The Iraq war is being debated on many different levels. One is the idea that it could be the cause of the U.S. economic recession. Politicians and economists are divided on the subject. Most Democrats, including presidential candidate Barack Obama, claim that the Iraq war has had a substantial effect on the U.S. economy and should be examined as one of the primary reasons for the U.S. recession. Most Republicans quickly dismiss the claim as being without merit, but a growing number of Republican s, including Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul, strongly oppose the war based on its economic fallout. But is the Iraq war to blame for our economy’s problems? Let’s look at arguments from both sides of the debate:
The Iraq War caused the U.S. economic recession
In a Washington Post article, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz argues that the Iraq war is to blame for the economic recession for the following reasons:
- The oil-producing countries have so much money that they don’t need to produce much oil. Because they don’t have the immediate need for cash, they are able to plan better for the future by pumping less oil and charging more for what they do produce. By doing this they are able to keep more oil for future use.
- The government has spent so much on the Iraq war and gone so far into debt that it has been unable to keep the domestic economy in check through tax cuts and other internal investments.
Senator Barack Obama had the following to say at a recent forum, according to the same Washington Post article: "If we can spend $10 billion a month rebuilding Iraq...we can spend $15 billion a year in our own country to put Americans back to work and strengthen the long-term competitiveness of our economy."
Senator Obama has a valid point to his argument. This war was entirely financed with debt, which in itself is bad, but ultimately what has our country received in return for that investment? At least if we are going to go deeper in debt, we should probably be using those funds for something that might actually help our economy, and our country.
According to a CNN poll, 71 percent of Americans believe that the Iraq war is at least partially responsible for the economic downturn.
The Iraq War Is NOT responsible for the U.S. economic recession
While it is easy for politicians to say the Iraq war has caused many of the world's problems, there is little evidence that the war is directly responsible for the economic recession. In response to the arguments made by Stiglitz, according to the Washington Post most economists believe that the price of oil is rising because of increased demand rather than a shortage of supply. Furthermore, Martin Baily, former chairman of Bill Clinton’s council of economic advisors, had this to say: “The credit crisis we got into is because of the housing boom, the relaxation of lending standards and certainly a lack of adequate supervision," Baily said. "I don't see a connection with government borrowing."
I can see validity in the arguments from both sides. Considering all the other problems that the U.S. is facing—in particular, the housing bubble—while I think it is a little farfetched to say that the Iraq war was the sole cause of the economic recession, it is equally foolish to say that the costs of the Iraq war have had little if any impact on the U.S. economy. Wars are not free, and the U.S. has spent billions of dollars on this war, financing it entirely with debt, which will have to be repaid one way or another.