf war syndrome.

Enslaving unwitting animals for the deadly game of manifest destiny is neither ethical nor humane. Sentient creatures deserve batter. The United States government used antipersonnel mines extensively in the 1991 Gulf War, and is one of the few still producing landmines. Uncle Sam also plans to use the 90,000 landmines stockpiled in the region to ensure Iraqi freedom. Sending dolphins into this chaos makes very little sense.

The ethical equivalent of killing hope, arming the innocent is a clear moral failure. As a nation the U.S. should be willing to fight its own battles. Captive marine mammals can hardly be members of a coalition of the willing. Their lives are not their own, and no amount wishful thinking will erase the fact that they are not there by choice.

I understand my concern for a couple of dolphins don't amount to a hill of beans in the mixed up world we live in. I also understand many people will find my comments to be insensitive and disrespectful. Short of self-censorship, there is little I can do to remedy that. Since that is not going to happen, I will continue musing about war and life on the edge until soldiers of all species are free to come home.

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