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Edward Flattau

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The New Isolationists

Posted: 01/05/12 10:15 AM ET

Virtually all the world's nations participated in the crisis sessions of the recent global warming conference in Durban, South Africa to a daily drumbeat of incriminating evidence.

Yet Senator James Inhofe, (R-OK), didn't seem impressed by the internationally shared concern or the reasons for it. One of the most outspoken skeptics of global warming, he ridiculed the purpose of the conference and warned that taking remedial action against a "phony" climate threat would cripple our economy.

Turn back the clock to the days immediately preceding World War II when German and Japanese armies threatened to spread totalitarianism across the globe. Uber isolationist Charles Lindbergh, the famed aviator, was warning that if we were drawn into a shooting war with the Axis powers, a still depression-shaky American economy would buckle under crushing debt.

This was not the only parallel between the isolationist arguments of the 1930s anti-interventionists (WWII) and modern day American global warming (GW) deniers. There are a number of other striking similarities and one potentially profound difference.

First, the similarities:

VALIDITY OF THREAT

  • GW -- Consider the climatic phenomenon a non-threat if it exists at all.

  • WWII -- Dismissed German militarism as a direct threat to the United States, expressing confidence that hostilities would be confined to Europe. Some prominent Americans, such as the actress Lillian Gish, argued that the Germans' ruthless reputation was greatly exaggerated.

FUTILITY

  • GW -- If there is any global warming, it is a natural fluctuation and there is nothing we can or should do about it.

  • WWII -- German aggression is typical of the internal conflicts endemic to Europe so it's pointless to intervene in what will always be. Anyway, the threat is exaggerated, and we are not equipped to take on the powerful German military machine.

POSITIVE FALLBACK

  • GW - If global warming actually exists, it will be beneficial by creating milder climes conducive to agriculture.

  • WWII- Maybe the German Army is ruthless, but it will do more good than harm by protecting the world against aggression from Stalin's Soviet Communist forces.

CAMPAIGN FINANCING

  • GW -- The campaigns of congressional global warming deniers are lavishly funded by industrial interests which oppose the added expense of complying with more stringent regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

  • WWII -- The German government donated substantial sums to the election campaigns of isolationist lawmakers in the prewar years.

POLITICAL PLOYS

  • GW -- Addressing global warming is simply a scheme by environmental extremists and the Democratic Party to expand federal governmental power, and by some scientists to assure continued research funding.

  • WWII -- Jews, the British, and the Roosevelt Administration are manipulating entry into the war to further their own personal agendas, and are being abetted by Wall Street seeking to benefit from wartime profiteering.

POVERTY

  • GW -- Imposing strict regulatory constraints on industrial greenhouse gas emissions would only inflate the cost of energy use, with the poor most severely impacted.

  • WWII -- Involvement in a war with the Axis powers would divert resources away from domestic needs and deliver a severe economic blow to low income Americans, [The irony is that the need for armaments in World War II stimulated our economy and there is every reason to believe that over the long term, climate change remediation would do the same.]


MEDIA

  • GW -- The global warming threat is the creation of a sensational-seeking press.

  • WWII -- Some media are pushing intervention against the Axis for their own self-interest. [Conversely, there were publications promoting the anti-interventionists' cause in the 1930s and we have media today supporting the global warming deniers; say hello to Fox News.]

FATAL ELECTION

  • GW -- Reelecting President Obama with his "green" policies will devastate the nation's economy
.
  • WWII -- Reelecting President Roosevelt will devastate the nation's economy.

DISCREDIT

  • GW -- The snippy emails of climate change scientists constitute a scandal that discredits their findings.

  • WWII -- Denounces England as an undemocratic monarchy to take some of the onus off Hitler and the need to join the fray.

Both GW and WWII isolationists can point to successful delay of actions pivotal to the course of history. In WWII's case, the procrastination cost the United States heavily in blood and treasure, but we eventually prevailed.

As for GW, their obstruction of decisive federal climate change mitigation is ongoing with it unclear whether their machinations can be surmounted prior to the point of no return.

 
 
 

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