Climate Conflicts: What the Pentagon Means by “Threat Multiplier”
Wars already intensified by the climate show us what to expect next.
Understanding that proactive early measures are always a smart investment is a lesson we refuse to learn over and over again. If we listened to climate scientists in the 1980s, we could have made a conveniently gradual transition away from fossil fuels over the last four decades and not had new record breaking natural disasters over and over again. If we gave the whole world vaccines as soon as they were developed, there likely wouldn’t be an Omicron variant. If we make sure our campfire is properly out, it can’t grow into a megafire that creates its own weather systems.
Syria shows us the same.
High unemployment, corruption, and increasingly authoritarian government led to peaceful pro-democratic demonstrations. Sound familiar? Government forces brutally put down the protests with deadly force, and things started escalating from there. By 2012 the Arab League had asked the UN to send peacekeepers to prevent escalation into a full blown civil war.
Canadian Prime Minister Lester B Pearson had won the Nobel Peace Prize for inventing modern peacekeeping by successfully using a UN force to de-escalate the Suez crisis in 1956. When Canada was asked to help de-escalate the Syrian crisis, however, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused. A small UN peacekeeping force was still put together, but only enough to act as observers, and they were forced to withdraw in a few months as the conflict intensified. President Barack Obama vowed that any use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” but when Assad’s forces used Sarin nerve gas to kill over a thousand people a year later — many of them women and children — it became clear that the people of Syria were on their own.
Please note that I don’t in any way advocate for Western militarism in the Middle East, which has consistently been a destructive cavalcade of human rights abuses, slaughtered innocents, and the best recruitment program for extremism that trillions could buy. What I endorse is the use of peacekeeping efforts as a prophylactic measure in response to early warning signs to avoid this kind of nightmare getting out of hand in…