President George W. Bush argued in 2004 that the best way to grow the U.S. economy was by waging war, according to former Argentine Prime Minister Néstor Kirchner.
Kirchner, in a meeting with Bush, suggested that the United States replicate the successful nation-building strategy it implemented at the end of World War II.
"And he stood up from his chair and got angry. He told me, 'A Marshall plan! No! That's a crazy idea from the Democrats. What needs to be done here, and the best way to revitalize the economy is -- the United States has grown based on wars,' he told me. That's what he told me," Kirchner recounted.
Bush added, said Kirchner, that "all the economic growth that the U.S. had had, had been based on the different wars it had waged."
The former Argentine leader, whose wife now heads the country, made the comments in an interview with Oliver Stone for his upcoming documentary "South Of the Border."
The charge startled even Oliver Stone. "War? He said that?" Stone asked Kirchner, who was among a wave of progressive leaders elected in Latin America over the last decade.
"He said that, word for word," Kirchner assured Stone.
Stone followed up: "Is he suggesting that Latin America should go to war?"
No, said Kirchner. "Well, he was talking about the United States, never said South America. That the United States -- that it was a misunderstanding of the Democrats, that all the economic growth that the U.S. had had, had been based on the different wars it had waged."
The Kirchner interview is done through a translator and the subtitles on the screen don't exactly match what Kirchner was saying, but more closely reflect how his comments were being translated at the time. The Huffington Post had three separate native Spanish speakers translate Kirchner's remarks. His comments above are the result of those translations.
If Kirchner is accurately relaying the comments, that would make Bush the highest-ranking public official to state outright that war is and has been good for the American economy.