Iraq War Veterans Unite to Fight for Climate Bill


Image via Operation Free

With the oil industry pushing its "Energy Citizen" rallies into the national spotlight, a group of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have come together to fight the pro-oil thrust. They've formed a coalition called Operation Free. Their message? That it's time for Americans to free themselves from dependence on fossil fuels--especially foreign oil. And it's time to pass a climate bill.The Operation Free website describes their missions as thus:

We're a coalition of leading Veterans and national security organizations who recognize that climate change is a major threat, and support fast, bold action. It is time for Americans to rise to the challenge, and we're taking on the fight.
They also stress that they recognize that climate change is a major national security threat, and that passing a climate bill will help mitigate that threat.

Part of the group's power comes from its members' ability to draw first hand accounts of how dependence on foreign oil presents a national security risk. These men have been to Iraq and Afghanistan, after all--they've lived the risks of securing foreign oil supply for American use. Grist reports:

"As a former U.S. Army captain and a veteran of Iraq, I understand firsthand how our dependence on foreign oil is a threat to national security," said Jon Powers, chief operating officer at the Truman National Security Project, a sponsor of Operation Free. "We're looking to Washington to take this threat seriously and come up with policy that reduces the threat to national security."

Maine State Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, an Iraq War veteran and Operation Free's campaign coordinator, said that his time in Iraq made him realize the hazards of being dependent on other nations and on a single major energy source like oil.

The group is beginning a push to mobilize more veterans, and start a public campaign to highlight the issue of energy security:
Operation Free's first major event will be in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 9 and 10, when 100 veterans will come to the capital to lobby for a Senate climate and energy bill. The group is also spreading its message through the internet and in-person outreach, as well as through partnerships with national security organizations and other nonprofits.
The group is supported by the Truman National Security Project, the National Security Iniative,, and VetPAC. Operation Free could be a powerful force in drawing attention to the climate bill and the threats presented by climate change--since most Americans don't seem to be moved much by scientists or environmental bloggers on the issue, perhaps our nation's courageous fighting men and women will be able to draw some attention.

I'll end the post with a quote from one of the generals involved in the group: "We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today, or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives."

More on the Climate Bill
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