NATO, the "North Atlantic" treaty organization now fighting a slaughterous war in, er, Central Asia, is going green, setting up a new panel of heavy-duty worthies to pursue the strategic ramifications of global climate change. But as David Cronin reports in the Guardian, when militarists mull the ailments of Mother Earth, they aren't looking to mop the old lady's brow; they're trying to shake her down for every little bauble she's got left. The whole piece is worth reading, but here are some excerpts:
Over the past week a group appointed by the new Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen held its first meeting on how the "strategic concept" guiding the organisation's activities should be updated to take account of climate change and other key challenges. The group's chief? One Madeleine Albright, previously US secretary of state under Bill Clinton. Albright, lest we forget, is the same woman who foisted mass pauperisation on Iraq in pursuit of the ignoble goal of putting that country's oil resources under western control. In 1996, she was asked on the TV show 60 Minutes if she could justify the deaths of half of a million Iraqi children caused, according to Unicef, by an economic embargo that deprived the country of basic medicines. "I think this is a very hard choice but the price – we think the price is worth it," she replied.
Albright's deputy in the new group will be Jeroen van der Veer, until recently the chief executive of Shell. Thanks to the makers of the film The Age of Stupid, we know that Shell's gas flaring in the Niger Delta releases more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the other sources of greenhouse gas emissions in sub-Saharan Africa combined.
...Rather than taking a broad definition of human security, which acknowledges that the future of humanity depends on changing how ecological resources are managed, it is merely interested in grabbing as much of those resources as it can. That much was acknowledged by Rasmussen's predecessor as secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer before he stepped down over the summer. He spent much of his final year in the job predicting how climate change will increase competition between countries over water, territory and farmland. Nato should have an aggressive and interventionist role in disputes over resources, he suggested, by, for example, protecting oil and gas pipelines identified as critical to the west.
Cronin also makes the crucial connection between NATO's particularly grabby take on greenness, and its current civilian-shredding misadventure in Afghanistan:
Nato's interest in climate change cannot be divorced from the nasty, imperialist war that George Bush declared against Afghanistan and Barack Obama has pledged to continue. A recent paper by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives ridicules the myth that British and other Nato forces are solely driven by the need to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban so that bombings on European trains and buses can be prevented. While Afghanistan may have limited significance as an energy supplier itself, its neighbours Iran and Turkmenistan are blessed (or cursed, depending on one's perspective) with the world's second and third largest reserves of natural gas. The US has been eager to tap into those reserves – especially those of Turkmenistan – and to route a pipeline through Afghanistan since at least the 1990s. Departing slightly from the official narrative about the necessity of the war on terror, Richard Boucher, then America's assistant secretary for state, spoke in 2007 about linking south and central Asia for energy purposes.
As we said yesterday, the war in Afghanistan has no other purpose than the maintenance and expansion of the power and privilege of the elite. That is why the war has such a strange, absurdist, contradictory nature. The outward polices -- surges, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, reconstruction, nation-building, etc. -- can and do shift wildly, act at cross-purposes, undermine each other, exacerbate problems, produce more insecurity, and very often make no sense whatsoever...if measured by their ostensible goals. But they are, in the end, a meaningless sideshow, a toxic combination of deliberate deceit and catastrophic self-delusion that masks the war's true purpose. As with Iraq, if you view this war through the prism of elite aggrandizement, it all becomes, in the immortal words of that strange, absurdist warmonger of yore, "perfectly clear."
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on September 10, 2009.