Transcript of radio commentary that aired in April 2004 on KUNM public radio 89.9 fm in Albuquerque

By Arjun Makhijani

It costs less than a nickel a gallon to get oil out of the ground in the Persian Gulf and for a hundred years the concentration of enormous reserves of cheap oil in that region has attracted multinational corporations and imperialists like bears to honey. Cheap oil with vast profits is still driving imperialism, war and global warming. It’s been a costly business-expensive in treasure and expensive in lives – the lives of Indian soldiers, the lives of British soldiers, the lives of American soldiers, and the lives of the people of the region and the soldiers of the region.

It’s difficult to follow the fuzzy math of the expenditures for the present Iraq war, but let’s try. There were the preparations for war, there was the war itself and that cost tens of billions of dollars until it was declared over by President Bush in early May. The war goes on and the United States appropriated almost $87 billion to continue to fight it and for the reconstruction of Iraq. In all I’d say, perhaps $150 to $200 billion have been expended on preparations for the war and the war itself and its aftermath- so far.

Two hundred billion dollars is a lot of money even by US federal government standards. What could the United States buy for that? Well, for one thing, it could generate enough wind energy in the Midwest to replace essentially all of the oil that the United States imports from the Persian Gulf. Two and a half million barrels a day is a lot of oil, but $200 billion dollars is a lot of money. The twelve Midwestern states from South Dakota and North Dakota down to New Mexico and Texas have more wind energy potential than the entire oil output of all of the members of the organization of petroleum exporting countries including all of the countries of the Persian Gulf.

The immense war expenditures are also contributing to the budget deficits, which in turn are showing up as a thousand painful cuts right here in the United States. Local police and emergency responders have many added burdens since 9/11, but they are not being adequately funded. We have a policy of no child left behind, but many children are being left behind and that fact is being covered up by fuzzy math.

And then there’s the environment. The immense radioactive waste legacy of the cold war is now festering and clean up goals and legal agreements with the states from Washington State to South Carolina are being abandoned.

Finally and ironically, the United States doesn’t have the money it’s spending on this war. It’s being financed by the Chinese and Japanese and others. In fact, for a war that is being fought in the name of freedom, the United States is in the process of losing its economic independence. There is a better way, and it’s lies in the wind that’s blowing in the Midwest.

This is Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

Listen to this commentary (requires Real Audio)