President Obama flew to Alaska Monday to claim that global warming is a U.S. security threat. He would have been better off noticing the five Chinese warships and 40 Russian icebreakers off Alaska’s coast.
Burning thousands of gallons of fossil fuel and leaving an enormous carbon footprint, Obama jetted 4,400 miles to Alaska for three days, to talk about global warming (and sight-see). He took selfie-stick photos for his daily travelogue, danced with Alaska natives, and renamed North America’s highest peak, known officially as Mount McKinley for a century, the politically correct Native American name Denali.
Above all, his mission was to warn Americans about climate change, claiming rather absurdly that the late-summer melting of ice in the Alaska wilds was evidence of global warming, not the seasons.
“The impacts of climate change are real, and the people of Alaska are living with them every day,” he tweeted from the White House website. “It’s never been more important for us to address this challenge,” he wrote, signing it “-bo” to let readers know he did it himself.
It was just the tip of his melting glacier. Last May, he told graduating Coast Guard cadets that “climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country.”
When a U.S. president has beliefs such as these, it’s no surprise that America’s challengers for global hegemony could not have chosen a better time to make show of force — just off Alaska.
It wasn’t merely that Russia made a show of patrolling with its 40 icebreakers, prompting Obama to say he was thinking of maybe acquiring another to add to America’s fleet of … two.
China sailed around the Aleutian Islands, sending five warships — three combat vessels, one supply replenishment ship, and one amphibious landing ship — to the edge of Alaska’s waters. The group might amount to a coordinated fleet maneuver that U.S. intelligence analysts have said China has not so far been able to project.
We do know that the amphibious landing vessel was sent out to project the “sea control” power of a blue water navy, something a defensive “sea denial” regional coastal fleet can’t.
These naval exercises also come at a time of heightened Chinese militarism, exactly when the old gray men of Beijing are in what’s believed to be a power struggle over an economic crisis of their own making. This week, China’s military held a vast Soviet-style military parade to demonstrate its military might, as Beijing’s oligarchs — quite a few who haven’t been seen in awhile, such as Jiang Zemin — watched.
The big show accompanies China’s rising military spending, its increased modernization, and its willingness to use its growing power.
China has not only threatened its Asian neighbors with that power, the parade — which wasn’t open to the public so much as the television cameras for projection abroad — was to show off China’s efforts to recruit allies in opposition to the U.S. Obama’s new ally Castroite Cuba was one. And we noticed that Russia’s Vladimir Putin was also in attendance.
The same day as the parade, China announced it would be laying off 300,000 of its 2 million land-based troops. In “Asia’s Cauldron,” Robert D. Kaplan wrote that far from being a sign of weakening, that is a sign of modernization.
“Military modernization is actually about smaller but more up-to-date force structures,” he wrote. It’s a likely shift from land-based forces to sea and air power, he noted.
It’s quite a chilling picture from a rising Asian power and a longtime rival — right in America’s northernmost state. Yet all our president could offer on this trip was his obsession with the junk-science of global warming. Monsters encircle us, and he’s chasing a chimera.