Obama shows backbone in the ‘lithium war’, will he show it in the carbon war?

petraeusTP reports, “Speaking from the White House Rose Garden this afternoon, President Obama announced that he has accepted Gen. Stanley McChrystal resignation as head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, following the four-star general’s unprofessional remarks in a Rolling Stone interview.”

Okay, this decision is only indirectly connected to clean energy, although the Pentagon very much wants us to understand that Afghanistan is “the Saudi Arabia of lithium,” an element that will be crucial to electrifying the transportation system in this country and the world (see “Plug-in hybrids and electric cars “” a core climate solution“).

But if it signals that the Obama is going to assert himself more as President this summer, than this could be a leading indicator that he is finally prepared to put some muscle behind comprehensive energy and climate legislation.

You be the judge:

Obama said McChrystal’s remarks did not “meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general” and eroded trust among his national security team. McChrystal had reportedly acknowledged, “I’ve compromised the mission.”Obama emphasized that McChrystal had served “faithfully,” that he was “grateful” for his service, and that the replacement is not a “personal insult.” In McChrystal’s place, Obama has nominated CentCom Commander David Petraeus, the general who oversaw the Iraq surge, to take charge of the upcoming Afghanistan surge. “I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division,” Obama said. “It is a change in personnel, but it is not a change in policy,” he added, noting that Petraeus helped “design the policy that we have in place.”

Conservatives are likely to cheer Obama’s decision. Yesterday, The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol advised Obama to “ask Gen. David Petraeus to give up his CENTCOM post and take command of the war in Afghanistan.”

Watch video of Obama’s remarks:

Speaking on MSNBC, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) called it a “historically-significant moment in the Obama presidency,” heralding Obama for a “decisive show of presidential leadership.” “This was a Commander-in-Chief,” Lieberman declared. “He found the best person to replace McChrystal.”

The National Review‘s Rich Lowry calls Obama’s decision a “home run.” “I’m not sure how Obama could have handled this any better,” Lowry writes, adding, “In short, Obama has made the most of a rotten situation.”
If some sort of a climate bill passes this year, then it may well be a historically significant moment.  If not, then not.

19 Responses to Obama shows backbone in the ‘lithium war’, will he show it in the carbon war?

  1. Brewster says:

    Based on what I have seen of the Republican’s actions since Obama came to power, I’m sure they’ll find some reason to dump on this action as well.

  2. prokaryote says:

    The US should jump start mass scale biochar production in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

  3. mike roddy says:

    Nice try at humor, “Flanning”, but this is not something you trolls are good at.

    The war hawks are all praising Obama over this decision, but both Patreus and McChrystal touted themselves as anti insurgency geniuses. The quality of their strategy is shown by the meaningless disaster that has become our little war in Afghanistan. They fight to a draw against ragtag troops in Marja and call it a victory, while the Taliban continues to gain strength everywhere else.

    A better decision would be to get the hell out of there, and soon. As for access to lithium, remember what happened in Iraq? The Chinese came in and got the oil contracts, just as they will get the lithium in Afghanistan. Karzai’s successors won’t look kindly on doing business with Americans.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    The phrase “Saudi Arabia of lithium” is misleading, since lithium is not a source of energy like fossil fuels, but merely a component in batteries which can be recycled indefinitely.

    [JR: Well, notwithstanding the fact that nobody should really want to be the Saudi Arabia of anything, the phrase is merely meant to refer to a vast supply, rather than a vast supply of a primary energy resource, I think.]

  5. Raul says:

    There is mention that natural resourses
    have again raised interest there.
    Aluminum rings a bell again.

  6. prokaryote says:

    All the lithium, all the gold and money in this world is pretty useless if we approach catastrophic climate changes.

  7. Raul says:

    going the wrong way with nature is still
    the wrong way though.
    Some have pointed about the dangers
    of another flourine based coolant chem.
    That is used to Super cool aluminum sheet
    metal. Chem. Is said to be a super GHG
    and as such it goes high into the sky and tends
    to stay there.

