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Book Review: The Green Zone by Barry Sanders

by Suleman


The prospect of increasing global warming risks have made the entire world precautionary about our surrounding environment. There can be several causes of environmental hazards, among which explosions are considered important. In all forms of explosions, nuclear or conventional, thermal effects and blasts occur to some degree. The emission of ionising radiation, however, is unique to nuclear explosions. It can be two types, both particulate and electromagnetic and will not only be radiated by explosion, but will then continue to work. In order to reduce pollution from factories and cars, people have taken steps, but the radiation from these explosions can not be controlled and the book “The Green Zone” The Barry Sanders of the USA’s Environmental Costs of Militarism military makes a major contribution to the general environmental destruction of human and animal hardships based on this theme. The author of eleven novels, such as A is for Ox: Violence and Aviations rights: The Exclusion of African Americans in a White Man Land; Sudden Glory: Humor in Subversive History, the Silence of the Written Word and electronic media is the recipient of the Fulbright Senior Scholar Grant (Sanders & Davis). The writer charges the United States. Military for causing hazards to the nature as they are one of the prominent sources of emissions because they use non-renewable fossil fuels on earth. In his 2009 book, Sanders, nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize, said that US military emits 750,000 tonnes of radioactive waste per year. He also states that we all know how, by applying compost practises, recycling, prohibit plastic bag use, solar energy use and curbing the excessive use of electricity, to combat damage to the environment. But we have no idea how militarism can be eliminated worldwide. Simply put, the militarism is the main threat to nature. We are unprotected as long as militarism exists.

“Green Zone” is focused on studies obtained from leaked or military-specific records. Green Zone is the first to examine the relation of ecological destruction with militarism in a systematic way. The book is inspired by a popular scholar, Mike Davis.

Book Review: The Green Zone by Barry Sanders

Facts & Findings

In his book Sanders states, “By turning nuclear waste into weapons, the Pentagon offered proof of true Yankee ingenuity. On the one hand the Pentagon had found a solution to a huge storage problem and, on the other, it had created a new and powerful, highly useful category of weaponry. And the solution came with a bonus for arms manufacturers, for the military could offer all their nuclear waste to them free of charge. Up until now, weapons producers were expected to use tungsten as a penetrator, which was mainly mined in China, as a non-radioactive alternative which proved very costly. (Smith) Reports say that the rate of disability among the veterans of World War I and World War II was 5 %. Again the rate of disability for Vietnam War amounted to around 10%, Sanders says”…more than half (56 percent) who served in Gulf War I have permanent medical problems….the long-term effect of DU is a virtual death sentence.”

The U.S. mil­i­tary is the “sin­gle largest source of pol­lu­tion in this coun­try and in the world”, as was stated by Sanders. Whenever we discuss the effect of pollution on our envi­ron­men­t, we seem to forget the military forces operating across the earth who contributes most towards the disturbance of the ecological balance of the planet. Sanders describe this situation as urgent which needs to be taken care of very soon. He further argues that, the world would still remain prone to cli­mate & environmental dis­as­ter, even if all the individual on Earth takes all the “green steps” prescribed by the experts, due to the huge destructive effects that militarism has been causing since the starting of warfare.

The book comprises of few shocking data that will force us to think about the consequences we are going to face in the near future;

