An Oct. 13 story by W.J. Hennigan in The Los Angeles Times, filed from Peru where the Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was addressing a Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, detailed the U.S. Military's comprehensive plan to address the effects of climate change.
The story described Hagel's concern that rising temperatures, higher sea levels and intensified weather events will negatively impact global stability. In his view, this "could lead to food and water shortages, pandemic disease and dispute over refugees and resources."
The Pentagon's report concludes that coastal military installations will be vulnerable to flooding, humanitarian missions will increase and military equipment will need to function under more severe weather. According to the story, Hagel said our country will be using the best available science in determining impacts to planning, operations and training.
I wonder how much consideration Russian President Vladimir Putin gives to such matters as he bullies smaller countries on Russia's borders. I suspect Chinese military leaders have relatively little concern with global warming as they build up forces that can threaten Pacific island nations.
Can you imagine the reaction to this American military focus on global warming in the power circles in Iran or North Korea?
My advice to Hagel and the national security advisors to the president would be to pay more attention to events going on in Iraq than to a theoretical threat from climate change. The Washington Post had a rather depressing story on events from Iraq on Oct. 9.
The headline read "Islamic State fighters are threatening to overrun Iraq's Anbar province," over the story by Post staff writer Erin Cunningham.
She notes that Islamic State troops were threatening to overrun the key province in western Iraq "in what would be a major victory for the jihadists and an embarrassing setback for American led coalition targeting this group."
Were the Islamic State to conquer Anbar province, the story noted, it would give the militants control of a crucial dam and many army installations, potentially adding to an already ample arms stockpile. The story also observed that such control would give these forces a well established supply line from Syria almost to Baghdad. This would threaten Iraq's very capital.
Cunningham reminded readers that Anbar province's population is majority Sunni in their Islamic affiliation. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, alienated Sunni tribes when he was in power. The majority population in Iraq over all is Shiite. Maliki was known for heavy handed tactics against the minority Sunni population.
Perhaps Hagel should visit Turkey to discuss plans for dealing with the Islamic State. That would be my conclusion based on a report from Foreign Policy magazine published in their Oct. 14 on-line edition.
The headline for the article was "The Obama administration has a kiss-and-tell problem: In its excitement to trumpet the coalition against the Islamic State, the U.S. is outing partners before they're ready to go steady" in a story from Gopal Ratnam and John Hudson.
The article notes that the Obama Administration has tried to highlight a growing coalition of nations to resist the Islamic State. However, it is currently dealing with a "diplomatic blowup with Turkey."
On multiple Sunday morning interview shows on Oct. 12 National Security Advisory Susan Rice announced cooperative basing plans for our forces in Turkey to be used against the Islamic State. The story indicated that this was contradicted the very next day by Turkey's Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu.
There is no question that the threat posed by the Islamic State is challenging for our country and countries in the region that at least on paper we would consider allies. Based on various news reports, it is questionable whether the administration has its priorities and plans in order to address this threat in a serious way.
Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Fridays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.