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Today's Washington Wisdom: To Save US Economy, Obama Should Start Iran War

Marc Lynch offers valuable context: "Broder is actually offering a warmed over, mainstream version of the argument coined in August by former Bush Middle East adviser Elliott Abrams that "the Obama who had struck Iran and destroyed its nuclear program would be a far stronger candidate, and perhaps an unbeatable one."

Lynch adds, "Broder's column is an interesting study in how really dumb ideas bounce around Washington DC. Fortunately, it's not an idea which seems to have any support at all in the Obama White House."

At the same time, Lynch --- perhaps inadvertently --- illustrates the damage of repetitive "dumb ideas", as he gets sucked into playing the game that war will eventually be a probable option: "I'm very worried that Obama's Iran strategy will lock the U.S. into ever more hawkish rhetoric which ties their hands and paves the way to future military confrontations."


The chattering classes of Washington often refer to David Broder of the Washington Post as the dean of columnists on US politics, probably because he has been around so long.

Longevity, however, is not a guarantee of sharp analysis or even common sense. Consider today's thoughts off the top of Broder's head. They are not productive or even logical --- I don't recall, for example, that Franklin Roosevelt started World War II for the sake of the US economy --- but they will be useful in one place: watch for the propaganda outlets of the Iranian Government to be spotlighting Broder's words as proof of the wanna-be aggression of capitalist America:

....The steps that have been ordered so far in Washington have done nothing more than put the brakes on the runaway decline. They have not spurred new growth.

But if Obama cannot spur that growth by 2012, he is unlikely to be reelected. The lingering effects of the recession that accompanied him to the White House will probably doom him.

Can Obama harness the forces that might spur new growth? This is the key question for the next two years.

What are those forces? Essentially, there are two. One is the power of the business cycle, the tidal force that throughout history has dictated when the economy expands and when it contracts.

Economists struggle to analyze this, but they almost inevitably conclude that it cannot be rushed and almost resists political command. As the saying goes, the market will go where it is going to go.

In this regard, Obama has no advantage over any other pol. Even in analyzing the tidal force correctly, he cannot control it.

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. 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.

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