The Dolphin Who Refused to Fight


News that Takoma, the Navy’s mine-detecting dolphin, has gone AWOL while on duty in the Persian Gulf, sets off a host of thoughts. First of all, do we know that Takoma is really AWOL, or is this just another example of the Pentagon’s trying to hide war casualties from the

American public by classifying slain troops as missing or AWOL. It would not just be tragic if one of the U.S. military’s sea mammal soldiers was

killed in action; it would surely raise a storm of protest from a group far more powerful than the peace movement: the animal rights crowd. Both Americans and Brits have always been much more troubled by cruelty to animals than to humans, and it’s a certainty that this is a group Allied Forces has no desire to arouse.

The peace movement can be safely ignored by Washington, at least for a time, but a fired-up animal rights movement could bring down the government in no time. But while the Pentagon may well be fudging its human casualty figures, there is reason to suspect that Takoma is safe. Dolphins, after all, are known to have brains that are larger than we humans are possessed of. And while they are known to be capable of extreme brutality, even towards others of their own species, on an individual basis, there is no indication that dolphins engage in humanity’s uniquely barbaric practice of war.

It’s possible then, that once he or she realized that her efforts were not a game anymore but were part of a campaign designed to enable one group of humans to kill large numbers of other humans, Takoma decided to split the oil-befouled waters of the Persian Gulf for the more tranquil and dolphin-friendly Indian Ocean.

One imagines that the Pentagon is now contemplating having to train a group of dolphin MPs (or perhaps they’re working on sharks for this job), to keep the remaining dolphin mine-sweeping squad in line. If the military turns to coercion though, it will inevitably produce a counter-reaction in the dolphin community: militant dolphin pacifism–a movement that could see peace-minded dolphins luring Pentagon-trained dolphins away from their assignments and back to the freedom of the open sea.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. A collection of Lindorff’s stories can be found here: http://www.nwuphilly.org/dave.html

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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