TCS Daily


Another Coalition Enemy, II

By Henry I. Miller - April 29, 2003 12:00 AM

My recent TCS article on the Clinton administration's impairment of military training and readiness by means of destructive, radical environmental rules and policies generated much discussion. So did a shorter version that appeared subsequently as a letter in the Wall Street Journal. In fact, it elicited an irate letter from Sherri Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security during the Clinton administration ("Green Rules Haven't Hurt Military or Its Readiness," April 23), which tries to put a good face on bad policies - policies that Goodman herself helped to develop.

Contrary to Goodman's assertions, the "exemption for military operational forces from greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol" that she allegedly negotiated was anything but successful - or even authentic. According to Jeffrey Salmon's The War Against Warming: Climate Change, Kyoto and American National Security (in The Greening of US Foreign Policy, eds. T. Anderson and H. Miller, Hoover Institution Press, 2000), "broad exemptions or areas of flexibility were at first discussed by the [Clinton] administration and presented as comprehensive . . . later statements by administration officials, however, served to confuse the exemption question."

Salmon observes that members of Congress were confused about critical aspects of the exemptions by "the administration's lack of clarity or candor over the military's specific obligations under Kyoto." He cites as a prominent example the testimony by Ms. Goodman before Senator James Inhofe's military readiness subcommittee in March 1998, when she emphasized that the Pentagon does not "seek special treatment" and "can and should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions . . . in the same way the rest of the nation will be called on to do." Salmon offers a number of examples of Goodman performing the sort of sophistry and dissembling that we took for granted from senior officials in the Clinton administration.

Goodman denies categorically that there is any connection between accident and mishap rates "and a more energy efficient military," boasting that "our military's accident and mishap rates have been steadily declining over the past decade." But the military accident and mishap rates (the fraction of total fatalities due to these causes) that Ms. Goodman praises were 67 percent during the first four months of the incursion into Afghanistan, and about 35 percent (combined U.S. and British) in Iraq.

Finally, Goodman claims that "energy efficiency and conservation at military installations, which has been federal law since the Reagan administration, saves money that can then be used for military readiness and training." She just doesn't get it. The function of the military is not "energy efficiency and conservation" that "saves money." Or, in the words of Clinton administration Principal Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Gary Vest, to offer "examples of environmental leadership." (Or, as we learned the hard way on September 11th, 2001, is the function of the intelligence community to, in the words of John Deutsch, Clinton's Director of Central Intelligence, gather "environmental intelligence.")

The legacy of the Clinton administration is that during the 1990's the armed services were forced to conserve energy at the cost of training and maneuvers, and to delay, defer, or reduce all manner of training because of often far-fetched concerns about endangered species and similar nonsense. Even now, at Camp Lejeune the Marines spend more on complying with environmental regulations than on ammunition. A military range in Arizona employs biologists to track Sonoran pronghorn antelope, so that firing can be prohibited near the animals. Almost three quarters of Fort Lewis, Washington is off limits to troops because it is "critical habitat" for the Northern Spotted Owl - though not one lives on the base.

The function of the armed services is to make war, and in order to do that it needs to train as intensively and realistically and in as unencumbered a way as possible. The eco-babble from senior officials in the Clinton administration suggests that they did not, and do not, understand that.
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