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At Tuesday’s Operation Free event, three veterans spoke about the reasons we need to wean ourselves off foreign oil. (Michael Bersin would have covered their remarks at an event in Warrensburg today, but it was canceled because of technical difficulties with the bus.) Each of the men covered a different aspect of the problem.

Matt Victoriano, a former Marine who served two tours in Iraq, focused on how we are funding our own enemies:

And my experiences over there led me to ask a lot of questions–one of which was, “Why is there a tendency for us and our representatives to stand in front of large American flags and proclaim patriotism and our strength in fighting terrorism and shoving boots up the backsides of terrorists, when we knowingly are going out and funding those terrorists, funding the roadside bombs, funding the RPGs and small arms fire.” Um, our way of life right now, our economy, our energy policy is dependent on countries who want us and our way of life dead.

And this is something that our military, all the branches, the CIA, the Department of Defense have all come to recognize. Over half of our energy comes from foreign countries. Last year we spent $66 billion on oil from Saudi Arabia alone. Now Saudi Arabia, our intelligence and military branches recognize, since the 1980s has spent over $70 billion dollars on Wahabi extremists. And Wahabi extremism is the focal point of international terrorism at this point in time. Those Wahabi extremists primarily are the ones over in Iraq and Afghanistan right now setting off the roadside bombs. Every dollar that we put into our gas tanks contributes to those bombs that are going off overseas and killing and injuring our troops.

Again, this is something that the Marine Corps, the Army, the Air Force, the Navy all recognize. They’re not waiting for Congress to sign a bill. They’re not sitting at a table arguing statistics and facts and climate, uh, data. They’ve all come out and said “Our energy policy is a direct threat, and we’re gonna take steps on our own.” This year the Marine Corps purchased a hydrogen fuel cell power plant in Twenty Nine Palms, California, the largest military training site in the world. The Navy has pledged by 2020 to get half of its energy from renewable energy sources; the Air Force, 25 percent of its energy by 2025. The Army has created the Army Energy Security Implementation Strategy. These are all significant steps that they’re all taking.

You know, I was a Marine, and I’m in the National Guard right now. I listen to my chain of command when they say there’s a problem. And they’re saying right now that our energy policy is a problem. And we all need to take steps to change it, because it’s not somebody that we don’t know that’s going to be affected by this. It’s people like myself and our friends and families, that are going to be overseas fighting, for reasons that we don’t need to be.

Odd, isn’t it, how the military, which is considered a conservative organization, is miles ahead of Congress in recognizing the national security implications of our dependence of foreign oil. Political conservatives, on the other hand, aren’t just ignoring these problems. They’re denying them. The difference between them and the military conservatives is that the military brass has run smack dab up against reality in Iraq, whereas someone like Roy Blunt still believes that Exxon-Mobil’s bottom line constitutes reality.

One of the other veterans on the tour, Brendan Flynn, described another forward looking attitude among the military brass, their recognition of the dangers that climate change will present for this country, for its military, and for the planet.

The Pentagon, the CIA, the National Security Agency, the National Intelligence Council, they all agree that climate change is actually one of the highest profile threats that’s gonna face this country and the world in the next ten, fifteen, twenty years. These agencies don’t necessarily agree on much of anything. But they all agree on this, you know. And these aren’t folks who are, you know, these folks are by no means tree huggers. These are folks like James Wolsey, you know, who said that this is the first time since the Civil War that we’ve funded both sides of a war. These are folks like the National Intelligence Estimate of President George W. Bush, the last one in 2007, said that this was one of the over-the-horizon threats that we’re gonna be facing.

So, what’s the answer? The answer, in fact, for both of these issues is … to develop clean American energy, that we can produce here in America, so America can take back control of our energy future. You know, and, as the Secretary [of State] said, that’s something America has always done better than anyone else in the world–innovation–is developing business opportunities.

Now if we could just get the party of business out of our way so that we could develop our business opportunities, we might set about saving the planet and our own economy.