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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Update: The Wretched of the Earth

Neoconservative journalist Robert Kaplan has written a remarkable piece about the global political implications of climate change in the January/February 2008 issue of The Atlantic Monthly. This is perhaps the most interesting excerpt:
The linkage between a global community on one hand and a village community on the other has made Bangladeshi NGOs intensely aware of the worldwide significance of their country’s environmental plight. “Come, come, I will show you the climate change,” said Mohon Mondal, a local NGO worker in the southwest, referring to a bridge that had partially collapsed because of rising seawater. To some degree, this awareness feeds a mind-set in which every eroded embankment becomes an indictment against the United States for walking away from the Kyoto accords. (Muslim Bangladeshis are in almost every other way pro-American—the upshot of their historical dislike for their former colonial master, Great Britain; frequent intimidation by nearby India and China; and lingering hostility toward Pakistan stemming from the 1971 war for liberation.) But regardless of the merits of this case, the United States can’t just defend its own position. As the world’s greatest power, the U.S. must be seen to take the lead against global warming, or suffer the fate of being blamed for it. Bangladesh demonstrates how developing-world misery has acquired—in the form of climate change—a powerful new argument, tied to the more fundamental outcry for justice and dignity.
By no stretch of the imagination is the US solely to blame for climate change, but Kaplan is correct to warn against the development of this perception.

Perhaps there's still time for the US to act and blame booming China.

Kaplan's contribution to the climate debate likely indicates just how seriously the Pentagon views the problem -- and reflects the fact that skepticism is now passé.

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