Cole to Broder: War with Iran ‘would just about finish us off as a nation’

In Monday’s Talking Points, I chronicled some of the initial responses to David Broder’s Washington Post column this past weekend. Broder suggested President Obama could revitalize the economy by going to war with Iran. The responses were mostly negative:

Despite winning support from neoconservatives like Cliff May, Broder’s logic has been ripped to shreds by the commentariat, who say the idea emanates from an economic “loon tune land,” “a unique blend of moral depravity and intellectual laziness,” a “ridiculous idea” put forward by a “moral degenerate,” “ill-informed and morally bankrupt,” “intellectually lazy to the point of near-dishonesty, as well as mind-bogglingly belligerent,” “the most insane op-ed I’ve ever come across,” and “stupid enough when Elliot Abrams wrote it in August.

Those posts, though not credited by name in the Talking Points, are from (in order): Dean Baker, Joshua Holland, Matt Duss, Steve Walt, Helena Cobban, Barry Eisler, and Marc Lynch.

Michigan Professor Juan Cole was not included in the round up simply because I had not gotten around to reading his piece yet. But he should have been.

Cole emphasizes that he doesn’t believe “Broder’s generalization about war and economic expansion holds up to critical scrutiny.” He considers that any modicum of economic gain from war with Iran will be far outweighed by the negative effects of a confrontation which could result in a spike in oil prices, at the least.

Cole writes (with my emphasis):

The Iranians cannot actually close the Straits of Hormuz, which are 26 miles wide. But they do not have to. All they have to do is contribute to another oil spike (which benefits them in a way that cutting off oil does not), and make covert trouble and tie us down like a hapless Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians.

I can’t think of anything that would be worse for the US economy, or for Obama’s prospects for a second term, than going to a war footing with Iran. And, my own experience is that if you go to a war footing with a country, you have to be prepared for things spinning out of control and into actual war. Since Americans go running to their congressmen demanding a repeal of the Bill of Rights every time there is a little pipe bomb somewhere, anything that might cause terrorism on US soil is deadly to our over 200 year old Republic. My guess is that a third war right about now, for the reasons outlined above, would just about finish us off as a nation.

Ali Gharib

Ali Gharib is a New York-based journalist on U.S. foreign policy with a focus on the Middle East and Central Asia. His work has appeared at Inter Press Service, where he was the Deputy Washington Bureau Chief; the Buffalo Beast; Huffington Post; Mondoweiss; Right Web; and Alternet. He holds a Master's degree in Philosophy and Public Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science. A proud Iranian-American and fluent Farsi speaker, Ali was born in California and raised in D.C.