Kirchner: Bush angrily said War would Grow US Economy

Néstor Kirchner, former president of Argentina, revealed in an interview with Oliver Stone for the director’s documentary “South of the Border” that former US president George W. Bush was convinced that war was the way to grow the US economy. Here is the video:

And here is the transcript of Kirchner’s account of the conversation at a summit in Monterrey, Mexico, in January, 2004:

‘ Kirchner: I said that a solution to the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan. And he grew angry. He said the Marshall Plan is a crazy idea of the Democrats. He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war. And that the United States has grown stronger with war.

Stone: War, he said that?

Kirchner: He said that. Those were his exact words.

Stone: Is he suggesting that South America go to war?

Kirchner: Well, he was talking about the United States: ‘The Democrats had been wrong. All of the economic growth of the United States has been encouraged by wars.’ He said it very clearly. ‘

Zaid Jilani at Think Progress points out that job creation under ‘war president’ Bush was in fact anemic and the whole house of cards collapsed toward the end of his tenure.

You wonder who else among the Republican elite fell for Bush’s typical piece of stupidity re: war= growth. It all depends on lots of other factors. If you borrow the money to fight the war and pay interest on it and you get no booty to speak of, then the war could ruin you, as happened to many European regimes in the early modern and modern period.

But even more outrageous is the Aztec-like willigness to rip the beating heart out of a sacrificial victim for the sake of an chimerical prosperity! Here is what was happening in Iraq around the time that Bush was boasting to Kirchner, according to Informed Comment:

‘ Posted on January 18, 2004 by Juan

23 Killed (2 Americans), 130 Injured (including 6 Americans) in Baghdad Car Bombing

AFP has raised the casualty count to as many as 23-25 killed and 130 wounded in the Baghdad car bombing of the US headquarters there.

‘ “The huge explosion turned the busy central Baghdad street outside into a battlefield inferno but the headquarters buildings inside the heavily-fortified area known as the Green Zone were unaffected. The blast came the day before Iraqi and US officials, including US civilian administrator Paul Bremer, are to meet with a wary UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York to discuss a future UN role in Iraq. “At least 20 people have lost their lives and almost 60 were injured,” US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told reporters. “It would appear from all the indicators this was a suicide bomb. We have confirmation some of those killed were US citizens, US contractors. We believe the current number is two. We are waiting for final confirmation,” Kimmitt said. Another five people were reported dead and 71 wounded at Baghdad hospitals. Witnesses claimed US soldiers opened fire in panic on Iraqis moments after the blast, but a military spokesman denied this.“ ‘

Earlier AP had reported,

‘ Officials said more than 60 people, including six Americans, were injured in the blast on a mist-shrouded morning near the north entrance — known as the “Assassin’s Gate” — to Saddam’s former Republican Palace complex, now used by the U.S.-led occupation authority for headquarters. ‘

I’d say there is increasing evidence that the US is not in control in Iraq, and that the place may well be headed toward being a failed state for the near term. When, 9 or 10 months after an army conquers a place, its HQ is not safe from attack, this is always a bad sign. For those who keep making Germany and Japan analogies, I ask you if MacArthur’s HQ was getting blown up in Tokyo in April of 1946.’

Posted in Iraq War | 31 Responses | Print |

31 Responses

  1. I guess Bush is simplifying a known fact, that it was World War II that ended the Great Depression once and for all. Other than that, it shows Bush to be a simplistic ass. From 1860 to the late 1990’s we were a manufacturing country. That manufacturing base is what kept us growing out of recessions whenever they occurred. Since NAFTA and the World Trade Organization passing in the mid-1990’s, our manufacturing sectors relocated to first Mexico, then to other parts of East Asia (China). The industrial engine that kept our nation strong for 140 years is now polluting with great abandon in China, or anywhere else that has lax environmental standards (they are willing to kill their own populations via environmental degradation for industrial growth). That is the reason that Bush’s economy did not grow us out of the recession that occurred in 2000-2001. Just what is going to be the economic engine that grows the U.S. out of this recession or should I say near great depression. And with the ‘deficit hawks’ starting to flap their wings in anxiety over our great debt, without ever increasing taxes to pay for things, this country is well on its decline to banana republic status.

  2. .
    Do you, Dr. Cole, really wonder who else among the Republican elite fell for Bush’s stupidity of: war= growth ?

    In early August 2002, GW Bush announced that he had no plans to invade Iraq on his desk, and I believe that was a true statement. The matter had been settled long before that.
    On 5 August 2002, Dr. Sadoun Hummadi issued a blanket invitation to all members of the US Congress to come and see for themselves that Iraq had no WMD’s. I contacted the Speaker’s office and offered to act as an intermediary to my local Congressman in Colorado, Joel Hefley. I received a letter from the Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly with a personal invitation to Congressman Hefley by fax. I took it down to his local office. When I told the staff why I was there, the Congressman refused to see me. The staff told me that the Congressman had told them to tell me that, if the President had determined that attacking Iraq was good for the country, then he would back the President.

