Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 7.48.49 AMA new open-source article by Eric Bonds, who studies war and environmental issues like oil motives and climate change in military discourses and decisions, looks at the environmental injustices of waste practices in militarized war zones. The US Department of Veteran Affairs has a webpage dedicated to the health effects and information on compensation for soldiers exposed to toxicants from these pits, but as Bonds argues, compensation or other forms of responsibility towards local civilians who were also exposed are absent. Along with Shiloh Krupar’s Hot Spotter’s Report: Military Fables of Toxic WasteBond’s article adds to a growing literature on the environmental effects of military discard practices.


During the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the US Department of Defense burned the majority of its solid waste in open-air pits or trenches, producing large amounts of potentially hazardous emissions. While journalists have covered stories of US service members who link their illnesses to these fumes, they have almost entirely ignored potential civilian impacts. However, satellite images demonstrate that pollution from open-air trash burning on US bases could not have impacted US personnel without also harming Iraqi and Afghan civilians living near bases, indicating that burn-pit pollution is an important, if unacknowledged, environmental justice issue. Content analysis of news articles shows the extent to which civilian impacts have been left out of mainstream US media reporting on burn-pit pollution. This selective attention is symptomatic of the way military violence is legitimated, which involves a complicit news media that typically overlooks the humanitarian impacts of war.

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