Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.
If I had my way, there'd be laws restricting cigarettes and handguns. But this Congress won't even pass halfway measures. Cigarette companies have admitted they produce death sticks, yet Congress won't lift a finger to stub them out. Teenage boys continue to shoot up high schools, yet Congress won't pass stricter gun controls. The politically potent cigarette and gun industries have got what they wanted: no action. Almost makes you lose faith in democracy, doesn't it?
Apparently that's exactly what's happened to the administration. Fed up with trying to move legislation, the White House is launching lawsuits to succeed where legislation failed. The strategy may work, but at the cost of making our frail democracy even weaker.
The righteousness of our cause shouldn't prevent us from asking why so many people around the world who aren't terrorists hate America and from seeking ways to reduce their hatred. Recognizing America's past failing in this regard isn't justifying terrorism. Finding means of ameliorating the hatred isn't appeasing terrorists. Rather, it's looking at terrorism's larger context--the soil in which it has taken root--and examining our role in helping to create those conditions or allowing them to endure.
These days, any official organization with the word
"International," "World," or "Global" in its title has to worry about where it
meets, check in with the riot police, and pray for rain. Washington is already
girding itself for the International Monetary Fund's next gathering.
Global protesters haven't communicated clearly to the rest of the world
exactly what they're against. As a result, the protests are seen by many as part
of a growing revulsion toward globalization in general.
With Congress's recent rejection of the nuclear test ban treaty and an
upcoming World Trade Organization meeting that's already causing a storm,
it's useful to remind ourselves that there are two faces of nationalism. The
negative face turns away from global responsiblities. The positive one
embraces domestic ones.
Will the war on terrorism enhance globalization, further immersing America in the global economy? Or will it cause us to retreat or try to retreat from the rest of the globe?
At first glance, the war seems to have generated a flowering of multilateralism. Western Europe and America haven't been closer since World War II. Suddenly, it seems we're also close allies of Russia, China, Pakistan, even places Americans hardly knew existed six weeks ago, like Uzbekistan.