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.
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.
The argument that going to war (or preparing for war) with Iran would boost the economy has been ably dealt with by Dean Baker, who says that there’s nothing magic about building tanks that you cannot derive from building roads. However, I would go further. We’re already involved in two wars, have been for close to an entire decade, and during that time have had the lowest economic growth since WWII. There’s nothing magic about war spending that automatically boosts an economy, either. Furthermore, you’d have a “you or what army” problem with a third war, and would need to de-escalate somewhere – Iraq would be likely – in order to fight Iran. But considering the closeness between the expected Iraqi government and Tehran, eventually you’d have a full battle across both those countries, in all likelihood. And the military has no capacity for that. Not to mention the fact that any war scenario affecting the Straits of Hormuz would probably send global oil prices skyrocketing and cancel out whatever stimulative effects come from it.
But beyond the economic confusion, there’s the sociopathy that accompanies this cheerleading. David Broder hasn’t met an economic prescription he likes, so he naturally assumes, like all the Villagers, that the only way to build an economy is on the backs of dead brown people. This would, after all, provide that all-important “sacrifice” so important to Villagers, in this case not just the sacrifice of lower retirement benefits or a reduced standard of living but actual human sacrifice.
Broder writes this in a week where Iran has agreed to nuclear talks, by the way, but I’m assuming he doesn’t read his own newspaper.