Posted by | November 2, 2010 00:32 | Filed under: Top Stories

By Yashwanth Manjunath

With unemployment near 10% and a $1.3 trillion deficit, David Broder has a brilliant new idea for how to stimulate the economy:  invade Iran.

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.

Last I checked the economy went into the worst recession in 70 years despite the two wars we are already fighting. As far as Broder’s claim that World War II ended the Great Depression, he is partly correct. Keynesian fiscal policy of deficit spending on the part of the government does stimulate the economy and strengthen a recovery. However, as Dean Baker accurately points out:

War affects the economy the same way that other government spending affects the economy. It does not have some mystical impact as Broder seems to think. 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).

David Broder wants us to invade another Muslim country in the Middle East with vast oil reserves that has no plans to attack us; we tried that once, it didn’t work.  Broder’s argument is a dangerous one. This is a bad idea that needs to be stomped out quickly. We must never forget that part of the reason the Iraq War happened is because too many liberals were unwilling to speak out and hold the war-mongering neoconservatives accountable. From John Kerry to Al Franken, to Hilary Clinton, and countless others, the failure of the liberals to unite behind a single message of opposition to the invasion of Iraq led to the deaths of 4400 American soldiers and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians.

One thing that David Broder got right is that if Obama were to decide to invade Iran, “the opposition party would be urging him on,” but there’s the rub. It’s a sad commentary about the state of our democracy when the only thing our government can find bipartisan support towards is fighting another war for oil in the Middle East. When Obama spent close to a trillion dollars on infrastructure, education, clean energy investment, and tax cuts for the American people through the stimulus package, he received three Republican votes in the Senate. When Obama pushed for health care reform to help save the lives of the sick and the poverty-stricken among us, he received zero Republican votes.

Anytime the federal government wants to spend money on the American people, the Republicans demand that it is “deficit-neutral” and they vote against it anyway. To the Republicans, using money on anyone but special interests is “wasteful spending.” But when it comes to war, suddenly spending stimulates the economy. When it comes to war, it no longer has to be “deficit-neutral” as long as it means more dead soldiers, more dead civilians, more widows, more orphans, and more money for the military-industrial complex.

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