Climate Change

No, The New Republic, it’s not this generation’s Vietnam War.

12 thoughts on “Climate Change”

  1. I accept, Rand, that you specifically called out The New Republic, but Nick Gillespie does make a fine point that it is. Thank you for including both sides.

  2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned last October that humanity has roughly twelve years left to prevent a rise in world temperatures that would make civilization unsustainable in its current form by the century’s end.

    That’s a pretty irresponsible way to describe the warning.

    The ruling gerontocracy won’t make it easy for younger Americans to translate their political energy into policy.

    Yet another bit. Another factor here about old people is that they tend to be less gullible than the young, at least before dementia.

  3. Average temperatures of US cities

    They’ve averaged so many averages that it’s kind of confusing, but
    the yearly average of monthly high temperatures ranges from 13 C (55 F) in Minneapolis to 31 C (87F) in Phoenix. That’s a difference of 18 C (32 F). The yearly average of monthly low temperatures ranges from 2 C (35 F) in Denver to 21 C (70 F) in Miami, a difference of 19 C (34 F).

    Since Phoenix is outgrowing Minneapolis, even our high end doesn’t seem to be at the optimum warmth yet. In any event, our civilization seems to be thriving across a span of 18 C to 19 C. If the data included Canada and Mexico that span would be much larger. They’re trying to tell us that a shift of 2 C will bring about collapse. That warning is somewhere beyond delusional and edging toward deranged.

  4. He also gets the Vietnam War wrong.

    It was entirely winnable, but war aside, it didn’t even need to come about because there should have been no such country.

    The area had never been under uniform control until the French sailed over and conquered those parts of South East Asia that sea supported European troops could take. Then they drew administrative lines on a map for their own convenience, and everybody else started using those as names for the different, previously non-unified and still non-homogeneous areas, often areas controlled by a large number of different groups who were in conflict with each other.

    Warlords in North Vietnam, with and without the support of the Chinese, had been trying to invade South Vietnam for about a thousand years. Areas of South Vietnam were usually, but not always, part of a Khmer empire. In parts of the southern delta region the people spoke Cambodian (Khmer). The people in the highlands of Vietnam not only didn’t speak Vietnamese, their languages aren’t even in the same language family as Vietnamese. Laos was likewise a bunch of warring kingdoms made up of different ethnic groups until the whole region became part of French Indochina, as did Cambodia.

    The French could just as easily have treated Laos and North Vietnam as one country and Cambodia and South Vietnam as another. The “Vietnamese” in the north bought into the French misconception and decide the part of the region the French called “Vietnam” should stay unified, and when that didn’t initially work out they devoted themselves to re-unifying a stretch that had never been unified until the French had shown up and just crushed all the old boundaries.

    detailed SE Asia language map

    Our first mistake was buying in to the French map, which perhaps originally came from noting which stretches looked about the same to a crew on a frigate. One thing to note from the language map is that if there was a unified Vietnam, it didn’t extend far past the beach. It’s like a bunch of fishermen just spread along the coast, with almost no connection to the natives living ten to forty miles inland, and those natives were a wildly diverse bunch of people.

    So from the start, our buying into the map both lent credence to the North’s desire to conquer the South and kept us thinking that we were supporting one side in a civil war instead, as opposed to preventing an invasion by an expansionist power.

    Then our officials used a trowel and a bucket of stupid to handle the conflict.

    In that regard, it probably was a lot like global warming.

    1. No. It was never winnable.

      You just need to look at the terrain and the neighboring countries to see that.

      1. It was easily winnable while inflicting far fewer casualties to either side.

        In On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War, which has been required reading at the Army’s Command and General Staff College almost since it was published, Col. Summers notes that a simple approach would have been a well-defined DMZ with a couple Marine battalions off the coast, sending the message that we’ll take Haiphong and roll into Hanoi if the North sent troops south. Conflict over.

        In A Better War Lewis Sorely looks at the vast transformation when Creighton Abrams took over from Westmoreland. It should almost be considered two different wars because about the only thing they had in common was the location. One of the interesting things Abrams did was arm the South Vietnamese militia forces with modern weapons, as they were by far the most numerous combatants. After he did that, the whole Vietcong problem went away because they no longer outgunned the locals. If we’d have done that in 1960 instead of 1970, we probably wouldn’t have had to even deploy US infantry.

        His conclusion was that we’d already pretty much won the war, and the generals were correct when they said that with continued US air support and two to three more years of training for the South’s generals and staff, the North would’ve been unable to win. But due to political pressure we left and put South Vietnam under an arms embargo. Years after that, it got invaded by a conventional Soviet style armored force and it fell.

        The North’s window of opportunity would have closed if not for that, because South Vietnam would have become an Asian tiger with a dynamic economy, much like Taiwan or Japan, while the North would’ve stayed on par with North Korea. For example, many years later the government was forced to provide vitamin supplements to Vietnamese children because they were so short from malnutrition that Vietnam was getting crushed in soccer by neighboring countries in Southeast Asia.

        The basic failure of the US leadership was that they ruled out any invasion of North Vietnam, and North Vietnam would not accept a stalemate. When you rule out a win or a tie, defeat is the only outcome left.

        1. I don’t think that is very realistic. An invasion of the North would have almost certainly triggered a Chinese response, just as it did with NK. Heck even after the war was “over” (for us) China invaded NV anyway just to send a message to Hanoi about overstepping its bounds. You can argue a NV/SV stalemate vis-a-vis Korea might have been a likely outcome. A better one perhaps than a loss. We’d certainly be forced to decide quickly whether to bomb Chinese forces. An escalation like that late in the war (post Tet) would have led to more riots here at home and would have been untenable. The invasion of the North would have to have been done very early in the war to have been “successful” at a stalemate. Also note Nixon’s opening to China was made possible by US shifting its strategic stance to inhibit Russia from nuking China first, back in what, about 69? Had we already effectively been at war with China, hm, well it would have been a very different world.

          1. The Chinese never said anything to indicate they’d come to the North’s defense, nor was there anything to indicate they would. The notion that they would was cooked up in Washington DC, and the US leadership let that fear rule out the idea of trying to win. That is letting conjured fears, ones that don’t even have empty threats in support, dictate policy. People who do that generally lose.

            Vietnam was supported by the Russians, who were at bitter odds with China. The Chinese tried to invade Vietnam after we left, and the North Vietnamese stopped them not far from the border. After a few months the Chinese withdrew saying that it showed that the Soviet Union couldn’t defend Vietnam.

            Nixon famously went to China in 1972, years before the South fell, to take advantage of their split from Vietnam’s backer, the Soviet Union. China probably would’ve taken a US invasion as a much-deserved black eye for the Soviets, as a way to tilt the balance of communism toward them.

          2. Or we could have allied with Ho Chi Minh after WWII. Or at least stayed hands off. I’ve never figured out why the US should have given a plug nickel to prop up a failing French colonial empire. The communist thing happened after we rebuffed Ho and he turned to the Soviets. Once he had a cadre of hard core red generals under him he could not have turned that ship around and we were stuck in a cold war that turned hot with dominoes that didn’t really fall.

            Well now in century 21 a united Vietnam with an almost Chinese style communist state welcomes US investment, trade and good relations. A war of total insanity.

      2. You have to go where the enemy is in order to defeat them. We never would have saved Europe in WWII if we only fought in France.

  5. Meh. Not to worry. Look on the bright side. By the time socialism has driven the means of production out of the hands of the proletariat, a warming climate will be most welcome among the homeless and starving.

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