Advocates for cap-and-trade legislation are trying to make their case on a trumped-up national security issue based on the premise that global climate change will increase the potential for global conflict.
Hogwash! There is no question that if Congress passes cap-and-trade legislation, there will be a significant adverse impact on our military forces. Cap-and-trade will force such restrictions on U.S. energy producers and our economy as a whole that our current and potential enemies probably would not believe their good fortune.
Remember, conflict can assume many forms, from multi-theater combat to our current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to hit-and-run acts of piracy in the Indian Ocean, to modern cyber attack and economic exploitation.
Last March at the Warfare Analysis Laboratory, for example, the Defense Department gamed various scenarios involving international attempts to wage economic warfare. According to news reports, this apparently first-of-its-kind war game involved the United States, Russia, China, East Asia and "all others." Of those "participating," China was proven to be best economic warrior, with Russia not far behind.
One attendee said at the conclusion that a key lesson learned from the exercise is that military action will need to be better coordinated to respond to economic threats from abroad.
The high costs and draconian regulations associated with cap-and-trade will undermine any such coordination. According to studies by the Congressional Budget Office and others that have received due attention from the media, this legislation could force U.S. energy producers to close facilities and cut production to comply with its mandates.
Foreign energy producers would only stand to benefit from this resulting shortfall in domestic production. Energy production is a cornerstone to our economic growth. How would cap-and-trade legislation improve our capability to meet our global commitments or continue our fight against global terrorism while at the same time continue to deter emerging powers such as China and Russia? Suffice to say it is less than clear.
Make no mistake, China and Russia, as well as many other nations with emerging economies, are prepared to take advantage of the recession and reshape the global economy to our disadvantage. A breach in our national defenses or through our position in the global markets is just that - a breach. At the end of the day, the United States pays the price.
Under the guise of attempting to mitigate climate change, this policy would do nothing more than undercut U.S. energy producers who supply our military forces with the fuels that serve as the foundation for our current and future worldwide deployments.
Our forward deployed military forces with their proven lethal capabilities are the key to deterring conflict, and, if deterrence fails, to prevail. To keep our forces forward deployed, we must have a secure logistical base. One of the key components of that base is a strong U.S. energy production and distribution infrastructure.
The manner in which the issue of national security has been tortured and twisted by proponents for a cap-and-trade climate change policy undercuts the real security concerns we face globally and within our own borders.
Cap-and-trade legislation - a cap on domestic growth and competitiveness - weakens our security by forcing an increase in imports and threatens our military's ability to purchase fuel and other material from secure, affordable and reliable American suppliers. Outsourcing our defense logistical needs to foreign entities is a prescription for failure, particularly during a time of war.
As the price of raw materials and finished products increase under a cap-and-trade scheme, it is clear it could have an adverse impact on our military forces and in particular our forward deployed forces. It could force a reduction in the size of our forward deployed forces as well as limit the operating days and flight hours that can be funded.
The impact of cap-and-trade legislation on our military forces is both real and dangerous. It should be remembered that to deter war, we should never threaten or weaken our ability to wage it and win. Such a fallacy in the end will only jeopardize the lives of the dedicated men and women of our armed forces.
Hopefully, U.S. delegates to the upcoming United Nations talks in Copenhagen will be guided by these clear and real national security concerns.
James A. Lyons, U.S. Navy retired admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations, and deputy chief of naval operations, where he was principal adviser on all Joint Chiefs of Staff matters.