Category Archives: National Security

Security & Climate Change: A West Coast Perspective

I recently had an opportunity to participate in a one-day symposium put on by The Center for Climate and Security, The San Diego Foundation, and the Skoll Global Threats Fund.  The goal of the session was to raise awareness and build a community of practice around climate security issues as they affect the West Coast, with a particular focus on the Asia-Pacific.  This was interesting for me as the Foundation has convened similar gatherings of experts and public officials here in Puget Sound, which shares with San Diego a strong military presence, an awareness of the closeness of Asia, and an enduring commitment to the environment and climate.  The Jackson Foundation has been working to highlight the voices of our nation’s military – which recognizes that its mission is threatened by a climate changed future – in the ongoing discussions at the political level about climate risks regionally and globally.

This forum also featured high-profile military experts such as General Ron Keys (USAF-Ret) , Rear Admiral Yancy B. Lindsey (Commander, Navy Region Southwest), Rear Admiral Leendert Hering Sr. (USN-Ret) and others who spoke to the importance of managing climate change risk for U.S. national security.  “We are mission driven,” in General Keys words.  “The military needs to respond to the known and likely risks we face.”  The climate concerns have a tremendous capacity to impact our nation’s national security, from contributing to sea level rise at U.S. military installations, to threatening food and water security at home and abroad, to displacing populations in harm’s way from extreme climate events.

In a panel that I moderated, we were joined by Congressman Scott Peters, U.S. House of Representatives 52nd Congressional District, who emphasized that he believes that concern for climate is a bipartisan issue and should be one where consensus can be reached for the good of the nation.  He also underlined the impact on his own district of climate issues happening now as well as in the years ahead.  “For San Diego, climate issues are real and are impacting us today.  We can’t afford to be complacent,” Congressman Peters said.  He is working closely with regional leaders, including Kevin Faulconer, the Mayor of San Diego, who opened the forum.

The value of sessions such as these – be they in San Diego, Washington, DC or Seattle – is that they have the power and leverage to inform a broad audience of political leaders, community nonprofits, government agencies and military personnel  on the need to address strategic climate risks at a regional as well as a national level.  They also get at the very real challenges facing the U.S. military at our Pacific-facing military installations and communities up and down the West Coast.

The Jackson Foundation plans to continue these discussions in order to highlight climate and national security ties with an eye to helping shape federal, regional and local responses to climate risk and resilience opportunities in the decade ahead. Senator Jackson was prescient in his time in foreseeing security challenges to the U.S. that encompassed energy and environmental concerns.  This work continues squarely in that vein, in that it represents the best of the Jackson tradition of being in the vanguard on critical environmental and national security policy.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Water: The Front Line of Climate Change

We’ve been busy this fall, with events on both coasts touching on issues from civil liberties, national security and terrorism (with the Kennan Institute); to the global migration crises and human rights, and its impact both in Washington State and internationally (a Jackson School conference); to “Water and Security in an Uncertain World” with the Wilson Center in Washington, DC.

I’ll focus in on one of these provocative sessions today.  In the packed half-day, public and private event on water security on the East Coast in October, the Jackson Foundation joined with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program to address what Foundation President John Hempelmann termed “the close intersection of climate change, national security, and water.”  Sherri Goodman, former Deputy Undersecretary for Defense and a current Wilson Center Public Policy Fellow, concurred and called water “the front line of climate change.”

The two sessions assessed the risks to water security globally and explored responses to both ongoing problems and short-term water crises.  Lieutenant General Jeffrey Tailey (ret) lamented that “many people are indifferent to water security, which often takes a crisis to make us respond adequately.”  When asked how to generate both interest and policy progress to ensure greater action on water security and water rights, Christian Holmes, Global Water Coordinator, U.S. Agency for International Development, talked of generating a long-term strategy:  “You need to tell a story to engage people.  We haven’t been delivering a narrative.”  This approach could also help interest a U.S. President or Congress in taking more decisive action.

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Roger-Mark de Souza, Ken Conca, and Sherri Goodman speaking on Panel I: Risks and Responses

Foundation Vice President Craig Gannett noted in remarks seconded by many that the U.S. has historically – even in Senator Jackson’s day – not done well in water management in its own backyard.  “We are not a great model for the world,” he cautioned, even as this program focused primarily on international water concerns in regions such as South East Asia, Africa and the Middle East – and often on America’s leading role in the water management field abroad.

