Wikileaks: US Offered to Block anti-Whaling Protesters

Some environmentalists are arguing that whales and dolphins are so intelligent, social and self-aware that they deserve a special status, of non-human individuals with basic human rights.

Some cultures are still dedicated to hunting whales, and environmental activists who believe in the human rights doctrine regarding Cetaceans sometimes confront whalers at sea. Wikileaks cables released by the Guardian show that US officials considered the notion of moving against the anti-whaling activists via tax policy, on behalf of the Japanese government, as part of a compromise whereby Japan would reduce its whaling. The US plan fell through when the UK opposed it in the EU.

This video explains Sea Shepherd’s activities:

Although we all admire social activists such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., one has to remember that what they did was defined as illegal by the governments of their time. Their activism redefined the legal. I am afraid that the US National Security State, with its enormous power, wealth and technological sophistication, may be gradually making social activism harder and harder, with all the totalitarian implications of that change. Despite their aggressive tactics, the anti-whaling activists have not been even charged with doing anything illegal, so why would the USG intervene against them? And what if their attempt to redefine the legal is beneficial to humankind (see below)? There is a strong argument that “research” exemptions from the anti-whaling convention are bogus.

Another point: This cultural dispute over the definition of protected life is likely to expand with globalization. Won’t India eventually use its new clout, if Hindu parties come back to power, to fight the beef industry and promote vegetarianism?

Sacred Cow

Sacred Cow

There is another consideration which may ultimately over-ride the cultural ones. It is certainly the case that whaling and beef eating are high-carbon activities that contribute to global warming, and the earth may not be able to afford them for much longer.

Posted in Environment | 12 Responses | Print |

12 Responses

  1. Yeah! for vegetarianism. Otherwise, eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

  2. I doubt the “Hindu parties” will promote vegetarianism if only because estimates of Indians who are vegetarian run from 25-40 percent of all Indians, as Wendy O’Flaherty notes in her book, The Hindus: An Alternative History (2009). In any case, the mythic nationalism (e.g., Hindutva) of so-called Hindu parties (like the BJP) is unsettling if not dangerous and an increase in their power is nothing we should wish on their fellow Indians, especially Muslims.

    Readers interested in animal ethics, rights, and law may want to consult a bibliography for same I put together a couple of years ago: link to

  3. Cows, pigs and sheep are also intelligent, sentient creatures with a complex emotional life and strong social ties. Gandhi became a vegetarian himself and said:

    “If anybody said that I should die if I did not take beef-tea or mutton, even under medical advice, I would prefer death.”

    He came to this view, not because of religious reasons, but after reading (in a restaurant in London) Henry Salt’s ‘Plea for Vegetarianism’ which ends:

    “…future and wiser generations will look back with amazement on the habit of flesh-eating as a strange relic of ignorance and barbarism.”

    Gandhi stressed the importance of a moral commitment to vegetarianism, as those who follow this path for other reasons are less likely to remain consistent.

    The numbers of animals killed annually worlwide is rising, with ever greater mechanisation of the whole process from factory farm to slaughterhouse. Something like 1,200,000,000 pigs and 300,000,000 cows are now killed annually.

    Unfortunately, little faith can be put in India to halt this trend as it is among the top three countries in the world for killing beef cattle (57 million in 2008) link to

  4. I always appreciate it when you comment on topics beyond the middle east. Thanks for standing up for the Sea Shepherds and pointing out what activism does for society.

  5. “the earth may not be able to afford them for much longer.”

    I know despair is not fashionable presently, but a lot of the reason I think humanity is headed for the genetic dustbin is captured in that sentence.

    What I think it comes down to is what I took to be the real theme of the movie “Soylent Green”: That the few who “rule” know they will live only a certain few years, that their pleasure is more important than others’ pain, and that since there’s a Hobbesian-Malthusian cliff up ahead, the idea is to live our your days with your own situation being protected, your own pleasure centers receiving maximun titillation, and what happens to the rest of the species is “just how things worked out for them.” So there is a moral mismatch between the few and the many, but more important, the few know and believe that there are no consequences FOR THEM to predation and parasitism. And that mismatch is amplified by the huge temporal mismatch of the life span of the privileged individual and that of his, and other, species, and of the rate of degradation of our shared living space.

