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Trump Liberates Pentagon from Obama's Climate Obsession

President Trump is scheduled today to release the administration’s National Security Strategy (NSS). In their respective blog posts, Mollie Hemingway and Anthony Watts provide excerpts from an advance copy of the document. The excerpts indicate a thorough repudiation of President Obama’s attempt to brand climate change as a major national security threat and institutionalize climate change as a top priority issue for defense analysts, military program planners, and Pentagon budget officers.

Specifically, the excerpts suggest the new NSS departs from Obama administration policy in three basic ways.

First, climate change is a concern but is not defined as a national security threat. Accordingly, it is better dealt with through economic growth and innovation, not punitive regulation:

The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while growing its economy. This achievement, which can serve as model to other countries, flows from innovation, technology breakthroughs, and energy efficiency gains—not from onerous regulation.

Second, defense analysts and military planners should focus on bona fide threats to U.S. national security and international stability, not on the speculative impacts of greenhouse gas emissions:

North Korea seeks the capability to kill millions of Americans with nuclear weapons. Iran supports terrorist groups and openly calls for our destruction. Jihadist terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al Qaeda are determined to attack the United States and radicalize Americans with their hateful ideology. States and non-state actors undermine social order with drug and human trafficking networks, which drive violent crimes and cause thousands of American deaths each year…. Strengthening control over our borders and immigration system is central to national security, economic prosperity, and the rule of law. Terrorists, drug traffickers, and criminal cartels exploit porous borders and threaten U.S. security and public safety. These actors adapt quickly to outpace our defenses.

Third, regulatory climate policies that hinder economic growth endanger U.S. and international security more than climate change itself:

Climate policies will continue to shape the global energy system. U.S. leadership is indispensable to countering an anti-growth, energy agenda that is detrimental to U.S. economic and energy security interests. Given future global energy demand, much of the developing world will require fossil fuels, as well as other forms of energy, to power their economies and lift their people out of poverty.

For further discussion of those issues, see my op-ed “Should Climate Change Be a National Security Priority?” and the George Marshall Institute’s study Connecting Climate Change and National Security.