    You may have forgotten: majorities in both houses of Congress voted to go to war against an undefined enemy, for an undefined time, to achieve undefined purposes.
    That bandwagon was pretty full.

    • A majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against authorizing the Iraq War, and this important fact keeps being forgotten by the pundits and the public who are eager to tar all of Washington with the same brush.

      • Good point. Certainly I am still disappointed by the great number of Democrats who did vote for the Iraq War, but it is important to note the big difference between Republicans who were nearly unanimously for the war and Democrats who were mostly against it.

      • Yes, it is an overlooked fact that a majority of House Democrats voted against war with Iraq. Still, much of the Democratic leadership supported the resolution, including Dick Gephardt who was the House Minority Leader. And, in the Senate, most Democrats voted in favor, 29 vs. 21. Majority leader Tom Daschle, as well as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, were prominent among those supporting the resolution.

      • I consider the Democrats to be significantly responsible for the Iraq war. Congressional votes aside, their leadership could have easily exposed the Bush/Cheney myth of WMD. They did not. They could have exposed torture and abuse happening in the name of GWOT (remember that term?) in Gitmo, Afghanistan and Iraq that had severe implications for the resistance in Iraq. (Pelosi has has not been convincing enough that she dis not know about torture). The Dems have continually funded the war (as they are still doing today).

        I do not know if stupid is the right word to characterize those who blame the Democrats, but for sure those who don’t are delusional. The Democrats continue to be part of the problem. Blaming just Bush and the Republicans is a diversionary tactic. Don’t get me wrong, I used to be a Democrat and have campaigned extensively for Kucinich.

  3. This is my question: how could a graduate of two major universities have thoughts like this? What do they teach at Yale? What did he learn? These are the thoughts of a simpleton at Barstool University. I don’t want to believe he actually said these things, but in the past I have several times overestimated the brainpower of presidents.

  4. Somebody wise said “when the secrets of an age are revealed, the age comes to an end”. We can only hope.

  5. This particular point has driven me crazy for years. War has once and only once proven to be an economic ‘boon’. That was to the US during WW2 under specific conditions. Even then the real economic stimulus was the lend-lease and the arms sales to Britain. The war itself saw rationing and other signs of stress and privation. In every other case I can recall wars have proven disastrous for economies of both the winner and the loser.

    The 1970’s stagnation was touched off by the Vietnam war. What prosperity does Bush see there? The Civil War was good for the economy? The War of the Roses? The War of 1812? Just which wars does he mean?

    The mystery to me is how did this bogus notion gain such wide credence in the popular imagination? Perhaps you could prevail on Professor Sheehan to guest write a column addressing this issue.

    • “Bush is simplifying a known fact, that it was World War II that ended the Great Depression once and for all.”

      “War has once and only once proven to be an economic ‘boon’. That was to the US during WW2 under specific conditions.”

      That’s twice so far in this thread (and this is informed comment :) it is/was not WAR that [ended this or that economic malaise] rather, it is/was a WAR ECONOMY… Cole: “You wonder who else among the Republican elite fell for Bush’s typical piece of stupidity re: war= growth.” To which I would add, provocatively: including the “exception” often cited of Great Depression malady : WWII remedy. iow, WAR ECONOMY = spending, which ~ if one is a Keynesian ~ would to some extent follow the logic of “fiscal stimulus.” indeed WAR ECONOMY Fascism in Italy and Germany during the 1930’s, was a remarkable remedy to those countries’ economic maladies. The Cold War ECONOMY was a fiscal stimulus (resurrecting Japan’s daibatsu first, then South Korea, etc.); the Global War On Terror, imho, is/was a fiscal stimulus (interestingly, strongly felt in Europe). unwinding the US WAR ECONOMY that is “Iraq” and “Afghanistan” et al is proving to be politically and practically as difficult as the challenge of unwinding the current artificial / interventionist support of the US STOCK MARKET, which, in another popular fallacy (supported by Corporate Media) a surprising number of Americans believe that THE STOCK MARKET = THE ECONOMY.

    • As makes sense. It seems entirely nonsensical to believe that destroying things, killing people, and wasting money on otherwise useless stuff (weapons etc) is a way to create wealth.

  6. Bush’s problem was that he didn’t go all the way.

    See (I like to start my assertions with”See”, in honor of the former President), if Bush had gone to war against a formidable enemy, like say China, we’d be living the good life today. Instead, we’re mired in economic decline. Iraq and AfPak aren’t going to get the job done.

  7. @ chriss1519
    I hope you’re joking. What you’re saying is if we started WWIII… we’d be better off. Internet sarcasm isn’t easy to read.