  1. An aver­age vehicle consumes 1,680 gal­lons of fuel in three years. However, an F-16 fighter jet uses1, 680 gal­lons of fuel per hour, at peak thrust. (Vance-Ocampo)
  2. Ura­nium in the depleted form is used in the tips of most of the bombs that was exploded off-late in the warfare across the world, particularly from 1991. It caused more than thousand defor­mi­ties of chil­dren and birth defects. The defects comprises of cell damage, miss­ing limbs, organ mal­func­tion, visual impair­ments and mem­ory loss. Depleted ura­nium emits and leaves traces of radioac­tiv­e particles for more than 4.5 bil­lion year. The vic­tims not only include only the people in war-zones; the sol­diers return their homeland with every sort of incurable, infectious diseases and can­cer that have been caused due to the depleted ura­nium. These diseases pass on to the next generations as occurred in the incidents of Hiroshima & Nagasaki—the effect of cell struc­ture damage continues for the unborn kids of the victims.
  3. On Baghdad, around 800 Tom hawk cruise missile were exploded from the period of 20th to 21st March, 2003. It means nearly one bomb every four min­ute were dropped which amounts to 800 pounds of ura­nium (depleted) in every 3,000 pound bomb. In simple terms, U.S dropped 320 million tons of poison on Baghdad in just two days.
  1. The United Nations & the Pentagon approximated that around March & April of 2003, the British and US forces deployed almost three to four million pounds of shells that was made up of heavily depleted uranium.
  2. The military expenses of U.S are slightly more than 50% of the entire nation’s budget. Their military uses nearly 80% of the total energy consumed by the whole country. This implies that even if the country starts surviving without cars, electricity and all the people stops using energy still that would contribute to the reduction in energy consumption by only 20%.
  3. Scientists categorize depleted uranium as pyrophoric which is a substance that ignites immediately when exposed to air containing oxygen and burns at a very high temperature that can be in the range of 3000 to 5000 centigrade. This provides the shell or missile to pierce the toughest of armor. While burning, the extreme heat produces millions of small particles which are referred to as radioactive powder of uranium oxide aerosol infecting whichever surface it gets settled on. Winds carry these tiny elements at distant places. The February 2006 issue of the “London Sunday Times” revealed that after few days of “Awe and Shock,” the emission detectors at Britain found evidences of a four-fold spear in the air born uranium. The people of Iraq are always exposed to these radiations & the citizens especially the kids inhale these substances through, their nose, their pores & their mouths.
  4. The animals & plants also absorb the radioactive emissions, which makes uranium an everlasting part of the food cycle. According to the United Nations Environmental Program, once the depleted uranium mixes with the soil, it pollutes the groundwater by a hundred times.
  5. One of the valuable quotes by Sander in his book states “When we declare war on a foreign nation, we now also declare war on the Earth, on the the most extensive and profoundly infectious way of land, plants and animals, water and wind and people.
  6. Vehicles used by the military don’t bother for CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) estimates, or fuel emissions of any kind. They consider fuel economy as a luxury. They refer to energy consumption by the terms of “gallons per minute”, “barrels per hour” and “gallons per mile”. One can realize that the military are regarded as “assets” of the nation, which operates in a boundary less, restraint less & restriction less world both in terms of the pollutants they produce and the energy they consume.
  7. Navy consumes a huge amount of energy for its non-nuclear & nuclear aircraft carriers. CVA-62, which wasrecently decommissioned, used to consume 134 barrels of fuel per hour, when it reaches its top speed. The carrier possesses a crew of 2,300 and 4.1 acres of flight deck. In 1991 during its voyage through the Persian Gulf for nearly fourteen days, the carrier used up to two million gallons of fuel. At every four day, an additional amount of one million gallons of fuel was consumed whose 50% was used in the supply of the ship’s jets.

Remedies Offered in the Book

Sanders offer a remedy to the devastation of nature caused by the military, which is “The End of War. He states “We must begin to see war as an outmoded method of solving political problems,”…The movement related to anti-war pledges should turn into a “No-War” pledge taking the support of those people who think that, if action is taken now without equivocation, with dedication and determination, it might still become possible to survive on earth for a few more decades.


Though the book discusses a controversial topic still the author has managed to address such a situation which was visible to us since a long time but we hardly cared about the consequences. The human civilization have witnessed several wars, among which the two most notable are the World War 1 and World War 2. We still can find paralyzed and deformed generations of a victim who had suffered losses and his whole generation would have to bear that. The book makes us conscious that war is not protecting us from enemies; rather war itself is the enemy. Even the continuous nuclear testing that happens at some special zones of various countries are no lesser harmful than bomb explosions. In both the cases the depleted uranium gets mixed in the air, water and soil making it toxic. It is the root cause of various new types of diseases which are incurable.

We can’t blame terrorism every time for the destruction of our environment. The main issue is the weapons and more importantly, the war. Until and unless we stop the usage of weapons, missiles and various carriers used for the warfare, the people on the earth can’t remain safe. Our only motto should be nonviolence and peacemaking by saying “No” to war. This Book contributes greatly towards a mass awakening movement. The next time when we get to hear about issues of global warming, we should firstly raise our voice for banning militarism.

Works Cited
  • Sanders Barry & Mike Davis. The green zone: the environmental costs of militarism. AK Press, 2009. Print.
  • Smith Mark E. THE GREEN ZONE (BOOK REVIEW): THE USA AGAINST LIFE. Medialeft. 2009. Vance-Ocampo Shan­nan. Book Review: “The Green Zone”. Unbound. 2012

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