Ed Driscoll

The Phantom Menace

As always, life imitates Monty Python, as the psychedelic navy they previewed in 1972 begins to become a reality. “Commander Of U.S. Pacific Forces Says Global Warming Is Our Top Threat.”

America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change.

Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”

At the start of the 20th century, William James coined the magic words of “Progressivism,” the “moral equivalent of war:”

What appealed to the Progressives about militarism was what William James calls this moral equivalent of war. It was that war brought out the best in society, as James put it, that it was the best tool then known for mobilization … That is what is fascistic about militarism, its utility as a mechanism for galvanizing society to join together, to drop their partisan differences, to move beyond ideology and get with the program. And liberalism today is, strictly speaking, pretty pacifistic. They’re not the ones who want to go to war all that much. But they’re still deeply enamored with this concept of the moral equivalent of war, that we should unite around common purposes. Listen to the rhetoric of Barack Obama, it’s all about unity, unity, unity, that we have to move beyond our particular differences and unite around common things, all of that kind of stuff. That remains at the heart of American liberalism, and that’s what I’m getting at.

See also, this 2008 Time magazine cover, which replaced the American flag being planted on Mt. Suribachi in the legendary photograph from WWII with…a tree, and the headline, “How to Win the War on Global Warming.” As I asked at the time, “Does This Mean Hurricane Katrina Was Pearl Harbor?

Apparently, in Admiral Locklear’s eyes, it does. In “It’s the Demography, Stupid,” his 2006 prototype essay for America Alone, Mark Steyn warned that as America transformed itself essentially, Europe with BBQ and Camaros, our military would, as with Europe, begin to lose its importance:

One obstacle to doing that is the fact that, in the typical election campaign in your advanced industrial democracy, the political platforms of at least one party in the United States and pretty much all parties in the rest of the west are largely about what one would call the secondary impulses of society—government health care, government day care (which Canada’s thinking of introducing), government paternity leave (which Britain’s just introduced). We’ve prioritized the secondary impulse over the primary ones: national defense, family, faith, and, most basic of all, reproductive activity—“Go forth and multiply,” because if you don’t you won’t be able to afford all those secondary-impulse issues, like cradle-to-grave welfare. Americans sometimes don’t understand how far gone most of the rest of the developed world is down this path: In the Canadian and most Continental cabinets, the defense ministry is somewhere an ambitious politician passes through on his way up to important jobs like the health department. I don’t think Don Rumsfeld would regard it as a promotion if he were moved to Health & Human Services.

But apparently, one of the heads of the US Navy would rather be leading the EPA, rather than protecting America from the PRC or the PRK. What could go wrong?

Update: And speaking of “What could go wrong?”

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice praised the 1979-1980 British peacekeeping operation that led to the rule of Zimbabwean dictator, Robert Mugabe, as “a model and a masterpiece in the evolution of international peacekeeping”…

As Kate of Small Dead Animals quips, “But Glenn Beck Is The Crazy One.”