Mourning In America

A New York Democrat on politics, journalism, and the Mets

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Thursday, September 25, 2003
WMD Evidence Found! In Iran.

Maybe the International Atomic Energy Agency's inspectors aren't as hapless as some would lead us to believe.

Exiting the Cone of Silence Sorry about MIA's going MIA -- I was on a quick trip to San Diego. I'll try to cook up a first-person report on the recall soon, but in the meantime, check out today's Tom Friedman column in the NY Times.

Friedman's work has been less of a must-read since 9/11, when his overarching faith in the ability of world trade to ease tensions was shaken. But he can still muster a compelling case that freer trade is a key tool for global development and security.

In today's column -- accurately headlined "Connect the Dots" -- he lays the blame for the failure of the recent Cancun trade talks squarely at the feet of the Bush administration, and talks about how the administration's politically motivated trade policies are essentially trading American security for a few votes in Iowa and Ohio:

And one thing we know about this Bush war on terrorism: sacrifice is only for Army reservists and full-time soldiers. For the rest of us, it's guns and butter When it comes to the police and military sides of the war on terrorism, the Bushies behave like Viking warriors. But when it comes to the political and economic sacrifices and strategies that are also required to fight this war successfully, they are cowardly wimps. That is why our war on terrorism is so one-dimensional and Pentagon-centric. It's more like a hobby — something we do only until it runs into the Bush re-election agenda.

It gets better. He cites the following analogy to trade expert Clyde Prestowitz:
Here .. is the Bush war on terrorism: Preach free trade, but don't deliver on it, so Pakistani farmers become more impoverished. Then ask Congress to give a tax break for any American who wants to buy a gas-guzzling Humvee for business use and also ask Congress to resist any efforts to make Detroit increase gasoline mileage in new cars. All this means more U.S. oil imports from Saudi Arabia.

So then the Saudis have more dollars to give to their Wahhabi fundamentalist evangelists, who spend it by building religious schools in Pakistan. The Pakistani farmer we've put out of business with our farm subsidies then sends his sons to the Wahhabi school because it is tuition-free and offers a hot lunch. His sons grow up getting only a Koranic education, so they are totally unprepared for modernity, but they are taught one thing: that America is the source of all their troubles. One of the farmer's sons joins Al Qaeda and is killed in Afghanistan by U.S. Special Forces, and we think we're winning the war on terrorism.

Fat chance.