  8. catman306 says:

    All that lithium would have been much cheaper if we would have just bought it. Our foreign policy is designed so that in the end only the right people make money on the extraction of some mineral somewhere.

  9. Raul says:

    True they are nice enough with the
    trick effect.
    But the talk was that they didn’t
    have a clue about how to deny
    the weather if the ladys makeup
    was going to plain melt in those
    drips down her face as she maid
    her way to be the good servant.

  10. lizardo says:

    I confess that I first read a number of articles about the article, because I couldn’t find the actual article, and my initial reaction re McChrystal was that the reported behavior was unprofessional and unbecoming (etc.) I did finally read the whole thing today and find myself thinking that SMcC was probably the wrong person in a basically hopeless job. (Petraeus on the other hand seems to keep coming out of manure smelling like a rose.) SMcC should have stayed (too late now I guess) as a covert ops chief because he seems to well suited to that.

    He didn’t seem that popular on the ground either.

    Meanwhile NC’s Senate Dem primary runoff result last night means that we have an alternative to Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) for November who wants us to get out of Afghanistan, period. (Elaine Marshall)

    PBS Frontline on the health care bill (“Obama’s Deal”) which aired here last night was I thought quite good. Fire Rahm Emmanuel while you are in a firing mood, Mr. President.

  11. Peter Mizla says:

    Obama like all these politicians seem in a funk. Oblivious to the dangers we face- If he does nothing- and he leaves office in 2016- the next President will face a far smaller window to curb CO2.

  12. Chris Dudley says:

    I think ‘BHO’ works a little better than ‘The Obama.’ He does not really seem as ridiculous as the Donald but he does seem to have some qualities of other initials presidents, LBJ, JFK, and FDR.

  13. lizardo says:

    Not surprising I guess but it was reported early this am that White House cancelled the meeting that had been scheduled for today with Senators on the energy/climate/whatever bill(s). Supposedly going to happen early next week.

    From NYT: “Senate Democrats have signaled that they need presidential leadership before they can move forward in a compressed legislative schedule. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said yesterday that his strategy for passing legislation will depend heavily on how much political capital Obama is willing to invest in the effort (E&ENews PM, June 22).”….

    “Senators who were expected to attend the meeting today were Democrats Reid, John Kerry of Massachusetts, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Barbara Boxer of California, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Maria Cantwell of Washington, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Tom Carper of Delware. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) was also invited.

    ““Republicans who were invited include Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Richard Lugar of Indiana.”
    The Hill reports that Senator Lugar is dead set against a utility only bill because “No, I said no cap and trade.” And of course he too has a bill.

    How come these big egos couldn’t have come up with all the bills they were going to a blankety blank year ago (leaving aside a decade ago, two decades ago…)?

    It’s hard to see how any President can provide leadership as far as a bill goes when it’s so clear that too many Senators have staked out positions to the point where no tent can cover them, legislatively speaking. In other words, what’s he going to lead on? If the Senate is going to end up passing a really bad bill then why should he associate with it? The GOP will attack him for it, but people who understand what needs to be done will be disgusted. There’s no point in their being disgusted with him if it’s the fault of specific Senators, no matter how numerous.

    If he’d been spending the last year educating the public about why we need Congressional action, and, for example, what the final Waxman Markey bill would and wouldn’t do, then Senators might be hearing a different story, but given the diabolical GOP strategy (tea parties/“Obamacare”) that consumed all last summer and is still gushing like that damn well, it’s hard to see how.

    And the BP gulf disaster hurts as much as it helps in that while it may focus minds on one aspect of our energy hoggery, peak oil, and a lot else, for both the President/White House and the Senate, it’s consuming an awful lot of time and attention.

  14. Rick Covert says:

    I saw this on The Daily Show last week and it still resonates, “”Of all these 8 men of incalculable power, who tried and failed to get us of of oil, one stands head and shoulders above the others as far as doing something about the environment. I’ll give you a hint. What has four fingers and resigned in disgrace?” ROFL!

