Director The Asia Institute
Introductory remarks to Daniel Garrett (senior associate, the Asia Institute) talk
“APOCALYPSE YESTERDAY: THE CLIMATE CRISIS AS THE ULTIMATE BOON FOR INNOVATION”
February 27, 2017
This seminar is perhaps the most important one that we have held yet at the Asia Institute and it is led by Daniel Garrett, one of the most creative, most energetic and bravest figures in American diplomacy. A man who has fought for truth, justice and the long-term interests of the United States, of Korea and frankly of all the nations of the world for many years. Daniel has been with Asia Institute for many years now and is consistently one of our most loyal and thoughtful members.
Daniel’s talk today, “Apocalypse Yesterday: The climate crisis as the ultimate boon for innovation” is a historic one in every respect. He was after all the lone diplomat in the State Department who sent out a general memo identifying climate change as the primary threat facing the United States and proposing concrete steps to respond. That act did not endear him with many of the powerful in the state department, but it was the truth and it won him respect in some very important places. He has stood up again and again for how to face the real long-term challenges.
Daniel contacted me concerning the article on climate change and security that I published in Truth Out back on March 7, 2013 (four years ago). That article, “On Climate, Defense Could Preserve and Protect, Rather Than Kill and Destroy” I proposed that the largest part of the defense spending of the United States must be committed to the adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change. I put forward a systematic plan for how that goal might be achieved. Daniel wrote to me to offer his full support, and has been with us ever since.
By the way, the head of the Pacific Command at the time, Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, visited Harvard just two days after my article came out and there met with a variety of scholars to discuss the threat of climate change. Admiral Locklear bravely identified climate change as the overwhelming threat to humanity at that time, something for which he was roundly criticized internally as well. It was the truth then, it is the truth now and no matter what dangerous and ruthless people occupy high offices, it will continue to be the truth.
There are a lot of think tanks out there in Washington D.C. or in Seoul that soak up millions of dollars and use it to promote any number of weapon systems to respond to threats that are extremely unlikely. Yet these overpaid security experts who have made fortunes catering to the needs of manufacturers who ply their outdated weapons for yesterday’s conflicts, they do not say a word about the greatest threat that humanity faces: climate change. That is right: thousands of pages about North Korean missiles but nary a word about the disaster that is killing the ocean, raising the sea levels and turning Asia into a desert.
Personally, I find such irresponsible behavior on the part of those people at those top ranked think tanks to be so offensive as to be grounds to demand that they all step down immediately. I have had it with their hypocrisy. I don’t give a damn how highly ranked their “think tanks” are. We are drawing a line in the sand.
We do not use the term “Apocalypse Yesterday” lightly. The crisis has already started yesterday. It is already an apocalypse and has been for some time. Yet stupidly, criminally, we have not even started to formulate a response.
When we start to respond, we will quickly find that there is no budget left for fancy fighter planes, or missile defense, or a lot of the other toys that these clowns who make claims about “security” like to pawn off on us. It is time for intellectuals, for professors, lawyers, politicians, military officers and journalists to stop playing stupid and make the commitment to responding to real threats. There may still be a bit we can salvage.
How much money we make from the “security” racket, how much glory we enjoy hanging out with those big players, means nothing. Success is being able to stand before God and say that you did your best.
Let us please welcome Daniel Garrett.