Brad Plumer wonders what else could have been done with that $300 billion (yep, that’s the current price tag for the Iraq war).

Brad rehearses several possibilities, including energy independence. Kevin Drum thinks that there’s no way we can gain independence from foreign oil in the "short- and medium-term."

Well, what if we spent $300 billion on it?

Consider the Energy Bill that everyone with a conscience is aghast over right now. It contains $88.9 billion in subsidies to industry over 10 years, mostly to oil, gas, coal, and nuclear companies.

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Imagine if we’d spent more than triple that in just over two years on energy efficiency, hybrid and hydrogen vehicles, promoting biofuels, funding R&D in solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal power, subsidizing open space, better urban planning, and public transit infrastructure — and hell, we’d have enough left over to buy every little girl a pony.

The Rocky Mountain Institute’s Winning the Oil Endgame says this:

A $180-billion investment over the next decade will yield $130-billion annual savings by 2025; revitalize the automotive, truck, aviation, and hydrocarbon industries; create a million jobs in both industrial and rural areas; rebalance trade; make the United States more secure, prosperous, equitable, and environmentally healthy; encourage other countries to get off oil too; and make the world more developed, fair, and peaceful.

How about $300 billion over two years?

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Whatever you think about the war in Iraq, are the results there the best thing we could have gotten for that money? Brad says:

Obviously, if Iraq does pull through and, in ten years, becomes a relatively stable and free democracy—and I think there’s a chance of this happening—history will of course "vindicate" George W. Bush and laud him for liberating Iraq. The history books won’t touch on what else might’ve been accomplished for so much blood and treasure, but that obviously ought to be a crucial consideration when assessing any foreign policy venture. … Count me as one who fervently hopes Iraq improves, avoids civil war, and becomes a full-fledged democracy, but none of those things will "vindicate" the invasion when all is said and done.

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