Obama Doctrine: He could even attack nations over climate change

Not limited to Photo: Newsweek

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2013 — The emerging Obama Doctrine justifies attacking nations that violate “international norms,” as judged solely by the president. 

Based on statements by President Obama and key players, he could even launch attacks against those he blames for global climate change. Polluters and deniers beware: You may have to face our Marines.


SEE RELATED: Constitution requires Obama to accept Congress’ decision on Syria


In outlining his new doctrine, Obama created a policy so loose that it fits his climate change pronouncements just as easily as it fits the Syria situation:

  • The old “clear and present” danger standard to justify use of force is outmoded.
  • A prediction of eventual danger is the new standard justifying force.
  • Injury to vulnerable and underserved groups — women, children, seniors and developing countries — will be given the most weight.

Obama’s White House counsel declares that he has unlimited authority to launch military strikes so long as there is an “important national interest” at stake.

And what is an “important national interest”? It’s anything the president thinks is important.


SEE RELATED: Obama’s Syria speech stirs Iraq deja vu


Clearly, that wayward standard has become a present danger to our Republic.

Obama and his administration have said consistently that they believe the greatest threat to mankind and to the planet is climate change. Obama’s comments this summer at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate were typical:

“Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet. The effort to slow climate change requires bold action. …

“This must now be an effort of all nations, not just some. For the grim alternative affects all nations — more severe storms, more famine and floods, new waves of refugees, coastlines that vanish, oceans that rise.


SEE RELATED: Social media Americans tweet their Syria outrage at President Obama


“This is the future we must avert. This is the global threat of our time. And for the sake of future generations, our generation must move toward a global compact to confront a changing climate before it is too late. That is our job. That is our task. We have to get to work.”

Not said by the Obama, but implied, was “Let us march!” He must find Germany a supportive place for his climate militancy, since he used similar language in 2009 at Strasbourg:

“And we also know that in the 21st century, security is more complex than military power. This is the generation that must also stop the spread of the pollution that is slowly killing our planet, from shrinking coastlines and devastating storms to widespread misery and famine and drought. The effects of climate change are now in plain sight.”

Anyone who is “killing our planet” is violating international norms with lives at stake; what could be a nobler reason for picking a fight?

When he used similar language in his 2013 State of the Union Address, Obama again said he’s willing to act unilaterally. “If Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will.” His Second inaugural address made protection his touchstone for climate, just as it has been with Syria. Obama said that not taking bold action “would betray our children and future generations.”

How big a threat is this in his eyes and the eyes of other environmental extremists? One report last year claimed climate change already kills 5 million people a year and is expected to cause 100 million deaths between now and 2030. The international group DARA issued the study, financed by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, a partnership of 20 developing countries. A crisis of this magnitude would be far greater than Syria’s.

True believers disregard the debunking of such outrageous claims. The DARA study, for example, was debunked by Harvard student Sam Bakkila in The Huffington Post, but liberals still quote it widely. The Left offers non-stop doomsday studies claiming mega-deaths due to man-made climate change, while disregarding evidence such as 15 straight years without global warming. That alone explains why “global warming” is re-labelled “climate change,” just as “liberals” now want to be called “progressives.”

Obama’s team have made up their minds, feeling no need to re-check their conclusions. The groundwork is already laid by the president to treat climate change as a military issue involving national security.

In May, Secretary of State John Kerrey predicted in a Google Hangout video session that unchecked climate change will cause wars: “An issue like environment/global climate change just leaps out at me as a profoundly important issue for future generations. If we don’t respond adequately to the challenge of global climate change over the course of these next years there will be people fighting, wars over water and over land.”

In the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, which determines America’s defense structure, the Pentagon included language justifying military responses, “While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world.”

Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta in 2012 told the Environmental Defense Fund that the issue is now a military matter. “In the 21st century, the reality is that there are environmental threats which are threats to our national security. For example, the area of climate change has a dramatic impact on national security.”

Current Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel last fall wrote in a report on “The Impact of Climate Change”: “America and the world face unprecedented, complex interconnected 21st Century challenges. Environmental issues will continue to have unpredictable and destabilizing effects on developing and developed countries alike. “

That is the type of language often used to justify military action. It’s similar to the way Obama this week justified his pledge to strike Syria, based not on any current threat but on a possible eventuality in the distant future: “If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons. As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.”

An eventual threat of chemical warfare is used to justify an attack today. An eventual threat of climate change likewise could be used to justify an attack today.

The more “moderate” extremists don’t propose using force; they would settle for removing “deniers” from office or imprisoning them. They have labelled people traitors for not embracing man-caused climate change. Killing climate change deniers is not a new idea; 1010global.org, affiliated with umbrella group Global Call for Climate Change Action, created TV ads showing gruesome executions of those who did not join their effort. Using force against “climate change deniers” has been raised often, supposedly for the good of mankind and to save lives.

Timothy Birdnow last December wrote in American Thinker:

“Professor Richard Parncutt, Musicologist at Graz University in Austria … has issued — and later retracted after public outcry — a manifesto calling for the execution of prominent ‘Climate Change Deniers.’ This call has been made a number of times in the past. For instance, Climate Progress editor Joe Romm … called for ‘deniers’ to be strangled in their beds. Grist magazine writer David Roberts called for Nuremberg trials for ‘deniers’ and NASA’s James Hansen has likewise called for similar trials.”

Fortunately, those people are not in positions of authority. But Obama is. By declaring a new doctrine on use of our military, Obama is making an un-Constitutional claim to grant himself greater military power.

He has abandoned the historic benchmark of “clear and present danger” as the trigger for Presidential use of force. He has stretched our laws so out of shape that his doctrine can justify any attack of the President’s choosing. That includes using force against nations or leaders who do not accept the common-but-mistaken “international norm” of man-caused global climate change.

Our Constitution clearly states that Congress, not the President, determines international norms and the penalties for breaches. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress alone the power “to define and punish … offenses against the law of nations.”

No matter how many times Obama or others claim that he does, Obama does not have proper authority to attack Syria without explicit approval from Congress. Fortunately, that also means he cannot use our armed forces to enforce his extremist views on global warming.

Obama is trying to change the global climate on Presidential power—and he must be denied. Even if they don’t vote on authorizing an attack on Syria, Congress should vote a resolution denouncing his power-grab Obama Doctrine.


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Ernest Istook

Ernest Istook spent 25 years in public office, including 14 years in Congress. He was rated one of the top 25 conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. Then was a Heritage Foundation fellow and a fellow at Harvard's Insitute of Politics, where he led a study group on Propaganda in American Politics Today. 

Now as a radio host and a commentator, Ernest aims to expose Washington's gimmicks--to help you avoid the pitfalls. He brings clarity out of the confusion. 

Native to Texas, Ernest transplanted to Oklahoma after graduating from Baylor University.

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