Wouldn't it be interesting if we could magically reassign the money we've wasted giving Iraq to Iran? What would you use it for? I've got my clear favorite: renewable energy generation.
American tax payers will end up with a bill for the Iraq War that is nearing $2 trillion dollars. This does not count the costs that come as direct consequences of the war, and those estimates come in at $3-5 trillion dollars. So let us be generous and base our calculations off a $1.5 trillion dollar cost.
America currently has around 1,075,174 MW of electric production capacity. How close could we get to that magic number with the money we've used to fight this war of choice to secure oil reserves? The answer makes me bitter.
The Pickens Plan is predicated on the type of project he is currently investing in, a wind farm capable of generating 4000MW that will cost $6 billion dollars. With a little math, we see that if you can get 4000MW for $6billion, then you can get 1,000,000MW for $1.5 trillion. That is enough generation capacity from wind alone to completely power the United State's current needs.
Now, of course you couldn't scale Pickens' wind farm that efficiently. It would have to be a combination of projects tailored to their environment. But just like that, BAM, you've cut out all carbon-creating technologies for electricity generation. No coal. No natural gas. No consumption of any resource that isn't constantly renewed by the sun. The guillotine hanging over the neck of civilization itself would be removed. The human race would be free to fritter away the millenia.
We should also compare the values given from an existing project for Solar power, the Nevada Solar One generator. For Solar One, 64MW cost $266 million dollars. Therefore, $1.5 trillion dollars is 360,902MW. That's not a full replacement, but it's more than 42% down the road, since 217,756MW of existing capacity is already produced through clean sources.
If this war truly was one to secure oil reserves as part of America's long term grand strategy, then I say it was a poor investment, even given the fever-dreams of success advanced by some of the neoconservatives that are now so clearly out of reach.