  15. Leland Palmer says:

    Oh, I doubt our presence in Afghanistan has much to do with lithium. If they have lithium, I’m sure that they will sell it to us, unless we totally alienate them with Hellfire missile strikes from unmanned drone aircraft.

    I think that lithium is a pretty minor component of lithium ion batteries, anyway.

    Our presence in Afghanistan probably has something to do with keeping the Golden Crescent opium poppy fields in production. The Taliban had them shut down just before the U.S. invasion, and they were soon back up to full production after the U.S. and our vassal warlords took over. Restoring the flow of Afghan drug profits keeps the major international banks that launder the drug money happy, too.

    It’s probably also about Central Asian oil, and geopolitical encirclement of Iran. It appears to be part of a grand strategy to capture or encircle the major oil producing countries in the region.

  16. catman306 says:

    McChrystal was against the use of drones in Afghanistan. Maybe he was set-up so he could be replaced with someone who wasn’t against using these drone aircraft.

  17. Michael Tucker says:

    Total red herring! Afghanistan is not about resources. Even if the country was politically stable enough they have no seaport. We would transport refined metal by air? Even if that were economically possible that means refineries need to be built but Afghanistan does not even have the most basic infrastructure. No roads, no electricity, no running water, no waste disposal, no waste water treatment, NOTHING!

    It was never about resources and they are no closer to a stable government then they were in 2001. We need to remove ourselves from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

  18. Leland Palmer says:

    Hmmm…the accuracy of the story itself seems to be questionable:

    A Pentagon spokesman admitted that the estimate was based principally on old data, which was gathered mainly by the Soviets during their occupation of Afghanistan from 1979-1989.

    The British Geological Survey collated that data between 2003 and 2008, and the US Geological Survey carried out an aerial survey of Afghanistan in 2006 before publishing a report on its mineral resources in 2008.

    “All the public information has been in the public domain for several years now,” the Pentagon spokesman told The Times. “We took a look at what we knew to be there, and asked what would it be worth now in terms of today’s dollars. The trillion dollar figure seemed to be newsworthy.” He said that the estimate was arrived at by a team of US officials from the Pentagon, the State Department and USAID working with experts from the US Geological Survey (USGS) over the past two to three years.

    The team was overseen by Paul Brinkley, Deputy Under-Secretary of Defence for Business, who worked previously in Iraq trying to promote local business and attract foreign investment.

    The Pentagon spokesman said he was certain that the estimate was based on proven reserves of minerals including gold, copper, iron, cobalt and lithium.

    However, he could not confirm a report that the team had discovered lithium deposits in the province of Ghazni that could be as large as Bolivia’s.

    Stephen Peters, the head of the USGS’s Afghanistan Minerals Project, said that he was unaware of USGS involvement in any new surveying for minerals in Afghanistan in the past two years. “We are not aware of any discoveries of lithium,” he said.

    Another experienced geologist working in Afghanistan said that it would take at least three to five years to establish a proven deposit of lithium.

    “They couldn’t have done a proper assessment. They might have taken a few samples and found some lithium, but that doesn’t mean anything,” he said.

    He also dismissed a report that the US team had found proven deposits of niobium — another rare metal that is used in wind turbines.

    “If these were proven reserves then all the big mining companies would be rushing in, which they are not,” he said.

  19. Leland Palmer says:

    McChrystal apparently favored very restrictive rules of engagement, which undoubtedly saves many innocent civilian lives every year. Apparently, his troops were upset about how restrictive his rules of engagement are.

    If the troops are upset about the restrictive rules of engagement, it seems likely that they are working, and are protecting innocent civilian lives.

    The Rolling Stone interview was likely embarrassing for the Obama administration. But firing McCrystal has generated interest in the interview, and has drawn much more attention to it than it would have gathered without the firing.