Monday, November 1, 2010

David Broder's FDR solution

Marc Lynch weighs in on David Broder's very strange WaPo piece, "The War Recovery?", in which Broder suggests that Obama might rescue his presidency - and the US economy - by marshaling a massive war effort against Iran, thereby rallying Republicans to his side and jump-starting the economy as it moved more to a war footing.  Broder notes:

Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.

This idea is beyond bad, for more reasons than I have time to go into.  But it surely plays into the "Greatest Generation" trope in which Tom Brokaw and Tom Hanks have been bathing the national ethos for quite a few years now.  Broder seems to insinuate that the US can get back to national greatness (and perhaps international predominance?) by involving itself in a great crusade-war against a putative 21st-century Hitler, Mr. Ahmadinejad.  Thing is, by the time the US entered the war, Nazi Germany's imperial ambitions were obvious: almost all of Europe had been incorporated by conquest into the Third Reich  (and Hitler had had Britain on the ropes) and the Wehrmacht was pouring into Russia.  Last time I checked, Iranian troops were all still within Iran's borders.  And despite all the wailing about Iran's supposed declaration of intent to "wipe Israel off the map," Juan Cole and others have repeatedly made the point (to which Beck-Hannity-Limbaugh-Fox remain determinedly deaf) that Iranian leaders have never made such a declaration.  They simply insist that Israel will someday disappear - and given what's been happening internally in Israel in recent years, the Israelis are well on the way to ensuring the de-legitimizing and breakdown of the Zionist state.

Broder also insists that he does not want the president of the US to actually instigate a war.  But I have to believe that a journalist of his experience knows that some historians once suggested that FDR might have set up the US for the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, knowing that it would take some such provocation to enable him to bring the US into the conflict (much, of course, to the relief and delight of Winston Churchill, who remains a hero of the US neocon crowd).  The US had forced Japan's hand by imposing a metals embargo on that resource-poor country; the US intelligence failures in the run-up to the attack were, in the eyes of some, almost suspiciously egregious; and, as it happened, on that fateful morning of 7 December 1941, none of the American aircraft carriers - which military strategists knew would be the warships most critical in an upcoming war - were moored in Pearl Harbor.

Do I subscribe to that school of thought?  No, and I don't believe Broder does either.  But some of his more experienced readers might have heard of it, and they might feel that, all in all, a little push (or provocation) might not be, in the long run, such a bad thing.

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