Not gonna shut up just because...,
| Main |
Neoconservative + Neoliberal = Neo-Iraq:
With the failure of a stock market rally to materialize after the press declared US victory yesterday one might consider taking seriously some of the considerations that the Iraq war may have negative effects on globalization and related economic growth because of American unilateralism, by which I refer to our flagrant wagging of the finger at friends and allies. US withdrawal from most every international treaty besides the trade and security bodies [pdf] was, I think, enough to have somewhat the same effect in any case, and with the steel tarrifs and farm subsidies  getting struck down even our engagement in the trade bodies might be called into question - the divisions among the world elite are showing. Iraq is no doubt drawing attention away from many greater problems where we could spend our money improving the world much more efficiently.
At some point, if we continue on this trajectory, it seems inevitable that the ramifications will become very serious, unless the rest of the world simply bows to our role as global hegemon, which is the present pipedream we're living. Concerns over the Iraq war alone are by themselves probably exaggerated. I have no clear picture of how deep the resentment really is abroad, but I'm sure it can grow deeper. Expect it to hurt growth either way; I think Bush policies on this front have been doing so since they were enacted.
And, as some variety of "anti-globalizer" I should clarify my position, in case anybody is confused by such concerns: Globalization is Good, but global trade agreements need to be coupled with global labor and environmental agreements that provide the protections to other nations what people in industrialized nations have fought so hard for - since if we lose jobs to poor countries who are being exploited it just hurts us, and labor loses its protections here in the process. That's my neat little moderate argument - it's just the direction we should be heading in, and needless to say the whole scheme needs to stop being installed by force and economic coercion. If it doesn't happen because people can't play fairly then it shouldn't happen. In so far as I grok such economics, which is hardly more than elementary, all this should be obvious.
A few folks I know argue that "dropping out" is what third world nations ought to do - refusing to service their foreign debts and biting the resulting bullets. We have a record of giving them more bullets than they can chew, and I don't know that that's really changed (some folks actually think, approvingly so, that the war on Iraq is really about imposing globalization by force, which will no doubt be true in effect if not in motive - and before "globalization" became the buzzword for exploitive trade it was the motive for, for instance, all our interventions south of the border). Progress towards engaging in global justice initiatives are being reversed (Bush) and subverted (Clinton) by the US, not that it's all the US but the industrialized world as a whole that's the problem - we're merely the world leader in fucking the poor. As it is Kyoto is only a step in the right general direction, but doesn't push much for sustainable development. So in so far as we don't engage in fair trade I agree with the drop-out proponents, but it's bad for them and it's bad for us, and exploitive "trade" is, in the long term, bad for pretty much everybody.
1. Just to point out how banal some of these problems are: farm subsidies are, after the Bush hikes, in the range of some $100 billion. Total humanitarian aid shortfall for 2002 was $1.5 billion (46%) - almost half of that shortfall stemming from Afghanistan alone, in years previous the shortfall was well under a billion USD. Obviously not all of this shortfall is a matter of food relief, but for the amount we put into farm subsidies we could pretty much be feeding the world's hungry poor for free in the process of subsidizing our ag sector, so instead of flooding markets with artificially cheap produce that lead to the dirt poor going hungry we could be flooding dirt poor people who can't afford even the artificially cheap stuff with free produce. Two birds, with some stones left to hit up distribution costs.
Of course, this is assuming the farm subsidies are either useful or necessary in the first place, but most of the money doesn't go to folks who actually need assistance - which is what it's intended for, to "save the family farm". They've had rather the opposite effect, which makes you wonder just who the hell is for them anyway, every think tank from Cato to the Heritage Foundation think they're bad. For more on the wiley world of subsidized agribusiness, see the EWG Farm Subsidy Database.