A profoundly irresponsible column from David Broder


David Broder’s latest is astonishing in its audacity and irresponsibility. Purporting to look at ways President Obama can get reelected, he posits this:

What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy. Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.

It’s often the case that when pundits make a point they’re worried will be taken badly, they disavow it at the same time that they’re making it. Thus:

“I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get reelected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.”

Steve Benen explains that it’s all in the Halloween spirit:

This was published by David Broder, not Bill Kristol. This Halloween, Broder decided to dress up like a neocon, but neglected to mention the costume to his readers.

I’m not sure what’s more bizarre — the fact that Broder presents a war with Iran as some sort of inevitability, or the assertion, based on nothing, that “accelerating preparations for war” with Iran will necessarily “improve” the economy.

By that reasoning, shouldn’t the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have also boosted the economy? The evidence to bolster such a notion is scarce.

More from CEPR:

If spending on war can provide jobs and lift the economy then so can spending on roads, weatherizing homes, or educating our kids. Yes, that’s right, all the forms of stimulus spending that Broder derided so much because they add to the deficit will increase GDP and generate jobs just like the war that Broder is advocating (which will also add to the deficit).

So, we have two routes to prosperity. We can either build up our phsyical infrastructure and improve the skills and education of our workers or we can go kill Iranians. Broder has made it clear where he stands.