Why is there civil war in Syria? How about drought! You see, there were all these farmers. And the drought caused an exodus of them to the cities, looking for work. But there was no work so they sat around in the streets are started focusing their anger on the government. And before you can say “Bashar al-Assad,” you got yourself a war.
Look: I get it. To Republicans, war is about bad people doing bad things. But war is almost always about resources and their distribution. This is one reason I think that a guaranteed minimum income is a good idea. Even if it reduced economic progress a little, it would reduce war a whole lot. But that doesn’t much matter, the fact is that the Syrian civil war is the result of drought. Is it from climate change? We can’t say. But we can say this: there will be more droughts and this will make the possibility of war more likely going forward.
The United States military understands this. And this isn’t just something that might happen “over there.” Here in my home state of California, water rights are a big deal. There is great tension over the issue and when there is a drought (as there is now), it becomes worse. If this continues on for ten years, there will be violence. Count on it. So the military is rightly concerned about global warming.
But you know Republicans: they always yield to the troops on the ground. Whatever the military says, they follow it. They aren’t a bunch of bureaucrats who are sitting around telling the generals what to do. Or at least they aren’t as long as the generals are doing exactly what the Republicans want them to do. Then, it’s a different matter. Remember when Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki told the Bush administration it would need “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” to occupy Iraq? He was right, but they didn’t listen to him because the depth of commitment Republicans have for the military is equal to the thickness of their “Support Our Troops!” bumper stickers on the backs of their SUVs.
Ryan Koronowski reported last week, House Votes to Deny Climate Science and Ties Pentagon’s Hands on Climate Change. He explained:
“You can’t change facts by ignoring them,” said Mike Breen, Executive Director of the Truman National Security Project, and leader of the clean energy campaign, Operation Free. “This is like trying to lose 20 pounds by smashing your bathroom scale.”
The full text of McKinley’s amendment reads:
When I was doing my preliminary research for my master’s thesis, I read a lot about all the work that the military had done on building structures in arctic regions. My main interest was permafrost, which turns out to be rather easy. Land that freezes and thaws is a much bigger problem, and this will become a bigger problem in the future as most permafrost regions begin cyclically thawing. But the point is that from its very earliest days, militaries have had to deal with climate and the problems that it brings. So our military of course should be thinking about global warming.
The military is by its nature a conservative (in a non-political sense) group. It is conservative the way I am: careful. We are planners. And from the military’s perspective, this isn’t a question of whether global warming is happening or not, it is simply that they have to be prepared for it if it is. (BTW: it is.) They don’t set up a military campaign and say, “I don’t think they’ll attack us on our right flank, so we’ll just forget about protecting it.”
But this is just what the Republicans in the House of Representatives want the military to do. (Note: four Democrats voted for it and three Republicans voted against it.) Why don’t they come up with some other bright ideas? There is great difference of opinion about whether nuclear war will ever happen. Why don’t we just get rid of all our nuclear weapons? Great sea battles in the future are unlikely. Why not dissolve the Navy? Drones seem to be doing a good job. Let’s get rid of all our pilots!
This is the worst kind of micromanagement. And it is all about politics. It isn’t about differences of opinion about how our military ought to be used. This is just yet another statement by the Republicans that global warming is a great big hoax. They read about the Climatic Research Unit email controversy in National Review back in 2009 and they know it. The fact that it was only about tree ring data and that eight different commissions have looked into it and found no fraud means nothing. Remember: five years ago, they read about it in National Review, and once a talking point is developed that supports what you want to believe, it can never be questioned! Global warming isn’t happening because they say it isn’t happening. And they will continue to say that until their homes burst into flames.
But conservatives love the military. Just look at their bumper stickers!