Posted by: Sam Carson | 20 April, 2007

Global Security and Global Warming

UPDATE: There is a very large error in this post.   The “Coming Anarchy” was written by Robert Kaplan, not Robert Kagan.  Mr. Kagan did write Paradise and Power, but not the “Coming Anarchy”.  I apologize for this mistake.
A NY Times editorial backs a report written by eleven retired Admirals and Generals who see Global Warming as a threat to Global Security. This report reminds me of “The Coming Anarchy”, Robert Kagan’s 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly.

In the article, Kagan sees death and destruction everywhere. It is
certainly alarmist, and Kagan uses the backdrop of Sierra Leone and
West Africa to show us a glimpse of the future. Land will become
overworked and less fruitful, farmers will move to sprawling cities and
breed, there will not be enough for everyone, and people will kill each
other. The violence will spread like chickenpox in a first grade
classroom. Cheery stuff.

There are few who can out-realist Robert Kagan. His 2003 book Of Paradise and Power put forward the idea that Europe had passed through an age where power was important and had moved on to a sort of “post-modernist paradise” where it was not so important. This was because the US was watching its back and making sure everything was safe in the world, so Europe didn’t have to worry. It got rave reviews… in the US.

So in “The Coming Anarchy” we are looking at the consequences of global
warming and environmental and social deterioration in the Less
Developed Nations as a “national security issue”. Kagan advocates
addressing these issues as such, making this one of the first neo-con
texts. It was interesting reading, as Kagan puts establishment terms
to social issues normally reserved for the anti-establishment.
However, as with Of Paradise and Power the overwhelming Amero-centric point of view and focused realism obscure many issues and ignore others.

I don’t want to associate the report put out by the Admirals and
Generals today too much with Kagan’s article. Especially now that I’ve
labeled the article as a neo-con venture. Global warming is a security
issue, Kagan was right. The millions living in the floodplains of
Bangladesh have to go somewhere when the water rises. The result of
displacing a population of that size will not be a smooth operation, as
we have seen with Katrina evacuees. This is only one of several areas
that will have issues.

The establishment must recognise this, and every step toward policy
designed around how we leave the planet to the next generation is a
good thing.

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  1. you’re making a fundamental error here. you are confusing two authors. Robert Kaplan wrote the Coming Anarchy. This is not the same as Robert Kagan who wrote Paradise and Power. their arguments are similar but they are different people

  2. Kristo.
    Such a silly error, thank you for pointing this out.

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