Good morning, this is John McCain. This week the presidential campaign took me through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Colorado, and California. My town hall discussions with voters touched on many of the great issues of this election, and especially on the urgent problems of a slowing economy and the runaway costs of energy. But Americans are concerned as well about events in the nation of Georgia, which eight days ago fell under attack by the Russian Army.
It's been a while since most Americans -- including most of our leaders and diplomats -- have viewed Russia as a threat to the peace. But the Russian government's assault on a small democratic neighbor shows why these assumptions need revising. Under the rule of Vladimir Putin -- first as president and now as prime minister -- Russia has become more aggressive toward the now democratic nations that broke free of the old Soviet empire. Russia also holds vast petroleum wealth. And this heavy influence in the oil and gas market has become a strategic weapon that Russia is clearly prepared to use.
Georgia stands at a strategic crossroads in the Caucasus. The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, which brings oil from the Caspian to points west, traverses Georgia. And if that pipeline were destroyed or controlled by Russia, European energy supplies would be even more vulnerable to Russian influence.
There are many reasons why the Russian invasion of Georgia is of grave concern to America and to our allies. Above all, Georgia is a struggling democracy where Soviet tyranny is still fresh in memory. And when young democracies are threatened or attacked, and innocent civilians are targeted, they should be able to count on the free world for support and solidarity.
Another very serious concern is the effect of this aggression and conflict on the world energy market. For some time now, I have been making the case for a dramatic acceleration of domestic energy production, primarily on economic grounds. With high prices and growing demand for oil and gas, Americans cannot remain dependent upon others for the most vital of commodities. But now we are reminded that energy policy is also a matter of the highest priority for our nation's security.
Some political leaders still speak as if America's domestic economy and our security interests abroad were largely unrelated. But the error in this way of thinking becomes more apparent every year, and especially so in the case of the world's energy supply. One disruption of supply abroad can suddenly raise energy prices, inflicting great harm on our economy and on America workers. And in the term of the next president, skillful handling of such a crisis could be the difference between temporary hardship and far-reaching disaster.
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