August 27, 2014 Updated: August 27, 2014 at 10:00 am
Anyone who thinks that our domestic policy and foreign policy are two separate realms need look no further than the current conflict between Ukraine and Russia to realize we live in a very small world. Just last Friday U.S. crude futures jumped more than a dollar a barrel, directly responding to Ukrainian forces engaging a Russian armored car on Ukrainian soil.
America's dependence on foreign oil hurts our markets and hinders our ability to implement an offensive foreign policy. The U.S. must have its domestic policy house in order so that it will be on a strong footing to turns its attention outward and lead in the world.
President Barack Obama, Sen. Mark Udall, and others in our government put America in weak diplomatic positions when they force us to depend on imports by blocking domestic oil production though measures such as the Keystone Pipeline or offshore drilling.
If the U.S. were more self-sufficient in meeting our energy security needs, we would be free to approach Russia with more serious and substantial oil sanctions. Yet politics hamstrings Obama's initiative to approve the Keystone Pipeline, even after a State Department report saying it has no significant environmental objections to the pipeline, and polls that have shown at least 60 percent of Americans support its construction - which would foster job creation at home as well.
Greater domestic oil production will also allow us to better support our international allies. Ukraine has threatened to block Russian oil exports to Europe, but with increased U.S. oil production, we could be a buffer for our friends in Europe, insulating them from the harshest effects of regional turmoil.
In addition, greater domestic oil production will also enhance America's relationships in the Middle East, decreasing the need for wars to be fought over oil. Lessened dependence on OPEC exports would mean that the American military would not have to continuously act as a stabilizing force in the region.
The ability to drill for oil domestically is directly related to America's international standing. The U.S. must have sound domestic policy in order to interact on the world stage with strong footing. We cannot allow our international influence to be jeopardized by politicians meddling with important matters of national security.
Myriad benefits, both domestic and international, will come from decreased dependence on foreign oil, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict is but the latest example.
Owen Hill is an Air Force veteran and state Senator representing Colorado Springs.