National Defense Becomes Green
The dramatic increase in gasoline prices over the summer combined with the perception that oil revenues fund terrorism has created a new perception on the need for the U.S. to import oil. It is now becoming clear to a growing number of Americans that dependency on foreign oil compromises our security.
In a recent poll conducted by the Democracy Corps, a Democratic group, likely voters, were asked what they thought were the two most important national security priorities for the government over the next few years. Coming in first, with 42% was reducing dependence on foreign oil. A distant second was combating terrorism at 26%. Third was the war in Iraq at 25%. Strengthening Americaâ€™s military came in at 12%. This is very interesting to say the least. It means that the relatively clear connection between oil and terrorism, and the perception that America could at any time be brought to its knees by foreign oil producing states has become the greatest security fear of voters.
One thing that politicians pay attention to is voters. Once again, the people are leading the politicians when it comes to a common sense view of oil and the world. It has been clear that since 9/11, when the Bush administration told us that going shopping, instead of a patriotic conservation effort, was the correct reaction to the attack that this group of non-leaders had no stomach for an obvious, common sense energy policy. Now that the voters say that energy independence is the number one security issue, even President Bush, along with a slew of other politicians are scrambling to catch up to the electorate.
Since American politicians are so quick to campaign on a strong defense, the electorate is forcing them to become green if they want to get or stay elected. The vested interests of big oil and their influence on legislators is being trumped by the vested interest of staying in office. This will ultimately lead to more governmental support of alternative energy, conservation and perhaps even some leadership. It is interesting that the electorate, as it did in the Dubai Ports phenomenon, has taken over the political conversation and forced policy change.
It will be amusing to see how self-styled â€˜hard linersâ€™ on defense will embrace green policies now that it is clearly the most important long-term security issue today. Self reliance, that American virtue so eloquently written about by Emerson in the 1840s, is now the central building block of security policy. While the electorate now sees this, the key question is what the individuals that make up this body politic will actually do in their lives to lessen dependency on oil. As I wrote in the last post, I sense that we have moved to a tipping point in the U.S. where energy has moved from a cost category in our minds to an issue of survival, survival of the country and long term, survival of humanity.
Americans may not yet be saying that they will give up their energy based lifestyle, but they are saying that they would like it to be run on something other than oil purchased from other countries. Imagine how different the world is going to look when petroleum is one of many sources of energy that we use every day. Imagine the possibility of renewable energy and an America that produces all that it needs. Being self reliant and not funding terrorism. A transformative vision that is attainable with commitment, innovation, a bit of fear, and leadership.