Mackubin Thomas Owens served as an infantry platoon leader in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. He now serves on the faculty of the Naval War College while also also serving as the editor of Orbis, the quarterly journal of the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He is a scholar of civil-military relations, as evidenced his book, US Civil-Military Relations After 9/11: Renegotiating the Civil-Military Bargain. I asked Mac to comment on Admiral Lockyear’s list of national security threats in the Pacific, the foremost of which was climate change. Mac writes:
On the one hand, strategic thinking requires us to consider the possibility of a number of alternative future security environments. The possible effects resulting from climate change is thus a legitimate question for strategists to consider. For instance, the Navy is very interested in the possibility that a warmer climate will make the Arctic Ocean navigable for longer periods of the year. But unfortunately, much of the Navy’s leadership has embraced the more alarmist versions of climate change.
As your Power Line post indicates, there are far more critical security issues facing the country. I sometimes think that senior military leaders feel the need to be politically correct on issues such as climate change.
The same goes for energy. A year ago, the Naval War College’s annual Current Strategy Forum, sponsored by the Secretary of the Navy, was dedicated to the topic of energy, with much of it being of the “green” sort. Now clearly, there are many practical things the military services can do to save energy and many of these have operational impacts, but the main speaker was Amory Lovins, which confirmed that the focus was not operational. It was about that time that Michael Rameriz ran a cartoon mocking the Navy’s green energy push. It showed the new green naval vessel, which was, of course, a sailing ship. Priceless.
Ironically, I have seen very little discussion on the part of the Navy’s senior leadership regarding a real strategic issue related to energy: the possibility that as a result of new fracking technologies, the United States is on the verge of becoming a major energy exporter, which means that the Persian Gulf in particular and the Greater Middle East in general will be less important to the United States. What does that mean for American grand strategy and the US Navy?