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Craig Gannett, Foundation Vice President

Ken Conca, American University Professor, raised the need to extend robust human rights protection to people advocating for water rights:  “Water is one of the real fulcrums for multiple goals – rights and democracy,” he stressed.  Sherri Goodman highlighted the reverse side of the importance of water: “Water can be a source of strategic instability,” exacerbating international conflicts and worsening human rights violations globally.

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Klomjit Chandrapanya, Doris Kaberia, and Sandra Ruckstuhl speaking on Panel II: Water Spillovers: Regional and Sectorial Effects

Roger-Mark de Souza, director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at Wilson, in closing the session, sought to pull together the threads of policy suggestions from the discussion.  He reiterated that major national reports, including the September 2016 Presidential Memo on Climate and Security, as well as the World Bank 2016 Climate Change Action plan, had raised to the highest policy levels the links between climate, security and water.  It is through gatherings such as this that water, climate, and national security will continue to be assessed and pushed forward to the front burner of the policy world.

We’re excited that our programming is diverse, and this program on water, climate and security concerns keeps us focused on critical policy issues that matter to the Jackson Foundation.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

 

Sanctions and Russia: Europe and the U.S. Take Stock

“Vladimir Putin is not the man we hoped he would be or we thought he would be.”  David J. Riley, 1st Secretary, foreign and security policy, British Embassy to the U.S., made this remark on a fascinating panel discussion in Seattle about Russian sanctions and the future of the U.S.-EU and Russia relationship convened by the Jackson Foundation, in partnership with the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, in early October.  William Pomeranz, deputy director of the Washington, DC-based Kennan Institute, and Nelson Dong, partner, Dorsey & Whitney, head of its National Security Law Group, also joined the panel.  I moderated the discussion, which veered toward the pessimistic, particularly in light of the very recent Russia move into the Syrian conflict.

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Panelists David Riley and Nelson Dong

There was considerable speculation about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s motives, both in seizing Crimea and moving into Eastern Ukraine, and in the Syrian situation.  “Putin wants to show that Russia is a major international player,” Pomeranz said, and Riley agreed, adding “Putin’s isolation [due to Western sanctions] has hurt him the most.  He wants to remind everyone that he matters.”

Nelson Dong confirmed that in his assessment of the business sector, sanctions have hurt Russia considerably and noted that the policy was deliberately crafted to hit certain areas:  “The sanctions against Russia are unlike those in the past against Cuba and Iran.  The Russian sanctions are extraordinarily targeted.” His conclusion:  “Sanctions, along with reduced oil prices, have resulted in a recession in Russia.”

Will Pomeranz and Panelists
Left to Right:  Lara Iglitzin, Will Pomeranz, David Riley, and Nelson Dong

Will Pomeranz agreed that Russia has suffered internally due to its aggressive foreign policy and tied Putin’s latest moves in Syria to the worsening economic situation in Russia: “With the growing economic recession, there is a need to distract public attention away from that issue.  On television, the government is showing all Syria, all the time” in a deliberate policy to change the conversation.

Pomeranz and Riley, when asked about the possibility of a split between the EU and the U.S. on Russia policy, agreed that, as Pomeranz said, “Putin is the great unifier – he has unified the EU in their actions to undertake sanctions against Russia; he has unified what is left of the Ukraine against him.  Even in the halls of Congress Putin has caused unity!”

There was a clear consensus that Putin had caused the West to rethink its relationship with Russia, moving from a view of Moscow as a strategic partner to that of a “strategic competitor,” in Riley’s words.  The increasing crackdown on civil society in Russia, something that the Jackson Foundation has been closely monitoring in the human rights and NGO sector there, provides the backdrop for the uptick in tensions between the U.S., Europe and Russia moving forward.

This will be one of several events this year that the Jackson Foundation will convene in Seattle relating to heightened concerns about Russia’s behavior at home and abroad.

Lara Iglitzin

Executive Director

 

Inspirational Leadership

In an effort to showcase remarkable and effective leaders in all fields of our society, the Henry M. Jackson Foundation established the Jackson-Van Ness Lectures on Leadership series in 2009.  The latest lecture, featuring Lt. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza, commanding general of I Corps at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State, was inspirational and motivating for the packed crowd at the University of Washington.  The lecture hall was filled with young people in uniform, the midshipmen and women of the University’s ROTC, as well as with other students, members of the community, and representatives from all of the armed forces.

