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Letter to the Editor: Iraq war obscures energy potential

Thursday, January 25, 2007

To the editor:The Iraq war is a disaster, with the worst yet to come. One could cite the cost in lives, U.S. isolation, growing numbers of wannabe terrorists, our compromised military and, especially, the increased threat to the world's largest oil reserves. But there are also less obvious losses.

Iraq has cost hundreds of billions of dollars. What if, instead, this money had been spent on the research and development of renewable energies? We would now be moving toward lessening our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, thereby reducing the need for our involvement in the region. This would have reduced hostility toward the United States and, over time, the threat of terrorism. In my view, this is the only sort of policy -- really getting out of the Middle East -- that will reduce terrorism.

Such investment might have also helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions, positively affecting climate change. Resulting technologies may have also provided a new export base for the economy while serving to strengthen relations with other countries. The list of lost possibilities is long when you're talking about half a trillion dollars down the rathole.

Those who led us into this war, including U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, lacked a reality-based vision for dealing with terrorism that would also strengthen our country. It is too late to undo their policies, which are headed for a major disaster whether we stay or leave. But in the midst of the unfolding mess, I find myself imagining what could have been with real leadership.

ROBERT J. POLACK, Cape Girardeau