Thursday, November 12, 2009

Nation at a crossroads this Veterans Day

(cross-posted from The Volante, with permission)

By LeighAnn Dunn

November 11, 2009

Before the Iraq War, our nation had a policy of not striking a potential enemy unless our interests were clearly endangered of imminent attack.

The Iraqi invasion changed that policy.

This “first strike” standard also obligates our nation to another standard, which is to take extraordinary steps to prevent wars our leaders can see developing in the future. One threat we clearly see and can prevent is further damage from climate change. The U.S. Department of Defense, the CIA, the State Department and the National Intelligence Council see this threat and are all incorporating man-made climate change as a security threat into their long-term planning. Here are some climate change scenarios our nation’s top military minds are looking at:
  • Climate change dries up water and creates famine. Nations panic. Wars erupt. American troops get deployed.
  • Climate change makes sea levels rise, creating tens of millions of refugees. Refugee camps are ripe recruiting grounds for terrorist organizations.
  • Climate change fuels radical storms to occur more frequently. This stretches military resources from their primary mission: defending America against our enemies.

Top military and intelligence authorities are working on strategies to respond:
  • In February the Pentagon and State Department will include a climate section in their next respective Quadrennial Review.
  • Last year, the National Intelligence Council said “global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. National security interests over the next 20 years.”
  • This fall, the CIA launches a center on climate change to examine security risks.

This year’s Veterans Day finds our nation at a crossroads clouded by political wrangling. Lobbyists for oil and coal companies want to kill climate change legislation in Congress right now, because their clients get rich keeping things the way they are, even though our military and intelligence leaders know climate change will create a series of wars around the world.

Our nation spends $1 billion per day on crude oil from other countries, some of which are unstable or hostile to America’s security. American consumers are forced to help fund both sides of the war against terrorism. Add to the monetary costs the lives of American soldiers, like those who served with me in Iraq. Since 1973, we’ve known America remains threatened as long as we depend on foreign oil.

Our nation has a stronger obligation than ever before to avoid wars that can be prevented to preserve our national interests. I can think of no better response than to pass the Clean Energy Jobs & American Power Act in Congress, and put our nation in the leadership position to end this threat now.

LeighAnn Dunn
USD Graduate Student and member of the S.D. National Guard

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