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Environmental Containment

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorSeptember 10, 2009 8:45 PM


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Who knew (or remembers) that George Kennan, the father of U.S. containment policy, once argued for a world environmental organization? Will Rogers over at Natural Security has a nice retrospective post on Kennan's 1970s clarion call, which appeared in the pages of Foreign Policy. As Rogers summarizes,

Kennan notably advanced the international environmental governance debate by giving weight to the idea that environmental degradation "“ while by and large managed at the national level through legislation and enforcement "“ is not contained within national boundaries. "The entire ecology of the planet is not arranged in national compartments," he wrote. For Kennan, the "crisis of human environment" was a challenge that would have to be met and managed at the international level.

If you are wondering what prompted one of America's seminal defense strategists to sound like a charter member of the environmental movement, remember the context of the time. The first Earth Day was in 1970; EPA was born that same year. Back then, environmentalism was all the rage. Climate advocates today no doubt wish they could recreate that same sense of widespread urgency and passion. Alas, melting ice caps in remote regions of the world do not pack the same punch as fiery rivers in metropolitan areas and oil slicks off the coast of suburban California.

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