Washington Post Politics Writer Calls for War With Iran to Boost the Economy

I don’t know if I can muster the shrillness this deserves, so let me turn it over to Dean Baker and Brad DeLong. Brad DeLong first:

There Should Be Resignations in Protest and on Principle from the Washington Post Today…, by Brad DeLong: …but there should be such resignations every day. …

David Broder… call[s] for Barack Obama to bomb Iran to get the economy moving? It would be good for the country if this monstrosity shut itself down today. … Broder is … monstrous:

[I]f Obama cannot spur that [economic] growth by 2012, he is unlikely to be reelected…. Can Obama harness the forces that might spur new growth?…. What are those forces?… One is the power of the business cycle…. 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…. [H]e 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.

Dean Baker:

David Broder Calls for War With Iran to Boost the Economy, by Dean Baker: This is not a joke (at least not on my part). David Broder, the longtime columnist and reporter at a formerly respectable newspaper, quite explicitly suggested that fighting a war with Iran could be an effective way to boost the economy. Ignoring the idea that anyone should undertake war as an economic policy, Broder’s economics is also a visit to loon tune land. …

Sorry Mr. Broder, outside of Fox on 15th the world does not work this way. War affects the economy the same way that other government spending affects the economy. …

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 physical infrastructure and improve the skills and education of our workers or we can go kill Iranians. Broder has made it clear where he stands.

Even they aren’t shrill enough for my taste. Trying to sell a war by pointing to positive economic and political externalities is pretty disgusting, especially when the same economic benefits and then some can be realized by spending the money on infrastructure instead. Killing Iranians and Americans is not required. (And even if there was some way to justify going to war to spur the economy, the spike in oil prices that would surely occur would likely make things worse, not better.)

How about a war on joblessness? Had that war been conducted with the support of people like Broder, or without for that matter, the economy would be doing better, and Democrats would be doing better in the polls. I’m convinced of that. But the Broders of the world, the “serious people,” aren’t so serious when it comes to ordinary households struggling to make ends meet. Where’s the support for their struggles? Why aren’t they worth spending money on? Grrr.

About Mark Thoma 243 Articles

Affiliation: University of Oregon

Mark Thoma is a member of the Economics Department at the University of Oregon. He joined the UO faculty in 1987 and served as head of the Economics Department for five years. His research examines the effects that changes in monetary policy have on inflation, output, unemployment, interest rates and other macroeconomic variables with a focus on asymmetries in the response of these variables to policy changes, and on changes in the relationship between policy and the economy over time. He has also conducted research in other areas such as the relationship between the political party in power, and macroeconomic outcomes and using macroeconomic tools to predict transportation flows. He received his doctorate from Washington State University.

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10 Comments on Washington Post Politics Writer Calls for War With Iran to Boost the Economy

  1. Very well said i learned in history class that wars brought down countrys like the french kind who spent all his countrys money fighting wars same thing with the states.

    Provides for the right of countries to engage in military action in self-defense, including collective self-defense (i.e. under an alliance). FOR IRAN.

  3. Mr. Baker and broder must go to war with Iran on order to show themselves as American patriots.

    How much money was given to them by the Zionists to talk nonsense !
    Do they know that American voted for Obama just because of election campaign promises that he would extend his hand to Iran for friendship but for war.

    Israeli appeasing Mr. Baker and Mr. Broder should go to their beloved Israel to Start a war with Iran and see how long they can survive on this planet by igniting a war with Iran .

    Iran is ready to smash its enemies face by using its most advanced weapon . therefore, Iran is not like Iraq .

  4. Billy are you seriouse? “irans most advanced weapon” lol your kidding right? Israel could single handly destroy Iran to pieces. Iran Is just now getting technology that we the united states and israel have had for decades. You my sir is ignorant. You just watch Iran will fall bc of it’s evil ways and childish threats!

  5. @ Yea
    I’m afraid you’re misinformed. You think that only the US and Israel posses high-tech military equipment? You think that China and Russia have been chilling for the past two or three decades? Russia now has the most advanced missile defense system known to man. That’s what caused the big deal with Poland.

    Empires don’t stay on top forever. If they did we’d still be talking about the Roman empire or the Persian empire, which you probably haven’t even heard of. Starting a war with Iran is a death wish because China, Russia and India are better off if we lose so they will side with Iran. I would also like to remind you that all for countires have nuclear weapons.

    Turn off Fox News. Familiarize yourself with history, and come to terms with the fact that we’re not the sole super power any more.

  6. It appears the Washington Post has hired a staff of uneducated individuals who spew nothing more than the regurgitated refuse that the Fox news network is so bold to pass as “information” on a daily basis.

    Anyone who has an iota of common sense, and has read a book or two on world history and our economic involvement, would know that today’s wars are much different for our money woes.

    Previous wars created jobs for manufacturing materials that would be necessary on the battle front. Also new technology that was developed by the DOD or the brilliant minds of that time who were working for the government became useful to civilians. These new technologies such as the Telephone, microwave, penicilin, anti-biotics, airplanes, more recently the internet, etc… it goes on and on.

    What can TODAYS wars do to produce money for us? All it does is spike up the gas prices, create further national debt, and put money into the pockets of the DOD and the Weapons industry. We are not exactly going to go to Wal-mart to purchase the latest sonar weaponry that is being used in IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN to repel insects. Its not going to change our lives or impact our culture in ways that previous technologies did.

    So I hope the Washington Post eliminates this pseudo journalist and employs someone with a little bit more … humanity. That would be a start.

  7. Yes, the economy normalized after WW2, right after international bankers and various investing vultures had made their pay by selling weapons to Germans and Americans, and not before huge amounts of wealth were transferred from the middle-class to the upper-class. So, what he says makes sense, as long as you keep in mind he’s speaking of the upper-class economy, which always benefits from war and never fights it.

  8. I have yet to understand the threat Iran poses to the world. Will someone please tell me how Iran threatens the world? Personally, I feel a lot more threatened by the US government than Iran.

  9. I have a very good idea for Mr. Broder and most Americans; to save your economy, get back your country, regain control of your foreign policy and have a nice little war to watch people get killed then: DECLARE WAR ON ISRAEL, not Iran.

    There, everything is solved.

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