Thursday, September 10, 2009

Energy policy and national security clearly linked

Guest post by Frankie Sturm

Frankie Sturm is communications director at the Truman National Security Project and a free-lance journalist.

The debate over climate change and energy legislation is becoming a debate over America's national security. And this is just where the debate belongs. As nearly 150 veterans gear up to visit Washington to ask their senators to take serious action on climate change, Jill Lawrence of Politics Daily reported on the new dynamic that national security is adding to the fight for new energy policy:

In the face of conservative attacks on climate-change legislation as a "job-killing energy tax," this is a welcome and potentially effective experiment in the politics of addition. We are not talking here about indulging tree-huggers or endangered species, or even about protecting the Earth. We are talking about protecting America. The argument is tough and double-barreled: We need to stop pouring money into oil-producing countries that are hostile to our interests, and we need to take global warming seriously as a threat to our national security -- because the military sure does.

From Operation FREE and the CNA report on the national security effects of climate change, to former Republican Senator John Warner and the Pew Project on National Security, Energy, and Climate, the article gives a bird’s-eye view of why climate change is looming large in the minds of those who take national security the most seriously. As Politico reported, it's also having an effect on public opinion:

Respondents were best persuaded [to support energy legislation] by an America-first national security argument -- the notion that "over-reliance on oil from hostile nations hurts economy, helps enemies, and puts security at risk."

But as this avenue of debate develops, it's important to remember that messaging is not the motivator here. The plain truth is that climate change is a threat to our security. That's what we need to keep in mind, and that's why we need a new energy policy this year.

(Cross-posted from Operation FREE.)

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