For those of you who don't know, in military operations your own force and allies are considered the "blue force", while your opponent and his allies are referred to as the "red force." The normal match up is "blue" versus "red." The last thing you want to see is a mistake in which you see a blue on blue altercation, because it means that your friends are shooting each other.
And of course, just as you can have blue on blue, you can have red on red, and now we have here an example of a red on red altercation in which the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Greenpeace appear to be playing chicken with one another way down south.
As opposed as I am to both groups, I hope that nobody's hurt, which is a distinct possibility when you have two such confrontational groups harassing one another in an exceptionally hostile environment:
A battle for what is being called "the high moral wave" was last night being fought off the wild coast of Antarctica as the world's two leading international marine protection groups fought each other over which would stop the Japanese whaling fleet.
With an international crew of volunteers, a helicopter and a deep warchest, Greenpeace International has sent two boats, the Arctic Sunrise and the faster Esperanza, to the Southern Ocean to stop the Japanese whaling fleet as it tries to catch 900 minke, blue and other whales for "scientific research".
Last night the group, which located and gave chase to the Japanese fleet before Christmas, claimed to have the whalers on the run in mountainous seas peppered with icebergs. "The fleet seems to be running in circles, stopping and going in different directions. It's the sixth day in a row that we have seen no whales transferred to the factory ship. It's unlikely that whaling is being undertaken," said a spokesman.
The animal rights protector Captain Paul Watson, who co-founded Greenpeace in the 1970s and later set up the more radical Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was also in pursuit of the fleet yesterday in his ship, the Farley Mowat. Capt Watson, who accuses Greenpeace of being "the Avon ladies of the environment" and of being more interested in publicity than in enforcing international law, intercepted the Nisshin Maru factory ship on Christmas Day. Each environmental group now accuses the other of endangering lives by trying to ram its vessels.
Skipper Paul has little cause to grasp for the moral high ground, especially when it comes to publicity. The whole point of the SSCS is publicity: they know full well that they can't make a meaningful dent in any of the practices they oppose (especially whaling and sealing), unless they can recruit significant public support.
And, of course, there is the important issue of fundraising and corporate financials. It takes a lot of scratch to sail a ship around the seven seas and to fly off scouting helicopters. You don't pay the bills by collecting coupons . . .
The fact is, you can't raise funds without publicity: as a reporter of the CBC noted in 1978, there are big bucks in the protest industry, and as a quick perusal of the transcript of that broadcast will show, Skipper Paul isn't above impugning the motives of Greenpeace, who, he claims ignore endangered seal species and focus on non-endangered species as a publicity move to raise funds.
Of course, the same logic that Skipper Paul used against Greenpeace, an organization from which he was sacked, applies equally well to the SSCS: they must have bucks, and publicity is the only way to get them.
But there's more: If you really want to see what the SSCS is all about, check out this stunning expose of the SSCS's financial dealings, written by Myles Higgins, but only after you've read this (op cit) from ActivistCash.com.
Skipper Paul has no room to talk.
Sea Shepherd had requested the presence of the Australian navy to monitor events in the Southern Ocean, but Australia's environment minister, Ian Campbell, said that Sea Shepherd's threats to attack the fleet "risk setting back the cause of whale conservation many years".
Capt Watson said yesterday: "Stop threatening us, Mr Campbell, and charge us if you believe we are acting unlawfully. Stop posing for the Japanese [who] are in blatant violation of international conservation laws."
Despite a short truce at Christmas in which the captains swapped greetings, Capt Watson and Greenpeace were at daggers drawn again yesterday with Sea Shepherd accusing the larger group of refusing to say where the Japanese fleet was.
"Greenpeace has misled Sea Shepherd and betrayed us. The Japanese fleet does not give a damn about protests. [Greenpeace] just take pictures and hang banners. We are down here to enforce international conservation law and to stop the illegal whaling operations."
Greenpeace retorted: "Greenpeace distance themselves from Sea Shepherd because of their inability to commit to non-violent tactics. But we'll do what we can to put bodies between harpoons and whales and protect the whales non-violently," said its spokesman Danny Kennedy. Capt Watson yesterday warned Greenpeace that Japan had dispatched a warship to the Southern Ocean to protect its whaling fleet and arrest the conservationists for piracy. This could not be confirmed.
Wouldn't that be interesting . . .
Last night, the three conservation ships were reportedly trying to spot the Japanese harpoon vessels. "They are sweeping along the [Antarctic] coast corridor with radar and helicopter reconnaissance flights with the objective of ferreting out the positions of the illegal harpoon vessels," said a spokesman for Greenpeace.
The bad blood between Greenpeace and Sea Shepherd goes back to 1979, when Captain Paul Watson, membership number 008, left the Greenpeace Foundation he helped set up in Canada in 1972. In 1978, he formed the Sea Shepherd society. While Greenpeace adopted an ethic of non-violence, Capt Watson, 55, believes in confrontation and has been accused of piracy and terrorism. [My emphasis . . . ed]
Confrontation might be a viable tactic by one group if the other shows restraint. But when both sides have a chip on their shoulder, things can go awfully bad awfully fast.
It's doubtful if SPSS will back down . . . will Greenpeace?
Stay tuned . . .
Thanks to David S. for the link.