    • Obama has not escalated the Iraq War, so your plural is inappropriate. In fact, we’re down to like 94,000 troops in Iraq and pulling out 5,000-10,000 a month.

      Obama has escalated the Afghanistan War, but says it is so he can start pulling out in 18 months. Your implication that Obama is as much a warmonger as Bush is frankly stupid.

      • yes, stupid, because there is NOT Obama’s escalation in Pakistan, Yemen and god only knows where else

  8. When the Bush camp says war is good for the economy, one has to consider the economy he is talking about. Its the economy of the well to do. And the primary way to improve that economy is to do things that concentrate wealth.

    Bush’s wars gave him a means to exercise extensive control over Federal expenditures. Just being a Republican “war president” is enough to weaken the knees of the opposition. Bush the “war president” had the automatic support of rich and powerful, who completely understood what “good for the economy” meant when GWB said it. He was able to sluice vast sums t0 the military-industrial complex, and more specifically to friendly corporations.

    His war rhetoric, as suitably amplified and ratified by the mass media, reduced the left to sporadic hand wringing. There was no possibility for the left to push any program or policy that remotely suggested wealth distribution.

    So in Bush’s time the poor got poorer, the rich got richer, with help from the wars, and that means the economy HE was concerned about got better. That’s why we haven’t heard a single apology from this man who left OUR economy in the dumpster.

  9. Yes,. but Kirchner may have misunderstood the president; after all, true communication is only possible among equals. I think what Bush had in mind was the re-institution of supply side economics (on steroids given the massive tax breaks for only 1 1/2 to 2% of the population), the Beginning of the End. Even David Stockman told Reagan that the whole theory was stupid, and when he departed the White House, Stockman told reporters he was amazed Reagan carried on the smoke and mirrors. Bush must have thought that by stimulating the military-industrial complex, trickle down would make every man a king. It couldn’t work, and both parties are equally responsible for failing to stop it.

  10. I suppose if there was ever a time for people around the world to act as world citizens and put an end to war it would be now. If the world faced a common foe of a global warm up set to go completely out of control and if by even conservative estimates there was enough space junk flying around to knock out a lot of what we take for granted so that even the biggest military power which relies on computer chips but lacked manufacturing capacity was vulnerable then I suppose it’s time to pass the peace pipe and work together for full employment to try and save a living planet. Might involve a bit of tough police and detective work but not war.

  11. “You wonder who else among the Republican elite fell for Bush’s…”

    I think it more likely Bush was just repeating a Republican elite truism.

  12. The Republican Party is a war party. Republicans love WAR. They glory in gore. They lust for the power of vaporizing human flesh with two thousand pound bombs. Don’t you remember when Rumsfeld was talking about the “flash and awe” campaign in Iraq. He was having an orgasm. His eyes were the eyes of a religious fanatic who had just seen GOD. That is the mentality of the Republican. And they really, really don’t understand anyone who does not think as they think.

    That’s the way it’s always been and always will be.

    What a shame…as our once great country goes down the tube.

  13. Bush really seems to have got away almost unscathed by the disasters he created during his presidency, from the botched, gratuitous wars to the wrecked economy. There is virtually no serious discussion in the mainstream media tying Bush to the almost insurmountable challenges we face today on account of his grotesquely mismanged presidency.

    Hopefully this should help turn at least some of the spotlight back on him. Though there is absolutely no reason to hope so but hopefully he will one day be held accountable for all that he has done.

  14. I am going to take some license and theorize Bush was thinking more in terms of winning the wars which would lead to a generation long GOP majority rule which in turn would lead to all their policy dreams of near no taxes or regulation and of course more generalized confidence. All of which spelled, in his mind, economic boom.

    I suppose there is something to this daydream. If the wars had cost a trillion less and lead to an America loving Iraq pumping millions of bbls. or oil a year that alone would have had significant macro economic effects. Of course the whole thing was a juvenile daydream. As were the dreams of crony capitalism backed by military victories and a smirking strutting leader being a formula for economic paradise.

    I think even Bush was smart enough to realize the massive fiscal stimulus of major wars were not going to achieve the conservative economic dream. Just the opposite. He really hoped it would be done on the cheap and that the second and third order effects were what was going to bring about GOP economic Nirvana.

  15. I have long disagreed with the truism that World War 2 ended the depression. The war itself took a lot of men off the breadline, but it was rebuilding a war-shattered world after the war that ended the depression.

  16. This is the reason I hate George Bush so much…his insensitivity to precious human beings. There is no doubt that he committed the most heinous crime a human can commit: killing others for financial gain.

  17. It’s called military Keynesianism. Normal keynesian monetary expansion runs up against the objections from people who question massive spending on silly projects. Not so with military spending.

    What’s interesting is like the emperor’s new cloths, the rest of the country did what it could to make it all seem like it was working as expected.

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