March 31, 2003
BACKGROUND: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals,
better known as PETA, has released the following statement:
"The Pentagon recently announced
that in addition to troops, the U.S. military is using chickens,
dogs, dolphins, pigeons, and sea lions to fight the war against
Iraq. The Navy is using dolphins and sea lions to intercept terrorists
and mines in the Persian Gulf, and the Army and the Marines are
using chickens and pigeons to detect the presence of biological
and chemical weapons and dogs to detect weapons and rescue troops.
Wars are human endeavors. While a person,
a political party, or a nation may decide that war is necessary,
the animals never do. Like civilians, they often become the victims
of war, but now, the U.S. military is deliberately putting animals
in harm's way. These animals never enlisted, they know nothing
of Iraq or Saddam Hussein, and they probably won't survive. There
is also no guarantee or even much likelihood that these animals
will save humans, and certainly, our troops deserve the very
best in surveillance and chemical-weapons detection. Using animals
is not the best way to defend our military men and women.
The dolphins and sea lions now being
used by the Navy in the Persian Gulf were taken from their natural
homes or bred in captivity and were forced to give up their freedom
and their large family groups. They were denied free access to
food so that trainers could force them to do what they would
never choose to do on their own. Now they are being expected
to swim up to potential terrorists under the water, clamp cuffs
onto their legs, and deploy floating markers. Navy officials
are not certain that it will work, but they are certain that
it is dangerous. The Marines now have chickens and pigeons in
Kuwait, even though they also have equipment to detect poison
gas. Already, dozens of hens have died en route, possibly, according
to the Marines, from the shock of the long trip.
While dogs, unlike sea lions, at least
enjoy the company of people, their loyalty and love should not
be "rewarded" with death on a battlefield. The military
can detect weapons and find wounded troops with some very sophisticated
equipment. There is no need to put innocent animals at risk.
What will happen to dogs who manage to survive a war in Iraq?
Five thousand dogs served alongside American troops in Vietnam,
but only 140 came home -- not because the rest were killed, but
because they were abandoned by the U.S. military. This attitude,
that animals are expendable tools to be used and tossed out,
persists today in our military."1
TEN SECOND RESPONSE: No dolphins have been harmed in the making of
THIRTY SECOND RESPONSE: The U.S. military is using animals
to save lives -- a worthy goal. The dolphins have skills the
military cannot replicate using only machinery. Environmental
organizations should support the war effort.
DISCUSSION: Bottlenose dolphins helped to clear the southern
Iraqi harbor in Umm Qasr of explosive mines so the British ship
RFA Sir Galahad, filled with approximately 230 tons of humanitarian
supplies, could bring aid to suffering Iraqis on March 28.
Bottlenose dolphins detect underwater
mines by using a natural form of sonar, called echolocation,
in which high-pitched sounds are emitted and their echoes interpreted
to determine the direction and distance of objects. The dolphins
are trained to place a buoy near the site of mines and then swim
away, leaving the job of donating or disabling the mines to humans.
The U.S. military has had a dolphin-training program since 1960.
No dolphins were injured or killed in
the March 28 effort, according to the U.S. Navy.
Tom Lapuzza, a public-affairs officer
for the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San
Diego, told the San Jose Mercury News that the dolphins are used
not because they are expendable, but because they have natural
underwater detection abilities that are superior to human eyesight
or any machine that has been tested to date. Lapuzza said the
dolphins are never used to disarm explosives or for any militarily
offensive purpose, such as attacking enemy troops or planting
bombs at an enemy location. "You don't give that kind of
decision to an animal. We don't think that's ethical."2
Bill McClain, a retired U.S. Navy Seal
who helped develop the dolphin program, told Sacramento's KCRA-TV:
"The minesweepers are something like 94 percent effective...
dolphins were 99.8 percent effective."3
Sea lions -- though not directly engaged
in Iraq -- have been trained to detect swimming saboteurs to
help the allied navies protect against a U.S.S. Cole-like incident.
PETA is not the only environmental organization
to speak out against the U.S. government's military actions in
The Sierra Club and Greenpeace have joined
the left-wing anti-war protest coalition Win Without War,4,5
noted for commercials starring Martin Sheen and for the outspoken
activities of a sister group, Mike Farrell's and Robert Greenwald's
Artists United to Win Without War.
Win Without War is organizing a joint
petition drive with another left-wing group, "MoveOn.org,"6 calling
the U.S. action in Iraq a "reckless use of military power."
MoveOn.org was founded to oppose the
impeachment of Bill Clinton and more recently is noted for its
remake of the infamous 1964 "daisy" commercial.7
A visit to the Greenpeace website March
29 found the entire www.greenpeace.org main page devoted to broadsides
against the U.S. and U.K.; there was no indication whatsoever
that Greenpeace is an environmental organization.
Environmental organizations also have
undergone criticism recently for opposing reforms to domestic
environmental laws that impede military training.
According to a forthcoming National Center
for Public Policy Research paper by David Almasi, in 2000, the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tried to label 56 percent of Camp
Pendleton and 65 percent of neighboring Miramar Air Station (the
home of "Top Gun") as critical endangered species habitat,
thereby putting it off-limits to training. When a compromise
was reached to allow training to continue in many areas, environmentalists
filed a lawsuit to enforce the original restrictions.
The Pentagon has asked Congress to alter
some environmental laws that restrict the military's use of its
land. A coalition of 12 environmental groups, including the Center
for Biological Diversity, Center for Public Environmental Oversight,
Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Endangered Species Coalition,
Oceana, Military Toxics Project, National Environmental Trust,
National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council,
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and the U.S.
Public Interest Research Group, is fighting this request.8
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
"War: Tell Congress to Leave the
Animals Out of It!," PETA Action Alert, http://www.peta.org
Marc Morano, "Dolphins Did Not 'Volunteer'
for War, Animal 'Rights' Activists Say," CNSNews.com, at
Alex Cukan, "Animal Tales: Dolphins
Do Duty in Wartime," United Press International, http://www.upi.com/view.cfm?StoryID=20030328-120935-2146r
by Amy Ridenour, President
The National Center for Public Policy Research
Contact the author at: 202-507-6398 or [email protected]
The National Center for Public Policy Research
20 F Street NW, Suite 700 Washington, D.C. 20001