Organizers at the No War 2017 Conference invited me to speak at their conference at American University in Washington on September 23. Dr. Brian Salvatore of the group Concerned Citizens of Camp Minden nominated me and I was happy to tell the story of their success to a broader audience.
To download the presentation, click here.
There is no script with the presentation, so heres what I said:
I was reading Chalmers Johnsons Blowback when I received World Beyond War director David Swansons invitation to speak. In the book (which was written before 9/11/01), Johnson argued that in the early 21st Century, the United States would face blowback for its foreign policy misadventures in the 20th Century.
He spends a fair amount of attention in the book focusing on the U.S. military occupation of the Japanese island of Okinawa. Johnson says the U.S. has severely polluted the island in the more than half-century since the military essentially confiscated much of the island.
The connecting tissue between Okinawa and the Armys proposal to do an open burn of 16,000.000 pounds of munitions and propellant at Camp Minden is that the impact of its action on local civilians and the environment did not figure in their considerations of various courses of action. Both civilians and the environment were expendable.
The October 15, 2012, explosion that rocked Camp Minden and all of the ArkLaTex was the result of a botched attempt to dispose of the munitions there. The company that had the original contract did little more than store the materials in bunkers and the open air.
After the explosion, the Army proposed to burn the materials in the open air about 80,000 pounds per day for 200 days. Camp Minden is 15,000 acres located less than 30 miles from Shreveport and is even closer to Barksdale Air Force Base where a substantial portion of the U.S. B-52 bomber fleet is stationed.
The heroes of the successful effort to force a cleaner burn were Dr. Salvatore and Frances Kelley. Salvatore is the LSU Shreveport chemistry professor who identified the very real public health threats posed by the proposed burns. Frances Kelley developed and ran the grassroots action campaign that had citizens calling federal and state elected officials and bureaucrats pressin...