How the climate crisis will drive the U.S. military to a breaking point

This is a republishing of one section from my recent military article, which is so long that many aren’t likely to fully read this section due to the daunting length of the piece overall. Go to this link for the full piece and the hyperlinks.

For the U.S. to have the kind of military reach that it does, there have to be an array of favorable environmental factors. Factors which are about to disappear, ironically due to the unparalleled greenhouse gas emissions that the U.S. military produces.

This was articulated last year by Michael Klare, author of All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, who revealed how concerned — yet at the same time in denial — the imperialist military technocrats are about the climate crisis:

Climate change is a threat in their eyes because it’s going to degrade their ability to deal with conventional military problems. It’s going to create chaos, violence, mass migrations, pandemics, and state collapse around the world, particularly in vulnerable areas like Africa and the Middle East. At the same time, the military’s own bases are very vulnerable to the effects of climate change because of rising seas and forest fires, storms, and floods. Climate change, then, represents a threat to American armed forces because it’s going to interfere with their ability to carry out their job…Virtually every East Coast naval base is eventually going to be underwater, and nobody is willing to say out loud what the cost of relocation is going to be. For example, the Naval Academy at Annapolis is already flooded on a regular basis, and it won’t be long before that will be underwater year-round. Even though people in the Navy are aware of this, the magnitude of the threat is so great that nobody is willing to say out loud what really has to be done to address it.

By 2030, sea levels will have risen so much that the odds of one-in-a-century or worse floods happening will have doubled or more across the U.S. By 2040, says the 2019 Pentagon report, it’s likely that the U.S. will start experiencing power grid failures the likes of which the country has never seen due to climatic disasters. By 2060, enough of the land within U.S. borders will be rendered uninhabitable by global warming that 1 in 12 Americans in the country’s southern half will have been forced to migrate to safer areas. This will cause rapid urbanization in the “safer” zones that proliferate poverty and drive society closer towards collapse, creating internal refugee crises on top of internal refugee crises. All of these factors, along with the social and economic ones I’ve explained, will combine to dramatically weaken the military.

The military is preparing for these events insofar as it acknowledges their unavoidability. A 2019 Pentagon report calls for massive permanent military infrastructure on U.S. soil to stave off climate collapse, and a 2016 U.S. Army War College report lays out a strategy for crushing rebel groups when such destabilizations occur; namely where the military invades and occupies the country’s major urban areas, cuts off internet and cell phone access within these occupied zones while making local media only produce official military propaganda, utilizes mass surveillance to weed out rebels within these areas, and brings home the same approaches towards counterinsurgency that Israel has developed for Gaza.

So the U.S. has a more coherent plan for trying to crush rebels than India does (if one that isn’t inclined to share the Indian military’s concerns with avoiding heavy civilian casualties), and it has access to better military resources. But so is the case for the Colombian government, which has developed a doctrine for crushing the country’s class struggle on what it calls a “molecular” level and receives ample military technologies and counterinsurgency training from Israel. And even there, the military’s reliability isn’t a sure thing, given the shared economic deprivation between the citizenry and the armed service members that the FARC describes.

While a communist rebel army’s members are motivated by economic desperation, a capitalist state can only have as many fighters on its side as it can pay — or as many self-styled “freedom fighters” as are willing to volunteer for the anti-communist militias. When the economic basis for having a highly privileged police caste disappears, and when the government starts ordering the slaughter of huge amounts of civilians, the armed forces become more subject to the kinds of defections and internal rifts that India fears will soon happen to its own army.

And the climate crisis is going to make these weaknesses within the state’s fighting forces all the more severe. As many military bases get submerged and many law enforcement headquarters buildings are forced to be abandoned as well, the masses will notice their rapidly deteriorating circumstances, see the growing vulnerability and violence from a deteriorating fortress state, and be inclined to join the side of the rebels.

