Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I Might Harm U.S. National Security, Therefore I Am: The New Truth of Global Warming

Sure it's only the second day this summer in Manhattan to crack 90 degrees (a new microclimate of island cooling? a weather trick by God to tease Al Gore?), so I'm wondering if that's why I'm listening to WNYC turn over its airwaves to these women from the national security establishment announcing that, gasp,

global warming exists!

(Warning -- this is NOT a Saturday Live sketch)

"This is not a hoax," said Sharon Burke, Vice President of Strategy at the Center for a New American Security, a DC group that stands for Developing Strong, Pragmatic, and Principled National Security and Defense Policies, "This is a real phenomenon. When the military tells you you need to think about it, then you need to think about it."

Right. Of course we do ... in the cynical strategy sessions of overachieving liberals who want to share snacks at whatever table is set by the folks who have the nuclear football, there because they thought conservatives too, what, puritanical? humorless? midwestern? White? southern? male? -- or had some other hangup preventing them from honestly realizing their ambitions for crude power and prestige.

Apparently the First Way and Second Way think tanks were too committed to principled (not pragmatic) and pragmatic (not principled) policies.

The WNYC host, no dummy (but a sub, so I don't have his name), and no fan of "climate change" or even global warming, kept pressing Burke and also the Obama administration's Amanda Dory, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategy at the Department of Defense, about whether this new announcement of the sweltering skies was really about politics.

In response, Dory shared a story about a friend of hers in the Air Force who ended up in a class 2 hurricane, perilous for his a small craft, because the absence of hurricanes in that region since the mid-nineteenth century meant no one on the ground even checked to warn him.

Same moral of the story: if her pal in the Air Force almost had something bad happen because of weather expectations, then, gosh, the arctic ice cap melting matters.

I'd never heard of these folks or groups before, but their presence in the government and on the air waves is no accident. Third Way's website describes its activities as "products." Its About section states Third Way is the "leading think tank of the moderate wing of the progressive movement. We work with elected officials, candidates, and advocates to develop and advance the next generation of moderate policy ideas."

The Twitter version: we don't know who we are and we stand for nothing.

Tonight's radio segment fits a disturbing pattern in the Obama administration's militarization and "national securitization" of public needs that is not driven by genuine security needs -- e.g., for universal health care and public transportation -- or paranoid nationalism, and is not even genuinely neoliberal, but is the ideological equivalent of a kleptocracy, an unprincipled grab for agenda setting without having an actual agenda.

The absence of a functioning democracy today is signaled in economic problems occasioned by massive corruption and just plain stealing -- from Abramoff to Wall Street cronyism -- and not capitalism. Likewise, the absence of a functioning democracy reveals itself in pointless change signaled by belonging to the right clique -- from the New this or that to the Third something or other.

That's why the guy who ran on the platform of Change and Hope is presiding over More of the Same, and Then Some.

Where is the hope if the First Lady's big commitment is to military families instead of poor families? If education funding for research under the stimulus package is ramping up Department of Defense projects instead of funding for the arts and humanities? If the government wants to open the coffers to fully fund higher education for people who join the military, and not people who work at nonprofits? If everything from immigration policy to health policy are described as part of our "national security" and not basic human rights?

If the problem with Alaska resembling Hawaii, or is it vice versa, is that nuclear submarines might get dinged by surf boards?


Anonymous said...

Now that's a good, old fashioned rant we can appreciate. All we have to do now is figure out how to market the national deficit in arts and humanities as a threat to national security... Actually, it wouldn't be too hard if we were talking about genuine security, as in the human need for mutual care and communication. But security-as-defined-by-paranoid-armed-idiots posits that thinking, cooperation, and creativity are themselves the most direct threat to the nation. Go figure.
one bone to pick: You wrote "Where is the hope if the First Lady's big commitment is to military families instead of poor families?" Aren't the vast majority of military families in the U.S. also poor families? So, in a way, Michelle Obama is tackling the key problem, but covertly. Maybe.

jacqueline stevens said...

thanks for your note.

It's true that many, but not all, military families are poor families. But it is not true that most poor families are military families. I find the liberal sympathy toward people who choose to join the army because of poverty somewhat patronizing, not that this is your position.

Most poor people make other choices than signing up to kill Iraqis. Michelle doesn't have to reward the ones who choose a life dedicated to state violence. That's also a choice, no?

Anonymous said...

"That's also a choice, no?"


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