Maybe this is just bad timing, because it’s not really a new argument. In the context of the recent activities of the Obama administration, though, claiming that we need to take action now on climate change because of national security just looks more ridiculous. After all, this comes at the same time that Barack Obama and John Kerry both argue that letting five Taliban commanders out of Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility won’t have any impact on American security — but the weather will?
Thomas Friedman gets the scoop:
But the area he’s just as worried about, said Obama, ”is how climate change could end up having profound national security implications in poorer countries. We’re obviously concerned about drought in California or hurricanes and floods along our coastlines and the possibility of more powerful storms or more severe droughts. All of those things are bread-and-butter issues that touch on American families. But when you start seeing how these shifts can displace people — entire countries can be finding themselves unable to feed themselves and the potential incidence of conflict that arises out of that — that gets your attention. There’s a reason why the quadrennial defense review — [which] the secretary of defense and the Joints Chiefs of Staff work on — identified climate change as one of our most significant national security problems. It’s not just the actual disasters that might arise, it is the accumulating stresses that are placed on a lot of different countries and the possibility of war, conflict, refugees, displacement that arise from a changing climate.”
You know what else has profound national security implications for poorer countries? Releasing commanders from a group that imposed a reign of terror until an American invasion booted them from power. Two of the men released from Gitmo were wanted for mass murder by the United Nations and at least one has pledged to return to the battlefield, but Obama and Kerry dismiss those concerns by insisting we can stop them if we really want to do so. Instead, we really need to hike taxes and ration American energy to improve our national security and those of places like Afghanistan.
Oh, and do you know what caused the civil war in Syria? Not decades of oppression and tyranny or the rise of virulent radical Islam, but a lack of rain:
Syria couldn’t manage a four-year drought when it had a government, and that drought helped fuel the uprising there, because the government did nothing for the people. Imagine what will happen if they have another prolonged drought and they’ve destroyed half their country?
”Which gives you a sense of what happens in a lot of these countries that are just barely hanging on,” said Obama. ”They don’t have a lot of margin for error, and that has national security implications. When people are hungry, when people are displaced, when there are a lot of young people, particularly young men, who are drifting without prospects for the future, the fertility of the soil for terrorism ends up being significant. And it can have an impact on us.”
Only in the alternate reality where Bashar al-Assad is a “reformer” (as Hillary Clinton insisted as Secretary of State) does it take a drought to demonstrate that the Assad regime wasn’t working on behalf of the people. This is sheer nonsense, a backwards rationalization that ignores a century of unrest after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Western attempts to impose a nation-state model in the region that didn’t fit, and the rise of militant Islam in response to both. All of that had been in motion long before any “global warming” took place, and continues even while the global climate hasn’t warmed at all over the last 17 years.
This argument attempts to hijack the legitimate concerns over terrorism and US policy in order to push an entirely unrelated domestic agenda. It’s not the first time this will happen, nor the last, but it’s one of the rare times when current events depict just how cynical and exploitative this argument is.