May 02, 2008

Interventionism as conspicuous consumption

Austin is clearly getting at something when he talks about the ?conspicuous consumption? of American foreign policy. I sensed this last night while watching O?Reilly?s interview of Hillary, which turned out to be much more of love fest than anyone expected. 

Hillary: ?We can better democratize Iraq if we pull out??
O?Reilly: ?But if we pull out, we might look weak!? 

Again, does anyone want to consider what our aims are in all this? What might actually be accomplished by ?democratization?? If the Baghdad parliament were running efficiently, would anything change?  Re: O?Reilly, what exactly does the Arab street think of us now? Oh, yes, a country that pours money and soldiers into a sand pit must seem to them really strong. Clearly. 

Then there was the Pakistan issue, which comes up in the second half of the clip.

Basically O?Reilly wants to hold foreign aid over the head of the Pakistanis??crack down on the Taliban in your country or we won?t give you any more of the green stuff!??and Hillary wants to stand by the ?democracy movement? (which amounts to more Bhutto type people) and keep the foreign aid flowing. Neither seems particularly bothered by the fact that, 1) we?re clearly getting zilch from our foreign-aid investment, and 2) as we borrow more mullah from the Chinese to finance our welfare/warfare state, all those greenbacks we doll out become about as potent as Monopoly Money. 

Perhaps after we?ve totally wrecked our currency, we can still throw it at developing nations and threaten to cut off the supply of the stuff to our misbehaving vassals. It would be a foreign policy of pure conspicuous consumption. No real aims, just flash that makes us feel really important; no power in the international sphere outside force.       


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