So, a Chinese news agency is saying that a French news outlet told them that the RAND Corporation is lobbying the Pentagon to start another war in order to bring the US out of the current, severe economic downturn. Obviously, the provenance of this story is dubious and it should be treated the same credibility as all those rumors going around saying that I've been cast as the next Doctor Who.
Still, I'm linking to the debunking above because the author makes some interesting points, especially regarding the idea that war is the ideal economic stimulus. (Really, by that reasoning, with two bloody misadventures going on right now we should be living in a new Gilded Age.) The author quotes an economist who tells him that war, in fact, always causes a recession, as the long conflict becomes a drag on the economy. Slipping on my "I'm-not-an-economist-but-I-play-one-in-my-rich-fantasy-life" hat, I'm not sure I agree with that. The current recession was not caused by our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was caused by the entire financial market losing its collective mind at the same time. Iraq and Afghanistan are simply not large enough conflicts to engulf the entire culture or require enough spending to turn the economy around. (They do, however, tie up enough resources to hamper efforts to end the recession.) The same could be said for the recession following the first invasion of Iraq. There were mild recessions after World War II and the Korean War as industrial production was scaled back in the aftermath of the crisis.
So, taking the conservative mantra that "the New Deal failed and World War II ended the Depression" at face value, and comparing it to the negligible economic "benefits" gained from our recent and current overseas conflicts, we can see that we don't just need a war to turn things around, we need a really, really big war, a global conflict. I sure as hell hope that no one at any think tank in Washington is lobbying for that, but I don't put anything past these people anymore.
Still, in light of all this, I think it's worth restating the point that I made here, that a war, in broad terms, is basically a massive government spending program of the type that deficit hawks generally decry. As the administration prepares a jobs bill, there is going to be all manner of huffing and puffing from the deficit hawks about not saddling our children with a huge national debt - pretty much the same blather they blathered during the debate over the stimulus package. Sure, we won't saddle our children with a huge national debt - we'll just saddle them with the smoking ruins of a once proud nation instead. This is a real crisis - don't let any knuckleheaded tea bagger tell you otherwise. We're the most grotesquely wealthy nation in the world and we're having a hunger crisis, for God's sake. By the most narrow measure of unemployment, there are nearly 20,000,000 people out of work.
The best part about approaching a new jobs bill and stimulus package as war spending? There's no actual war! No one has to die. With a massive number of infrastructure projects and a new energy grid to build as well, there doesn't have to be a post-war "recession" for a long time to come, either.