ANALYSIS – On Wednesday during the first stop of his European trip, President Joe Biden bragged about his time as Vice President to American forces based at Royal Air Force Base Mildenhall in the UK. Biden regaled the troops with a story of one of his first meetings as VP with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in their secure “tank” meeting room at the Pentagon.
His point to our fighting men and women? That ‘global warming’ – not Russia or China, or rogue states, cyber-attacks, or biowarfare – was the greatest threat facing America today. What the U.S. troops preparing for combat against real enemies made of the Commander in Chief’s belief that they should be fighting the weather is unknown.
However, the very next day, during a congressional panel, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley indirectly rebuffed Biden and offered a more traditional military answer. He said that the biggest threats the U.S. faces are China and Russia.
During his UK stop, Biden said, “When I first was elected vice president with President Obama, the military sat us down to let us know what the greatest threats facing America were.”
“This is not a joke,” Biden told the troops. “You know what the Joint Chiefs told us the greatest threat facing America was? Global warming.”
Since his inauguration, Biden has made ‘climate change’ a top priority of his administration, making the controversial former Obama Secretary of State, John Kerry, his climate czar. Biden and his Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, have also pushed climate change as a new Pentagon priority.
In his UK comments, Biden did explain why he believed climate change was the greatest threat to America – “Because there’ll be significant population movements, fights over land, millions of people leaving places because they’re literally sinking below the sea in Indonesia, because of the fights over what is arable land anymore.”
And while this explanation is reasonable, it only makes climate change a factor that increases a myriad of global threats, not the threat itself.
Even a 2015 Pentagon report produced under Obama-Biden called climate change “an urgent and growing threat” as well as a “threat multiplier” that could worsen existing threats. But that report did not call changes in climate the top threat.
General Milley made this point by stating:
Climate change does impact, but the president is looking at a much broader angle than I am. I’m looking at it from a strictly military standpoint. And from a strictly military standpoint, I’m putting China, Russia up there.
According to US News, when asked about the apparent disparity between his and Biden’s assessments, Milley said, “Climate change is a threat. Climate change has a significant impact on military operations, and we have to take that into consideration.”
But ultimately, the point is the Pentagon is in the business of fighting nation-states or non-state terrorist actors, not the weather.
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