Since 9/11 it has been hard to pin down a singular, compelling narrative that has defined Western military interventions, in part due to the lack of overarching strategy that established their objectives. An inconclusive decade of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan has left the electorates of Western countries wary of further interventions built on tenuous or conflicting strategic goals.
As world leaders gather in Paris this week to address climate change, they will labor under the shadow of recent attacks by Islamic State. Yet as they think about climate issues, they should remember that the connection between climate change and Islamic State – and more broadly, between climate change and political instability – is not just a coincidence. It may instead be the key reality of the 21st century.
Whether or not we want to acknowledge it, the facts are definitive. We were party to the creation of the power vacuum that enabled militant groups in the Middle East to come to power, and that have displaced millions in the years since the start of the Syrian civil war. Thus, it is our responsibility to seek a just and sustainable resolution to the refugee crisis.