By: Jason Whitaker

Our heroic service members are in harm’s way each day they wear the uniform of the United States military. Around the globe, they defend our national security interests so that we can be safer here at home. America’s fighting men and women signed up for this because they care for our country and want to keep it stronger for future generations.

Yet in the face of this enormous sacrifice, our troops encounter perils beyond wildest imagination, threats that undoubtedly can and must be prevented. In order to make this happen, Senators must start leading and work to end our addiction to oil.

Our forces deployed the Middle East are all too familiar with IEDs – Improvised Explosive Devices – which have killed many military personnel and countless numbers of innocent civilians. My lieutenant was a victim of such an IED during one of our convoys in Afghanistan. His Humvee exploded just two vehicles in front of me. And the newest, and most deadly of these weapons are called EFPs, or Explosively Formed Projectiles. Able to penetrate our best armor, these roadside bombs are brutally effective.

These new, dangerous weapons are coming into Iraq from oil-rich Iran. In fact, for every
$1 increase in the price of a gallon of gas, Iran makes another $1.5 billion to use against our soldiers. The connection between energy, our national security, and the sacrifices made by our military couldn’t be more obvious. Our reliance on their vast oil reserves enriches the extremists who directly threaten our military and way of life.

Aside from the direct link our dependence on oil has on the deaths of American and allied soldiers, former CIA director James Woolsey has put it in another context worth mentioning: “Except for our own Civil War, this [the war on terror] is the only war that we have fought where we are paying for both sides. We pay Saudi Arabia $160 billion for its oil, and $3 or $4 billion of that goes to the Wahhabis, who teach children to hate.” In fact, in 2008 we sent $1.19 billion per day to some of our most dangerous enemies for
energy. These are unstable, unfriendly regimes – and they’re funding terrorist organizations across the globe with our gas money. The funds are funneled through shady front groups in Saudi Arabia and end up as AK-47 rounds being fired by the Taliban in Kunar where I served. They end up in increasingly dangerous and extremist
Nigeria. And they kill men and women in Iraq in the form EFPs from Iran.

The Department of the Defense, the CIA, and the National Intelligence Council have all noted that energy security and climate change pose significant strategic threats to America’s strength and safety. From the vulnerability of our oil supply, to the threat of weak nations destabilized by climate disruptions, we are threatened by our continued use of dirty energy from dangerous places.

The U.S. Senate has so far refused to debate comprehensive legislation that would address these threats, and that is why I call on Senators McCaskill and Bond to show leadership and bring this issue to the floor. It is time for our Senators to sever the flow of money landing in the hands of our enemies by working to pass legislation that would create clean, secure American energy. Right now, they have an opportunity to join members of both parties in support of comprehensive climate and energy legislation that would begin to free us from oil dependence, strengthen Missouri’s economy, and prevent the long-term impact of climate change. From both sides of the aisle and all parts of the country, veterans are speaking out in support of clean energy legislation – not because of environmental reasons, but because our dependence on foreign energy and carbon pollution pose a threat to our national security.

Our brave men and women in our armed forces have displayed unparalleled signs of courage and conviction in the face of adversity. Lawmakers in Washington can honor their commitment and stand with the men and women of our armed forces to prevent more oil-funded attacks. This is not rocket science; it is an issue of paramount importance to support our troops, defend our nation and de-fund our enemies. After all our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines have done for America, this is the least we can ask of our Senators.
Jason Whitaker is a former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant.
Use of his military rank, job titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the United States Army or the Department of Defense."
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