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Think Again: War for the Hell of It: The Sad Decline of David Broder

11/04/2010 11:28 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Eric Alterman Distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York

With all the Election Day back-and-forth between both parties over what to do about sky-high unemployment -- whether to cut deficits, increase them, or keep them about the same -- Washington pundit "dean," or 81-year-old David Broder of the Washington Post, sought to break through the tired old arguments with a unique and little-discussed solution: war. Specifically, Broder wanted Obama to attack Iran.

Randolph Bourne worried nearly a hundred years ago in a famous anti-imperialist argument that "war is the health of the state." This was an argument that at the time owed much to both John Atkinson Hobson and V.I. Lenin. Over the years it fell victim to more sophisticated analyses that demonstrated that war spending is actually a pretty ineffective way of stimulating demand relative to, say, direct job creation through internal investments, which has the additional advantage of not killing tens or possibly hundreds of thousands of innocent individuals.

Make no mistake. One can find arguments for and against an attack on Iran (though most of those in favor tend to ignore the technical difficulties of actually achieving one's military objectives under almost any imaginable scenario). But Broder does not deal with such arguments, much less the complications that arise once one does. Rather, he makes a straightforward argument on purely economic grounds.

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http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/11/ta110410.html