Sunday, March 16, 2008

If Obama Takes, The World Quakes

I heard about this article while listening to Dennis Prager's radio show this week. It's worth your time.

What The World Is Hearing
- Fareed Zakaria

Despite their spirited squabbling, the two Democratic candidates are united in the view that one of the big benefits of electing either of them would be an improvement in America's reputation and relations with the world. Hillary Clinton promises to send special envoys to foreign capitals the day after she's elected. Barack Obama offers to reach out to America's foes as well as friends. Unfortunately none of this will matter if they continue to spout dangerous and ill-informed rhetoric about trade.

Before you read any further, know this: Mr. Zakaria is no friend of George Bush, and no friend of his administration. Read up on him. It's a fact.

Already the mood is shifting abroad. Listening to the Democrats on trade "is enough to send jitters down the spine of most in India," says the Times Now TV channel in New Delhi. The Canadian press has shared in the global swoon for Obama, but is now beginning to ask questions. "What he is actually saying—and how it might affect Canada—may come as a surprise to otherwise devout Barack boosters," writes Greg Weston in the Edmonton Sun. The African press has been reporting on George W. Bush's visit there with affection and, in some cases, by contrasting his views on trade with the Democratic candidates'. The Bangkok Post has compared the Democrats unfavorably with John McCain and his vision of an East Asia bound together, and to the United States, by expanding trade ties.

But I thought the rest of the world hates our guts? At least, that's what Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy told me.

For Obama, the backlash could be greatest because he's raised the highest hopes. A senior Latin American diplomat, who asked to remain unnamed because of the sensitivity of the topic, says, "Look, we're all watching Obama with bated breath and hoping [his election] will be a transforming moment for the world. But now that we're listening to him on trade—the issue that affects us so deeply—we realize that maybe he doesn't wish us well. In fact, we might find ourselves nostalgic for Bush, who is brave and courageous on trade and immigration."

Ouch, that's gotta hurt!

An argument one often hears from the candidates' supporters is that they don't really mean what they say, that their actual proposals on trade agreements involve only minor tinkering. It is an odd defense of candidates promising change, honesty and a new approach to politics to say that they are being cynical and hypocritical. Besides, both candidates are proposing to renegotiate NAFTA, which is a terrible idea. (And one that has prompted the Canadian prime minister to retort that if that happens, his country, too, would like to get more concessions from the United States.) Hillary Clinton has proposed that free-trade deals be re-evaluated every five years, which is absurd. The benefits of trade deals rest on the fact that they are permanent. (H/T - Newsweek International)

You really need to read the article in its entirety, especially the last paragraph, which is almost too brutal to print. The whole situation would be comical if it weren't so tragic. The truth of the matter is this: the rest of the world couldn't care less about what the Democrats will or will not do about taxes, terrorism, or abortion; they are looking out for number one. If Clinton and Obama rethink the country's positions on trade, however, the effects will be felt much further away than New York and Los Angeles.

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