Gen. Bob Scales: Memo to President Obama: War is not caused by hot air

In addition to being a retired general I earned a Ph.D. from Duke University in Military History. I’ve written seven books and over 300 scholarly articles on the subject of human conflict.

I’ve taught strategy in four different military schools and commanded the army war college, our school for generals.

So I know a bit about the history of warfare. And I know from years of study that there is absolutely no connection between war and climate change. But the Obama administration disagrees.

The White House is always quick to line up legions of climate scientists all over the world to prove that climate change is real. The arguments are over. The science is fixed, finished and incontestable. Scientists who disagree that the world is warming are either fools or Republicans.

Never in the written history of warfare, from Megiddo in 1,500 B.C. to the Syrian Civil war today, is there any evidence that wars are caused by warmer air.

At the Climate Change Summit in Paris President Obama carried the war against climate change forward by claiming that rising global temperatures cause wars. While scientists agree on the dangers of global warming I have yet to find any respected social scientist that makes a causal connection between air temperature and war.

So where does the Obama administration get their facts about climate change and war?

First, they contend that a warming planet causes drought, which leads to mass migration away from areas of creeping desertification.

To be sure rising temperatures combined with overgrazing in places like central Africa have caused displacement of peoples. But the misery of these peoples leads to, well, misery, not war. Tribes striving to exist have little energy left over to declare war against a neighbor.

Central Africa is in the grip of often horrific conflicts started by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia. But these terrorists are motivated by “the usual suspects” like religious hatred, centuries long tribal animosities, and political greed.

One source for connecting war to temperature comes from the political closeness between environmentalists and the anti-war movement. Their logic goes like this: “global warming is bad. Wars are bad. Therefore they must be connected.”

Remember, prior to the 1991 Gulf War, environmental wackos warned of a decade of global cooling that would come from burning Kuwaiti oil fields.

Of course, this didn’t happen. More recently environmental radicals argued against bombing ISIS oil trucks fearing the environmental consequences.

Again, ridiculous.

In fact, environmental activism aside, the three thousand-year historical record of human conflict argues conclusively against any causal relationship between war and temperature.

Let me be more specific. Never in the written history of warfare, from Megiddo in 1,500 B.C. to the Syrian Civil war today, is there any evidence that wars are caused by warmer air.

I really don’t care about the admiration’s silliness over the connection between war and climate change.

It’s for sure the American people don’t care.

My real concern is that the administration might translate this silliness into a deflection of resources away from fighting a war against ISIS to a contrived war against global warming.

That would cause real harm to our soldiers who are trying to win a real war.

Tuesday we started to see the beginnings of a more sober, fact based view of our wartime challenges when General Joe Dunford, the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, testified before Congress. In contrast to his boss, he confirmed that ISIS, not climate change, is our greatest enemy and that ISIS is in fact not on the run.

Perhaps now that a realist (and a proven combat Marine) is providing advice to the president we might amplify our campaign plan to kill the ISIS leadership rather than lower the global temperature.