Sunday, August 9, 2009

NYT: We're Totally Cool With Fear-Mongering When Global Warming's Involved

The New York Times editorial board has long been a vocal critic of politicians who use alleged threats to national security as a way to advocate policy. The editors routinely rebuke such "fear-mongering," and in a 5-minute search of the NYT archives, I found examples of this criticism here, here, here, here and here. Indeed, the chant of "fear-mongering" has been a staple of NYT editorials over the last eight years. In one called "The Politics of Fear" they wrote:
This administration has never hesitated to play on fear for political gain, starting with the first homeland security secretary, Tom Ridge, and his Popsicle-coded threat charts. It is a breathtakingly cynical ploy, but in the past it has worked to cow Democrats into silence, if not always submission, and herd Republicans back onto the party line.

That must not happen this time. By now, Congress surely can see through the president’s fear-mongering and show Mr. Bush the exit from Iraq that he refuses to find for himself.
Oh snap! In a September 2004 editorial "Preventive War: A Failed Doctrine," the Times rattled off this doozy right in the middle of the presidential election season:
If facts mattered in American politics, the Bush-Cheney ticket would not be basing its re-election campaign on the fear-mongering contention that the surest defense against future terrorist attacks lies in the badly discredited doctrine of preventive war. Vice President Dick Cheney took this argument to a disgraceful low last week when he implied that electing John Kerry and returning to traditional American foreign policy values would invite a devastating new strike.
Clearly, these folks really, really hate fear-mongering!

(Well, at least they did.)

(Back when Dubya was in the White House.)

(And when the issue wasn't the Left's cause de celebre.)

(And when legislation on that issue wasn't teetering on the brink of failure in the Senate.)

Here's the lede story from the front page of today's New York Times (Page A1, column 1, above the fold, emphasis mine):


WASHINGTON — The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.


If the United States does not lead the world in reducing fossil-fuel consumption and thus emissions of global warming gases, proponents of this view say, a series of global environmental, social, political and possibly military crises loom that the nation will urgently have to address.

This argument could prove a fulcrum for debate in the Senate next month when it takes up climate and energy legislation passed in June by the House.

Lawmakers leading the debate before Congress are only now beginning to make the national security argument for approving the legislation.

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee and a leading advocate for the climate legislation, said he hoped to sway Senate skeptics by pressing that issue to pass a meaningful bill.

Mr. Kerry said he did not know whether he would succeed but had spoken with 30 undecided senators on the matter.


“I’ve been making this argument for a number of years,” Mr. Kerry said, “but it has not been a focus because a lot of people had not connected the dots.” He said he had urged President Obama to make the case, too.

Mr. Kerry said the continuing conflict in southern Sudan, which has killed and displaced tens of thousands of people, is a result of drought and expansion of deserts in the north. “That is going to be repeated many times over and on a much larger scale,” he said.


A changing climate presents a range of challenges for the military. Many of its critical installations are vulnerable to rising seas and storm surges. In Florida, Homestead Air Force Base was essentially destroyed by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and Hurricane Ivan badly damaged Naval Air Station Pensacola in 2004. Military planners are studying ways to protect the major naval stations in Norfolk, Va., and San Diego from climate-induced rising seas and severe storms.

Another vulnerable installation is Diego Garcia, an atoll in the Indian Ocean that serves as a logistics hub for American and British forces in the Middle East and sits a few feet above sea level.

Arctic melting also presents new problems for the military. The shrinking of the ice cap, which is proceeding faster than anticipated only a few years ago, opens a shipping channel that must be defended and undersea resources that are already the focus of international competition.


“We will pay for this one way or another,” Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine and the former head of the Central Command, wrote recently in a report he prepared as a member of a military advisory board on energy and climate at CNA, a private group that does research for the Navy. “We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, and we’ll have to take an economic hit of some kind.

Or we will pay the price later in military terms,” he warned. “And that will involve human lives.
Death, destruction and destabilization, oh my! That closing line is even scarier when you say it with an echo ("human LIVES... lives... lives..."). Anyway, quite the sea-change over at the Times, wouldn't you say? Granted, this piece is not an editorial, but I'm willing to wager serious money against any future NYT editorial denouncing Mr. Kerry's use of climate fear and national security to "sway" skeptical colleagues into passing Cap-and-Trade as "breathtakingly cynical."

Any takers? (I didn't think so.)

So to recap:

Bush/Cheney fear-mongering to eavesdrop on US citizens, invade Iraq, get elected, or whatever else = BAD!

NYT/Kerry fear-mongering to pass Cap and Trade = GOOD!


Bubby said...

How did you become so wise on all these issues?

Scott said...

I totally fake it. :-)