    The vast majority of humans live at a certain narrow scale. They don’t have the foggiest notion of what’s happening to “the earth.” Their lives happen at a pace that is nearly infinitely slower than the large-scale geomorphic and climatological changes that are occurring. They have needs, and a few are successful at satisfying greedy, pleasure-seeking “wants,” that lead, e.g., to slash-and-burn agriculture and suck-all-the-oil-out-now political philosophies and corporate behaviors. There is a total mismatch between perceptions of negative change, and the immediate visible circumstances around your new dwelling in the bleeding edge of the Amazon rain forest, or your cellblock apartment in Shongjiang. There’s no intellectual or emotional tools being taught that would let the vast majority do anything other than go along with the rest of the locusts eating their way across the landscape.

    So stability and survivability and sustainability are not only foreign concepts to most. The notion is firmly implanted, that “growth is the ultimate good,” and that everything comes down to monetization as the only acceptable standard of value. Even environmentalists try to argue these days that a more careful monetization of all the world’s resources would lead magically to healthy balance and all that. A losing notion from the get-go, to which I think people turn because the “rule of law,” such as it is, only operates in a money-or-equivalent frame.

    So it’s comforting, or something, to think that “the earth may not be able to afford them much longer.” But they have the power and wealth to satisfy themselves, in every possible way, without reference to what may happen 50 or 1000 years from now.

    What was it the Bourbon king said, out there in Versailles, where the aristocrats peed behind the doors and servants patrolled with mops and perfumes, and the gossips and intrigues and rivers of wealth of Empire swirled around? “Apres moi, le deluge…”?

    I think the unrecorded rest of that phrase was likely “mais tant que je vivrai, je vais prendre mon plaisir!”

  6. “Although we all admire social activists such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., one has to remember that what they did was defined as illegal by the governments of their time.”
    Some of what Gandhi and MLK did was legal, much was illegal. The sit-ins, for instance, violated local segregation laws. Those laws have been either repealed or declared unconstitutional. However, passive resistance to laws regarded as unjust may still be illegal depending on the form of the protest. I.e., nothing has happened to change the legality or illegality of nonviolent protest, except that some of the laws protested at the time are no longer in force.

  7. Paul Watson rocks the free world. B.O. is an utter sell-out, and if any of you consider yourselves environmentalists but were taken in by his flimsily-wielded lefty rhetoric during the campaign, WE TOLD YOU SO.. and our attempts to warn you are being vindicated again and again. The Green Party fielded an anti-war, pro-environment, workingclass black woman FOR A REASON: the Dems have long been a megacorporate party and until Barbara Lee or someone like her call the shots, they fail to offer an alternative to Repugs in any meaningful way. (Dont hold your breath.) Oh, but their spin machine is ginormous– the richest Wall St. banks can sure buy a crapload of BS newscopy to be relentlessly repeated by the megacorporate, mindnumbing cable TV lineup.. so rest assured the dumbed-down masses will continue to believe there’s a swell, balanced struggle between “both” sides.. how in the f can these rich thugs live with themselves??

  8. “I am afraid that the US National Security State . . . may be gradually making social activism harder and harder, with all the totalitarian implications of that change.”

    I’d assert that the whole point of the national security state is precisely to suppress any social activism. It sees its greatest threats in those it purports to “keep safe.”

  9. Sea Shepherds crew are brave men and women who stand up to illegal whaling in sanctuary areas of the Southern Ocean. They fight the good fight to protect the life in the Sea.

    There are so many places around the world where the essence of Nature is being destroyed it’s unbelievable. Now that the internet is available for information to be uploaded and spread around the world it’s not so easy for things to remain hidden. That’s a good thing because it will tend to keep people honest and if there is one thing the world needs right now it’s a bit of honesty.. Particularly concerning the Earth

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