On a Pacific Island, Russia Tests Its Battle Plan on Climate Change – The New York Times

“SAKHALIN ISLAND, Russia — Sixteen wind turbines are slated to go up amid the winding coast and wooded hills of this Russian island in the Pacific, creating a wind park bigger than any that currently exists in the vast reaches of the country’s Far East.

The clean energy generated by the new wind park will go toward mining more coal.

Russia is scrambling to retain the wealth and power that come from selling fossil fuels to the world, even as the Kremlin increasingly acknowledges climate change to be a human-made crisis that the country needs to do more to address.

Last week, President Vladimir V. Putin said Russia would stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere by 2060. It was a remarkable reversal since Mr. Putin has long dismissed climate science and many in his country see international efforts to combat global warming as part of a Western plot to weaken Russia. His announcement comes two weeks before world leaders are set to converge in Glasgow for a pivotal U.N. climate summit.

But it’s unclear if Russia is sincere in its new pledge. Russian energy experts and government officials acknowledge the moves are largely driven by economics, with the European Union’s plans for tariffs on heavily polluting countries threatening exports from Russia, the fourth biggest among nations in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Some elements of Russia’s plans have prompted skepticism, including a heavy reliance on forests as a tool to absorb carbon dioxide.”

 

Leader of Prestigious Yale Program Resigns, Citing Donor Pressure – The New York Times

The Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy is one of Yale University’s most celebrated and prestigious programs. Over the course of a year, it allows a select group of about two dozen students to immerse themselves in classic texts of history and statecraft, while also rubbing shoulders with guest instructors drawn from the worlds of government, politics, military affairs and the media.

But now, a program created to train future leaders how to steer through the turbulent waters of history is facing a crisis of its own.

Beverly Gage, a historian of 20th-century politics who has led the program since 2017, has resigned, saying the university failed to stand up for academic freedom amid inappropriate efforts by its donors to influence its curriculum and faculty hiring.

Sylvie Kauffmann | Why France Is Angry About the U.S.’s Submarine Deal – The New York Times

Ms. Kauffmann, the editorial director of Le Monde, writes extensively about European and international politics.

“PARIS — Make no mistake. This is a crisis, not a spat.

The new partnership announced last week between the United States, Britain and Australia, in which Australia would be endowed with nuclear-powered submarines, has left the French angry and in shock. And not just because of the loss of their own deal, signed in 2016, to provide Australia with submarines.

French officials say they have been stonewalled and duped by close allies, who negotiated behind their backs. The sense of betrayal is so acute that President Emmanuel Macron has uncharacteristically opted to keep silent on the issue, delegating the expression of a very public rage to his otherwise quiet foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Asked on public television whether President Biden’s behavior was reminiscent of his predecessor’s, Mr. Le Drian replied, “Without the tweets.” “

Vanessa Barbara | After Brazil’s Independence Day, It’s Clear What Bolsonaro Wants – The New York Times

Ms. Barbara is a contributing Opinion writer who focuses on Brazilian politics, culture and everyday life.

“SÃO PAULO, Brazil — For weeks, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has been urging his supporters to take to the streets. So on Sept. 7, Brazil’s Independence Day, I was half expecting to see mobs of armed people in yellow-and-green jerseys, some of them wearing furry hats and horns, storming the Supreme Court building — our very own imitation of the Capitol riot.

Fortunately, that was not what happened. (The crowds eventually went home, and no one tried to sit in the Supreme Court justices’ chairs.) But Brazilians were not spared chaos and consternation.”

Maureen Dowd | Washington Manned Up and Let Us Down After 9/11 – The New York Times

Opinion Columnist

“WASHINGTON — I’m not one of those people who think women make naturally better leaders than men, more collegial and collaborative. I’ve covered enough women in the upper ranks, and worked for and with enough women, to know that it depends on the individual.

Yet when I look back at 9/11 and the torrent of tragic, perverse blunders that followed, I think about men seized by a dangerous strain of hyper-masculinity; fake tough-guy stuff; a caricature of strength — including the premature “Mission Accomplished” scene of George W. Bush strutting on an aircraft carrier in his own version of “Top Gun.”

All of that empty swaggering ended up sapping America and making our country weaker.

Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld wrecked W.’s presidency, with their overweening ideas about big-stick executive power, developed in the Ford administration when they were feeling crimped by post-Watergate restrictions; with their determination to exorcise our post-Vietnam ambivalence about using force; and with their loony plan to establish America as the sole superpower by preemptively striking potential foes. (Cheney, always ready to bomb despite his five deferments during Vietnam.) And of course, there was that most belligerent and shameful act: sanctioning torture.

This unholy pair of consiglieres played into W.’s fear that he would be called a wimp, as his father once was, if he did not go along with the guns-blazing, facts-be-damned case to sideline Afghanistan and invade Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.”

