Why I Support This Mission

Friday, May 4, 2012

Getting a bill through Congress is an uphill slog. Their timeline is much slower than most Americans' attention spans, the partisan gamesmanship can be demoralizing, and there's no guarantee that even a smart, well-crafted bill such as the Open Fuel Standard Act will make it through the powerful divergent interests that legislators in various states represent and are in some cases beholden to.

So why do I invest valuable time into this work that I could be spending watching a game or out hiking on a beautiful spring day?

I think about the young Army Captain I used to run with down at Ft. Huachuca whose leg was shredded and lungs burned by an IED in Iraq. I think about the Cavalry Scout whose Post-Traumatic Stress kept him self-medicated in his house and who was hyper-vigilant about being ambushed while driving with me down the streets of Philadelphia. I think about the Marine Infantryman who did three tours in Iraq and who's struggled with alcohol and a lost sense of community. I think about veteran friends who have attempted suicide because of things they've seen or done or wish they would have done instead to save members of their unit or innocent civilians. I think about what I could or should have done differently to contribute more to the mission and to them.

I know this bill isn't going to magically fix our foreign policy problems. I know they're complicated, and I know that it will probably be decades before we can extricate ourselves from the Middle East or see critical political and economic reforms happen that will stabilize the region.

But I do believe that if we can introduce competition at the pump, it will not only help us but it will also pressure the governments of the region to diversify their economies and in the process hopefully broaden economic opportunity and the political representation that comes with it. Less reliance on them will reduce tensions and enable a more flexible national security posture, providing more space for diplomacy and peaceful conflict resolution.

This legislation is not a guarantee against future conflicts but it's a much-needed step to address the systemic tension and instability that has become a conflict driver in the region. I sincerely believe that we owe it to our troops to get it passed.

Thomas J. Buonomo is a former Military Intelligence Officer and an Energy Policy Advocate for the Open Fuel Standard Coalition. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Middle East Studies from the U.S. Air Force Academy and has spent the past six years researching U.S. energy policy toward the Middle East.

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