The Military is Among Climate’s Biggest Enemies

by Charles Dunaway

The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change released a report on August 9. The team of 230 scientists said, “Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years…unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”

As a recent editorial in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch points out, “America can’t fix the problem alone, but the world can’t fix it without a fundamental shift in American culture – a shift away from coal, oil, gasoline and other polluting energy sources, and toward renewable ones like wind and solar.”

One facet of that necessary shift in American culture gets little attention from the media – the impact of the US military and US foreign policy on climate change.

The US military is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world. The US is currently bombing targets in Iraq and Afghanistan, fighting the government of Syria, and bombing Somalia. The US is also imposing sanctions on Iran, Libya, and Venezuela. All those nations have large reserves of fossil fuels. So the US is burning fossil fuel to force nations to sell more fossil fuel to US companies so we can burn more fossil fuel.

Any serious commitment to preserving life on earth must begin with a drastic reduction in the US military and an end to the forever wars and the sanctions.

US foreign policy over the last seven decades has focused on maintaining global dominance. If rival like Russia or China is gaining too much influence in a neighboring nation, the US will use the National Endowment for Democracy and USAID to foment unrest and chaos by funding and training opposition groups. NED is currently interfering in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia to counter China. They are in Belarus and every Central Asian nation to counter Russia. Regime change efforts cause resentment of US interference, and undermine the internal cooperation nations need to address climate change.

The US withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord in 2017, the Iran Nuclear Deal in 2018, and the Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2019. The US signed but has not ratified the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) , The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), and the Kyoto Protocol (2005). Of 18 international human rights treaties passed by the United Nations, the US has only ratified five. This destroys the trust needed to work together with other nations.

The US has long viewed itself as exempt from international law. All of the current US military engagements are blatant violations of the UN Charter, but you never hear that mentioned. The US, having signed the Rome Statute founding the International Criminal Court, subsequently withdrew its signature and has even passed laws authorizing the use of “all means necessary” to release any American detained by the ICC.

If the US government is serious about combatting climate change, it must give up any dreams of global dominance, stop interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, live up to its treaty obligations, and abide by international law. Ending our support for other serial violators of international law such as Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia would demonstrate our resolve.

America cannot curtail the worst effects of climate change on its own. It will need good working relationships with all nations. The technologically advanced nations must pool their talent and resources to find alternatives to fossil fuels and reduce their own consumption. The wealthier nations need to partner with less developed nations as they adapt to the changing environment and improve the lives of their people.

The days of America’s bullying of other nations are over. The US must lead by example, not by force. As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

Photo: US Army

The Taliban Was Always Going to Take Afghanistan, But Biden’s Withdrawal Was Still a Disaster

In the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan and the subsequent usurpation of the Afghan government by the Taliban, there seem to be two competing widespread opinions. Predictably, the corporate media, essentially an arm of the military industrial complex itself, has been nearly unanimous in its messaging that the turmoil in Afghanistan is a cautionary tale for why America must remain the World Police, and that the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw was a disastrous one.

Ironically, many on the Left are finally praising President Biden for sticking to his guns and defending his decision to pull out of Afghanistan after a 20-year occupation. Kyle Kulinski went as far as to (half seriously) brand himself a “Biden bro,” lauding the withdrawal of troops as “the best thing he ever did.”

What most in both the mainstream and independent media are missing here is that the decision to withdraw, and the manner in which the US went about its execution, are two different issues. Many would scoff at this, as Kyle himself has, and point out that no matter how long we remained in Afghanistan, this outcome was inevitable, and therefore it’s petty to critique the way in which the withdrawal was carried out.

Is he correct? Yes and no. But mostly, no.

He, as is almost everyone on the Left, is undoubtedly correct that the political outcome itself – i.e, the Taliban reclaiming Afghanistan – was a foregone conclusion no matter how the withdrawal was executed. But what wasn’t inevitable was the extraordinary level of chaos that ensued during this “transfer of power.”

Just six weeks ago, Biden expressed confidence that the Afghan army was ready to defend its country, insisting that a Taliban takeover was “not inevitable” (a prediction which directly contradicts his latest statements in which he emphasizes that it was). Had he and his administration been better prepared for this outcome that they now claim was inevitable from the beginning, surely a safer, more orderly evacuation of personnel and equipment would have been prioritized in anticipation for what was certain to unfold.

Instead, we saw horrific images of Afghans clinging to the sides of airplanes and then falling out of the sky from 2,000 feet in the air. We saw traffic jams of desperate people trying to flee at the last minute as the Taliban took over. And now, the Taliban has control over stockpiles of military equipment that we left behind.

So the questions of whether or not we were right to get out, and how do we go about doing so as safely and responsibly as possible, are obviously two different questions, and the latter is just as important as the former. Many have said that to obsess over the execution of the plan without acknowledging the overall merit of the decision to withdraw is to somehow nitpick and split hairs. This is absurd.

When the Seattle Mariners built their beautiful new Stadium, Safeco Field, they decided to demolish the Kingdome, its unsightly and retrograde predecessor; a decision almost everyone agreed was the right one. But if the demolition took place during a game, with 30,000 people inside, then of course it would be apropos to emphasize the extraordinary recklessness and incompetence with which the decision was carried out.

This is common sense. The way in which Biden’s administration went about this withdrawal was obviously a complete disaster that could have and should have been mitigated by ample preparation, if it could not have been avoided entirely. Acknowledging this in no way suggests that the decision to withdraw is itself a bad one.

We discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal and more on episode 118 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear our full conversation, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons