'We are not a country that places our fate in the hands of dictators and tyrants.'

Presumed 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), discussing the nation's energy future at a town hall meeting at the Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, Ohio on July 11.

Presumed 2008 Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), discussing the nation's energy future at a town hall meeting at the Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, Ohio on July 11:

"I've often said that the decisions we make in this election and in the next few years will set the course for the next generation. That is true of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's true of our economy. And it is especially true of our energy policy.

"The urgency of this challenge is clear to anyone who's tried to fill up their tank with gas that's now over $4/gal. It's clear to the legions of scientists who believe that we are nearing a point of no return when it comes to our global climate crisis. And with each passing day, it is clear that our addiction to fossil fuels is one of the most serious threats to our national security in the 21st century. . .

"An even more immediate and direct security threat comes from our dependence on foreign oil. The price of a barrel of oil is now one of the most dangerous weapons in the world. Tyrants from Caracas to Tehran use it to prop up their regimes, intimidate the international community, and hold us hostage to a market that is subject to their whims. If Iran decided to shut down the petroleum-rich Strait of Hormuz tomorrow, they believe oil would skyrocket to $300/bbl in minutes, a price that one speculator predicted would result in $12/gal [gasoline].

"The nearly $700 million a day we send to unstable or hostile nations also funds both sides of the war on terror, paying for everything from the madrassas that plant the seeds of terror in young minds to the bombs that go off in Baghdad and Kabul. Our oil addiction even presents a target for Osama bin Laden, who has told al Qaeda, 'focus your operations on oil, since this will cause [the Americans] to die off on their own.'

"If we stay on our current course, the rapid growth of nations like China and India will rise about one-third by 2030. In that same year, Middle Eastern regimes will be sitting on 83% of our global oil reserves. Imagine that: the very source of energy that fuels nearly all of our transportation, controlled almost entirely by some of the world's most unstable and undemocratic governments.

"This is not the future I want for America. We are not a country that places our fate in the hands of dictators and tyrants. We are a nation that controls our own destiny. That's who we are. That's who we've always been. It's what led us to wage a revolution that brought down an empire. It's why we built an arsenal of democracy to defeat Fascism, and stopped the spread of Communism with the power of our ideals. And it's why we must end the tyranny of oil in our time."

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com

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