According to the 2019 Pentagon report, water shortages are going to make this destabilization for the U.S. army worse. Unless the military can acquire advanced new technologies in water capture for its missions within the most arid parts of the world, the troops won’t be able to survive within these areas. The report says that because of this looming shrinkage of habitable conditions, the military already “is precipitously close to mission failure concerning hydration of the force in a contested arid environment.” The same loss of viability for U.S. military operations will appear in those lands within U.S. borders which get too hot for millions of people to live.

As a 2017 Pentagon report on the collapse of U.S. power concluded, the military’s plans for mass surveillance, extreme censorship, psychological warfare via propaganda, internal occupations, and Israeli-style warfare operations are how U.S. power can be “adapted” so that counterrevolution can prevail within U.S. borders:

States and traditional political authority structures are under increasing pressure from endogenous and exogenous forces… The fracturing of the post-Cold War global system is accompanied by the in­ternal fraying in the political, social, and economic fabric of practically all states…The United States and its population are increasingly exposed to substantial harm and an erosion of security from individuals and small groups of motivated actors, leveraging the conflu­ence of hyperconnectivity, fear, and increased vulner­ability to sow disorder and uncertainty…while the favorable U.S.-dominated status quo is under significant internal and external pressure, adapted American power can help to forestall or even reverse outright failure in the most critical regions

The intensifications of CIA propaganda directed at those within U.S. borders we’ve seen during the last decade, where a previous ban on domestic governmental psychological operations has been lifted and we’ve been consequently inundated with fabricated reports about a “Uyghur genocide” in Xinjiang, are part of this internal power consolidation. These efforts to paint socialist China as genocidal and tyrannical, where colonialism’s evils are projected onto colonialism’s greatest challengers, serve to dissuade the masses from gaining class consciousness and therefore be more demobilized when the military moves in to try to clinch territorial control. This reflects the Pentagon report’s conclusion that “the U.S. homeland, individual American citizens, and U.S. public opinion and perceptions will increasingly become battlefields.”

Will these measures work? While the deeply reactionary culture within the military (which is even more pronounced within law enforcement) will make armed forces defections to the revolutionary side amid this chaos rare, and while much of the U.S. population will never stop believing the CIA’s counterrevolutionary propaganda, there will be many variables which further weaken the fighting forces of the bourgeoisie and give the revolutionaries openings.

Breakdowns will emerge within the cohesion and coordination of the country’s armed forces, leading to factionalism and infighting among the counterrevolutionaries along the lines of the MAGA Capitol Hill storming that many soldiers and police recently participated in. In this destabilized environment, the right-wing radicals within these institutions will be able to operate without the accountability that the Capitol Hill terrorists have received, ruining the ability of the counterrevolutionaries to act with unity. Simply due to a need to take care of their families and personal wellbeing amid the chaos, many police and soldiers will lose the will incentive to fight the rebels and will abandon their posts (if those posts still even exist where they live). And those who do keep fighting will gravitate to militias whose fighting abilities may be similarly dubious to those of India’s backup paramilitaries.

In such a chaotic environment, which we know is coming (“when I say starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war, I mean in your own life,” the climate scholar Jem Bendell has written to Americans), the bourgeoisie’s best option will be to lean into paramilitarism like they have in Colombia. If Israel — or a military remnant of Israel — still exists by then, a desperate U.S. ruling class will no doubt try to make these paramilitary forces more formidable by bringing Israeli training to the militia members, like how the Israelis have trained Colombia’s death squads. Preparations for this Zionist-coordinated terror campaign are already being made, as evidenced by how Israel has been training U.S. police in recent years. Those same police will be the ones who join the American death squads of these next few decades.

But if conditions have already gotten dire enough within the core of the empire that these tactics from the neo-colonies need to be fully brought into U.S. borders, how likely will it be that the counterrevolutionaries then prevail? The foundations of their imperialist order will have fallen out, and they’ll be fighting against a Marxist-Leninist force which offers the masses hope amid the darkness that’s been brought to this land by colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism.

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