Friday, July 1, 2016

Why They Still Hate Us

Today's Al Jazeera Web site has a Talk to Al Jazeera article that is positively cringe-inducing, if not worse. It amounts to a transcript of an interview with Secretary of State John Kerrry and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes. The ostensible topic concerned current conditions in Syria and the impact of ISIL. However, as the old cliché goes, context is everything. In this case the context was defined by the seventh Global Entrepreneurship Summit, which was recently held in Silicon Valley and included a visit by President Barack Obama almost exactly a week ago.

The interview quickly devolved into a sort of cheer-leading session around the premise that entrepreneurship was the key to solving all of Syria's problems, as well as the threats of expansion by ISIL. Here we had two men with pasts rich in the domain of foreign relations; and the only message that seemed to matter was that what was good for business would naturally be good for Syria and the well-being of the Middle East. Back when posts occurred more regularly on this site, one of those posts included the phrase "innovation propaganda" in its title. Back then Jonestown Kool-Aid was one of my favorite metaphors. I knew that we have yet to get over that poison, but I had not anticipated that anyone with the serious responsibilities of Secretary of State would be drinking the stuff.

Another favorite trope from the past on this site was Max Weber's proposition that too much attention to market values and consumerism can lead to loss of meaning. When our country has lost the capacity to establish a dispassionately clear-eyed view of what is going on in the rest of the world, particularly when it involves violent hostilities and refugees, that should be taken as a sure sign that not only has meaning been lost but it is not even missed. Is it any wonder then that so much of the rest of the world now views us with suspicion, if not fear and loathing?

1 comment:

jones said...

I find cap-and-trade proposals for addressing global warming troubling for similar reasons: there seems to be a faith in the cosmic power of markets to solve any problems -- even the problems created by market activity!

It seems to me that rather than expect a technical solution to the climate problems created by commercial technology, or to expect markets to solve the climate problems created by market activity, the simple policy solution is to make energy more expensive so that people use less.

Which let me to the thought: how much of the United States' CO2 emissions are the produced while making disposable goods? That seems another possible policy avenue that is largely ignored since there seems to be a paucity of cost-benefit analyses where climate change is concerned.

A few months ago the editor of Science endorsed "albedo modification" or, using chemicals to make the atmosphere more reflective to slow global warming. Nowhere did I see any rational discussion to the effect of "how can we reduce energy consumption rather than block out the sun." The proposals to use technology or markets to reduce climate change all assume that the current level of economic growth must continue, which seems at the very root of the problem to me....