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Retired Marine general explains to The Oklahoman the importance of energy independence

Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson is urging the country to move away from foreign oil as a way to change the way it deals with conflict in the Middle East.
by Adam Wilmoth Published: May 18, 2012

North American energy independence would have dramatic effects on the American economy and foreign policy, according to retired Marine Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson.

Jackson recently retired after 36 years of service, most recently as commander of Marine Installations West, which includes all Marine Corps bases in the western United States.

He spoke with me in a phone interview this week, sharing his perspective of how America's dependence on foreign oil has affected war and diplomacy throughout the world.

While serving as a desk officer in the Pentagon in 1990, Jackson answered the phone when the United States was notified of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait.

“The phone rang, and the gentleman on the other end of the line was screaming. He said, ‘The Iraqis are here,'” Jackson said. “Since that day on Aug. 2, 1990, we have been in conflict in the Middle East.”

While oil is only one of many reasons why the United States is involved in two wars half a world away, Jackson said the fuel has a dramatic effect on how the country handles those conflicts.

“We would look at it differently if the Western nations were not so reliant on fossil fuels,” Jackson said. “It would allow us to take a more balanced look at our foreign policy.”

Jackson said the country likely still would be heavily involved in the Middle East, but the focus could be more diplomatic and less militaristic.

“The negotiation table would help us solve more problems in the Middle East than our conflict because we wouldn't have something vital to the American and Western economies that we are trying to defend,” he said. “It would significantly reshape our foreign policy with respect to the Middle East.”

The military has been especially focused on renewable energy since 2001 when America's military action increased in the Middle East in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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by Adam Wilmoth
Energy Editor
Adam Wilmoth returned to The Oklahoman as energy editor in 2012 after working for four years in public relations. He previously spent seven years as a business reporter at The Oklahoman, including five years covering the state's energy sector....
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