GeneralLanzaJohnedited_047John Hempelmann, Foundation President, introduced the general by explaining that  “the Foundation believes deeply in the power of excellence in leadership.  That is why the Jackson-Van Ness Lectures on Leadership are a special occasion for us, linking and honoring two men who exemplify public service leadership.”  He provided some background on the Jackson-Van Ness series.  “Bill Van Ness was the quintessential staff person for Senator Jackson, embodying quiet integrity, exemplary skills and intellect, and an extraordinary ability to envision and craft policy recommendations that helped Senator Jackson achieve major legislative victories.”

Lt. General Stephen Lanza

General Lanza, who has been described by the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, as “a tested warrior, a proven leader, and an effective, tenacious commander,” is known for his dedication to his corps of soldiers.  Lanza described the challenges facing military leaders: they make decisions involving conflict within a high-velocity environment.  In order to be effective, military leaders must be able to adapt to change and unpredictable situations, such as the recent terror attacks in Paris, or the Ebola epidemic, or Ukraine-Russian fighting.  A true leader will be empowered, engaged and accountable, while anticipating that his or her mission will change in dramatic and unpredictable ways, Lanza emphasized.

General Lanza shared that the military is a valued-based organization.  “I can’t recruit leaders from a head-hunter,” he said.  “We have to build it from within.”  That requires developing trust, character, competence and commitment.  In answering a question regarding the balance between competence and character that Lanza referenced, the general stressed that competence can be taught, but character was essential in ensuring that the men and women of our nation’s military are able to respond effectively in the field as well as at home.

We are pleased to share with you an audio recording of Gen. Lanza’s presentation and we will have a publication printed in the next few months.  In the interim, we would also like to highlight two articles about the event; one, from the University of Washington Daily, and the other, from NorthWestMilitary.com news.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director

Climate Change and International Security: What are the implications for policymakers?

The Jackson Foundation and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) had a closed-door symposium that focused attention on the intersection of national security and climate change and how to better prepare decision-makers to act.  The extraordinary gathering of high caliber individuals representing federal, State and local government – including the U.S. military – as well as businesses, NGOs and academia, convened to highlight the urgency of climate change and its impact on our country’s national security.

Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor, and Mike Kluse, director of PNNL
White House Sr. Advisor, Alice Hill & Mike Kluse, Director of PNNL

Why this topic?  For starters, Senator Jackson was an early voice raising concerns about our nation’s energy resources and national security.  His environmental legacy included a sweeping view of what it meant to manage environmental resources wisely, and he also had vision and perspective that encompassed changing global trends in energy use as well as security needs.  That perspective is lacking today in Washington, DC.  The Foundation and PNNL sought to underscore the interconnectedness of global climate changes and security threats such as reduced water resources, population migration, extreme weather events, political instability due to diminished food resources, and the like.  The U.S. military has this first and foremost on its radar, as was evidenced by the top-level representatives at the symposium.

Rep. Adam Smith and Hon. Norm Dicks
Rep. Adam Smith and Hon. Norm Dicks

The White House has taken a public stand and is trying to light a fire on this issue nationally.  Alice Hill, White House Senior Advisor for Preparedness and Resilience, pressed the point:  “The workshop participants emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change and its impacts on our country’s national security and determined that it is critical to take immediate action.”  The Foundation and PNNL intend to pursue this issue and ensure that it remains front and center before policymakers in Congress as well as state and local governments.

King County Council Chair Larry Phillips
King County Council Chair Larry Phillips

As Congressman Adam Smith said, “We can’t separate this out and say climate change is an energy problem and not a national security problem.”  Larry Phillips, Foundation Board member and Chair of the King County Council, has been a leader in thinking strategically about climate impacts in the greater Seattle region.  He concluded:  “We have a duty to lead on threats from climate change that are making us vulnerable now.”

Craig Gannett, Jackson Foundation Vice President
Craig Gannett, Jackson Foundation Vice Pres., at press briefing

The Jackson Foundation and PNNL sponsored a press and public briefing the day after the symposium on June 5.  Watch the event here.

We are holding a Washington, DC briefing on July 29 at the Woodrow Wilson Center to further highlight the national security threats posed by climate changes today as well as tomorrow.  Look for more information coming on that event soon.

Lara Iglitzin, Executive Director