A New Can Of Worms
18 April 2003
The True Neo-colonialists

The New Colonialism is a common theme discussed by political scientists in that small part of the International Relations Theory field that studies NGO's. These guys tend to be for them.

However, they have pointed out for years that the issue of the day in the developed world tends to drive issues in Third World. Take smoking, for example. Millions are spent on smoking prevention in Africa and Asia, yet if you are living in South Africa with the nearest fresh water one village over, smoking is not exactly in the forefront of your mind. The same goes with family planning. It's an important theme.

The truth is NGO's and the United Nations did not replace colinialism. They are the colonialists.

The EU would like the United Nations to take control of rebuilding Iraq. Part of that is checking the U.S. Another aspect is keeping Europeans in control of their traditional interests. The two are separate yet interrelated. This confirms one of my hopes, the U.S. is still a revolutionary power.

The marxists who accuse the U.S. of neo-colonialism through globalization have part of it right, they just have the wrong target.
Boycott the Boycott

Patrick Cox on Tech Central Station explains who really gets hurt by boycotting the French, and why I have a personal stake in this continuing -- cheaper French wine.

Here's the meat of the argument:

"Champions of the "boycott France" movement, as diverse as Bill O'Reilly, Neil Cavuto and Ed Koch, will probably be pleased, but their consumer embargo will punish the innocent more than the guilty - for the same reasons that market-oriented economists have long opposed trade sanctions and tariffs.

To begin with, the first victims of most boycotts are domestic retailers - not foreign wholesalers. Stores, almost without exception, pay for product up-front or on a deferred but predetermined basis.

If people who would otherwise buy French wine and cheese, to use the most popular example, leave them on the shelves, sales of these goods will slow. If microeconomic theory holds true, and it does, managers will lower prices to move stock.

In the short run, therefore, boycotts actually benefit those who do not honor them. They act, ironically, to subsidize targeted goods for those who ignore boycotts, with costs imposed on retailers - hardly the intention of boycotters."
17 April 2003
Bernard Lewis Compares, Contrasts

Bernard Lewis today points out that the "Clash of Civilizations," in which we find ourselves imbroiled, has as much to do with the resemblances between Christianity and Islam as the differences.

It is an interesting read. Lewis' thoughts on the limits of toleration are important contributions to this Nation's own cultural war, not just the war against terrorism.
16 April 2003
The Next Big Idea

The next hot idea to be discussed among the foreign policy chattering classes will be the ties between democracy, markets and ethnic violence. Yale Law Professor Amy Chua argues that in countries with economic dominant minorities (Indonesia, the Phillipines, Rawanda, the Balkans) free markets and democracy become a recipe for ethnic violence.

The formula works like this: an economically dominant minority becomes even more economically dominant with the introduction of free markets and integration into the global community. Democracy leads to vote maximizing politicians stirring the pot with us against them themes -- including inciting old fashion envy -- among the masses directed at the economically dominant minority. This leads to ethnic conflict when the hatred boils over.

It is a parsimonious model and can probably be a helpful tool for political scienctists. However, when applied universally and against the United States I don't think the model works. The same goes for the Balkans. These wil be the common knocks against her thesis.

I would point out that in many cases democratization is a compromise resulting from civil strife. What it comes down to for me is the circumstances upon which a country is democratizing.

I think the lesson for policy makers is that democratization and free markets are the results processes that take time to develop. Democracies such as Indonesia and the Phillipines are young and obviously that is playing a factor. This is something Brezezinki touched on in Out of Control -- demagogues exploiting a lack of democratic sophistication in mass society for the own ends with little regard for the carnage they create.
15 April 2003
The New Front Against Reaganism

The misadventures of neoconservatives is another attack on the Jews and Catholics with the termerity to engage in foreign policy.

This is the new spin against the Reagan vision. And most of those being attacked in this -- Kristol, Wolfowitz, Perle -- are Reagan alumni. Others such as Podhoretz and the crew at National Review are from the media. NR is pretty much run by Catholics and Jews as paleo conservatives will readily point out. What is different from the Reagan years is the more transparent religious bias and anti-semitism.

One of the great things the neocons have brought to the Republican coalition is their empiricism. Where the liberals had always benefitted from the new social sciences developed in the post World War II era, the conservatives under Reagan began to tap this resevoir of knowledge in the 1970's. People such as William Bennet and James Q. Wilson leap to mind.

This is a group that believes that democratic principles and free markets are universal values, their critics are not. That is the true conflict being fought here.
14 April 2003
Sell the Damn Thompson Center

My latest on the Governor's attempt to sell the Thompson Center in Chicago. Selling public assets usually means higher quality, more efficient services. It returns some real estate to the tax rolls and if leased back the new management would pay income taxes on profits and sales taxes purchases. The efficiencies garnered through private ownership and management would mean more money staying in the economy. It would produce a one year gain of $200 million -- and again it would return an asset to the marketplace and tax rolls.

Yet, in Illinois this is controversial. Hmm...If I understand this correctly Illinois joins Cuba, North Korea, and China in opposition to privatization. Everywhere else, it's okay. Lucky me, I live in Illinois.

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