Fighting for a U.S. federal budget that prioritizes peace, economic security and shared prosperity
In These Times
It is deeply troubling to imagine the U.S. military—the world’s most violent institution, and itself a climate villain—taking a leadership role in shaping the response to a crisis that could subject countless people to illness, food insecurity, severe storms and human displacement. The NDAA language has no acknowledgement of climate victims except through the lens of “ongoing or potential political violence.” As Michael Klare notes in his book All Hell Breaking Loose, when Gen. John F. Kelly was commander of U.S. Southern Command, he established a “Joint Task Force - Migrant Operations” in Guantanamo Bay, which held exercises to prepare for “mass migration events.” One such exercise, staged in 2015, responded to a fake scenario that involved “mass migration of people from multiple Caribbean islands after a series of hurricanes devastate the area,” a reporter noted at the time. “The goal of the exercise scenario was to effectively interdict and repatriate the migrants at sea who were attempting to enter the United States.”
Lindsay Koshgarian is the program director for the Institute for Policy Studies’ National Priorities Project, a budget-focused nonprofit. She tells In These Times, “The U.S. tendency will already be to respond to refugee crises and unrest caused by climate destabilization as military problems with a military solution, and I'm afraid this is just evidence of that. There is too much danger that climate change will become just another justification for bigger Pentagon budgets, and more troops and more bases in more places.”
The Pentagon has long evaluated climate change through the lens of U.S. military interests, including the effects on roughly 800 U.S. military bases that span the planet. “If extreme weather makes our critical facilities unusable or necessitate costly or manpower-intensive work-arounds, that is an unacceptable impact,” states a Department of Defense climate risk assessment from January 2018. This view is in line with the ethos of an ever-expanding U.S. military empire: Such “extreme weather” is “unacceptable” not because it indicates that people around the world are suffering severe consequences of climate change, but because it threatens the military’s global foothold.