By Aaron Klein
Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley is being criticized in conservative circles for claiming Monday that “global warming” created conditions that led to the rise of ISIS and “extreme violence” in the Mideast.
However, O’Malley apparently was parroting arguments long made by highly influential progressive think tanks, most prominently the Center for American Progress, or CAP, which has been described as the “idea factory” of the Obama White House.
In fact, CAP, which has influenced the Obama administration on defense spending, previously released a 52-page proposal in which authors Michael Werz and Laura Conley laid out a plan for the U.S. military to deliver aid to developing countries purportedly ravaged by so-called global warming.
A central thesis of the paper was that “global warming” partially caused the Islamic insurgencies in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya and other countries in the region.
Another CAP paper called for “a major shift of resources from the military budget to sustainable energy.”
A separate CAP-endorsed paper suggested massive military slashes and called for any unused military installations to be converted into “green job” incubators.
O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, made his comments about ISIS and “global warming” on Monday to Bloomberg News.
“One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS,” O’Malley said, “was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis that created the symptoms — or rather the conditions of extreme poverty — that has now led to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence.”
Some conservative news outlets pointed out President Obama told U.S. Coast Guard Academy graduates to be prepared for a shift in military strategy that would include a fight against global warming, because weather patterns figure into trends toward violence.
Missing from the conversation, however, is the genesis of the thinking and how it already has affected Obama’s defense agenda.
Climate change prompted Islamic insurgencies?
In January 2012, CAP released a research paper titled “Climate Change, Migration, and Conflict: Addressing Complex Crisis Scenarios in the 21st Century.”
The document contained an initiative to utilize the military to redistribute America’s wealth and resources to developing countries and to “revisit traditional divisions of labor between diplomacy, defense, and economic, social, and environmental development policy abroad.”
CAP was founded by former White House counselor John Podesta, who now serves as chief of staff to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
The CAP plan blamed “climate change” for such varied world events as the “Arab Spring” and mass migrations, while pushing the transfer of enormous U.S. assets to the developing world.
A closer reading of the report shows it concedes in several instances that there is no actual proof for its contention that climate change is responsible for dramatic world events. Yet CAP urges massive transfers of U.S. wealth anyway.
The “Arab Spring” – a series of Islamist coups bolstered by short-lived democratic uprisings – is viewed by CAP through the lens of climate change.
“The Arab Spring can be at least partly credited to climate change. Rising food prices and efforts by authoritarian regimes to crush political protests were linked first to food and then to political repression – two important motivators in the Arab makeover this past year.”
In one section, the report admits:
Climate change is among these newly visible issues sparking conflict. But because the direct link between conflict and climate change is unclear, awareness of the indirect links has yet to lead to substantial and sustained action to address its security implications.
On migration and climate change, CAP cites United Nations data to warn:
In the 21st Century the world could see substantial numbers of climate migrants – people displaced by either the slow or sudden onset of the effects of climate change.
In that same section, the report concedes:
In fact there is major disagreement among experts about how to identify climate as a causal factor in internal and international migration. But even though the root causes of human mobility are not always easy to decipher, the policy challenges posed by that movement are real.
Spread the wealth using U.S. military
CAP utilizes its unproved claims about world events to call for the United States, its allies and key regional players to “work together to create a sustainable security situation to deal with climate change, migration and conflict.”
Recommendations include an increase in funding for the Global Climate Change Initiative, the Climate Adaptation Fund established by the parties to the Kyoto Protocol and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, adopted by more than 190 countries.
The U.S. is singled out as one “of the few global powers capable and willing to act in the common interest.”
In 2011, meanwhile, the Institute for Policy Studies progressive think tank released a 40-page CAP-endorsed report titled “The Green Dividend,” a term the IPS defines as “a major shift of resources from the military budget to sustainable energy.”
IPS and CAP also author a joint annual “Unified Security Budget,” parts of which reportedly were adapted by the Obama administration.
In their “Green Dividend” report, the think tanks complain of what they call an excess of military spending, which should be used, they argue, to fight so-called global warming.
“The obvious solution is to reduce military spending and apply those savings to a green technology initiative that reduces our dependency on fossil fuels, shrinks our carbon footprint, and creates jobs. Such a ‘green stimulus’ could pull our economy out of recession.”
Convert military installations to ‘green job’ incubators
The IPS research paper identifies the Pentagon as the “largest institutional energy user — and greenhouse gas emitter — on the planet,” arguing that if it undertook a “crash program” to convert to renewable energy sources and clean vehicles, it could make a significant impact on global emissions.
It recommends redirecting much of the U.S. military budget from defense toward creating a Pentagon that is energy efficient and stresses “designing and implementing a U.S. transition to a low-emissions future.”
Astonishingly, IPS calls on the Pentagon to contribute to a green world “by simply getting out of the way, by handing over unneeded military installations to be converted into green job incubators.”
There is little doubt the Obama White House is ready to embrace CAP’s recommendation of filtering world conflict through the lens of climate change and transformative global engagement.
The Obama White House Interagency Taskforce on adapting to climate change previously recommended the government develop a strategy to help poor countries contend with purportedly climate-induced challenges.
The Obama administration also already has overseen the release of four official defense and engagement reviews specifically designating climate change as a major consideration in planning global development and security strategies.
The acknowledgment was prominently featured in the congressionally mandated National Security Strategy of April 2010; the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review, the administration’s first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review; as well as the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development.