Iraq Vets Group Supports Climate Change Legislation

By Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

Support for a strong climate change bill, coupled with the argument that cutting America’s addiction to oil in half will help us increase our nation’s security and reduce the likelihood of a war against Iran, comes from a quarter that will surprise many: veterans of the war on Iraq.

VoteVets, a non-profit political organization that advocates for veterans, has started running a new video nationally, with localized versions in seven states, explaining how this would work. Passing clean energy and climate legislation, they say, would cut US oil use in half, depriving Iran of funds used to develop and spread a new kind of roadside bomb specifically designed to pierce soldiers’ body armor. The funds are also to suppress the nation’s own citizens, VoteVets notes.

The video doesn’t hold much back, so you may want to wait until the children are out of the room before you play it. It runs for one minute.

The ad’s on-screen narrator, Chris Miller, an Iraq veteran who earned a Purple Heart from an IED explosion, tells of these new devices, called EFPs (Explosively Formed Projectiles), some of which were created in Iran and introduced into the wars our troops are fighting.  Now, he says, knowledge of how to build these weapons has spread to those who target American troops, whether or not they have ties to Iran.

The video says that every time the price of a barrel of oil goes up a dollar on the world market, that means another $1.5 billion for Iran’s treasury. Miller concludes,

The connection between oil and the enemy couldn’t be clearer. We need to break that connection, by breaking our addiction.  And we can. By passing a clean energy climate plan. It’ll cut our dependence on foreign oil in half.

In a related Daily Kos article, Jon Soltz, an Iraq vet and president of VoteVets, writes,

Ask anyone who has served in Iraq, and they know about Iranian influence in Iraq.

He goes on to assert that

The World oil market depends greatly upon Iranian supply and the United States, as the top consumer of oil in the world, significantly drives up oil prices.

While the ad is graphic, it puts our oil addiction into very real world terms, showing the lethal effect it has on our men and women in uniform.  That is something that has been absent from the energy debate for too long, and needs to be made clear.

What Soltz says next hits me right where I live:

For many progressives, making a security argument in blunt and graphic terms has often been avoided, because they believe it only stokes the flames of war. Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, by avoiding that argument, progressives have not only ceded the security argument to people like Dick Cheney, but allowed them to gain the upper-hand in proposing a solution to our security issues:  More War.

In essence, progressives’ reticence to take the troops and security argument on in a visceral way has only helped those who advocate more war.

I hadn’t seen it that way. I doubt anyone of my political persuasion has. I’ll have to think about it. Perhaps we’re too traumatized by eight years of President “Mission Accomplished” and the War Mongers. Perhaps we’re not entirely sure where President “Bipartisanship Above All” stands.

VoteVets, says Soltz, has long said that Iran is a direct threat to American troops, and to national security as well. But they have never advocated war with Iran. To the contrary, the organization’s “Stop Iran War” campaign has advocated other means to keep Iran in check, in videos you can see here, here, and here. “We’re not about to start backing war with Iran now,” he adds.

The current ad is an extension of no-war effort. It backs a bill that, Soltz says, would would create millions of new American jobs while it combats global climate change, which is wreaking havoc on the planet and also has security implications. Citing the last Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which says that, if it continues, global climate change will have a severe impact on our forces, due to the need to respond to natural disasters and upheaval in the poorest nations of the world. Soltz concludes,

The American Veterans that represents will never avoid a security argument.  We will never be afraid to call out which nations support killing our troops…. And, we will never let the neo-cons define the way to combat threats to America and her troops.

We’re taking this debate back, and we hope you’ll be right there with us.

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