David Broder’s column yesterday, in which the once-respected journalist suggested that, “as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war [with Iran], the economy will improve,” has already come under a hail of criticism, on a number of counts.
In regard to Broder’s economic claims, Rudy DeLeon, Senior Vice President of National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress, and who has many years of experience on defense issues both at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, offers this correction:
Defense spending can’t generate an economic recovery. When FDR mobilized the country to become the great “arsenal of democracy,” he was starting from the bottom. There was little shipbuilding, aircraft, or combat vehicle production in place. FDR’s economic mobilization was from the bottom up.
Obama inherits a budget already at $700 billion in actual spending for defense. It only supports the jobs already in place. So Broder’s claim about a defense budget bonanza is just wrong.
Broder’s misconceptions about the salutary economic effects of mobilizing for war aside, there’s also his troubling suggestion that President Obama prepare to attack Iran for the political benefits he might realize.
The political side of all this is equally plain. Obama will, by all accounts, suffer a tremendous setback in November and may well be defeated in 2012. Should Iran acquire the Bomb in the next two years — the timetable Jeffrey suggests — Republicans will have an even stronger case that Obama has weakened our national security. The Obama who had struck Iran and destroyed its nuclear program would be a far stronger candidate, and perhaps an unbeatable one.
While Abrams’ piece may represent the moment when the neocon “bomb Iran for votes” argument entered the “serious” foreign policy conversation, however, the trail doesn’t end there.
Back in February, speaking to Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Sarah Palin similarly suggested that President Obama could impress people like Sarah Palin if he “decided to declare war on Iran“:
WALLACE: How hard do you think President Obama will be to defeat in 2012?
PALIN: It depends on a few things. Say he played — and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day — say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran or decided really [to] come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do, but — that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years…
WALLACE: But you’re not suggesting that he would cynically play the war card?
PALIN: I’m not suggesting that. I’m saying if he did, things would dramatically change. If he decided to toughen up and do all that he can to secure our nation and our allies, I think people would, perhaps, shift their thinking a little bit and decide, “Well, maybe he’s tougher than we think he’s — than he is today,” and there wouldn’t be as much passion to make sure that he doesn’t serve another four years.
Five days before Palin’s interview, Pipes had written:
Just as 9/11 caused voters to forget George W. Bush’s meandering early months, a strike on Iranian facilities would dispatch Obama’s feckless first year down the memory hole and transform the domestic political scene. It would sideline health care, prompt Republicans to work with Democrats, make netroots squeal, independents reconsider, and conservatives swoon.
After Palin’s interview, Pipes immediately claimed credit, noting “It’s nice to have a major political figure endorse my idea.”
And now it’s been endorsed by “the dean of the Washington press corps.”