Farah Stockman | The War on Terror Was Corrupt From the Start – The New York Times

Ms. Stockman is a member of the editorial board.

“The war in Afghanistan wasn’t a failure. It was a massive success — for those who made a fortune off it.

Consider the case of Hikmatullah Shadman, who was just a teenager when American Special Forces rolled into Kandahar on the heels of Sept. 11. They hired him as an interpreter, paying him up to $1,500 a month — 20 times the salary of a local police officer, according to a profile of him in The New Yorker. By his late 20s, he owned a trucking company that supplied U.S. military bases, earning him more than $160 million.

If a small fry like Shadman could get so rich off the war on terror, imagine how much Gul Agha Sherzai, a big-time warlord-turned-governor, has raked in since he helped the C.I.A. run the Taliban out of town. His large extended family supplied everything from gravel to furniture to the military base in Kandahar. His brother controlled the airport. Nobody knows how much he is worth, but it is clearly hundreds of millions — enough for him to talk about a $40,000 shopping spree in Germany as if he were spending pocket change.

Look under the hood of the “good war,” and this is what you see. Afghanistan was supposed to be an honorable war to neutralize terrorists and rescue girls from the Taliban. It was supposed to be a war that we woulda coulda shoulda won, had it not been for the distraction of Iraq, and the hopeless corruption of the Afghan government. But let’s get real. Corruption wasn’t a design flaw in the war. It was a design feature. We didn’t topple the Taliban. We paid warlords bags of cash to do it.”

Searching for Bird Life in a Former ‘Ocean of Forest’ – The New York Times

By Jennie Erin SmithPhotographs by Federico RiosAug. 31, 2021, 2:30 a.m. ETLeer en españolFLORENCIA, Colombia — In June 1912, Leo Miller, a collector with the American Museum of Natural History, arrived in the Caquetá region of Colombia, where the eastern foothills of the Andes melt into the forested lowlands of the Amazon basin.Miller was working for Frank Chapman, the celebrated curator of birds at the museum. Chapman suspected that Colombia’s wildly varied topography had given rise to an unusual density of species, and sent collectors like Miller to bring him birds from all corners of the country to study.

In Afghanistan, War and Climate Change Collide – The New York Times

Somini Sengupta has reported on more than 10 conflicts around the world, including in Afghanistan.

“Parts of Afghanistan have warmed twice as much as the global average. Spring rains have declined, most worryingly in some of the country’s most important farmland. Droughts are more frequent in vast swaths of the country, including a punishing dry spell now in the north and west, the second in three years.

Afghanistan embodies a new breed of international crisis, where the hazards of war collide with the hazards of climate change, creating a nightmarish feedback loop that punishes some of the world’s most vulnerable people and destroys their countries’ ability to cope.

And while it would be facile to attribute the conflict in Afghanistan to climate change, the effects of warming act as what military analysts call threat multipliers, amplifying conflicts over water, putting people out of work in a nation whose people largely live off agriculture, while the conflict itself consumes attention and resources.”

Afghanistan: What has the conflict cost the US and its allies? – BBC News

How much money has been spent?

“The vast majority of spending in Afghanistan has come from the US.

Between 2010 to 2012, when the US for a time had more than 100,000 soldiers in the country, the cost of the war grew to almost $100bn a year, according to US government figures.

As the US military shifted its focus away from offensive operations and concentrated more on training up Afghan forces, costs fell sharply.

By 2018 annual expenditure was around $45bn, a senior Pentagon official told the US Congress that year.

According to the US Department of Defense, the total military expenditure in Afghanistan (from October 2001 until September 2019) had reached $778bn.

In addition, the US state department – along with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies – spent $44bn on reconstruction projects.

That brings the total cost – based on official data – to $822bn between 2001 and 2019, but it doesn’t include any spending in Pakistan, which the US uses as a base for Afghan-related operations.

According to a Brown University study in 2019, which has looked at war spending in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US had spent around $978bn (their estimate also includes money allocated for the 2020 fiscal year).”

Source: Afghanistan: What has the conflict cost the US and its allies? – BBC News

Ezra Klein | Let’s Not Pretend That the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem – The New York Times

“. . .  Focusing on the execution of the withdrawal is giving virtually everyone who insisted we could remake Afghanistan the opportunity to obscure their failures by pretending to believe in the possibility of a graceful departure. It’s also obscuring the true alternative to withdrawal: endless occupation. But what our ignominious exit really reflects is the failure of America’s foreign policy establishment at both prediction and policymaking in Afghanistan.

“The pro-war crowd sees this as a mechanism by which they can absolve themselves of an accounting for the last 20 years,” Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, told me. “Just think about the epic size of this policy failure. Twenty years of training. More than $2 trillion worth of expenditure. For almost nothing. It is heartbreaking to watch these images, but it is equally heartbreaking to think about all of the effort, of lives and money we wasted in pursuit of a goal that was illusory.” “