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Imperium Watch: We Can't Bomb Global Warming

The Republican platform doesn't make the connection between climate change and national security.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Republican Party platform contains a long list of criticisms of President Obama and his administration. That's natural during election season.

But are they the right criticisms?

The platform, with its smell of the U.S. ?Russia "superpower" conflict and the doctrine of American "exceptionalism" that grew out of the overthrow of communist regimes in 1989, seems a bit fossilized in premillennial amber. A very important example of that, especially after a summer in which drought so damaged crops that rises in the price of food are expected, is the way the platform treats climate change.

The GOP platform blasts Obama—and let's not forget that this is the president on whose watch Ben Ladin was taken out, a feat George W. Bush was either unable or unwilling to accomplish—because his "failed" national security strategy "elevates climate change to the level of a 'severe threat' equivalent to foreign aggression. The word 'climate,' in fact, appears in the current President's strategy more often than al Qaeda, nuclear proliferation, radical Islam, or weapons of mass destruction."

Did al Qaeda or radical Islamists start the forest fires that destroyed millions of acres of timber, not to mention homes, in the West this summer? Did weapons of mass destruction cause corn to shrivel, and dry up rivers so that water supplies ran short, including cooling water for power plants? Did communist sleeper cells crank up the temperature so that the very young, the very old and people with asthma couldn't venture out of their houses during heat waves of unprecedented length?

Of course, you can't fight climate change by giving a defense contractor a wad of taxpayer cash to produce overpriced weapons systems, and that's a very inconvenient truth from the point of view of the oligarchic industrial complex. It so interferes with business as usual, and with the viewpoint that the best economy is the one most closely tied to a humming arms industry (the platform speaks of "a strong national defense as the pathway to... economic prosperity").

In any case, Republicans should be aware that our military has had climate change categorized as a national security threat for years, which may, just may be a reason why Obama categorizes it that way. Now the CAN Corporation, a nonprofit think tank, has produced a study entitled National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, which "explores ways projected climate change is a 'threat multiplier' in already fragile regions of the world, exacerbating conditions that lead to failed states—the breeding grounds for extremism and terrorism."

The report was compiled by researchers in consultation with an advisory board comprising former officers from the Army and other services, a NASA administrator, logistics specialists and others. The chairman of the board, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan (Ret.), said when the report was released, "We found that climate instability will lead to instability in geopolitics and impact American military operations around the world."

Earlier—three years ago, in 2009—a Center for the Study of Climate Change was set up at the Central Intelligence Agency, and in 2010 the Pentagon identified climate change as a security threat in its Quadrennial Defense Review. Droughts leading to food shortages; rises in sea level leading to massive displacement; conflicts over water; all these results of global warming create fertile ground for unrest, the toppling of governments, and wars. That's clear to the military, and it's clear to Obama. Is it clear to the Republicans?

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