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The Big Picture

'Have you ever heard of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates? Morons.' -- Vizzini from "The Princess Bride"

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Iraq'd Up. The light at the end of the tunnel

It is true that hindsight is 20/20. In March of 2003, I could not have foreseen $300 billion (and counting) spent on Iraq, nor nearly 3,000 killed; to say nothing of the wounded, and the numbers of Iraqi dead and wounded. I did not support the war then, for other reasons -- all of which turned out to be right, no WMDs, no al Qaeda link, Saddam no threat to anybody. In fact I said then, and I still say today, there are worse dictators out there than Saddam.

But just think about how much this country would be better off, and safer, if that national treasure, our military and our money, were used here at home instead of that massive quagmire, more commonly called Iraq.

Using those troops to shore up our northen and southern borders, our ports, our airports and train stations, our sensitive buildings and areas. That alone would protect us from most terrorism here at home. That and the dead and wounded would still today be alive and healthy.

Then there is the problem with all that money, $300 billion and counting. The real weakness of this country is nothing physical, it is not a threat from outside, rather it comes from within. One thing I will agree with with Bush and Cheney, is that this is a nation based on consumerism. And that consumerism is in turn based on energy. Today, that energy primarily comes from oil, something that this country does not have enough of in terms of its native resourses.

If we go all big picture, let me show you something that is going on elsewhere in the world. The United States is involved in a massive international project known as ITER. It is an attempt at fusion power. The entire project is slated to cost roughly $10 billion. If we spread around that $300B between research on our own fusion program and building new nuclear power plants, spent fuel reprocessing plants, effective storage of waste, and research into commercial breeder reactors. (I will be posting a seperate essay focusing on the complete (fission) nuclear fuel cycle.)

When broken down, that $300B already spent could have funded %100 of America's own ITER project (at $10B), with the remaining $290B fully paid for 20 new nuclear reactors (at a cost of $5B each), and spent the remaining $190B on breeder reactors, fuel reprocessing plants, and an effective program to deal with waste.

Of course there is more to dealing with our energy needs than only dealing with nuclear, as I've briefly outlined above. Automobiles are the other major source of oil use. Going electric is the answer. Shaving off $90B from the above $190B and spending it on research and infrastructure will be a strong start to eliminating internal combustion engines as the power plants for our cars. Even offering it only as rebates to upgrading current IC cars to hybrid models, will go a long way in reducing oil dependence.

None of this says anything about the future expenditures wasted on Iraq by our GOP leadership.

Now what about Iraq itself... I say dump it off onto the United Nations. Let China take that mess over. Wouldn't that provide entertaining nightly news fodder??


Of course, this is all fantasy, we can never get back our national treasure, it is gone forever, but wouldn't it be nice to head off any further waste, and put it towards these goals? I guy can dream, and approach the future with a sense of hope, instead of a sense of dread of "more of the same" as we see from those on the right?

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